Covid-19 Bill Suspends SNAP Work Requirements – March 16, 2020

Covid-19 relief bill suspends SNAP work and training requirements


The Senate is expected to vote this week on the House-passed Covid-19 relief bill that suspends work and job-training requirements for SNAP recipients, a step that could preserve benefits for hundreds of thousands of people. “I believe the vast majority of Senators in both parties will agree we should act swiftly to secure relief for American workers, families, and small businesses,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the weekend.


As coronavirus spreads, farmers fear market closures and lost income


Communities across the country are attempting to delay the spread of the novel coronavirus by canceling large events, closing schools, and banning large gatherings. But farmers who sell directly to consumers, through farmers’ markets or other channels, are concerned about how their farms will survive if those outlets temporarily shutter. 


After two meetings, a pause in the White House focus on biofuels


The White House is taking a break from biofuels policy, at least temporarily, after two meetings with President Trump at the table failed to find consensus between the oil and ethanol industries.


A Brooklyn co-op hustles as food demand spikes


Like other grocery stores in New York City, the Park Slope Food Co-op, in Brooklyn, is out of hand sanitizer. But even with 17,000 members and weekly sales of $1.23 million, shelves at one of the nation’s oldest and largest food co-ops are nearly full. “We got the hang of it very quickly after the initial enormous jolt of extra purchases hit 15 days ago,” Joe Holtz, the co-op’s general manager and co-founder, said late last week.


Retailers, officials insist the food supply is strong as grocery stores are emptied

A recent surge of demand has emptied some grocery store shelves of staples, as shoppers concerned about the spread of the novel coronavirus prepare to self-isolate at home. But the U.S. has plenty of food and Americans should not panic, urged food retailers, producers, and the federal government over the weekend.


Judge tells USDA to move quickly on organic livestock rule

The USDA admitted to flaws in the analysis it used to kill a regulation setting animal welfare standards for organic farms, and now faces a Sept. 8 deadline to publish a final rule with the updated cost-benefit analysis.



A lower price tag for grilling (Harvest Public Media): Beef prices may be slightly lower when the summer grilling season arrives due to things as far away as wildfires in Australia and port closures in China and as close at hand as the coronavirus.


Trade war hits tobacco country (Washington Post): The Sino-U.S. trade war shut off sales to the largest customer for U.S. tobacco and the pain is especially acute in North Carolina.


Canada ratifies USMCA (Reuters): Both houses of Parliament ratified the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland saying it would “help the Canadian economy at this challenging time.”


‘Mishmash of secret figures’ (CSIS): A “mishmash of secret figures” in phase one of the Sino-U.S. trade deal will make monitoring difficult and create the potential for the deal to unravel, says a brief by the think tank.


Cover crops on prevented acres (Thune): The USDA prohibition on grazing or harvesting cover crops before Nov. 1 on prevented-planting acres would be removed permanently under a bill sponsored by Sens. John Thune and Debbie Stabenow.




– USDA opens enrollment for the Conservation Reserve grasslands program to preserve grazing lands. Enrollment closes on May 15.


– USDA releases annual North American Grain and Oilseed Crushings report, 3 p.m. ET. 


– USDA releases Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, noon ET.


– USDA releases monthly Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook, 3 p.m. ET.


These events were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak:


– World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, San Francisco, originally set for March 17-18


– Future Food-Tech, San Francisco, originally set for March 19-20.


These events were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak:


– National WIC Association Washington Leadership Conference, Washington, scheduled for Sunday through Tuesday.


– SNAXPO, Charlotte, North Carolina, scheduled for March 22-24.



– Senate Health Committee hearing, “An emerging disease threat: How the United States is responding to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus — Part two,” 10 a.m. ET, 216 Hart.


– First day of spring, albeit arriving just before midnight, so Friday is the first full day of spring. It is the earliest vernal equinox in 124 years, says the Farmers Almanac. “Regardless of what the weather is doing outside, the equinox marks the official start of the spring season,” says the almanac in a lengthy explanation of why the seasons start on differing dates.


– USDA releases monthly Cattle on Feed report, 3 p.m. ET.


– CropLife America winter board meeting, through March 25, Arlington, Virginia. 


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