Support Local: when the service industry hurts, the ag community hurts

Farmers are still grappling with the devastating blow the restaurant industry has seen from the pandemic. That is why many are calling on consumers to support local. Some are also using it as a call to help members of the ag community.

Like so many across America, this restaurant in McAllen, Texas has been fighting for its life since last March.

“Local businesses need more support right now than the chains do,” restaurant owner David Martinez states. “We can’t bring all our employees back because the business isn’t the same.”

Martinez wants to be able to pay some more people again and let us not forget when you are doing business with a restaurant like this you are also doing a lot to help local farmers.

Martinez says that farming is a major industry in south Texas. The age-old law of supply and demand applies to farmers here.

“The same reason I ask people to support local, I want to support local farmers and if they’re not, if there’s nobody to buy their produce there’s nobody to help support them,” he explains.

His restaurant, like many small local restaurants, depends a great deal on local farms.

“As far as we’re concerned, everything is homemade. We make all of our pasta, all of our dough, all of our sauces. We make everything from scratch every day here,” he adds. “Nothing bagged. Nothing frozen. We have one door freezer; that’s only to hold certain things that we make that we have to freeze.”

A Texas A&M Agrilife Extension spokesman says that a lot of ag products are exported out of this country. So, there is still a demand, but they also note there is a need for Americans to go local.

“Does it affect the demand? Yes, it does. Does it affect agricultural prices? Yes, it does. How drastic is that for the local farmer and ranchers? It does affect them,” Omar Montemayor states.

He adds that many farmers in south Texas are not able to farm full-time: “They still depend on another job to supplement their income. So, as our communities are hurting, naturally, a lot of these agriculture producers are going to hurt, as well, because it’s probably going to affect the job they have.”

He says, simply put, when the community is hurting, a lot of ag producers are going to be hurting as well.