CAST Releases Commentary on Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Food and Agricultural Markets

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The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) and the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) 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.

COVID-19 disrupted nations around the world in 2020. 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 the following topics: 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.

Keith Coble, the department head for agricultural economics at Mississippi State University, said, “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.” 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,” stated David Zilberman, a professor in the agricultural and resource economics department at the University of California, Berkeley.

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,” said Jeffrey Dorfman, an agricultural and applied economics professor at the University of Georgia. “The challenge is to restore as much economic activity as possible while maintaining some measure of control and mitigation of the novel coronavirus.”

The commentary, Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Food and Agricultural Markets, is available to download for free on CAST’s website.

Task Force Authors

  • Jayson Lusk (Chair), Purdue University and AAEA Past President
  • John D. Anderson (Chair), University of Arkansas
  • Diane Charlton, Montana State University
  • Keith Coble, Mississippi State University and AAEA President
  • Alison Davis, University of Kentucky
  • Adam Dewey, Feeding America
  • Jeffrey H. Dorfman, University of Georgia
  • Brenna Ellison, University of Illinois
  • Emily Engelhard, Feeding America
  • Allen M. Featherstone, Kansas State University
  • Jason Grant, Virginia Tech
  • Craig Gundersen, University of Illinois
  • Monica Hake, Feeding America
  • Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois
  • Scott Irwin, University of Illinois
  • Ananth Iyer, Purdue University
  • Sarah A. Low, University of Missouri
  • Trey Malone, Michigan State University
  • Josh Maples, Mississippi State University
  • Jill J. McCluskey, Washington State University and AAEA Past President
  • Brandon McFadden, University of Delaware
  • Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr., University of Arkansas
  • Timothy J. Richards, Arizona State University
  • Bradley J. Rickard, Cornell University
  • Lee Schulz, Iowa State University
  • Ian Sheldon, Ohio State University
  • Shaun M. Tanger, Mississippi State University
  • Dawn Thilmany McFadden, Colorado State University
  • Glynn Tonsor, Kansas State University
  • Norbert Wilson, Tufts University
  • David Zilberman, University of California, Berkeley and AAEA Past President

About CAST

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology is an international consortium of scientific and professional societies, companies, and nonprofit organizations. Through its network of experts, CAST assembles, interprets, and communicates credible, balanced, science-based information to policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.

Date of Publication: 
July, 2020