We have learned a lot during this pandemic. A lot of people have had to learn how to do their jobs in a slightly different way, and maybe even in a different location.
Of course, hog farmers' jobs at first didn’t change, as their No. 1 concern was, is and always will be the care of the pigs. We all now know that the hog industry changed big time when COVID continued to spread and workers at slaughter facilities began getting sick, causing the plants to close or slow down.
Aside from the disastrous hog backup on farms, the COVID pandemic created, or exposed, other weaknesses that exist in this country, particularly in the rural areas. When stay-at-home orders were issued, and offices were closing, a lot of people found themselves trying to work from their homes, and putting a much greater strain on the system of connectivity.
I am one of the lucky ones, as I was already working from home prior to any utterance of COVID-19, and our broadband internet is reliable and fairly quick. However, when stay-home orders were issued, and schools were closing early for the summer, that once reliable internet connection was all of a sudden feeling strained.
I am surrounded by schoolteachers in my family, and my wife and youngest daughter all of a sudden were needing to use our sole internet connection to continue to bring lessons to their students, while I was also trying to keep up with and bring you the latest information on the hog industry. We tried to play nice with each other, and attempted to stagger our high-use moments so we could each do our jobs to the best of our abilities, and to the ability of our internet.
You probably have also noticed a strain on your home or farm internet, as you maybe attempted to attend one of the many webinars or Zoom sessions that have been organized to replace the various meetings and seminars that used to be held in person.
This techno-strain is only going to get worse, as it looks like not all schools will be able to start in the traditional classroom, meaning students and teachers will get a chance to perfect the distance learning that they exercised in the spring. Schools will either be in-person, all online or a hybrid of the two.
If the all-online or the hybrid model will be adopted, we will soon learn how dependable the broadband infrastructure is in the country. Of course, there are some pockets of the country where internet is not even available.
Citing a Federal Communications Commission report, the USDA says "80% of the 24 million American households that do not have reliable, affordable high-speed internet are in rural areas."
This should be no surprise, that rural America is lacking in just one other infrastructure that so many others take for granted in this country. The availability and accessibility of reliable broadband internet needs to spread across the country, and to all areas.
This is just a matter of National Hog Farmer being able to bring you another educational webinar and you being able to view it seamlessly. This is a matter of our youth falling further behind in their education.