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Has Media Saturation on COVID-19 Changed Labor and Food Supply Chain?

New AAEA member research released in AEPP COVID-19 special issue

In the new article “Labor Issues in the Food Supply Chain Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic” published in the Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, Jeffrey Luckstead from Washington State University, Rodolf Nayga and Heather Price from the University of Arkansas, survey low-skilled domestic workers to understand their attitudes, before and during the pandemic, toward food production, guest workers, immigration policy, and the government’s response to COVID-19.

Luckstead says that there were a few main findings, “The outbreak resulted in respondents, on average, shifting their view toward food being a national security issue and a higher degree of empathy for H-2A guest workers.

The results also suggest that providing an additional information on the impact of COVID-19 on agricultural field workers did not impact average responses to questions related to empathy toward H-2A guest workers, to food production, to immigration policy, to concern of a food shortage, and to whether the shelter-in-place orders and economic damage are justified. This is likely because of media saturation on COVID-19 and food supply chains amid the pandemic.”

He continues, “The regression analysis provides strong evidence that gender (a) played a strong role in influencing the responses and (b) is the only factor that was statistically significant for all of the questions. Men generally showed less empathy toward H-2A workers and less concern about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food production and food shortages. They are also less likely to agree that the shelter-in-place order and economic damage are justified.”

“Other important factors include past work and currently working in agricultural field jobs, where respondents were more likely to view food as a national security issues, show concern of a food shortage due to COVID-19, but more likely to view the shelter-in-place order is an overreaction” Luckstead explains.

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ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

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