Seasonal farm labor and COVID ‐19 spread

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The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 caused unprecedented shocks to agricultural food systems, including increased risk to worker health, labor-related input costs, and production uncertainty. Despite employer precautions, there were numerous worksite outbreaks of COVID-19. This paper examines the relationship between month-to-month variation in historical agricultural employment and changes in the incidence of confirmed COVID-19cases and deaths within U.S. counties from April to August 2020. The results show that employment of100 additional workers in fruit, vegetable, and horticultural production was associated with 4.5% more COVID-19 cases within counties or an additional 18.65 COVID-19 cases and 0.34 additional COVID-19 deaths per 100,000individuals in the county workforce.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: [Seasonal farm labor and COVID ‐19 spread. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 44, 3 p1591-1609 (2022)], which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions:


covid-19, farm labor, labor supply risk, production risk


Charlton, Diane. "Seasonal farm labor and COVID‐19 spread." Applied economic perspectives and policy 44, no. 3 (2022): 1591-1609.
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