April 1, 2021

'I’M STILL HERE': Agriculture breathes a sigh of relief after a year of pandemic

The spread of COVID-19 forced the closure or curtailment of many sectors of the economy last spring and sent shockwaves through all facets of agriculture.

Restaurants and other venues were shut down, and many Americans shifted their eating habits to cook-in or take-out.

Agricultural supply chains were disrupted as processors scrambled to switch from foodservice sales to retail. Some commodity contracts were cut back only to be reinstated as the year progressed. Others were canceled.

Caught in the middle were farmers. Their markets shifted or shrank. Milk had to be dumped because there was no longer a buyer for it. The supply of cattle and other livestock was backed up as meat processors struggled to stay open amid the spreading pandemic. Nearly every segment of agriculture experienced some level of turbulence.

And prices gyrated. As price-takers, farmers were at the whim of a marketplace that was transforming and reinventing itself on the fly.

But farmers are also resourceful. Many adapted to the changing marketplace and found new customers.

And with the help of federal programs that protected their bottom line, most farmers made it through the darkest hours of the pandemic.


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