The COVID-19 pandemic and the agri-food system: changes, challenges, and opportunities 1

Type: Virtual Paper
Theme: Geographies of Access: Inclusion and Pathways
Sponsor Groups: Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 31
Organizers: Sasha Pesci, Lauren Asprooth, Jennie Durant, Gwyneth Manser, Ryan Galt
Chairs: Sasha Pesci

Call for Submissions

This session will explore how the pandemic is changing food systems globally and locally, with a special emphasis on how food producers, consumers, activists, governmental institutions, and organizations are responding to these changes. We welcome presenters that broadly engage with any of the following questions:
How has the pandemic changed food consumption and eating cultures?
How has the pandemic affected food security, and what efforts have been made to increase food security for vulnerable populations?
How has the pandemic altered food production and distribution?
What challenges are actors in the food system facing that are particular to the pandemic, and how are they responding to these challenges?
What types of farmers and farm operations are receiving aid during the pandemic?
How are farm workers experiencing the pandemic? To what extent, and in what ways, have food producers and processing companies changed practices to ensure the health of their employees during the pandemic?
How has the pandemic affected household division of labor in relation to food preparation?
How are farmers, ranchers, chefs, food activists, and organizations building coalitions and forging connections to respond to the pandemic?
What do regional comparisons reveal about how food producers and consumers are experiencing and responding to the pandemic?

To be considered for inclusion in this session, please submit an abstract to by October 26th. The organizers will contact presenters with decisions by October 29th. This session will either be fully virtual or hybrid (partially in-person, partially online) depending on preference of the presenters.


Session organizers: Sasha Pesci, Gwyneth Manser, Lauren Asprooth, Dr. Jennie Durant, Dr. Ryan Galt

The COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented effects on the food system, including shifts in consumer demand, supply chain bottlenecks resulting in empty store shelves, and consumer fear around the resiliency of food supply chains. Amidst plunging commercial demand, dairy farmers are inundated with milk, and vegetables are rotting in fields with no one to harvest them and nowhere to sell (DuPuis et al., 2020). Meat processing facilities around the globe have shut down due to thousands of employees testing positive for COVID-19 (Middleton 2020). Farm-to-table connections have been disturbed due to the closure of restaurants, schools, offices, and other institutions (Severson 2020). As the situation evolves, the ways that actors along the agri-food supply chain respond will have long-term impacts on how we produce, distribute, and sell food.

Despite these challenges, some sectors of the food system are also displaying resilience: restaurants are supporting their supplying farmers by selling farm boxes (Hiller, 2020), some locally oriented producers are seeing record sales, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships are higher than ever before (Danovich, 2020). The uncertainties of conventional supply chains have led to a reinvigorated interest in local and regional foods, contributing to the potential to redesign our food system (Pretty, 2020). Producers are forging alliances with each other (Held 2020); there is a renewed interest in urban gardening (Murphy 2020); and mutual aid networks, food banks, and other grassroots organizations are working to deliver groceries, and to prepare food to the most vulnerable (Samuel 2020).

Danovich, T. (2020). With Social Distancing, CSAs Are Trending as a Way to Shop for Groceries. Eater.
Held, L. 2020. For Small Farms Surviving the Pandemic, Co-ops Are a Lifeline. CivilEats.
Hiller, S. 2020. COVID-19 Sparks a Rebirth of the Local Farm Movement. Yes! Magazine.
Middleton, J. 2020. Meat plants—a new front line in the covid-19 pandemic. The BMJ.
Murphy, C. 2020.Vegetable growing and backyard chickens: Gardening, farming booms during coronavirus pandemic. USA Today.
Peyton, N. 2020. These farmers are prospering in the pandemic by delivering straight to homes. World Economic Forum.
Pretty, J. 2020. New opportunities for the redesign of agricultural and food systems. Agriculture and Human Values.
Samuel, S. 2020. How to help people during the pandemic, one Google spreadsheet at a time. Vox.
Severson, K. 2020. The Farm-to-Table Connection Comes Undone. New York Times.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Cassidy Beamer*, University of Iowa, Callie Ferring*, University of Iowa, Carly Nichols, University of Iowa, Pandemics and pigs: the political ecology of Iowa’s regional food system under COVID-19 15 8:00 AM
Presenter Jennie Durant*, University of California, Berkeley, Ryan Galt*, University of California, Davis, Gwyneth Manser*, University of California, Davis, Sasha Pesci, University of California, Davis, Lauren Asprooth*, University of California, Davis, Natalia Pinzon*, University of California, Davis, Maywa Montenegro, Human Ecology, UC Davis, California's Regional Agri-Food Systems: Resilience and Adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic 15 8:15 AM
Presenter Sophie Dasaro*, University of Colorado Boulder, Responsive community-based food security and food system reform? Pandemic possibilities and pivots for alternative food systems in Colorado 15 8:30 AM
Presenter Eden Kinkaid*, University of Arizona - Geography & Development, Building resilient local food systems - Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic 15 8:45 AM
Discussant Jennie Durant University of California, Berkeley 15 9:00 AM

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