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Study to assess COVID impact and form solutions for ag and food systems

A team of researchers has been awarded a $1 million grant to assess the impact of COVID-19 on ag and food systems and develop strategies for coping with future crises.

Dr. Hikaru Peterson, professor of food marketing and consumer economics at the University of Minnesota, is leading the multi-region, multi-institution study.

“We have this amazing system that has continually provided reliable food to all of us, and all of a sudden in a pandemic we saw empty shelves and heard this really disturbing news about farmers having to dump their milk and plow things over just because they were severed from their supply chains.”

Peterson is collaborating with researchers from five different academic institutions to holistically evaluate three regions: The Upper Midwest, South Florida, and Southern California.

“We really have like five different versions, one for the production agriculture, one for the processors, one for grocery wholesalers (and) retailers, and then also the restaurants. Just asking them what their supply chains were and how they were disrupted in COVID-19.”

Peterson says the first year of the two-year study will be like a disaster assessment, with the focus in year two on how to create a more resilient food supply chain moving forward.

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