Americans’ spending on food plunged during pandemic
The pandemic and its accompanying economic slowdown prompted a dramatic 7.8 percent cutback in consumer spending on food in 2020, said two USDA economists. The reduction was more than double the impact of the Great Recession on food sales, partly because the pandemic temporarily shut down most of the food service sector.
U.S. farm exports are in record-setting territory
It’s an open question if U.S. ag exports were as large as forecast in fiscal 2021, but a running tally by the USDA says they were the largest ever. Shipments to foreign buyers totaled $160.2 billion with one month to go in the fiscal year, topping the record of $156.8 billion set in fiscal 2014.
Today’s Quick Hits
FDA pick near: President Biden is closing in on a nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, which has been run by acting commissioner Janet Woodcock for months, said four unnamed sources. (Politico)
Sustainable ag grants: The USDA announced grants totaling $146 million for 15 research projects on sustainable agriculture, one of which would investigate using hemp as a feed ingredient for aquaculture. (USDA)
Insurance for small farmers: The USDA’s new Micro Farm insurance option, which is available for the 2022 crop year and will require less paperwork, is aimed at small producers who sell their products locally. (Risk Management Agency)
Loan forgiveness stalled: With 13 lawsuits and three injunctions stalling $4 billion in loan forgiveness for minority farmers, legal experts say the debt relief plan is unlikely to be carried out as drafted. (Grist)
U.S.-China to meet online: Days after the Biden administration said it would press China on the “phase one” trade agreement, the two nations agreed in principle to a virtual meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping before the end of the year. (CNN)