April 23, 2020 — This article is an update to a previous Market Intel that was posted, changes made to the previous article will be in
strikethrough and bold. American Farm Bureau Federation and state Farm Bureau presidents held a call with officials at USDA ; these changes reflect discussions held on that call.
To provide immediate financial assistance to farmers and ranchers impacted by COVID-19, e.g., Coronavirus Sends Crop and Livestock Prices into a Tailspin and Pandemic Injects Volatility into Cattle and Beef Markets, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act provided the secretary of
Agriculture with an immediate $9.5 billion and the Commodity Credit Corporation with a $14 billion replenishment, which will be available in July (What’s in the CARES Act for Food and Agriculture). On April 17, USDA unveiled details of the much-anticipated CARES Act assistance package for agriculture, which includes $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers and $3 billion in food product purchases for distribution.
Commodity prices across the board have been significantly impacted as a result of the economic consequences of social distancing and the closing of non-essential businesses, especially the full or partial shuttering of the retail, food service and restaurant sectors. For example, during March, Census Bureau data revealed that in-store clothing sales – impacting demand for cotton – had fallen by 50%. Additionally, grocery store sales were at a record $73 billion, while sales in food service and drinking establishments declined by 25% year-over-year to $50 billion, Figure 1.