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Past Conference

farmer and tractor
Wed., Oct. 7, 2020

The State of Agriculture in the Fifth District and Beyond

Welcome to the Richmond Fed's inaugural Investing in Rural America Week, a three-day sharing of digital content that will give you insight and information on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, rural health care and agriculture, in particular in the Federal Reserve Fifth District.

Over the next three days, you can visit this page to learn more about the unique challenges and opportunities faced by communities in rural areas of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of West Virginia — issues that likely reflect rural communities nationwide in some ways, allowing for the sharing of information, ideas and resources that you'll discover on this page.

  • October 5: Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Rural South
  • October 6: Innovative Rural Health Funding Strategies
  • October 7: The State of Agriculture in the Fifth District and Beyond (content co-sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)

The most recent information will be featured at the top of the page throughout the week. Thank you for joining us for this experience! If you find it helpful, invite your colleagues and others to visit this page as well.

Introduction for Day 3

The agriculture and food sectors are important parts of the U.S. economy, accounting for 22 million full and part-time jobs in the United States — approximately 11 percent of total employment. In the Fifth District, the agriculture sector is dominated by the production of meat, specifically poultry and pork. However, because of the geography of the District, there is a wide range of agriculture produced in the region, ranging from cotton to corn to tobacco. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, agriculture had been in a multi-year downturn. Not surprisingly, the pandemic exacerbated some of the issues already faced by the sector. What COVID-19 related challenges is the sector facing? Are these issues now improving? What is the outlook in the sector for the coming years?

Outlook for Agriculture: U.S. and 5th District

Presenter: Nathan Kauffman, Vice President and Omaha Branch Executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City


Video is temporarily unavailable.

Summary: Prior to 2013, the agriculture industry was booming across the United States, largely due to an increase in commodity prices relative to the price of production. However, Kauffman explained that over the past seven years commodity prices have been declining. In the Fifth District, for example, the average prices of commodities have declined between 20 and 40 percent since 2013.

As a result of the pandemic, the government created the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to pay farmers for losses caused by COVID-19. In the Fifth District, most of the CFAP payments went to livestock farmers as poultry is the region's top commodity.

Using land value as an indicator of future stability, Kauffman showed that the value of farm real estate nearly tripled in the United States and doubled in the Fifth District between 2000 and 2020. He also talked about the strengthening agricultural export market. Nonetheless, he believes commodity price concerns will likely reemerge in the future without more government assistance.

An Overview of Agriculture Across the Nation 

Today's content is co-sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.


“Understanding the challenges and opportunities of the less prosperous parts of the Fifth District is a key part of fulfilling our mandate, and in our District much of those areas are rural small towns. Though our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, we’ve shown throughout history that unprecedented change can turn into opportunities. And so this is an opportunity for these parts of our District to rewrite their endings.” - Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin

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