COVID-19 Update: Our recovery task force and other news

April 15, 2020

April 15, 2020, 3:50 p.m. -- email message to staff, faculty, and councils

I am moving to a three times per week update and did not send one yesterday. If there is breaking news on Tuesday or Thursday, I will send an update. Otherwise, plan on receiving my regular Monday message and updates on Wednesday and Friday.

Although we do not know when Iowa will reopen after the COVID-19 restrictions, ISU Extension and Outreach must be prepared to help our state recover. I am forming the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force and today I sent invitations to colleagues from across our system. In general, I am asking the CRTF to identify how ISU Extension and Outreach can best assist Iowa families, farmers, and communities in solving today’s problems and preparing for a thriving future. Stated another way, in a year or five years from now, how will we be remembered?

The CRTF is not meant to replace the work going on within the program areas and in counties. There will be specialized needs from stakeholders and partners that should continue. Rather, the task force will look across our state and our system to identify gaps in our capacity to address the current situation, existing programs that should be amplified, or new opportunities where we can have an impact. Watch for information about how you can provide input to the task force’s work and, ultimately, how you can help contribute to our recovery plan.

Today council chairs will be receiving the new MOU and Addendum based on Structured for Success. The Addendum defines the roles and responsibilities of regional directors and county directors depending on which model is selected. Our goal is that councils will approve, sign, and return the MOU and Addendum by June 1.

The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) has prepared a report on revenue loss to five Iowa commodities due to COVID-19. In this study, the authors estimate the COVID-19 outbreak’s revenue impacts on some of Iowa’s largest agricultural industries:

We estimate overall annual damage of roughly $788 million for corn, $213 million for soybean, over $2.5 billion for ethanol, $658 million for fed cattle, $34 million for calves and feeder cattle, and $2.1 billion for hogs. As more data become available and as the pandemic evolves, these estimates will certainly change, but for now they represent our best assessment of the impact on these industries.

Thank you for the quick response to the survey of how county offices are operating during the current restrictions. All are closed to the public, but still serving Iowans by answering phones and email; reaching out to clients, volunteers, and partners; and offering online activities. Some staff are working remotely, but most offices have someone present in the office most days of the week. Staff report working through the to-do list and doing professional development if they have available time. Three counties reported that there was no available time. Fifteen counties reported that students had inquired about Wi-Fi for a total of 30-35 students.

John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach