Market-led Extension New Publications

Covid‐19 will Change the Agri‐food System – but how?

The Covid‐19 pandemic has highlighted vulnerabilities in the agri‐food system and wider society. The elderly, in particular, have been overrepresented in intensive care units. The resulting economic crisis and accelerating geopolitical shifts will change the agri‐food system, but it is unclear how this will play out in detail. Two factors are important to consider: will societal priorities change and will the state become more interventionist? We examine these uncertainties via four scenarios from a Dutch perspective. ‘Business as usual’ is realistic if the crises are short and manageable. ‘Government Control’ is more state interventionist, after several decades of neo‐liberalism, with a greater focus on the economy and employment as the agri‐food system is confronted with a long recession. ‘Regional Communities’ is where there is a long period of echo‐pandemics, in which a flourishing community spirit, the attention to nature and a healthy living environment with healthy food are permanent and short supply chains and multifunctional agriculture gain ground. In ‘Green High‐Tech Transformation’, the most extreme scenario, the state and technical innovation take on a much larger role in society and our views on our lifestyle change. These trends reinforce each other and the government is tasked with creating a new economy. The scenarios are not predictions but can be used to structure thought and discussion on the way forward.

The Covid‐19 pandemic will change the agri‐food system, but it is unclear how this will play out in detail. Two questions are important to consider: will societal priorities change, and will the state become more interventionist? To examine these issues, we present here four scenarios from a Dutch perspective.

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