65% of farmers hit by COVID-19, up 5 percentage points: The Japan Agricultural News survey

TOKYO, Oct. 7 – A survey conducted by The Japan Agricultural News in September showed that 65 percent of farmers who responded said they are either severely or slightly affected by the new coronavirus pandemic, up 5 percentage points from the previous survey conducted in April and May.

The results reflect the fact that the impact of COVID-19 on agricultural business is becoming more far-reaching and long-term.

In terms of types of farms, beef cattle breeders continued to be hit hard, with 100 percent of them saying they were affected, followed by 91 percent for beef cattle fattening farmers.

Sixty-two percent of rice farmers said they were affected, up 13 percentage points from the previous survey.

In the latest survey, 21 beef cattle breeders and 22 beef cattle fattening farmers responded. In the previous survey, all of the beef cattle farmers said they were affected by the pandemic.

Out of 26 flower growers who responded to the latest survey, 81 percent said they were affected, down 1 percentage point from the previous survey but the rate still being high.

Among the comments added to the questionnaire, a beef cattle fattening farmer said many restaurants which had been purchasing beef from the farm shut down, while a flower grower noted the sales have been sluggish because wedding ceremonies, funerals and other events were canceled.

But the ratio of those who said they were severely affected declined, with the rate for beef cattle breeders down 34 percentage points to 57 percent and the rate for beef fattening farmers down 38 percentage points to 50 percent. The proportion for flower growers was 35 percent, down 15 percentage points.

Among 22 dairy farmers, 68 percent said they were affected, down 28 percentage points, while 63 percent of 35 greenhouse farmers said they were affected, down 13 percentage points.

Meanwhile, an increase in the ratio of affected rice farmers among 263 respondents possibly reflects the decline in demand for rice among restaurants, many of which were temporarily closed to prevent the spread of infections.

Among 29 field crop farmers, 62 percent said they were affected, up 10 percent, while 60 percent of 107 vegetable growers said they were affected, up 5 percentage points. One vegetable grower said the harvested vegetables had to be plowed into the field because of a decline in demand.

The Japan Agricultural News sent a questionnaire in mid-September and late September by mail to 1,135 registered survey respondents and received responses from 747 people. The ratios were calculated after excluding non-farmers’ responses.

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