As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact agricultural markets and supply chains, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has resources that can help.
“We are seeing the financial crunch hit across all of agriculture,” said Chad Hart, associate professor in economics and extension grain markets specialist with Iowa State University.
Hart said one of the resources Iowans are turning to are the farm financial associates, who volunteer with the Farm Financial Planning Program at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
There are six financial associates who cover the state, with backgrounds in banking and lending. The associates work with farmers on individual financial plans and advising.
Another resource is the ISU Extension and Outreach Farm Management team. A combination of eight field specialists and 10 state specialists are available to help farmers with financial and risk management options, understanding government programs, business planning, marketing and environmental management policies.
Hart said the pandemic is causing significant market declines in both crop and livestock sectors. The crop markets have seen as much as a 10% price decline, and 20% in livestock.
Hart reminds Iowans to follow the updates and budgeting tools found in the monthly editions of Ag Decision Maker, and to take advantage of the Livestock Enterprise Budgets for Iowa, as producers track the rapidly changing markets.
Agronomic information is available on the ISU Extension and Outreach Integrated Crop Management website.
Hart said it’s also critically important for farmers and farm laborers to remain healthy during this time. That includes following the guidance of state and federal health officials, and seeking additional support if feeling stressed. ISU Extension and Outreach operates a 24/7 hotline called Iowa Concern, which is available at 1-800-447-1985.
With the passage of multiple federal stimulus packages, farmers and ranchers can review their options on the COVID-19 web page provided by the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State.
As difficult as the last few weeks have been, Hart said he’s optimistic that markets will improve when we get beyond the pandemic.
“When you think about the underlying demand for our product, it’s still very good,” he said. “What the markets are signaling is once we get past this market disruption, there is reason for optimism again.”
The optimism lies not only with a healthy country, but also the implementation of the recently approved Phase I trade deal with China, which includes the purchase of $12.5 billion in additional agricultural products in 2020, and $19.5 billion in 2021.