Pandemic’s Economic Shutdown Continues To Plague New York Farmers

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – 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. They have around four-and-a-half million pounds of cabbage and hundreds of tons of butternut squash in cold storage.

And with restaurants and schools closed, the product isn’t moving.

Many dairy farms have had to dump milk, while other farms have 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). When we don’t have any money coming in.  It costs about $1,800 to ship a load of cabbage,” she said.

Betsy and Dean Brightly also can’t sell their firewood yet to Hamlin State Beach Park because the campgrounds remain closed CREDIT BETSY BRIGHTLY

Brightly says having to throw away food will cause long-term problems.

“It takes time to grow things and recoup.  Plus you’re not getting the money for your crops. And that’s what you use to grow the next crop.”

Dean Brightly added 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 Brightly’s also run a retail store where they say, for safety reasons, they are limited to ten customers at a time.

They argue that if we keep breaking the food chain, there will be a lot of farms that aren’t going to survive this.