Potato sorting, processing and packing factory. Photo By 279photo Studio
Potato sorting, processing and packing factory. Photo By 279photo Studio (Shutterstock)

By Lindsey Mebane, President
Kern County Young Farmers & Ranchers

Lindsey Mebane
Lindsey Mebane

Never did I imagine that the beginning of 2020 would look like this. As I write this, I am sitting in my office at work with gloves and a face mask on while some of my co-workers are working remotely from home. Our packing facility is pumping out more finished product out the door than we ever have with 3 weeks of record high production; hand washing is at an all-time high, and we must eat lunch 6 or more feet apart. Being in this industry makes me very thankful to be considered essential. 

As I have mentioned before I am blessed to be a part of multiple sectors of the agriculture industry. I work for a company that grows and packs potatoes, my husband and I own cattle, my husband’s family has a livestock sale yard, and I have many friends who work in the dairy, meat, row crop, and permanent crop sectors. It has been both interesting and heart breaking to see what is happening in these sectors during this pandemic. On one side, my day job company is doing great with still being open and packing and shipping potatoes, but on the other side, the cattle industry has been suffering for the ranchers. Prices at the auctions dropped, and ranchers are holding out on selling their calf crop in hopes that the one paycheck a year they collect from their commodity will be enough to survive. 

Now, I know agriculture isn’t the only industry in hard times. Oil is suffering, every small business that’s not essential is suffering, and I’m sure there are many more. We must remember to support each other during these times and continue to follow CDC guidelines so we can hopefully get through this. 

I get a pit in my stomach when I think about the youth with livestock. I remember how much time and money I spent as a child raising cattle, hogs, and dairy heifers and how much it meant to be to be able to go to the county fair and compete. It takes months of preparation for the fairs, and now some kids will not get to see that through. With county fairs being shut down, some kids have no outlet for their animals or no other fair to take them to. I have seen some fairs flat out cancel the fair and others are trying their best to make it so the kids can still show (virtually) and moving to online auctions. The Kern YF&R does still plan on releasing the application for the Ag. Grant program. So, if you have a 4-H or FFA member that shows at the Kern County Fair, be on the lookout from your leader or advisor for the application. The goal is to award members with money to help offset the cost of their projects, and I feel that this year these kids need this now more than ever. 

As for the Kern YF&R group, everything is currently at a standstill. There really isn’t much to update as we have not had any general meetings, and our officer meetings have been electronic conference calls. We are still trying to show support in the community. The Kern YF&R just recently donated to the FARMS program as a part of the Give Big Kern event. To stay up to date on our group please follow our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KernYoungFarmersAndRanchers and follow us on Instagram @kern_yfr. If you aren’t already on the e-mail list please e-mail us at kernyfr@kerncfb.com.

I will close with this: I follow an account on Instagram of a woman named Courtenay DeHoff. She is a cowgirl-turned-television-personality and has her own podcast called Cowgirl Problems. She had a post the other day that really spoke to me. She wrote: “I hope we don’t forget the joy of sitting down around a kitchen table with friends and family. I hope we don’t forget what it was like to prepare a homemade meal and enjoy it with those that matter most. I hope we don’t forget the joys of bumping into a neighbor on the street and the warmth of a hug.” I know that times are tough, weird, frustrating, interesting, etc., but remember that we will all get through this and be stronger. We are all doing the best we can, the best way we know how, and I truly believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I really hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I enjoy writing them. Have a great month and stay safe!