Farmers feeling the effects of COVID-19

Purdue Agricultural Economist Michael Langemeier said soybean profits are about the same as what was expected before the pandemic, but it may take a while for corn prices to come back up.

Posted: Aug 20, 2020 6:21 PM
Updated: Aug 20, 2020 6:51 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — It's good news and bad news for farmers when it comes to the USDA's most recent crop report.

The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for the ups and downs in the industry.

"The farming environment is already a kind of dangerous occupation," said Gilbert. "It just makes you kind of take that one more step and think about safety a little bit more."

Greg Gilbert has been farming in Tippecanoe County for 16 years. He never imagined he'd be doing so during a pandemic.

"Your frame of mind is kind of changed," Gilbert explained. "Your work environment. How you go about your work environment."

That includes how to safely farm 4,000 acres of corn and soybeans.

"Each individual had a dedicated tractor," he said. "If you couldn't do a dedicated tractor, you'd disinfect it real good before you utilized the equipment."

COVID-19 has affected more than how Gilbert runs his business. He says a lower demand for corn has affected prices.

"We kind of saw cash corn prices there mid-March around $4 dollars declining to around $3 dollars now," Gilbert explained.

Thirty-five to 40 percent of all corn produced in the United States goes to the ethanol industry.

With Americans driving less due to quarantine, the need for ethanol is down, and it's going to change the way farmers look at growing their business.

"There's going to be less money available to perhaps rent that farm that's next to you or less money available to purchase the land that's next to you," Purdue Agricultural Economist Michael Langemeier explained.

Langemeier said soybean profits are about the same as what was expected before the pandemic, but it may take a while for corn prices to come back up.

"If you have the low prices that's going to perhaps reduce supply next year so the prices can improve next year and the year after," said Langemeier.

That's something Gilbert looks forward too. In the meantime, he's focusing on keeping his staff healthy.

"Just operate with safety as your top priority and everybody goes home at night safe and sound," said Gilbert.

Langemeier said COVID-19 is also impacting livestock, particularly pork. That's due to an increase in production.

He also said there's been an increase in crop exports to other countries.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

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Reported Deaths: 3503
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