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Farmers continue to be impacted by economic shutdown caused by coronavirus pandemic

Betsy Brightly

The owners of an area farm say the nation needs to strike a balance between public health concerns and getting the economy going again, as many farms struggle during the COVID-19 crisis.

Dean and Betsy Brightly run Brightly Farms in Hamlin and have around 4.5 million pounds of cabbage and hundreds of tons of butternut squash in cold storage. With restaurants and schools closed, the product isn't moving.

It's a similar story for many dairy farms which have had to dump milk; other farms had to plow over crops.

Betsy Brightly says they are donating some food, but there are high costs associated with that.

"We cannot afford (it)," she said. "When we don't have any money coming in.  It costs about $1,800 to ship a load of cabbage."

Credit Betsy Brightly
Betsy and Dean Brightly also can't sell their firewood yet to Hamlin State Beach Park because the campgrounds remain closed

Brightly says throwing away food will cause long-term problems.

"It takes time to grow things and recoup," she said. "Plus, you're not getting the money for your crops. And that's what you use to grow the next crop."

Dean Brightly added that they grow a lot of produce on their farm, but some tough decisions are coming up.

"We don't know how much to grow of these vegetables coming up because, how many sales are we going to have,” he said.

The Brightlys also run a retail store where, for safety reasons, they are limited to ten customers at a time.

They argue that if we keep breaking the food chain, there won't be a lot of farms that will survive pandemic.