California Agriculture and COVID-19
In recent weeks, we’ve been sharing stories of how California agriculture is adapting under the current circumstances stemming from COVID-19. I have a few more for you here today.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic reverberate through California agriculture, according to speakers at an online forum. During a virtual town hall hosted by chairs of the Legislature's agriculture committees, economists said changes in diets and buying habits have disrupted every aspect of the farming business. One analyst said agriculture faces a "one-two punch" from the pandemic shutdown and a slow economic recovery.
By mid-May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to begin shipping food boxes to food banks through a new program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. An analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation says the food boxes will be packaged for household use, and will contain fresh produce, dairy and meat products. AFBF says more Americans will likely need food assistance due to pandemic-related job losses.
Though classes have transitioned to virtual instruction, the student farm at Fresno State University continues operating, while observing social-distancing protocols. The university says its Agricultural Laboratory has maintained a "near-normal pace" the past month. Students continue to care for livestock and to manage orchards, vineyards and vegetable crops on campus. The farm market at Fresno State has remained open as well.