My Economy

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

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

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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