Volume 19, Issue 1
Bir, Courtney; Peel, Derrell; Holcomb, Rodney; Raper, Kellie; Jones, J.J.
COVID-19 caused meat processing plant shutdowns, increasing public concern regarding the current processing system. We identify numerous issues and limitations to provide the basis for a discussion about the challenges of increasing local and smallscale processing. These include labor, inspection availability, rendering services, capital, waste management/environmental, water, liability and throughput consistency issues. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry received $10 million in grants for the Food Supply Stability Plan for Oklahoma meat processors. This work examines the potential impact of an increased number of local meat processors, and the incentives created by Oklahoma to encourage such actions.
Lacy, Katherine; Ward, Ruby; Bordigioni, Malieka; Emm, Staci; Allen, Karin; Whyte, Anne
The onset of COVID-19 resulted in the disruption of many supply chains, mainly caused by impacts to labor, transportation, and declining market demand. The meat industry experienced some of the most significant supply chain impacts due to the current structure of the meat processing industry. Meat processing is a highly consolidated industry with production lines designed and dedicated to specific end consumers. This organizational structure contributed to livestock backlogs, leading to decreased production, consumer meat shortages, and increased consumer prices. As a result, many states are examining their existing meat supply chain to determine the feasibility of establishing local processing plants. This paper will present responses from states to meat supply interruptions, results from a meat processing facility feasibility study, and results from a survey of Nevada and Utah residents conducted during the summer of 2020 which captures consumer preferences for locally raised ground beef.
Sumner, Daniel A.; Hanon, Tristan M.; Somerville, Scott
Western dairy accounts for 46% of U.S. milk production and was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in complex ways. The pandemic led to large fluctuations in U.S. prices of milk and dairy products. High prices during the summer made up for steep declines in the spring. Western milk production was up over 2019. Farm milk receipts were about the same as in 2019, and about 12% higher than in 2018. However, due to large government payments, 2020 was a relatively high net income year for the Western dairy industry, despite the variability and stresses caused by the pandemic.
Jones, DeDe; Klose, Steven; Keeling, Will; Kaasse, Greg
Texas High Plains producers faced many new uncertainties with the arrival of COVID-19. Significant supply chain disruptions, reductions in consumer demand and decreases in travel negatively affected agricultural operations. In addition, efforts taken to stem contagion lessened the amount of food consumed away from home, and restrictions on movement sharply reduced gasoline usage, and with it demand for grain ethanol. Elevated cases among livestock processing facilities disrupted normal business practices and increased costs. In fact, early in the pandemic the Texas High Plains region was considered a COVID-19 “hot spot” as many area processing plants faced reduced workforces and slower production times due to high numbers of positive cases. This study looks at the farm-level impacts of COVID-19 on six case study model operations created by local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Risk Management Specialists.
Goodrich, Brittney; Kiesel, Kristin; Bruno, Ellen
California consistently leads the U.S. in the value of agricultural commodities produced, specializing in the production of high-value fruit, vegetable, and nut crops. In this article, we outline the short-term, medium-term, and evolving long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on California’s produce and tree nut industries. Many of California’s top commodities are labor intensive and highly perishable, e.g., strawberries and lettuce, and consequently these types of commodities experienced some of the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These initial impacts included higher production costs due to social distancing and other worker protection measures, and the discarding of millions of dollars’ worth of produce which was intended for the food service sector. Other top commodities, such as almonds and processing tomatoes, have highly mechanized operations with relatively non-perishable products. These have been more resilient to the short-run effects of the pandemic on supply chains but have experienced disruptions in international trade. In this article, we highlight the differential effects of the pandemic on California’s high-value crops across the food service and retail supply chains, discuss the mitigating effects of federal, state and industry support, and highlight emerging consumer trends.
Hill, Alexandra E.; Martin, Philip
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the US economy and labor market, sending the US unemployment rate to almost 15 percent in April 2020. Almost all agricultural industries were deemed critical infrastructure industries, meaning that farm, food processing, transport, and supermarket workers were expected to continue working during lockdowns. We document three major effects of the pandemic on farm labor. First, there is, as of yet, no evidence of significant farm labor shortages due to COVID-19, as had been feared early in the pandemic. Second, the H-2A guest worker program expanded despite high unemployment rates, highlighting the difficulties of moving jobless nonfarm workers into seasonal farm jobs. Third, we postulate that COVID-19 and fears of future pandemics will accelerate three ongoing trends: investments and improvements in labor-saving mechanization, increasing utilization of H-2A guest workers, and rising imports.
Dimke, Christine; Lee, Marissa C.; Bayham, Jude
The COVID-19 pandemic has had broad impacts on American society. As remote work became increasingly common and population density became a liability, many people reconsidered where they live. Using mobile device data, we document the influx of people to rural areas with high scenic and recreational amenities. While an influx of people to these areas led to an early rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths, that effect was short-lived. Since mid-April, these rural areas with high amenities have experienced substantially lower disease burden. We conclude with a discussion of the risks and opportunities posed by this influx to rural communities.
Kiesel, Kristin; Ehmke, Mariah D.; Boys, Kathryn; Katare, Bhagyashree; Penn, Jerrod; Bergtold, Jason
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked the rapid transition of 1.9 million university student from in-person to remote learning during the spring of 2020. Popular press and recent research reports highlighted serious challenges many students faced during this time. Yet, some students had a good or even very good remote learning experience. The purpose of this research is to analyze student perspectives of their remote learning experiences in the early phase of the pandemic to provide valuable insights to instructors, inform instructional design, and discuss policy implications. We surveyed students from colleges of agriculture at six land-grant universities, generating a sample of 2,690 completed responses. Students described their academic experience; learning environments (living situations, internet access, etc.); health, safety and family concerns; and emotional stressors. Opportunities for active student engagement, being able to connect with the instructor, and the inclusion of reflective assignments all contributed to an improved learning experience in a specific course. We found that a positive prior online experience and differences in learning environments explained observed differences in overall learning experiences. Students who felt discriminated against in their university settings reported a more negative experience during these tumultuous times, and experiences varied significantly across universities. Contrary to the experiences of women in the labor market, students identifying as female and students living with children reported better overall experiences during the first month of the pandemic.
Brown, Roger; Hamilton, Lynn; Kiesel, Kristin; Treme, Julianne; Zuo, Na
In March 2020, faculty across the nation were forced to suddenly transform their inperson classes to virtual platforms as a result of COVID-19 university closures. Virtual offerings continued throughout the 2020-21 academic year for most universities. We share our own observations gathered from biweekly meetings of AAEA’s Teaching, Learning, and Communication (TLC) section, where participants discuss best practices for remote instruction. Our paper addresses several themes, including the challenges of teaching in a virtual environment, the positive outcomes of the pivot to remote teaching, and perspectives regarding how university education may be forever altered when we return to the classroom.