Report: COVID-19 Increases Uncertainty, Risks for State’s Agriculture Industry

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The state’s agriculture industry and rural areas may be hit hard by significant COVID-19 disruption in the supply chain, labor and government services, according to a report by University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

The 15-page report, released Friday, provides an overview of potential effects of the virus and its economic fallout to beef, pork and chicken; row and field crops; and specialty crops. Potential effects on local government and on tourism are also addressed.

According to the report, the pandemic has caused uncertainty and increases the risk of a serious recession, price volatility and uncertain labor. The availability of agricultural inputs could be threatened as well.

More: See the full report.

“Arkansas is highly reliant on agriculture — a functional food supply chain in these times is critical, and agriculture is very important to the states economy with about a sixth of its economy depending on this sector,” said Mark Cochran, vice president of agriculture for the UA System, in a news release. “We needed to quickly assess the potential impacts all around as the state grapples with this pandemic.

“It’s important to note that this is a first installment,” he said. “We will continue to analyze the situation and provide timely reports from this highly experienced team.” 

Other highlights of the report include:

  • The CARES Act may give short-term relief amid losses of local tax revenue;

  • In a recession, consumers are expected to migrate to less expensive proteins (i.e. they are expected to buy chicken instead of beef); and

  • The crop outlook is mixed.