Farm groups’ goal: Fill ‘USDA’s bank’ with cash for coronavirus aid
The two largest U.S. farm groups want lawmakers to nearly double the funding for “USDA’s bank,” the Depression-era vehicle for multibillion-dollar Trump tariff payments, and give Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue the power to help farmers and ranchers through the coronavirus outbreak.
Pick up the phone to talk to USDA
As a precaution against spread of the coronavirus, the USDA’s local offices will conduct business by telephone only and farmers will need to make an appointment for the transactions. “USDA field work will continue, with staff practicing appropriate social distancing,” said a USDA spokesperson over the weekend
With Covid-19, wild-animal markets face new pressures to shutter
The trade in wild animals is coming under increasing pressure to shut down, ever since the source of the Covid-19 pandemic was linked to a “wet market” in Wuhan, China, where throngs of customers shop for live animals held in cramped quarters.
TODAY’S QUICK HITS
Food banks get a hand from National Guard (Los Angeles Times): California Gov. Gavin Newsom deployed the National Guard to assist food banks throughout the state in serving residents hurt by shortages in grocery stores.
Nowhere to sell their catch (Associated Press): Fishing boats arrived in San Diego, loaded with tuna and other fish, after weeks at sea, to learn California was in lockdown and there were few commercial buyers for their catch.
The school food drive-through (New York Times): With schools closed, the meal in the cafeteria is replaced by a drive-through line to keep low-income children supplied with food while their parents fret about their jobs in the coronavirus downturn.
Ethanol industry warns of ‘potential collapse’ (OPIS): The trade group Renewable Fuels Association called for federal action “to avoid a potential collapse” of the ethanol industry as the coronavirus pandemic drives down fuel prices.
Loeffler denies improprieties (Atlanta Journal Constitution): Senate Agriculture panelist Kelly Loeffler denied taking advantage of confidential information about the coronavirus outbreak when she sold stock in February, but a watchdog group has filed an ethics complaint.
ON THE USDA CALENDAR
– USDA releases monthly Cold Storage report, 3 p.m. ET.
– National Ag Day, organized by the Agriculture Council of America, dedicated to “increasing public awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.” Events in Washington were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Eli Mittermeyer, of Lorraine, Illinois, wrote the winning essay and Samantha Gerges, of Mansfield, Texas, produced the winning video essay. Both are available here.
– USDA releases monthly Food Price Outlook, noon ET. At present, food inflation is forecast for a lower-than-usual 2 percent this year.
– National Association of Conservation Districts holds Virtual Advocacy Day, in place of its usual Spring Fly-In, which was cancelled, Washington.
– International Grains Council releases monthly Grain Market Report, London.
– USDA releases quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, 3 p.m. ET.
– USDA releases Oil Crops Yearbook, covering supply and use of oilseed, oilmeal, and fats and oils, 3 p.m. ET.