The emergence of COVID-19 in the United States has created substantial challenges for all segments of the meat supply chain, but especially for producers and consumers. Read more.
Farm credit conditions in the Federal Reserve’s Tenth District continued to deteriorate steadily in the third quarter of 2019.
COVID-19 Updates & Key Demand Drivers for Agriculture
June 22, 2020
The USDA announced details of the Coronavirus Food and Aid Program (CFAP) in May and allocation of support is expected to be more heavily directed towards the livestock sector. Assistance was made available to producers of agricultural commodities with a price decline of at least 5 percent due to the pandemic and those facing increased marketing costs for inventories resulting from unexpected surplus and disrupted markets. On average, corn, soybean, and wheat farmers are expected to receive payments equal to about 5 to 10 percent of market price on half of 2019 production, or 2 to 5 percent of support on their entire crop. Aid for livestock producers, however, is expected to be comparably higher. Payments to cattle producers could amount to 20 percent of the average price received for cattle, while support for hog producers could be as high 30 percent.
June 22, 2020
Amid the global economic contraction, increases in U.S. agricultural exports have been limited, particularly with respect to China. Growth in trade with China, a key source of demand for many major U.S. agricultural commodities, remained subdued through April. Exports to China increased about 18 percent from the same period a year ago, but remained well below levels reached during this time in 2017. Exports to all other destinations remained slightly higher than 2017, but the increase was not enough to offset the reduction in exports to China.
June 22, 2020
Ethanol production declined sharply in late March and appears likely to remain subdued in the coming months. In the midst of developments surrounding COVID-19, ethanol production declined 6 percent in March and 45 percent in April from year-ago levels. Activity rebounded slightly in May, but remained 34 percent lower than a year ago. Although more recent estimates point to a slightly stronger recovery in the outlook for 2021, expectations as of June remain below levels forecasted in March. Lower ethanol production will reduce demand for corn in 2020 and the June projections also suggest the effects of the pandemic on ethanol and corn markets could last longer than previously anticipated.
June 22, 2020
All previously idle meat packing plants have reopened, but effects of COVID-19 continued to impede supply chain functions. The first outbreak of COVID-19 in the meat packing industry occurred on March 31, 2020, at a beef packing plant in Pennsylvania. Since then, almost half of plants that reported an outbreak closed for some period of time. In fact, most facilities that did close were shut down for more than one week. As of June 22, 2020, all beef, pork, and poultry packing plants that had closed due to COVID-19 were reopened and operating. However, the magnitude and duration of closures and ongoing concerns about the spread of the virus has raised questions about implications for meat production and the supply chain moving forward.
June 22, 2020
Capacity utilization at meat packing plants increased slightly since early May, but appeared to remain slightly limited by modified operations. After declining sharply alongside closures, the percent of total capacity being used at U.S. beef and pork plants expanded as facilities reopened. Despite fewer plant closures, modified operations related to social distancing and other precautionary measures have continued to impact overall production capabilities. Through the third week of June, beef and pork plants were utilizing about 95 percent and 92 of pre-pandemic capacity, respectively.
June 22, 2020
Alongside reduced operational capacity at packing plants, meat production continued to lag 2019 levels. As packing plants reopened, daily slaughter of cattle and hogs increased from lows reached in early May. However, both beef and pork production remained more than 5 percent lower than a year ago during the first week in June. It appeared that modified operations and revised processes related to COVID-19 have continued to put some constraints on production, even as plants have resumed operations.
June 22, 2020
Compounding the challenges facing U.S. meat supply chains related to COVID-19 outbreaks at packing plants, consumers rapidly shifted purchases of food from foodservice to retail outlets in March. Foot traffic at supermarkets was roughly double that of restaurants in March and April and remained about 30 percent higher in early June. At the same time in 2019, supermarkets and restaurants had equal amounts of foot traffic. The combination of challenges caused wholesale meat prices to increase substantially and also put upward pressure on retail meat prices. Through the first part of June, prices for boxed beef cutouts remained about 10 percent higher than the beginning of the year and pork carcass cutouts had stabilized.
June 12, 2020
All previously idle meat packing plants have reopened, but effects of COVID-19 continued to impede supply chain functions. The first outbreak of COVID-19 in the meat packing industry occurred on March 31, 2020, at a beef packing plant in Pennsylvania. Since then, almost half of plants that reported an outbreak closed for some period of time. In fact, most facilities that did close were shut down for more than one week. As of June 12, 2020, all beef, pork, and poultry packing plants that had closed due to COVID-19 were reopened and operating. However, the magnitude and duration of the closures has raised questions about the implications for meat production and the supply chain moving forward.
May 14, 2020
Several meat packing facilities have reopened in the last week, but many continue to run at limited capacity due to outbreaks of COVID-19. On average, about 10 percent of employees at beef, pork, and poultry plants tested positive for COVID-19, according to data aggregated by the Kansas City Fed. At some plants, COVID-19 affected as much as 30 to 70 percent of the work force. Although plants have restarted operations, social distancing and other precautionary measures may still weigh on meat production moving forward.
May 06, 2020
COVID-19 has led to numerous closures at meatpacking and food processing facilities. In the United States, more than 120 meatpacking and processed food plants have confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of plants with confirmed cases, nearly half have closed temporarily or limited operations. Closures and slowdowns at beef and pork packing plants have reduced U.S. daily meat production by as much as 40 percent. Although plants are beginning to reopen, most are not running at full capacity due to absenteeism, fewer shifts, or reworking shifts to allow for better social distancing.
Each year, the Kansas City Fed looks forward to hosting our Agricultural Symposium. Unfortunately, given the circumstances with COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year's symposium, which was scheduled for July 30-31 in Kansas City.
We had planned to focus on agricultural productivity growth at this year's symposium. Though the agricultural sector is currently facing extraordinary circumstances, the value of exploring underlying drivers of agricultural productivity remains. As such, we will still publish papers by our lead speakers later this year, and we may continue the discussion on productivity growth in 2021.
Quarterly report that compiles national and regional agricultural finance data, including national data on term lending to farmers, quarterly Call Report data on national agricultural lending, and data on agricultural land values and credit conditions from quarterly Federal Reserve Bank surveys.
May 25, 2017 | U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
February 15, 2017 | House Committee on Agriculture
March 1, 2016 | U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations: Statement on Economic Conditions in the Farm Sector
June 2, 2015 | House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management