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Agriculture

This playbook provides guidelines for agricultural operations in Greater Des Moines (DSM) including farms, processing facilities and their suppliers.

Sample: Independent Farmer Risk Profile

Ag Risk Profile Frequency  Ag Risk Profile Duration  Ag Risk Profile Variety 

The sample risk profile has been determined for independent farmers in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*

Current Impact 

Current Impact

Future Trends 

Future Trends

Recommended Practices 

Recommended Practices

Community Partnership 

Community Partnerships

Additional Resources 

Additional Resources

Current Impacts

Purchasing and Sales 

Purchasing and Sales

The Iowan farming industry is essential and critical to the global food supply chain that feeds this nation and beyond and helps fuel the global commodities trade market. The slowdown or shutdown of hog, cattle, turkey and layer processing plants has broken the links in the interdependent supply chain between farms, grain processors, feed mills, animal feeding operations, harvest facilities, distributions channels, retail or institutional users and consumers. The current broken links have had a ripple effect throughout related industries such as food supply, feed energy, feed ingredients, etc. Market prices for this year's crop have fallen tremendously. Prices for corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle are below the cost to produce them.

Meat Production Supply Chain 

Declines in Meat Production

Beginning in April 2020, closures and slowdowns at meatpacking plants led to significant disruptions and created issues of oversupply and low prices for livestock producers. Closures were especially prominent in the beef and pork industries. By mid-May, meat production was 40% below 2019 levels. As things currently stand, USDA projects lower total meat production for 2020 by 3.15 billion pounds. Pork and broilers face the largest losses, with roughly 3% drops in projected production while beef and turkey production is expected to drop 2%. Iowa State University economists estimate that Iowa's pork industry is expected to lose more than $2 billion and the beef industry, $700 million. The Iowa Turkey Federation notes Iowa's turkey producers have agreed to cut production by 1.8 million birds. According to the Iowa Poultry Association, production of eggs cracked on farms for use for restaurants, hotels and food manufacturers has dropped by about $110 million.

Reduced Demand for Ethanol 

Reduced Demand for Ethanol

A combination of sharply lower crude oil prices and a widespread decline in consumer fuel demand has gutted ethanol demand to the point at which many ethanol refiners have slowed or stopped operations. The fall in demand for ethanol has interrupted the trade of vegetable oils as ingredients and eliminated the availability of ethanol by-products used for feed. ISU economists estimate that Iowa ethanol producers will lose $2.5 billion due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Seasonality 

Seasonality

Thanks to favorable weather, Iowa farmers had a good window to plan this year. According to data from the USDA, Iowa farmers planted 23.4 million acres of corn and soybeans in 2020. In August, a powerful derecho storm rolled across the Midwest, damaging more than 10 million acres of Iowa cropland. By early estimates that would mean some 43% of Iowa's 2020 corn and soybean crop has been damaged or destroyed by the violent storm system.

Future Trends

Shifting Global Trade 

Shifting Global Trade

On the one hand, row crops, small grains and even vegetables could see new demand abroad as global trade partners change the pace at which they make major purchases. Importing countries are looking at increasing inventories over the coming year, which is expected to increase global trade of rice and wheat in the next year. Global buyers may look to the U.S. for reliable supplies of some items, such as soybean meal as they reopen and restock.

On the other hand, as a result of disruptions to global food supply chains, many countries, including the U.S., will attempt to institute a “produce and sell locally” strategy to prevent the over-reliance on brittle supply chains. Locally, there will be a move towards a more distributed system, as opposed to mega-processing plants that force a local market to rely heavily on foreign trade.

Plant Closing Implications on Animals 

Implications of Plant Closings on Animals

Millions of animals could be euthanized due to plants closing. Until operations are able to stabilize again at full capacity, shortages of pork, eggs and turkey are possible due to the disruptions in supply.

Decreasing Oil Prices 

Decreasing Oil Prices

A recovery in economic activity has helped ethanol plants ramp up production as gasoline demand has increased. However, a resurgence in virus incidences threatens ethanol production over the short run and injects uncertainty into long-run prospects. The Energy Information Agency projects ethanol production at 5% lower than pre-coronavirus production levels over the next marketing year. The importance of ethanol as a corn demand source remains crucial. Moving into the next marketing year, economic activity needs to improve to maintain this fundamental driver of corn prices.

Recommended Practices

Health & Sanitation

  • Conduct a health screening with all employees before their shifts in accordance with the most up to date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • Require employees who feel sick to stay home. Employees who may have been exposed to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should take precautions, including self-quarantine, in accordance with CDC guidance.
  • Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Encourage frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • All employees should wear face coverings to cover their nose and mouth in all areas of the plant (including break areas and locker rooms).
  • Increase the number of hand sanitizer dispensers in facilities to roughly one per employee and have designated staff provide hand sanitization to line employees every 30 minutes.
  • Develop a protocol for sanitizing hard hats and face shields at the end of the shift.
  • Develop a protocol for how employees can safely store their hardhats while going on break without bringing them into the shared areas (e.g., break rooms, locker rooms, cafeterias).
  • Control and limit outside traffic into facilities and require visitors to pass a health screen/protocol in accordance with department of public health guidelines.

Health and Sanitation 

Space & Process

  • Maintain social distancing of six feet of distance between workers where possible.
  • Ensure social distancing at all times by staggering shift start times and breaks. Have entire shifts vacate the building before next shift starts. Limit staff to zones within the plant, rearrange workstations, eliminate alternating workstations and/or install protective barriers between close contact workstations.
  • Relax sick leave policies related to COVID-19. Eliminate premiums, copays and waiting periods for COVID-19 testing.
  • Disinfect tools used by multiple employees between shifts.

Work Processes 

Communication

  • Develop or provide training and messaging (in multiple languages) for social distancing, hand hygiene, donning, doffing and sanitizing PPE and messaging about what to do if you are sick. Consider alternatives to traditional in-person trainings for delivery of this information (e.g., videos). Develop a method to verify employee understanding and participation in these strategies.
  • Adopt mass communication methods to communicate COVID-19 prevention and informational messages to employees.
  • Add visual cues at six-foot intervals (e.g., floor markings, signs, traffic cones) in cafeterias, knife and gear acquisition areas and other areas where lines may form.
  • Audit communication channels to validate the information is being received and followed by all personnel.

Communication 

Community Partnerships

Food Assistance Program 

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

This $19 billion program will assist farmers, ranchers and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

Downtown Farmers' Market Logo 

Digital Marketplaces

Customers will continue to seek online orders and home delivery for a wide range of goods. Consider partnering with providers who can enable online shopping and digital distribution. For instance, Des Moines' Downtown Farmers' Market offers opportunities for local vendors to sell to area customers in an interactive and virtual setting. Dogpatch Urban Gardens on the northwest side of DSM has launched its own online initiative in 2020 so consumers can pre-order fresh food for contactless pick up or delivery.

Rural Development 

USDA Rural Development

USDA Rural Development lenders may offer 180-day loan payment deferrals without prior agency approval for Business and Industry Loan Guarantees, Rural Energy for America Program Loan Guarantees, Community Facilities Loan Guarantees and Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees.

Pork Production in Iowa 

Resource Coordination Center for Pig Farmers

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has formed a Resource Coordination Center (RCC) to support Iowa livestock producers affected by the COVID-19 supply chain disruptions.

Additional Resources

Recommended Playbooks

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*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.

Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.

Last updated: 8/17/2020