Covid-19 cases appear to be slowing at meat plants. But companies aren’t releasing test results.
After many months of surging cases, the number of new Covid-19 infections reported at meatpacking plants appears to have slowed. Yet with limited information from the major meatpackers on new cases at their facilities, advocates say it isn’t clear whether the trend reflects a true decline.
School lunch count plummeted as schools closed in pandemic
Participation in the school lunch program nosedived 28 percent during the first months of the pandemic despite breakneck efforts across the nation to provide an alternative to meals in the cafeteria, said USDA data. An anti-hunger group said extension of the so-called P-EBT program and an increase in SNAP benefits were needed to treat “this child hunger crisis.”
Food prices forecast to decline to long term average in 2021
Grocery prices will rise a modest 1.5 percent in 2021, close to the long-term average and half of the larger-than-usual increase expected this year, said the USDA in its first forecast of food inflation in the new year.
Food-box giveaway to run through Oct. 31, says USDA
The Farmers to Families Food Box giveaway program, the Trump administration’s response to hunger during the coronavirus pandemic, will run through Oct. 31 to use up the last of its $3 billion in funds, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
TODAY’S QUICK HITS
‘Phase one’ is enduring tie: As Sino-U.S. tensions rise, the six-month-old “phase one” trade agreement “appears to be the most durable part of the U.S.-China relationship,” with neither side talking about canceling the pact. (New York Times)
Peterson opposes USDA funding: House Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson was one of seven Democrats to vote “no” as the House passed, on a mostly party-line 224-189 roll call, a four-part, $260-billion bill that included operating funds for the USDA, State Department, Interior Department, and the Veterans Affairs Department for fiscal 2021. (U.S. House)
Lobbyist McLeod dies of Covid-19: Mike McLeod, 78, who led one of Washington’s premier agricultural lobbying shops for years before retirement, died of complications of Covid-19 on July 20 at a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. (Agri-Pulse)
Unsolicited seed packets from China: Residents of at least three U.S. states have received in the mail small packets of seeds inside packages labeled as jewelry, which appear to come from China; state agriculture officials warn against planting them. (Tacoma News Tribune)
Treated as disposable labor: In California’s San Joaquin County, an agricultural hub, Latinos account for nearly a third of Covid-19 cases, and advocates say farmworkers are often regarded as disposable labor, last in line for inadequate aid. (Los Angeles Times)
Report opens door for Pebble mine: Pushing ahead on the controversial Pebble copper and gold mine in southwest Alaska, a Trump administration environmental review found the mine would not hurt the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. (Anchorage Daily News)
ON THE CALENDAR
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and North Carolina state agriculture commissioner Steve Troxler hold a forestry roundtable at 1:50 p.m. ET in Asheville, and take part in an announcement at 3:50 p.m. ET in Marshall, of a project for rural broadband service in Madison County. U.S. Forest Service chief Vicki Christiansen will take part in the forestry roundtable.
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology releases its new commentary, “Impact on human health and safety of naturally occurring and supplemental hormones in food animals.”
U.S. Grains Council holds annual Board of Delegates meeting online, through Wednesday.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association holds Summer Business Meeting, Denver, Colorado.
USDA issues weekly Crop Progress report, 4 p.m. ET.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee online hearing, “There’s something in the water: Reforming our nation’s drinking water standards,” 10 a.m. ET.
Consumer Federation of America holds Virtual National Food Policy Conference, through Wednesday. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey are keynote speakers on Tuesday. The agenda for Wednesday includes a conversation between chef Jose Andres, founder of World Central Kitchen, and House Rules chairman Jim McGovern, a leading advocate of public nutrition programs, followed by a panel discussion of food insecurity and Covid-19.
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology holds a webinar on its new commentary, “Impact on human health and safety of naturally occurring and supplemental hormones in food animals,” 1 p.m. ET.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and EU agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski discuss food security in a post-Covid-19 world, 10 a.m. ET.
Senate Finance Committee hearing, “WTO reform: Making global rules work for global challenges,” 10:15 a.m. ET, 215 Dirksen.
Senate Commerce Committee hearing, “Building a stronger and more resilient seafood sector,” 10 a.m. ET, 253 Russell.
USDA releases monthly Agricultural Prices report and annual Farm Production Expenditures report, 3 p.m. ET.