Direct and indirect impacts to agriculture in post-COVID “new normal”

An internationally known thought leader and ag advisor discussing COVID-19 projects a new normal that will directly and indirectly affect agriculture.

Mary Shelman, a former director of Harvard Business School’s Agribusiness program, says the first example isn’t a surprise.

“Online shopping is here to stay. There’s (also) going to be more home eating, but home cooking is kind of a question mark. Some other things we know (are) huge consolidation among retailers, and unfortunately the demise of so many independent restaurants.”

During her presentation as part of the Women in Agribusiness virtual summit, she described a fracture in demand brought on by the pandemic and expressed concerns about a resilient food supply.

“What does resilience depend on? Diversity of production. So indoor greenhouses might be a good spot. Redundancy (is another). Somebody having excess supply, so extra capacity in factories so we can turn the ship on a dime overnight.”

Shelman warns the nation must be careful not to allow the burden of these shifts to fall on the farmer in terms of price volatility, and says the question then becomes who is going to pay for emerging consumer trends.

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