Coronavirus haunting markets

Dave Bergmeier

The bug known as coronavirus has afflicted commodity and stock markets with an unprecedented bite. Farmers and ranchers agree that we should be concerned. But they rationally argue that the common cold and influenza are much more prevalent every winter, and they do not rock the United States markets like we have seen with this latest bug that has its roots in China.

At any coffee shop or after-church conversation, it is a pretty good bet that farmers and ranchers are going to offer a quick and accurate quip: “People still need to eat and the food in the U.S. is the least expensive and safest in the world.”

The consumers understand that sentiment, and proper hygiene keeps the risk low in that realm. Still, it causes commodity prices to gyrate.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national immunization and respiratory diseases center, noted that on Feb. 29, 22 cases of COVID-19, commonly named coronavirus, were reported through the U.S. public health system. Since that report the number of cases has been on the rise. The coronavirus has even found its way into the 2020 campaign. Talk show hosts cannot get enough of the topic.

The coronavirus bug is a dream come true for a conspiracist and a nightmare for those who try to work through its aftermath. The World Health Organization has urged countries to focus on containment while placing the global risk coronavirus outbreak at very high, which is its top level of risk assessment.

However, in farming and ranching communities, it is important to stay on task and stay informed. Crops have to be planted and harvested and livestock have to be tended too. Yet the coronavirus could have an unfortunate sting in the drug supplies used in livestock production.

Dr. Stephen F. Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, noted there are 32 animal drug firms that make finished drugs or source active pharmaceutical ingredients in China for the U.S. The FDA has contacted all 32 firms and no shortages have been reported at this time, he said.

However, six of those firms have indicated they are already seeing disruptions in the supply chain that soon could lead to shortages. The FDA is working with these firms to help identify interventions to mitigate potential shortages, Hahn said.

As producers know, the world’s economy is much more interlinked and neighborhoods are much closer than they were even 20 years ago. Free markets work best, yet when ill-fated or tainted information enters the market—the result is skewed prices and havoc on the bottom line as well as disruption of the interconnection of global supplies.

It appears that coronavirus is going to be a term bandied about in the media and in the coffee shops. While we can hope this virus will be short-lived, its impact will likely linger. Hopefully the outbreak will be minimal and provide an opportunity to better understand how we can stay healthy and keep our financial livelihoods in good stead.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].