Special Report: COVID-19 in the Corn Belt

    April 6, 2020

    Read the Latest Report

    May 27, 2020. Today, Indigo updated its report series tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s farming communities and food system for the final time. Despite an increased incidence of deaths across the U.S.’s 1,300 corn-producing counties, spring planting has stayed at or ahead of normal across an estimated 180.6M acres of corn and soybeans. Corn planting is 6% ahead of the 5-year average; soybean planting is 10% ahead.


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    Up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases is critically important; recent research from UT Austin indicates that just a single reported case increases the likelihood of an undetected outbreak from 9% to 51%. While the vast majority of coronavirus cases are currently concentrated in urban centers, the impact on rural areas has expanded in the recent weeks. Indigo will continue tracking this story in the coming weeks and months.

    May 12, 2020. As per the fifth report, the increasing presence of coronavirus in the Corn Belt had not, at the time, affected planting progress: Corn planting is currently 11% ahead of the five-year average, while soybean planting is 15% ahead. Up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases is critically important; recent research from UT Austin indicates that just a single reported case increases the likelihood of an undetected outbreak from 9% to 51%. Indigo will continue tracking this story in the coming weeks.

    April 28, 2020. In its fourth report, the GeoInnovation team reports that the Corn Belt has stabilized compared to the remainder of the country, with 22 states currently ranking higher in case rates than the collected 1,300 corn-producing counties throughout the Midwest. 

    Encouraging progress can be seen in the 2020 planting progress: at this point in the season, farmers are ahead 7% in corn planting and 4% in soybean planting compared to the five-year average. 

    April 21, 2020. The United States’ 1,300 corn-producing counties saw increases of 50% and 80% in its cases and deaths per 100,000 people, respectively, in the company’s third report.

    Although cases continue to increase, analysis has shown that 2020 planting progress is on track – and, in the case of soybeans, planting progress is currently surpassing the five-year average. Even in the face of a pandemic, the American farmer and the food system is displaying resilience.

    April 14, 2020. In the GeoInnovation team’s second COVID-19 report, we found 85% of all U.S. corn and soybean production capacity is in counties with at least one confirmed COVID-19 case, up 10% in the last nine days. Those impacted counties are home to 91% of the 3.4M producers in the country. 

    At the state level, there is a wide range of COVID-19 case prevalence across several key agricultural states including Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Indiana has at least one case of COVID-19 in every producing country, for example; it also has the highest proportion of moderate to high case-loads per county. Rural counties represent a growing proportion of the caseloads.

    April 6, 2020. Indigo’s initial report explored the intersection between corn and soybean producing areas in the United States and confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the county level based on available data sources. As of April 4th, 74% of U.S. corn and soybean production capacity was in counties with at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, which was an increase of 14% in the seven previous days.

    Indigo will continue harnessing its data science tools to understand the impact of this pandemic, particularly in agricultural regions, over the coming weeks and months. Even with peak uncertainty in the market, Indigo’s focus remains: make the supply chain transparent and profitable for the benefit of growers, buyers, retailers, agronomists, and all other stakeholders within agriculture.

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