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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa's agriculture impact from COVID-19

How are farmers handling the decrease in product demand across the country.

DES MOINES, Iowa — We've talked a lot about small businesses hurting lately but as the calendar has flipped to spring, there's a major industry that is still moving along, but feeling the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

As we continue to wait out the coronavirus, there's a group heading out to work. 

"Maybe it's the ultimate social distancing is to get in a tractor," 

Farmers across the state are getting into planting season, but they face uncertainty just like everybody else. 

"It could be huge because if you have to shut down a packing plant and shut down livestock you can't just put them on a shelf and wait for them," 

When you go to the store and see they're out of eggs or milk you might think it's good for farmers but restaurants, schools and hotels shutting down has an effect up the supply chain. 

"You take away what demand has been reduced on the food service side and the increase on the grocery side it's still a drop in demand so that's where you're hearing some stories of dairy farms that are dumping milk," 

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Lower gas prices might be good for you at the pump but it's because there's less demand. Which also means less demand for ethanol. 

"There's ethanol plants that are full of ethanol so they can't take any more product in," 

"We've got historically low oil prices down around 20 dollars per barrel and as much as a 40 percent reduction in the amount of transportation fuel that this country needs. We are traveling less, we are flying less," 

But the slowdown has also given rise to something more positive. 

"A tremendous number of donations that have come out of agriculture and out of the food manufacturing industry folks that are donating products that would otherwise go to waste because of that drop in demand," 

Secretary Naig told Local 5 that whenever the economy recovers and trade markets normalize, Iowa will be in a great position to fill a lot of agriculture needs. 

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