California Agriculture Reeling From Pandemic

California Agriculture Reeling From Pandemic

May 14, 2020

Pandemic Continues to Affect California Agriculture

By Tim Hammerich with The AgInformation Network of the West

Through this challenging time for all of us, we have been bringing you weekly roundups of how the pandemic is affecting agriculture around the state. We have a few more of these stories here for you again today.

Most farmers responding to a California Farm Bureau survey reported they had lost sales or customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the voluntary survey, 57% said they had seen sales drop, mainly due to stay-at-home orders that reduced restaurant demand. Another 42% of respondents to the survey said they or a family member had seen their off-farm income decline.

The economic impacts of the pandemic include a drop in home construction, which has hurt sales of timber. One California sawmill operator says he has had to cut production in half as a result. Though housing starts have dropped, market analysts say lumber sales at home-improvement stores have been rising, as people take on remodeling projects, including conversion of rooms into home offices.

The flow of U.S. farm exports to China has increased since the two nations signed a "Phase 1" trade agreement in January, but an American Farm Bureau Federation analysis says sales to China have so far not kept pace with commitments in the agreement. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a role, AFBF says, in part because it has slowed U.S. meat processing for export.

(Source: California Farm Bureau)