Agriculture is severely affected due to COVID-19.
Everything has changed since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak worldwide. Of course, the pillars of civilisation were not ready for it. COVID-19 hasn’t yet stopped disrupting business like before from day-to-day schedules to the largest industries.
Agriculture is one of all. It has been in a vulnerable state since the first day of the outbreak. Here are how the SARS-CoV-2 has been disrupting agricultural processes, food distribution, and trade around the globe.
Whole Markets Closed
Dairy producers of the U.S. were already facing a financial crisis before the pandemic. A report shows that dairy producers are now facing plummeting prices and an overabundance of supply due to a collapse in export business. Usually, China imports a massive bulk of dairy products.
Due to the pandemic, people are avoiding consuming outside food could be another factor which is likely to impacting milk and cheese productions and leading an unbalanced supply and demand chain. Nearly 40% of dairy production supports foodservice companies, many of which are operating in a limited capacity.
March recorded a 36% drop in the price of corn futures, a 31% drop in hog futures, 14% and 8% drops in soybean and cotton futures, respectively. Although in most of these cases, there is no hindrance in the supply chain, most of the farming community can’t move their products to restaurants, schools, universities, and hotels because lucrative markets aren’t buying like before.
Bottlenecks all over the Supply Chain
Agriculture meets two fundamental requirements. One is stapling commodities such as corn, soybeans, wheat and oilseeds, and the other one is high-value commodities like fish, vegetables, and fruits. Both distribution and transportation require synergy between the involved parties. It could be factories and freight companies or distributors and grocery stores.
Bottlenecks can occur at any of these steps. Currently, some of the most disruptive effects of coronavirus are in food processing plants and cross-border shipments. The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) discovers that most food processing plants, including labour-intensive packing and sorting lines, were not comfortable with social distancing standards when the pandemic began.
Insufficient Personal Protective Equipment
Lack of professional-grade medical equipment is a common problem across the United States. Although people did not hoard the N-95 respirators in the beginning, these are now closely guarded by states and carefully rationed to medical personnel.
Only 10% of 3M’s output of N95 masks went to the health care sector before COVID-19. Now, 90% of 3M’s respirators will meet medical needs. That leaves fewer options for other essential workers. Experts expect this dust to be fierce this spring.
Delayed Product Launches
Heavy farming equipment is another area that requires improvement. It was in poor shape before the pandemic and was even worse after the virus raged. Failing to meet farm income, trade wars and climate challenges have put pressure on the United States farm and agricultural equipment market for years. In the wake of COVID-19, factory closures, and supply chain reductions have compounded the industry’s financial problems.
As per the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)’s President Dennis Slater, agricultural equipment industry employs 2.8 million citizens every year. That’s why AEM is lobbying the government to ‘guarantee the viability’ of the industry by reclassifying people in the equipment supply chain as potential workers.
AEM spokesperson says the industry faces a ‘grave crisis’ that is likely to impact the availability. For a long time, manufacturers may delay or even end up cancelling new products they had in the pipeline.
Threats to Farmers’ Health
Farmers are the most determined and most inflexible humans you’ll come across anywhere. However, their way of living takes a toll on their body and mind. In the U.S, the average age of farm operates is 57.5, almost ten years older than the average in other professions. The global outbreak of coronavirus is a direct threat to the farming community because studies on the virus show that it inadequately affects the elderly.
Agriculture and Coronavirus
Like other industries, agriculture will perhaps need to find a new normal once the COVID-19 era comes to an end. Until then, people must concentrate on finding ways to protect the essential humans within the industry from impactful market to world events.