COVID-19 outbreak threatens agriculture income for 2020, Delta stays confident

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HOLLY BLUFF, Miss. (WJTV) – Wall Street is not the only place seeing economic downfalls from the Coronavirus outbreak, in rural Mississippi farmers income for 2020 is threatened.

It’s been two years since farmers across the South Delta could fully use any planting equipment after back-to-back floods, but as fields finally dry a new threat has emerged with the coronavirus infecting crop prices. 

Responsible for 3,000 acres of farmland in Yazoo County, Smith Stoner experienced firsthand the negative impacts from backwater flooding and is anxious to plant again. 

“Everybody is excited and ready to grow a crop,” Stoner said. “And looking forward to 2020 no matter what challenge is put in our way.” 

But following the COVID-19 outbreak new reports from the U.S Farm Bureau show in the past month corn, soybeans, and cotton have all dropped in value and demand by 15%-30% setting up farmers for losses. 

“We’re going into this year taking a loss for sure with these prices,” Stoner continued. “But we just got to stay optimistic on it, a lot of these prices are down right now from speculators freaking out and getting out of their purchases.”

“Trade overseas a lot of that has been disrupted,” Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson said. “So, prices which are already not great have been damaged.”

The losses come from restaurants buying less, while grocery stocking is unbalanced and smaller foot traffic shopping. Corn decreased over $1 a bushel, while cotton’s value sits right above 50 cents, costing farmers up to $250 an acre.

“We’re seeing a lot of lower commodity prices and that gives our global importers opportunities to take advantage of stockpiling products,” Stoner said. “And that will help us see a rise in our commodity prices.”

Regardless of economic outcomes farmers number one goals are to stay healthy, because if they’re too get sick and stay home, our food source dries up. 

“We can lose a lot of other operations, but we cannot lose our farmers,” Commissioner Gipson stated. “We cannot lose our farms that our feeding us as a country.”

“If I did happen to get the Coronavirus, as long as I was able to get out and about, I would just sit in my truck at the end of the field and coordinate things,” Stoner told us. “But not be a happy camper during it.”

It’s important to note Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson and other farmers have found no evidence of COVID-19 spreading onto food from when it’s planted to reaching your table. But always make sure you fully cook it to kill any bacteria. 

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