CORONAVIRUS

Economists: Iowa agriculture industry facing billions of dollars in damage

Roger Hotz harvests corn with his combine in Lone Tree. (The Gazette)
Roger Hotz harvests corn with his combine in Lone Tree. (The Gazette)

DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of agriculture economists said Wednesday the coronavirus pandemic will cause billions of dollars in damage to Iowa’s crop and livestock industries.

In a report released Wednesday from Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, the economists said the ethanol industry will see $2.5 billion in losses due to lower fuel demand and the state’s hog industry $2.1 billion in losses due to a drop in restaurant business and closing packing plants.

For farmers, damage to corn is estimated at $788 million, soybeans at $213 million and cattle $34 million.

Economists Dermot Hayes, Chad Hart, Keri Jacobs, Lee Schulz and John Crespi note the numbers will change as the pandemic evolves.

“Iowa is the United States’ second-largest agricultural state, and the impact on Iowa’s agricultural producers, especially of soybean, corn, ethanol, pork and beef is expected to be massive,” they said.

They said social distancing policies appear to be reducing the rate of infection “but they severely curtail economic output and restrict demand.”

Agriculture trade groups and the state’s congressional representatives are asking for increased aid to ease the economic damage.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

On Tuesday, pork industry leaders asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to buy $1 billion worth of bacon, ribs and other products. The items had been intended for restaurants but would be sent to food banks.

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.