The early days and weeks of the pandemic were difficult for many agricultural businesses in the US, as shutdowns created major disruptions for some of their primary customers. Much of the food-service industry shut down overnight in March 2020, drastically scaling back one of the primary sales markets for farmers.
To adapt, more agricultural producers shifted their focus to retail grocery and wholesalers. However, they paid a steep price in the form of lost products and new costs in labor and logistics to adapt to different distribution channels.
Since then, agriculture has faced many of the same supply chain and labor challenges currently affecting the rest of the economy. Many farms have been struggling to obtain supplies and equipment that they need due to supply chain breakdowns. Shipping their products to customers has become more difficult as well.
The importance of domestic production
The current state of the agricultural market also underscores the importance of domestic agricultural production. In recent years, the US has been importing a large share of its fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. But with ongoing supply chain challenges worldwide, production closer to home will be important in maintaining the supply of food.
These fruits and vegetables come from a relatively small number of states where agricultural production is highly concentrated. The leader among these states is California, which is responsible for nearly 70% of US fruit and vegetable production by itself. California is joined by other Western states like Washington, Oregon, and Arizona among the leaders, along with highly agriculture-dependent states in the South and Midwest.