Economists urge USDA to broaden food aid beyond producers
Farmers and ranchers will need billions of dollars in coronavirus aid beyond the $16 billion in cash that USDA plans to disburse by June, 28 senators said in a letter to President Trump. At the same time, a band of university economists said USDA aid is weighted 4-to-1 toward producers and that the agency “should arguably show an equivalent amount of creativity to help the broader spectrum of struggling Americans with food needs.”
As meat plants slow, U.S. will help growers kill livestock
The government offered to help livestock producers locate contractors skilled in killing herds or flocks of animals and to provide cost-share funding for their disposal because the coronavirus pandemic has shut down packing plants and reduced consumer demand. The National Pork Board held a webinar on Sunday that discussed step by step “emergency depopulation and disposal” of hogs.
TODAY’S QUICK HITS
U.S. issues meat plant guidance (FERN): The CDC and the Labor Department released coronavirus guidance for meat plants that encourages workers to be “placed at least six feet apart, if possible,” with barriers between workers if possible, and the use of face masks in addition to social distancing. The interim guidance calls for plants to write Covid-19 control plans that include plenty of hand sanitizer stations.
USDA asks bids to fill food boxes (The Packer): The Agricultural Marketing Service requested proposals by Friday for its plan to supply pre-filled boxes of produce, dairy and meat products to charity, with purchases of $300 million a month for six months.
Three more states get P-EBT (USDA): California, Connecticut and Wisconsin received USDA approval to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program to help low-income families whose school-age children lost access to free or reduced prices meals due to school closures. Vermont’s plan to allow online purchase of groceries by SNAP recipients also was approved.
Cattle stay on the range (Drovers): Only 1.56 million head of cattle went into U.S. feedlots during March, the lowest total for a March since records began in 1996, and there were 5-percent fewer cattle in feedlots on April 1 than a year earlier, according to the monthly Cattle on Feed report.
Limits on guestworkers possible (Washington Post): Stephen Miller, a senior White House policy adviser, told Trump supporters that measures were under consideration to restrict guestworker programs because “the most important thing is to turn off the faucet of new immigrant labor.”
ON THE CALENDAR
– North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, chairman of Senate Appropriations subcommittee on USDA and FDA, speaks to the annual meeting of North American Agricultural Journalists, 1:30 p.m. ET. The NAAJ will meet via internet.
– USDA releases Dairy Products Annual report, 3 p.m. ET.
– USDA issues weekly Crop Progress report, 4 p.m. ET.
– Farm Foundation hosts internet forum on “Challenges and opportunities for agriculture in a post-pandemic world,” 10 a.m. ET.
– Farmdoc Daily Live hosts webinar, “Nick Paulson and Joe Glauber on ag trade,” noon ET.
– Council for Agricultural Science and Technology hosts webinar, “Producing food products from cultured animal tissues,” noon ET, in conjunction with release of a commentary on the issue.
– National Organic Standards Board holds spring meeting, through Thursday, via internet.
– International Grains Council releases monthly Grain Market Report, London.
– USDA releases monthly Agricultural Prices report and annual Poultry Production and Value; Meat Animals Production, Disposition and Income Annual Summary; and Milk Production, Disposition and Income Annual Summary reports, 3 p.m. ET.
– Today is May Day, which “just might have more holidays than any other day of the year,” says Infoplease. May 1 is a traditional day to celebrate spring, it’s a day for organized labor, it’s a day for political protests and in many countries, it is a national holiday. In Hawaii, it is Lei Day, to celebrate Hawaiian culture. During the Cold War, there were attempts to cast the day, claimed by workers and activists of many types including socialists, in support of law and the established order; President Eisenhower issued a Loyalty Day proclamation for May 1, 1958.
– Farmdoc Daily Live holds webinar, “Lee Schultz on livestock,” noon ET.
– USDA releases semi-annual Commodity Costs and Returns data, 9 a.m. ET.