Moving Forward in 2021
By Doug Miyamoto
As the weather starts to warm up and the days get longer, it’s clear spring is on its way. This is a time producers across this great state look forward to each year because it’s the beginning of another growing season and the possibilities that come with it are endless.
This year holds even more promise than previous years because of the challenges everyone has faced since last spring, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As producers are all very aware, the pandemic created challenges for almost every person and industry across this country. Wyoming and the agriculture industry were no different.
Producers across this great state felt the pinch of the pandemic. From difficulties in processing their livestock due to plant shutdowns, to lowered demand for certain agricultural products, to challenges in staffing their operations with necessary employees, the agriculture industry in Wyoming and across the nation faced many challenges.
Thankfully, producers in Wyoming are a resilient bunch of savvy business people who have weathered many different types of storms throughout their careers and lives in this industry. Along with their perseverance and work ethic, many producers across this state were also helped by a variety of programs intended to help sustain their operations.
Producers were able to participate in programs at the federal level such as the Coronavirus Food Assistance Programs, the Paycheck Protection Program, the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and more. These programs provided producers with the opportunity to recover some of their lost revenues, help pay their employees and receive some reimbursements to help bridge the economic gap caused by the pandemic.
Along with this, Wyoming producers and processors were able to participate in programs like the Wyoming Meat Processing Expansion Program which approved 40 grants for a total of approximately $5 million to meat processors in Wyoming and the Wyoming Business Council’s Business Relief Program Agriculture Fund which distributed $35.1 million to 514 applicants.
These state and federal programs provided a lifeline for producers in Wyoming who were hit especially hard by the economic hardships of the pandemic.
Even though the past year was unprecedented and difficult for everyone, there were some silver linings for the agriculture industry. Over the last year, the value and importance of our industry has never been more apparent.
When panic buying and processing challenges across the U.S. created decreased availability of products in grocery stores, it shined a spotlight on agriculture and created greater interest in local products. Specifically, this light was on local meat from local producers who use local processors.
By purchasing directly from our great producers and utilizing state inspected processing options, the high-quality Wyoming beef we produce is in higher demand in Wyoming than ever.
With 2020 behind us and a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we are looking forward to a productive and positive 2021 for agriculture. The start of spring brings more daylight, warmer weather and all of the promise of a new day.
Agriculture is a vital part of the state and this industry delivers value to Wyoming on a daily basis. It provides strong economic impacts, supports rural communities, maintains open spaces and is crucial to the culture of Wyoming.
Along with buying local products and supporting our industry, I hope people take some time this spring to learn more about agriculture and all it gives to our great state.
Doug Miyamoto is the director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, visit wyagric.state.wy.us.