Disruption to food supply chains from COVID-19 is catastrophic to many independent businesses, from farmers to food distributors. We need a reasoned approach, based on data, to fairly distribute food and federal aid.
Under normal circumstances in the United States, we spend more than $600 billion per year on food and consume more than half of it away from our homes. The COVID-19 crisis has upended this usual state of affairs. What does this mean for food supply chains? Michelle Miller, researcher and associate director at the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, has been discussing disruptions to food systems, supply chains and food transportation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She says that the way the system is structured, large companies are positioned to knock out independent businesses that serve local farmers, rural towns and small cities, and accelerate reduced resilience in the system. For instance, she states that in Wisconsin, there are 414 independent grocery stores, creating 21,000 jobs. These stores will likely suffer a greater proportion of out-of-stocks as the pandemic continues.