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COVID-19 Hits US Farms Hardest in Corn, Soybean Growing Areas

28 April 2020

The coronavirus has had an uneven impact on different farming communities in the United States. Counties that primarily grow corn and soybeans have experienced much higher rates of COVID-19 cases than areas growing wheat, barley, and other crops.

Gro Intelligence has combined county level crop-production data on the Gro platform alongside county-level tallies of COVID-19 cases to estimate the relative impact of the disease on the production of various row crops (similar computations can be applied to all 10,000+ crops and agricultural products covered in Gro on a global basis).

What we see from the chart below is that corn and soybean production areas in the US have the worst average case rates, both around 1,185 COVID-19 cases per million population as of April 25. By contrast, areas primarily growing winter wheat have about 789 cases per million population, while spring wheat growing areas have only 428 cases.

Some of the hardest hit corn-growing areas include Dawson and Hall counties in Nebraska, with COVID-19 cases in excess of 5,000 per million population. For soybeans, Tama and Louisa counties in Iowa have case rates in excess of 15,000 per million. Spring wheat areas have suffered lightly so far, with some of the highest rates in Cass and Slope counties in North Dakota below 2,500 per million, and many producing counties without a single confirmed case.

To be sure, rural America in general has had significantly lower rates of COVID-19 than the United States at large. Nationally, there were 2,948 cases/million population as of April 22. New York City had a case rate of 18,239 cases/million.

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