How Have Ag Professionals Handled COVID-19?

With businesses and cities beginning to open up in the United States after the COVID-19 virus shut down much of the globe, at Ag Access we wanted to know more specifically how the pandemic affected professionals within the agriculture industry. During early May we reached out to our community members to get a more detailed glimpse. We reached a mixture of operations, with the majority being row crop farmers and livestock producers.  

All of our respondents reported feeling comfortable that they would be able to get all their inputs in upon the season starting in early May. However, when asked what the biggest impact COVID-19 has had on their family and operations, market uncertainty and concerns over prices were the most common responses.

“Grain prices have plummeted.  Livestock prices are down. Farmers are concerned if they get sick how they will operate.”

– Ag Access Community Member

Across all operations, nearly all respondents (97%) said they are more likely to stay with their current suppliers and 81% cited that no new suppliers even reached out to them in early May. A notable amount (16%) of respondents reported that they expect their operations’ usage of precision agirculture data to rise, while 68% expect to use about the same amount.

While much of the nation went under a stay-at-home order, the New York Times reported that social media use grew as the general public aimed to stay connected while at home. Interestingly, a fair majority (63%) of our agriculture professionals reported using social media the same amount during the pandemic, while only 32% said they were using social media more. However, much like the rest of the nation, many of our respondents also said they were now using Zoom more. 

In regards to other communications during the pandemic, ag professionals felt that overall other professionals and retailers in the ag industry kept up with the “right amount” of communication.

Each business was rated on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being “no change” in operation(s) and 7 being an extreme change in operation(s).

However, a significant amount of respondents (32%) said that Government regulators (USDA and local offices) were communicating too little, while 25% also marked banking sectors as communicating with them “too little” during this hard time.

The pandemic has caused communications to change and industries have experienced the need to create new immediate,operational standards. When we asked our audiences what they’ve experienced, they reported little to no change in operations when it came to specialty ag retailers, farm help, and consultants/ agronomy.  The majority of respondents surveyed were from Midwest states. 

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