Covid-19, ‘this global tragedy,’ flattens U.S. ag exports
Throttled by pandemic, U.S. farm exports this year will barely exceed last year’s totals, wiping out hopes of a speedy recovery from trade-war losses, said the USDA. Sales to China are rising but slower than projected when the “phase one” trade agreement with Beijing took effect in February, and far from the tripling necessary to satisfy the purchase levels specified in the pact.
Farmers markets fought to stay open during the pandemic. Now many can’t make ends meet.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, farmers market advocates successfully argued for markets across the country to continue operating as essential businesses. Yet as the pandemic stretches into its third month, many markets face existential budget shortfalls as the public health emergency keeps shoppers home and raises their operating costs.
For rural grocery stores, the pandemic is personal
Grocery delivery is nothing new, and it certainly has become much more common since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. But for stores like Michigan Hometown Foods, the lone grocery in a North Dakota town of 275 people, the process looks a lot different than it does in larger cities.
TODAY’S QUICK HITS
Tyson sanitizes Storm Lake plant (KMEG-TV): Tyson Foods temporarily closed its meat-processing plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, for “additional deep cleaning and sanitizing” after 555 of 2,517 workers at the plant tested positive for Covid-19. Separately, Tyson Foods said 326 workers tested positive at its case-ready beef and pork plant in Sherman, Texas.
‘Dead zone’ costs $2.4 billion (UCS): The ‘dead zone’ that forms annually in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by nutrient runoff in the Mississippi River basin, has been responsible for up to $2.4 billion in damages to fish stocks and their habitat on average yearly for three decades, says a new report.
Running better but still behind (Lusk): Hog and cattle slaughter plants are running 10-15 percent behind 2019 production rates, a significant improvement from late April and early May when output was down 40 percent, said Purdue meat expert Jayson Lusk.
More for coronavirus aid (DTN/Progressive Farmer): North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee overseeing USDA, said he hopes to increase the agency’s spending power this year so additional money will be available for coronavirus relief beyond the $16 billion in cash payments to farmers that has been announced.
Meat production rebounds (Drovers): Supermarket sales of ground beef are up 25 percent through mid-May, driven by the coronavirus’s impact on retail sales of red meat and poultry, says Anne-Marie Roerink of 210 Analytics.
ON THE USDA CALENDAR
– Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue takes part in delivery of Farmers to Families Food Boxes to Atlanta State Farmers Market, 2:30 p.m. ET, Atlanta.
– USDA issues weekly Crop Progress report, 4 p.m. ET.
– Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on nomination of Russell Vought for director of the Office of Management and Budget, 2:30 p.m. ET.
– Purdue University releases monthly Ag Economy Barometer, providing a sense of the health of the agricultural economy.
– Senate Small Business Committee hearing, “Perspectives from Main Street: Covid-19’s impact on small business,” 10 a.m. ET.
– Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing “to examine infrastructure, focusing on the road to recovery,” 10 a.m. ET, G-50 Dirksen.
– Bipartisan Policy Center holds a webinar, “Telehealth and Covid-19 in rural areas,” 10 a.m. ET. “The event will highlight health IT policy recommendations from BPC’s recently released rural health report and ways to make telehealth a regular service for patients, especially in rural areas.”
– UN Food and Agriculture Organization releases monthly Food Price Index, Rome.