COVID-19

Running a farm in the coronavirus economy

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal Apr 7, 2020
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Sean Gallup/Getty Images
COVID-19

Running a farm in the coronavirus economy

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal Apr 7, 2020
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

While much of the economy is shut down because of the coronavirus, America’s farms continue needing their usual attention. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke to Patrick Smith, who runs the apple and hops farm Loftus Ranches in Yakima, Washington.

“We’re considered an essential business by the state of Washington,” Smith said. “So we’re doing everything we can to continue the critical activities that we need to do, with a lot of added precautions for the sake of our employees.” Smith has recommended that they wear masks and has implemented staggered start and end times for his workers.

“The hardest part right now is projecting what your demand looks like for the rest of this year,” Smith said. He saw a 52% spike in apple shipments the week of March 16. “That was the week when everybody started going out buying toilet paper and all the things that they needed.” Since then, Smith said apple sales have settled down.

In addition to apples, Loftus Ranches farms hops, and the Smith family runs a brewery. “Packaged beer sales in grocery stores and outlets like that are up, but probably not enough to cover up for the lost volumes at bars, restaurants, stadiums and airports.” At Smith’s own brewery, Bale Breaker Brewing Co., packaged sales have increased, but the bar has been closed for about a month.

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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