Unable To Earn Money From Farming, Farmers Turn To Uber To Survive
An increasing number of farmers are beginning to engage in the “gig economy” to make ends meet amidst the U.S.-China trade war, according to Axios.
Farmers have been hurt by weather conditions, declining commodity prices, and now, China’s vow to stop purchasing U.S. agricultural products. More farmers are engaging in agritourism, which gives paying visitors a look inside farm life, to help offset their losses.
Tourist entertainments include corn mazes, fruit and vegetable picking, goat yoga, and pizza nights on the farm. Some are even opening their doors to Airbnb guests.
Taylor Huffman, a 3rd generation farmer who runs Lawyer’s Winterbrook Farm in Maryland, told Axios that half her income is derived from the range of activities they now offer, from pumpkin-picking to ziplining. “Hands down we would not be able to pay our bills without it,” she said.
The Denver Post reported that adding a tourism component to a farm can bring in up to $36,000 in revenue (not profit) a year, but it can have expensive startup costs.
China’s announcement that it would cease buying U.S. agricultural products has also pushed farmers to look into the hemp industry, as the derived CBD oil is becoming a trendy “wellness” product.
“The level of interest [in hemp] I get is an exact reflection of the farm economy,” said Todd Van Hoose, CEO of the Farm Credit Council. “People are desperately trying to figure out, is there something else they can do to make a little money out here?”
Although the Trump administration has attempted to compensate farmers for the ongoing trade wars, half of the federal aid went to the biggest and richest farms, according to a study by the Environmental Working Group.