Farmers in West Michigan now seeing impact of COVID-19

Price forecasts for many agricultural products have fallen significantly in the past month
Posted at 6:21 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 19:14:21-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Farmers across the state are feeling the impact of COVID-19 as forecasted prices for multiple agricultural products are significantly down.

Dairy farmers in particular have had a difficult past few years. Farmers like Aaron Gasper, who owns Lew-Max LLC in Belding, were hoping that 2020 would be a better year financially.

“When things were starting to look good at like the end of December, January... we’ll able to be able to catch up on some bills and some expenses and then all of a sudden, this hits and it's just, this is just crazy,” Gasper told FOX 17 Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Michigan Farm Bureau, dairy prices have dropped 25- 36 percent in the last month.

Forecasted prices for corn have dropped by 14 percent, soybeans are down 8 percent while cotton prices have dropped 31 percent, according to the bureau.

“The beginning of the year, the dairy price forecast was very, very good. And that was very much needed based upon the previous five or six years that our dairy farmers went through low prices,” said Ernie Birchmeier, Livestock and Dairy Specialist at the Michigan Farm Bureau.

Demand for products has fallen significantly in the midst of COVID-19.

Birchmeier said that prior to the outbreak, "51percent of the meals were eaten outside of the household. And those are just not happening right now... So our consumers are buying their meals from the grocery store, rather than at the restaurants."

He says that while you may see your local grocery store seemingly low on milk or eggs, the supply is still there.

"When you have that, you have a disruption, if you will, in in the supply chain, from processing to to retail. And it's just taken some time to adjust.”

All of this leaving our farmers in West Michigan cautiously hopeful they will be able to sustain their business through the shutdown.

“Agriculture is very relied on, especially through times like this, and we don't we don't stop, especially the dairy... we're still going,” Gasper said Tuesday.