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COVID-19 impact on Australian agriculture

Sally Beech - Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It's near impossible to disengage from the COVID-19 discussion. Significant impacts are being felt on global economies and disruptions to day-to-day life extend beyond the inexplicable toilet paper panic. Australian agriculture is a highly globalised industry, depending on export markets to sell our produce and importing key inputs such as chemicals and fertilisers from overseas countries. So, what will be the likely impact on the industry from this pandemic? 

We’ve collated a list of resources you can take a look at to improve your understanding of the virus’ impact on our industry – keep checking back as we'll add extra content as we find it. With many sources of information and speculation out there, remember to question a sources’ trustworthiness and never underestimate the value of evidence-based work. 

20–26 April

13–19 April
  • MLA have a dedicated resources page including information on impacts on markets.
  • Safe Work Australia has a series of resources and practical tips on minimising the risk of from COVID-19 in agriculture
  • ABARES have conducted an analysis of Australia’s food security and the COVID-19 pandemic
  • This video from Sugar Research Australia has some tips on decontaminating surfaces in machines such as cabs of tractors and harvesters.
  • ABC News article on how farmers and essential ag workers are protecting food security during COVID-19.

6–12 April
  • Gabrielle Chan's Guardian article on isolation in rural Australia during Covid-19.
  • Rural Bank's Insights Update for April: Estimated impact of global Coronavirus outbreak on Australian agricultural commodities. 
30 March – 5 April
  • For all those working remotely while also taking on the challenge of home-schooling their kids, The Land has a useful article outlining some tips from the 'School of the Air'. 
  • The Federal Government has launched a Coronavirus app available to download for free. Read more in this ABC news article.
  • Check out this idea from the US on building a field hand washing station with items you most likely have lying around anyway.
  • The FAO has answered some questions on the impact of COVID-19 on food and agriculture which you can have a read through here.
  • American Food and Agricultural Economist Jayson Lusk has a useful post on "A Roundup of Resources: COVID-19 Impacts on Food and Agricultural Markets," highlights include:
    • Larry DeBoer from Purdue provided some comments on possible macro-economic impacts at the onset of COVID-19 in the US.
    •  Roberto Gallardo from Purdue released this publication with some interesting data on rural American's ability to work from home, broadband access, and in the midst of COVID-19.  
    • This piece from Ken Foster and Mike Boehlje at Purdue entitled “Managing in Times of Financial Stress” is as relevant today as it was when it was first written in the wake of the Great Recession. 
23–29 March
16–22 March
  • ABC News online: Health Department confirms farmers' markets have been decreed 'essential' and free of coronavirus crowd bans.
  • Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has written an article on Australian food security for The Guardian.
  • Rural Bank's Insights Update for March 2020 provides an analysis of production and pricing trends for Australian agriculture, and discusses the impact of coronavirus on global commodity markets.
  • ABC News online has a good general article the impact of coronavirus on Australian food security.
  • Looking at 2-weeks self-isolation? Get 'cabin fever' tips from farmers in this ABC news article.
  • This blog post by US agricultural economist Jason Lusk discusses the potential impacts of COVID-19 on global food markets.
  • Australia is a net exporter of farmed goods with two-thirds of product sent overseas for consumption – read the NFF's insight on COVID impacts
  • This FarmOnline article links to articles on impacts for specific sectors e.g. dairy, wool and grains.
  • Farmer and a clinical psychologist Steph Schmidt discusses ways to manage the psychological turmoil of the coming weeks.

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