And, unfortunately, probably gone.
The country has been thrown into an unforeseen and immediate crisis the likes of which we have never seen in American history. There was no warning and no way to prepare; we are in a state of shock that the collective life we led just two months ago is completely and heartbreakingly gone for the foreseeable future.
That’s why it’s time for President Trump to speak to the trauma the nation is enduring, and not just continue the same drumbeat about the “invisible enemy” each day from the White House press room.
The daily briefings featuring the Coronavirus Task Force have become repetitive. Trump’s jiujitsu with the hostile, childish, and hysteria-inducing White House press corps might entertain some of his followers, and undoubtedly it amuses the president himself, but does little to ease Americans’ rising anxiety about the future.
Fauci and Birx, aside from misleading the president with the disastrous Murray models, don’t have much new to offer. Their updates should be short and weekly, not daily, since the health crisis shows major signs of abating.
The president should now pivot to focusing primarily on how to recover both the economy and the spirit of the American people. He needs to speak directly to our fears. He must give cover to governors who have every reason to bring life back to normal in their states rather than listening to the same small chorus of “experts” who have misled him. (Commending New York governor Andrew Cuomo while openly criticizing Georgia governor Brian Kemp isn’t a great idea, either.)
He needs to get his economic team before the public every day to explain how and when we can start getting back to business as usual—and in days, not weeks or months. Most Americans don’t want more government hand-outs or debt-inducing programs. We want to protect the vulnerable, strengthen our health care capacity, and move on before the damage is too great to repair.
Trump performs best when he gives voice to the inner worries of Americans that others are too timid to express. COVID-19 is deadly and scary but Trump promised Americans the cure wouldn’t be worse than the disease. We are now at the point where we need to hear his plan to make good on that promise—and the president must change course accordingly.
I agree with Kelly, for all the good it will do. Jules also makes brief mention of the imminent collapse of the food supply chain, which is but one of several reasons I said above that the time for Trump to try to turn things around may have come and gone. All such attempts now will most likely be too little, too late:
Executives with the Arkansas-based Tyson Foods took out a full-page advertisement in several major newspapers over the weekend, declaring the country’s food supply chain “is breaking.”
The ad, an open letter from company board chair John Tyson was published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
“There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we reopen our facilities that are currently closed,” wrote Tyson, who noted earlier in the letter, “The food supply chain is breaking.”
The discomforting statement from Tyson comes as the company has closed plants in Logansport, Indiana, and Waterloo, Iowa. Similarly, Smithfield has closed a facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where one worker died of the virus, and JBS has shuttered a plant in Worthington, Minnesota.
Tyson’s Waterloo plant, reportedly linked to some 182 cases of COVID-19, is critical to the country’s pork supply.
The letter from Tyson warned all of these closures means “millions of pounds of meat will disappear” from the national food supply chain.
“In addition to meat shortages, this is a serious food waste issue,” wrote Tyson. “Farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation.”
“Millions of animals — chickens, pigs, and cattle — will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities,” he added.
More, and worse:
“During this pandemic, our entire industry is faced with an impossible choice: continue to operate to sustain our nation’s food supply or shutter in an attempt to entirely insulate our employees from risk,” Smithfield Foods, the largest global pork producer owned by the Chinese WH Group, said in a statement on Friday. “It’s an awful choice; it’s not one we wish on anyone.”
“It is impossible to keep protein on tables across America if our nation’s meat plants are not running. Across the animal protein industry, closures can have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions up and down the supply chain,” the statement said. “Beyond the implications to our food supply, our entire agricultural community is in jeopardy. Farmers have nowhere to send their animals and could be forced to euthanize livestock, effectively burying food in the ground. We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who is also is a beef rancher, spoke about the food supply chain on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday with host Joel Pollak.
“I’ll tell you why there will be shortages,” Massie said. “Right now there aren’t shortages because there was a supply of meat that was destined for restaurants, and the demand at the restaurants was curtailed when they were shut down. It’s frozen meat, and [restaurants] are repackaging it and diverting that supply to the grocery stores.”
“That supply is going to run out,” Massie said. “The [meat] pipeline has a crimp in it, and that’s at the processing plants.”
In a Tweet accompanying the article, Massie lays it out starkly and directly, with no ifs, ands, or buts: “FOOD SHORTAGES ARE COMING.”
Meanwhile, there are nearly four million gallons of milk per day being poured down the drain—literally.
Farmers are dumping milk and plowing crops back into the soil across the U.S. after the closings of restaurants, hotels and schools in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Farmers are dumping 3.7 million gallons of milk daily and a single chicken processor can smash 750,000 eggs per week, reports Dairy Farmers of America, the largest dairy farm cooperative in the country.
As America’s agricultural industry is confronted by the impacts of the virus, there have been some striking examples of food waste.
Correction: it’s the impact of the overreaction to the virus that they—and we all—are confronting.
Wisconsin and Ohio farmers have dumped thousands of gallons of fresh milk into lagoons and manure pits.
An Idaho farmer found himself digging ditches to bury 1 million pounds of onions.
Yet more, and yet worse:
Meanwhile, South Florida farms, which supply much of the East coast, have sent tractors across the fields to replow beans, cabbage and other ripe vegetables right back into the ground.
‘It’s heartbreaking,’ Paul Allen, co-owner of R.C. Hatton, tells the Times.
The company has had to destroy millions of pounds of beans and cabbage at his farms in South Florida and Georgia.
This is scary, scary stuff, folks.
“There’s a huge amount of milk still today going on the ground in the state of Florida,” said Brittany Nickerson Thurlow, a fifth-generation dairy farmer in Zolfo Springs. “There’s just nowhere to send it.”
The supply chain that ultimately brings milk from a cow’s udder to your refrigerator has spoiled.
Florida had over 15,500 coronavirus cases, including over 300 deaths, as of the Department of Health’s Wednesday evening count. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ statewide “safer-at-home” order remains in effect until at least April 30.
There’s no telling when life on Sunshine State farms will return to normal.
Sorry to have to be the one to tell ya, but this is the NEW Normal. It ain’t pretty. Every passing day under lockdown etches total economic collapse and all its attendant misery—joblessness, poverty, hunger, and death—more deeply in stone. And for the life of me, I can’t see any way out of it.