While much of the economy is shut down because of the coronavirus, America’s farms continue needing their usual attention. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke to Patrick Smith, who runs the apple and hops farm Loftus Ranches in Yakima, Washington.
“We’re considered an essential business by the state of Washington,” Smith said. “So we’re doing everything we can to continue the critical activities that we need to do, with a lot of added precautions for the sake of our employees.” Smith has recommended that they wear masks and has implemented staggered start and end times for his workers.
“The hardest part right now is projecting what your demand looks like for the rest of this year,” Smith said. He saw a 52% spike in apple shipments the week of March 16. “That was the week when everybody started going out buying toilet paper and all the things that they needed.” Since then, Smith said apple sales have settled down.
In addition to apples, Loftus Ranches farms hops, and the Smith family runs a brewery. “Packaged beer sales in grocery stores and outlets like that are up, but probably not enough to cover up for the lost volumes at bars, restaurants, stadiums and airports.” At Smith’s own brewery, Bale Breaker Brewing Co., packaged sales have increased, but the bar has been closed for about a month.
Click the audio player above to hear the interview.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Which businesses are allowed to reopen right now? And which businesses are actually doing so?
As a patchwork of states start to reopen, businesses that fall into a gray area are wondering when they can reopen. In many places, salons are still shuttered. Bars are mostly closed, too, although restaurants may be allowed to ramp up, depending on the state. “It’s kind of all over the place,” said Elizabeth Milito of the National Federation of Independent Business.
Will you be able to go on vacation this summer?
There’s no chance that this summer will be a normal season for vacations either in the U.S. or internationally. But that doesn’t mean a trip will be impossible. People will just have to be smart about it. That could mean vacations closer to home, especially with gas prices so low. Air travel will be possible this summer, even if it is a very different experience than usual.
When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?
The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.
You can find answers to more questions here.
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