Study analyzes impact of COVID-19 on Iowa?s Ag economy

by | Apr 17, 2020 | 5 Ag Stories, News

We knew these numbers were going to be coming. These are numbers we don?t necessarily want to look at, but we have to understand if we are going to understand the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our economy as a whole, and the agricultural sector in particular. Iowa State University?s (ISU) Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD)released a report measuring the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic is having and will have on Iowa agriculture.

Audio: Full interview with Dr. Chad Hart of Iowa State University.

The numbers aren?t pretty. This is how ISU CARD breaks down the annual overall damage estimates:

  • $788 million for corn
  • $213 million for soybeans
  • $658 million for fed cattle
  • $34 million for calves and feeder cattle
  • $2.1 billion (with a b) for hogs
  • $2.5 billion for ethanol

Dr. Chad Hart is an Associate Professor of Economics at Iowa State University. Dr. Hart explains what they looked at in this impact study. Those numbers above add up to roughly $6 billion dollars in impact if prices don?t change in 2020.

Iowa leads the United States in the production of both pork and ethanol. This is where the teeth of COVID-19 have really sunk into, in the Ag economy.

We have talked at length about the impact that ethanol absolutely did not need. However, Dr. Hart says this was an impact nobody in the Ag sector needed. Farmers have been feeling the pinch for several years now.

Dr. Hart says we must understand this is not just an immediate impact study. They also forecasted what the damage could be. However, this depends on the timing of a bounce back to normalcy.

This isn?t the first economic downturn we have seen in recent years. Just twelve years ago, things were affected adversely. As Dr. Hart points out, this is something that comes around only once in generations.

The big question now is enough being done to help keep us sustained and moving forward. Dr. Hart talks about the moves we have made is the course of only a month.

There is so much of Iowa?s economy which ties to agriculture, so numbers like this can be disheartening. However, as Dr. Hart pointed out throughout much of this talk; it is speculation based on this snapshot in time. This will change as time goes by. We don?t know when things will turn around, but the truth is that COVID-19 cannot last forever.