Ag News

COVID-19: Essays address economic impact on agriculture

by Georgia Farm Bureau

Posted on Jul 22, 2020 at 0:00 AM

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association have partnered together on a new paper, Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Food and Agricultural Markets. This publication contains insights from 31 experts and is now available for download.

Among the essays is one by UGA Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics Jeff Dorfman, who wrote about macroeconomic impacts and policies.

Many countries shut down large segments of their economies, with most employees working remotely if possible. Doing so “led to a sharp and significant loss in gross domestic product and a rapid rise in unemployment and underemployment,” Dorfman wrote. “The challenge is to restore as much economic activity as possible while maintaining some measure of control and mitigation of the novel coronavirus.”

COVID-19 disrupted nations around the world this year. People have had to alter their typical lifestyle, and the measures put into effect to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have had an immense impact on economic activity, employment, food consumption and workplace environments.

The paper's authors discuss macroeconomics, trade, supply chain, consumer behavior, food service/grocery, meat processing, forestry and wood products, local food systems, food waste, food insecurity, major commodity crops, agricultural finance, agricultural labor, rural health care, and research and outreach priorities.

“Between food producers and consumers lies a complex and often-ignored food supply chain. It is ignored in part because it has consistently provided safe and plentiful food supplies,” said Keith Coble, the department head for agricultural economics at Mississippi State University.

Most of the time people's attention is on food-borne illnesses instead of looking at shutdowns that could affect the labor supply.

“The COVID-19 crisis has also shown us the danger of disregarding scientific knowledge. There is a need to reassess the regulation of new technologies in the United States and globally,” said David Zilberman, a professor in the agricultural and resource economics department at the University of California, Berkeley.

To access the complete report, visit

Meanwhile, the ethanol industry has already sustained more than $3.4 billion in lost revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which released the results of pandemic-related economic analysis on July 15. The analysis, provided by RFA Chief Economist Scott Richman, projects nearly $9 billion in lost revenue by 2021.

Richman, using data from the Energy Information Administration and the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute during the period of March-June, found that the cumulative decline in ethanol production and consumption exceeded 1.3 billion gallons. Nearly 500 million fewer bushels of corn were used in ethanol production, and industry revenue from ethanol and co-products sales were reduced by more than $3.4 billion due to the combination of reduced output and lower prices.

The RFA report is available at

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