The Coming of Starvation in the West By Brian Simpson
It looks like the horsemen of the apocalypse are riding in the West. Regardless of the debates about the severity of Covid-19, and coronaviruses to quickly come after it, there is a growing concern about food shortages, arising from the economic shutdowns. (In my tiredness I accidentally typed “sh*tdown” which I think may have to become a word.). It would be a bitter irony if more people ended up dying of malnutrition and associated diseases that from the virus.
“The journey from field to plate has been interrupted in our locked down world. Why it matters: With some crops rotting in fields and others subject to export bans, the coronavirus crisis could cause shortages in richer countries and hunger in poorer ones. In Europe, as in North America, the harvest depends on migration.
• German asparagus, French strawberries and Italian tomatoes are picked by Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians.
• Harder borders are now limiting movement, and workers are reluctant to travel due to fears of infection or quarantine.
• Officials across Western Europe have declared farmhands critical workers. They've also called on newly unemployed people to take to the fields — the French agriculture minister called for a “shadow army” of waiters, hairdressers and hotel staff.
• It's not so simple. “Dutch people are used to working Monday to Friday, nine to five. But the asparagus keeps growing seven days a week,” one farmer told the Economist.
In India, the food supply depends on tens of millions of people working in farms, transporting food, and selling it in wholesale markets and at small stands.
• When the national lockdown snapped into place, gaps appeared all along that chain.
• “All the eateries on the highways are closed. I have nothing to eat,” a truck driver attempting to deliver tomatoes to New Delhi told the Wall Street Journal. “Everyone says we should keep delivering essential supplies. But the supply link can continue only if we survive.”
Fearing a prolonged crisis, some countries have halted exports of key foodstuffs — rice from Vietnam, wheat from Kazakhstan, fish from Cambodia.
• That could have serious downstream effects for poor countries that import most of their food, the Washington Post notes, though other big exporters plan to keep trade flowing.
The bottom line: "There is enough food, but food and other essential commodities must keep moving," John Crisci, supply chain director at the UN World Food Program tells Axios. "We cannot let this health crisis turn into a food crisis."
Well, maybe it was a terrible idea to connect food production with immigration and globalisation in the first place. It was not done in the more distant past, and should not be done today, being ecologically insane.
“Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, said on Sunday it will shut a U.S. plant indefinitely due to a rash of coronavirus cases among employees and warned the country was moving “perilously close to the edge” in supplies for grocers. Slaughterhouse shutdowns are disrupting the U.S. food supply chain, crimping availability of meat at retail stores and leaving farmers without outlets for their livestock. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” Smithfield Chief Executive Ken Sullivan said in a statement on Sunday. “These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers.”
“The coronavirus crisis has exposed some serious frailty in America’s supply chains. To this point, those deficiencies have been most glaring when it comes to medical supplies. The country remains unable to produce or otherwise procure a satisfactory quantity of N95 masks, testing swabs, and ventilators. Toilet paper, too, is famously in short supply. As the virus has keyed off an economic shutdown, breakdowns have emerged in other parts of the supply chain as well. Now, America’s food systems have begun to falter, resulting in the twin curses of scarcity and excess. In the early days of the shutdown, pictures circulated of barren shelves at supermarkets (much of it wrongfully blamed on binge purchasing). Now, however, the most objectionable food news comes in the form of crop dumping. All over the country, America’s producers have begun destroying excess, perishable crops that they can’t bring to market. In Wisconsin, dairy farmers are dumping thousands of gallons of unbought milk into manure ponds; in Florida, vegetable growers are plowing under millions of pounds of vegetables. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Mississippi-based Sanderson Farms has begun breaking and throwing out hundreds of thousands of chicken-hatching eggs rather than raising the chicks for meat. An estimated 7 percent of all milk produced in the last week was dumped, good for 3.7 million gallons a day. And that number is expected to rise. Those reports, along with the indelible images they’ve produced, provide a stark contrast to sparsely populated grocery-store shelves, or severely strained food banks and miles-long breadlines that have become commonplace throughout the country. Ten thousand families recently sought help from the San Antonio Food Bank. As some have pointed out, it makes for a rather on-the-nose comparison to a 1930s Grapes of Wrath–era level of inequality and cruelty. What accounts for this massive logistical failure, now artificially creating shortages? In nonviral times, much of the food being produced on farms would be sent to schools and restaurants. But with those locations shut down almost categorically nationwide, there’s no infrastructure in place to simply redirect the food to grocery stores and food banks, especially with short-shelf-life items like vegetables, meat, and dairy. Those two tracks—commercial and consumer food supply chains—remain fiercely separated. While some restaurants have begun selling their excess supply as groceries, it will be difficult to scale that up nationwide. Meanwhile, raw products delivered commercially would have to be repackaged to sell in retail outlets, and suppliers would have to somehow win contracts with grocery stores for shelf space, a tall order even for big companies, let alone new entrants with no such experience. Setting up a large-scale delivery procedure conveying excess food to needy food banks takes time, money, and manpower, all of which are already in short supply at financially strained farms. The federal government could step in, guarantee payments to farmers, and provision for such a transfer, but they’ve shown no interest in doing so.”
“Food supplies across the world will be “massively disrupted” by the coronavirus, and unless governments act the number of people suffering chronic hunger could double, some of the world’s biggest food companies have warned. Unilever, Nestlé and PepsiCo, along with farmers’ organisations, the UN Foundation, academics, and civil society groups, have written to world leaders, calling on them to keep borders open to trade in order to help society’s most vulnerable, and to invest in environmentally sustainable food production. They urge governments to “take urgent coordinated action to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic turning into a global food and humanitarian crisis”. Maintaining open trade will be key, as will investing in food supply chains and protecting farmers in the developed and developing world, they say. The G20 is coming under increasing pressure to act: a group of Nobel prize-winning economists and former senior development bank officials wrote to the forum advising that trillions of dollars would be needed to help the developing world cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. This week more than 100 former heads of government, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, also called on the G20 to act urgently or risk recurrent outbreaks. However, little coordinated action has been agreed. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation is increasingly worried that, although harvests are good and enough food is being produced to feed the world, export restrictions or tariffs by some governments could create shortages. The urgent warning from food industry leaders comes as some countries have begin to restrict certain foods. Curbs on the movement of people, because of lockdowns, also threatens to create shortages of farm labour at a crucial time of year for many crops.”
The Great Disruption is unfolding, as many of us here said would happen; this is not temporary, but the new normal, and both the alternative and mainstream media are telling us that:
“When will it end? For everyone under lockdown orders in the coronavirus pandemic, that is the key question. How long until American life can return to normal, without risking the disease reigniting out of control and overwhelming hospitals? Examining the question are three new reports, from the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for American Progress, and Harvard's Safra Center for Ethics. While they differ in their conclusions, all are three are bleak. Life in the U.S. will not fully return to normal until a vaccine is distributed widely, and drastic interventions will be needed until then once restrictions are relaxed, all three conclude. All three reports call for a period of national lockdown, which could only be lifted after certain conditions are met. For AEI, restrictions would ease state-by-state after a state recorded 14 days of falling daily new case numbers. For CAP, the national lockdown would continue for 45 days, while for Harvard, the most draconian, it would last three months. The three plans differ in several of their proposals:
• AEI plan: 14 day lockdown, capacity for 750,000 tests per week
• CAP plan: 45-day lockdown, digital surveillance system for contact tracing
• Harvard plan: Three-month lockdown, millions of daily tests, digital surveillance
The country's ability to expand testing to the levels proposed by Harvard is unclear -- as is the American public's willingness to accept a massive system of digital surveillance tracking their every move. Severe as they may seem, however, ongoing measures such as these may be the only alternative to round after round of recurring lockdowns, if the outbreak reignites before a vaccine is available.”
Within a matter of weeks, the surveillance state has moved into Star Wars warp drive, and the Deep, Deep, Deep, Staters are very excited, at the pants wetting level of excitement!