Ag labor in a global pandemic: What agribusinesses must know to survive COVID-19

By Sarah Cato, U of A System Division of Agriculture

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In a profession subject to heavy stresses from weather and the markets, the COVID-19 pandemic is throwing another major obstacle in the way of agricultural producers and others in the food supply chain.

The global pandemic has caused upheaval and worry for many in agriculture with issues such as worker safety and uncertainty over worker availability with changes in immigration and H-2A permits.

“COVID-19 is a serious threat to the U.S. agribusiness industry and will be a major test for food and labor supply chains,” said Brandon Davis, New Orleans-based partner for Phelps Dunbar, LLP. “Understanding the CARES Act, various Small Business Association loan programs and federal guidance concerning agricultural labor is essential to the survival of the U.S. farming industry.”

The National Agricultural Law Center will be hosting a free webinar April 29 at noon EDT to discuss these steps, and other considerations for agribusinesses during the pandemic. The webinar will feature three Phelps Dunbar, LLP partners: Davis, Nathan Huff, based in Raleigh, N.C., and Michael Williams, also based in New Orleans.

“Most producers have never seen situation like we’re facing today in their lifetimes,” said Harrison Pittman, Director of the NALC. “Brandon, Nathan and Michael will discuss options available now to agriculture industry entities and how adaptability and agility will play into decisions businesses must make to survive not only the pandemic, but also its deep and lasting economic impacts.”

Those interested in the upcoming webinar can register online at:

For more information on the National Agricultural Law Center, visit or follow @Nataglaw on Twitter.

About the National Agricultural Law Center

The National Agricultural Law Center serves as the nation’s leading source of agricultural and food law research and information. The Center works with producers, state and federal policymakers, Congressional staffers, attorneys, land grant universities, and many others to provide objective, nonpartisan agricultural and food law research and information to the nation’s agricultural community.

The Center is a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and works in close partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, National Agricultural Library.

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact 479-575-4607 as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

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