Coronavirus (COVID-19) has already caused significant disruptions to global travel, business, and people's consumption habits. But what does this mean for the U.S. agricultural sector, and especially farmers in Texas?
With a lot of stress around the world about the outbreak, is there any reason that those in the agriculture business should worry?
The Coronavirus outbreak started in the Hubei province of China.
According to the Center for Disease Control, it started in a live animal market in Wuhan City and then mutated so that it passes from human to human.
The virus affects the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms include coughing and fever.
How Does Coronavirus Spread?
Coronavirus usually spreads due to contact with an infected person (by shaking hands, for example), or by touching something that has the virus on it. In both cases, the virus is transferred with the uninfected person touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Close contact with or proximity to a person infected with coronavirus, especially when the infected person is coughing or sneezing, is the most efficient way to spread the virus. The speed at which this virus spreads is what is causing most of the concern on the worldwide scale.
The fact that people have been reporting symptoms that only appear up to a month after their exposure to the virus is also causing concern. The late manifestation of the virus means that people are unknowingly spreading the virus for some time before they take measures to reduce transmission.
How Can You Avoid Getting Sick?
The best thing that you can do to avoid getting sick from the coronavirus is to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly and to avoid touching your face. The following measures should also be taken to mitigate the spread of coronavirus:
Avoid travel, especially to areas that have confirmed cases of the virus.
Avoid large gatherings.
If you feel sick, be sure to avoid contact with others, and get in touch with a medical professional as soon as you can.
Another sure-fire way to help your immune system out is by staying hydrated, sleeping, and eating well. Consider grabbing some vitamin C next time you are at the store!
Now we can get into the agricultural impacts of the virus...
The Impact of Coronavirus on US Agriculture
Does Coronavirus Affect Animals?
Though animals can contract this strain of the virus, they cannot spread it right now. There have also been no reported cases of animal viruses in the US since the outbreak.
What Does the Outbreak Severity in China Mean for US Agriculture?
In January, China signed an agreement to purchase approximately 40 billion dollars worth of US agricultural goods per year over the next two years. With the outbreak, there is some uncertainty about whether this agreement can be met.
On the one hand, China's own harvesting, packaging, and transportation infrastructure has been disrupted, meaning that they may have to turn to U.S. supplied goods to shore up supply. Demand for cattle especially could increase due to a shortage of pork (caused by recent outbreak of African swine fever which impacted pig farms throughout China).
On the other hand, the disruptions have suppressed demand and China's ability to take in imports.
More specifically, China’s ports are over capacity and they might not be able to even accept imported goods from the United States right now. And more people staying at home and watching their budgets mean lower demand for perishable foods like beef.
Regarding cattle, the current trend seems to be downward, but a sharp rebound for U.S. cattle producers should also be expected once outbreak concerns subside. This relief could come from governments the world over, eager to buy U.S. agricultural goods to make up for losses in their own agricultural sectors. So, compared to the economy as a whole, agriculture should fair well in the coming months, given that demand for food is relatively consistent.
Agricultural products not used for food, like cotton, might expect tougher times ahead.
Coronavirus: Caution & Outlook
Though this is speculation at the moment, the coronavirus could not only affect sales from US farms but also investment in US agriculture if the outlook continues to look unpromising.
Right now, the best thing to do is to keep an eye on the market and on any updates regarding the virus. Keeping informed is the best way to be prepared in the upcoming months. Check back to our blog for any updates on the outbreak’s impact on agriculture as well as other news and tips concerning land ownership in Texas.