COVID-19 Economic Implications for Agriculture, Food, and Rural America
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its associated economic impacts have implications for agriculture, food, and rural America.
ERS’ research program considers links in the farm-to-consumer supply chain that may be affected by the pandemic, including farms, processors, handlers, retail outlets, and trade. ERS also examines the economic impacts of the pandemic on consumers, food assistance program participants, residents of rural America, and farmers.
This page highlights ERS research and data that can help interpret and understand the emerging economic impacts of the pandemic. The page will be updated as more information becomes available.
See also Resources for the Media.
Topics Covered by ERS COVID-19-Related Research
ERS COVID-19-related research and data address impacts related to these key subjects:
- Price spread for pork products increases as processing plant labor shortages continue
- In fiscal year (FY) 2020, USDA’s four largest child nutrition programs provided the fewest meals since FY 2001
- Food insecurity among U.S. children increased in 2020
- U.S. farm sector profits forecast to increase in 2021
- Pandemic response contributed to 32 percent increase in Federal food assistance spending in FY 2020
- Food security projected to improve for 76 low- and middle-income countries by 2031
- Family farm households received an estimated $5.6 billion in assistance from Economic Impact Payments and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation in 2020
- Full-service restaurants experienced a sharp decline in the share of sales among food-away-from-home outlets in 2020
- Most food categories have experienced slower price increases in 2021 compared with 2020
- USDA’s Summer Food Service Program provided a record number of meals in fiscal year 2020
ERS has established a temporary Working Paper series to provide timely research on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food system, consumers, producers, and the economy. This series serves as a vehicle for publishing initial research and analysis on topics relevant to understanding the impacts of the pandemic in a short time frame. The series is not intended to be a long-term publishing series, but one used to disseminate research relevant to the current national pandemic, during the pandemic.
The Working Papers are subject to an expedited review process by ERS economists and social scientists. The findings and conclusions in the Working Papers are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent any official USDA or U.S. Government determination or policy.
- COVID-19 Working Paper: Filling the Pandemic Meal Gap: Disruptions to Child Nutrition Programs and Expansion of Free Meal Sites in the Early Months of the Pandemic
- COVID-19 Working Paper: Meatpacking Working Conditions and the Spread of COVID-19
- COVID-19 Working Paper: Financial Assistance for Farm Operations and Farm Households in the Face of COVID-19
- COVID-19 Working Paper: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Redemptions during the Coronavirus Pandemic
- COVID-19 Working Paper: The Effects of COVID-19 on Food Sales
- COVID-19 Working Paper: International Food Security Assessment, 2020-2030: COVID-19 Update and Impacts of Food Insecurity
- COVID-19 Working Paper: A Timely Tool for Evaluating Financial Conditions in Agriculture: USDA Forecasts of the Value of Production in the Face of COVID-19
- COVID-19 Working Paper: Shares of Commodity Consumption at Home, Restaurants, Fast Food Places, Schools, and Other Away-from-Home Places: 2013-16
ERS Commodity Outlook Reports will account for, and discuss, the economic implications of COVID-19 on the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE). Latest reports:
- Selected Weekly Fruit Movement and Price describes the change in shipment volume, farm prices, and retail prices of select fruit for the week noted. Volume and prices reflect weekly marketing and supply chain conditions which can be affected by various factors including pests, weather, imports, exports, retail promotions, and labor disruptions.
- Selected Weekly Vegetable Movement and Price describes the change in shipment volume, farm prices, and retail prices of select vegetables for the week noted. Volume and prices reflect weekly marketing and supply chain conditions which can be affected by various factors including pests, weather, imports, exports, retail promotions, and labor disruptions.
- Find the latest on COVID-19 directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.coronavirus.gov.
- USDA COVID-19 FAQs provides answers to questions frequently asked by USDA customers, stakeholders, and the general public. Find FAQs related to ERS under “Economic Research.”
- CDC Situation Summary
- EPA Disinfectant List
- FEMA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response
- Frequently Asked Questions from the CDC
- Homeland Security Resources
- State Department Travel Information
- World Health Organization