COVID-19 and the rural economy
A Zoom meeting
On May 22, 2020, the CSG East Agriculture and Rural Development Committee hosted the third in a series of three hour-long webinars examining agriculture, food, and rural issues in the age of COVID-19. The virtual meeting focused on the economics of COVID-19 as it affects farms, processing, and the rural economy.
Catherine De Ronde, Senior Economist, Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative, recounted the recent history of the dairy industry, noting that dairy farmers had already been living through five years of low milk prices and little to no profit when COVID arrived. Many of the traditional markets for milk were disrupted, casting the industry further into an oversupply position resulting in still lower prices. De Ronde also forecast the future for the northeast dairy industry.
Stephan Goetz, PhD, Agriculture Economist at Penn State University, then examined agriculture and rural issues in the age of COVID-19, including
- rural vs. urban fatalities and COVID hot spots in proximity to farms;
- spending reductions by consumers;
- impacts on agritourism and direct-to-consumer sales;
- meat processing and packaging industry challenges; and
- consumer spending by food source before and after the shutdown.
John Newton, PhD, Economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, addressed the economy of the agriculture and rural sectors, including:
- the eight years of declining farm income prior to COVID-19;
- where and how people ate before — and now after — the economic shut down and how that has affected markets and processing;
- how demand for gasoline (corn ethanol) and clothing plummeted and how that has affected the sector;
- how the changes in packing plants affected farm income and demand;
- where and how much money agriculture received from the CARES Act;
- the Food Box Program; and
- off-farm layoffs and the impact on income for farm families.
The CSG East Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee thanks our speakers for their excellent presentations and our members who participated.
You can view a recording of the entire Zoom meeting below. Feel free to share the slides or video with legislators you feel may be interested.
CSG East will continue to bring you, our members, important information to help you in your decision-making process, particularly in this uncharted waters of COVID-19. Please let us know if you would like us to address any particular issues in future meetings.