Agriculture to take a hit, but people still need to eat during coronavirus crisis

Mar 17, 2020

The shut downs and self isolation sweeping across the country to curb the spread of coronavirus likely will not impact agricultural staple foods, but high-end wines and specialty ag products grown in California may suffer, reported Tim Hearden in Western Farm Press.

Hearden interviewed Dan Sumner, director of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center.

He said some California agricultural products see demand increase during tough economic times, such as less expensive wines.

“Central Valley grapes are nearly recession-proof,” he said. “When the stock market collapses or the dot-com busts, nobody's buying $200 bottles of wine anymore.”

Sumner said Midwestern corn and grains will hold their own, however California products like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, strawberries, raspberries and even some leafy greens may "slip off the plate."

Wine sales may also be hurt by California Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision to close winery tasting rooms, restaurants, bars and pubs. Wineries are allowed to remain open for pick-up and winery business and production operations.

Hearden noted in his article that many UC Cooperative Extension workshops and other ag-related public events were canceled, including Ag Day festivities at the state Capitol that were set for March 18.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist