Tuesday, December 8, 2020

WSDA joins UW and WSU to learn more about COVID-19 impacts to agriculture

Hector Castro

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only taken a toll in lives, but has also led to significant economic hardship for many in our state, including those working in agriculture. Now, WSDA has joined with the University of Washington and Washington State University in an effort to survey Washington’s farms and ranches to learn how they have been weathering this deadly pandemic.

The hope is to learn more about the economic resiliency of our state’s farm operations and how they adapt, or recover, from an unforeseen event like the COVID-19 pandemic. Some farm businesses have seen little disruption to their operations, but others have suffered greatly during these past several months.

The Washington Farm COVID-19 End-of-Season Survey is open until Dec. 31 and is available in both English and Spanish. Any farm or ranch is invited to take part in the survey and all participants will remain anonymous.

There are about 80 questions in the survey, covering the type of agriculture operation as well as questions about finances before the pandemic and during this past year, including questions about how the two years compare to one another.  

Raspberry harvesting.

The survey questions are an effort to understand:

  • What the major impacts were.
  • Whether farms or ranches were able to adapt or transform their farm practices, and how.
  • Which adaptations were the most successful.
  • Why specific decisions were made.
  • What barriers were encountered.
  • What are the hopes and concerns of farmers and ranchers for the coming year.

The information WSDA, UW and WSU learn through the survey will help provide information for academic research and to government decision makers as they strive to develop policies to help businesses, including those in agriculture, recover from this crisis. 

The survey results will also be available to the public, though participants will remain anonymous. Visit the UW’s Center for Public Health Nutrition at nutr.uw.edu/cphn/wafarm to learn more about the survey project.