CJAE special issueSeveral University of Guelph food and agriculture experts have contributed to a special edition of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, to offer their thoughts and observations on how the Canadian agri-food industry has fared during the COVID-19 pandemic and what lies ahead.

Co-edited by U of G Prof. Alan Ker of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, and Prof. Ryan Cardwell at the University of Manitoba, the special issue was assembled at a time when the entire industry is facing unforeseen and unprecedented events.

The 18 articles examine many of the challenges that have emerged in the agri-food sector during the crisis and how those issues might play out in the coming months, and include seven that were written by experts from U of G.

“We thought it important to harness the expertise in the Canadian academic system to examine what might be the implications of this pandemic on different aspects of the food industry,” said Ker, who is the Ontario Agricultural College Research Chair in Agricultural Risk and Policy and the director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy.

The articles examine diverse topics, including the pandemic’s potential effects on the pork, beef, grain and fresh produce industries. Others examine the effects on the food service, food retail, food transportation and food processing industries.

Prof. Alan Ker
Prof. Alan Ker

Still others contemplate big-picture topics, such as the future structure of agricultural trade, food security during times of crisis, and the supply chain and labour issues that have made recent headlines across the country.

“There have been some supply glitches and you could argue that this has been a natural test for the country’s current food system, but the system has proved remarkably resilient to date,” said Ker.

All the article authors compiled their observations, recognizing that the pandemic is still in the early stages and that conclusions are still difficult to draw, he added.

“These articles are speculative in nature because we’re still at the onset of this pandemic. But it was very important for us to get this out into the public sphere to try to inform policy, inform industry and inform the public,” said Ker, adding the issue has already been shared with industry groups and decision-makers in various governments.

Most of the articles are currently open access until July and include the following from U of G authors:

  • Introduction to the Special Issue on COVID‐19 and the Canadian Agriculture and Food Sectors: Thoughts from the Pandemic Onset – Profs. Alan P. Ker and Ryan Cardwell
  • Food security and Canada’s agricultural system challenged –  COVID-19 – Profs. B. James Deaton and Brady J. Deaton Jr.
  • Framing consumer food demand responses in a viral pandemic – Prof. John Cranfield
  • Economic thoughts on COVID‐19 for Canadian food processors – Prof. Getu Hailu
  • Economic thoughts on the potential implications of COVID‐19 on the Canadian dairy and poultry sectors
    Profs. Alfons Weersink, Mike von Massow and Brendan McDougall
  • Potential implications of COVID‐19 on the Canadian pork industry – Profs. Ken McEwan and Lynn Marchand, Max Shang, Delia Bucknell
  • Risk management in Canada’s agricultural sector in light of COVID‐19 – Prof. Alan Ker