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Abstract

At the direction of the Michigan Farm Bureau, ten agricultural economists responded to a five-question survey in May 2020 to explore the future of the Michigan agricultural economy. Eight agricultural economists from Michigan State University, one agricultural economist from Kansas State University, and one agricultural economist from Purdue University responded. Michigan’s economy was exceptionally impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, leading to historic increases in unemployment rates in metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties alike. In April 2019, 628,885 Michigan households participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; 1,150,697 Michigan households participated by April 2020. This 83.0% increase in participation dwarfs the average change in the United States (17.9%). The remainder of the document synthesizes responses and highlights some of the more distinctive comments. Of course, the economists interviewed all noted an important caveat: all discussions of the future are largely contingent on the outcome of COVID-19. As noted by Tonsor, “I think ‘accurate’ answers here hinge notably on if we are wrapping up the worst of COVID or not - that is a human health, speed of vaccine, and medicine question that we can’t answer.” Furthermore, Swinton notes that ongoing macroeconomic trends make the future of agriculture largely dependent on economic growth across the world, as “economic recession/depression would lead to lower demand and lower prices for agricultural products.”

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