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My Economy

A family farm’s quandary: small kids, no school and harvest around the corner

Andie Corban Jul 9, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Lou Benoist/AFP via Getty Images
My Economy

A family farm’s quandary: small kids, no school and harvest around the corner

Andie Corban Jul 9, 2020
Lou Benoist/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Anne Schwagerl and her husband, Peter, work full time on their 360-acre farm in Browns Valley, Minnesota. However, their life on Prairie Point Farm has been different recently, as their children haven’t been in school or day care since mid-March because of the coronavirus.

“We have had our full family involved on the farm,” Schwagerl said. “The kids have been not super helpful yet, but they’re 6 and 4. It’s pretty tough to get that to work all the time.”

During planting season in April, Schwagerl was relieved to have good weather conditions. Instead of spending her days in the fields with her husband, they rotated between planting and helping their children with distance learning.

Anne and Peter Schwagerl with their two children.
Anne and Peter Schwagerl with their two children. (Courtesy Anne Schwagerl)

“The really big question mark right now is whether there’ll be school this fall,” Schwagerl said. “Because harvest season, almost more than planting, is all hands on deck. That would be really hard to manage with both kids and no child care.”

As a farmer, Schwagerl said she’s had to get used to all the things she can’t control, like the markets or the weather. Uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and what it means for her children is yet another thing she can’t control.

“That’s been just another layer on that cake of just trying to let go and knowing that what’s gonna happen is gonna happen.”

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COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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