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COVID-19

Farmers are struggling in the pandemic economy

Peggy Lowe Jul 20, 2020
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Dairy cows in a field at Grazing Plains Farm near Newton in central Kansas. Courtesy of Jason Schmidt
COVID-19

Farmers are struggling in the pandemic economy

Peggy Lowe Jul 20, 2020
Heard on:
Dairy cows in a field at Grazing Plains Farm near Newton in central Kansas. Courtesy of Jason Schmidt
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Farmers already hard hit by a trade war are now facing huge economic hurdles because of COVID-19. Emergency aid from the federal government is helping — this year, payments total about $33 billion, according to the University of Missouri’s Food & Agricultural Policy Research Institute. Despite that, many farmers are still struggling and wonder how they will make it through the year, including a Kansas farmer who is operating on about half of what he thought he’d make.

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COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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