Biden links climate change, jobs and environmental justice
Introducing his climate team, President-elect Biden said his administration would respond to the existential threat of climate change “by building a modern, climate-resilient infrastructure and a clean energy future” that would put millions of Americans to work. “And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice.”
Coronavirus package boosts SNAP benefits, aids farmers
Congress was expected to pass a $900 billion coronavirus package on Monday that includes a temporary 15-percent increase in SNAP benefits and up to $8.2 billion for farmers and ranchers. House and Senate leaders announced agreement on the package on Sunday evening. President-elect Biden, while applauding the package, said he will propose additional aid as soon as he takes office.
Biden’s EPA nominee navigated diverse interests in North Carolina
In nominating North Carolina’s Michael Regan to head the Environmental Protection Agency, President-elect Joseph Biden has tapped a state regulator who for the past four years has navigated a political divide as contentious as the one he’ll face in Washington, D.C.
The Ladies Homestead Gathering
The notion of living self-sufficiently off the land has long been an American ideal, particularly in times of crisis. So it’s no surprise that the turmoil of recent decades— from 9/11 and the breakdown of the financial system to continuous war and the existential threat of climate change—has spurred another such movement. In latest story, published with Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Meyer takes us inside the National Ladies Homestead Gathering, which Cyndi Ball founded in 2011 at her home in Georgia. The organization has since grown to 34 chapters in 17 states located all across the country, and the goal is someday to have a chapter within 30 minutes of every woman in America.
Fruit and vegetable growers face coronavirus squeeze
With Americans spending more of their food dollars at the supermarket, the specialty crop sector will continue to adapt to the pandemic and the loss of food-service sales in the new year, said agricultural lender CoBank.
Today’s Quick Hits
Was USDA part of the hack?: USDA did not reply immediately to a question of whether the department was, as reported by CNN, part of the hack of federal computers by Russian operatives. (FERN’s Ag Insider)
Ag, food workers on vaccine list: A CDC advisory committee included food and agricultural workers and grocery store employees among “frontline essential workers” who would be next in line to receive a vaccination against Covid-19. (CNBC)
UFW sues Foster Farms over Covid: The United Farm Workers union asked a California judge to order chicken processor Foster Farms to comply with CDC guidelines following the second coronavirus outbreak at its plant in Livingston, in the Central Valley. (UFW)
East Russia becomes farmland: Climate change is warming long-frigid East Russia and allowing cultivation of corn, wheat and soybeans — building nationalist hopes that Russia will become one of the largest food producing nations in the world. (ProPublica/New York Times)
Supermarkets hit by coronavirus: Grocery stores have been hit hard by the surge in coronavirus infections in the Los Angeles area, straining an essential service that remains open amid a general stay-at-home order. (Los Angeles Times)
Fewer workers, but slaughter rate steady: Chief executive Andre Nogueira said JBS has maintained its slaughter rates in Canada and the United States, despite sending 5,000 vulnerable workers home, by letting less popular cuts go to rendering plants and sending some meat to the grocery store with bones still in the meat rather than the usual de-boned version. (Bloomberg)
On The Calendar
Today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, the day with the fewest hours of daylight of the year and astronomically, the first day of winter. “The winter solstice holds significance across a variety of cultures, as it signals the changing of the seasons,” says The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
USDA releases monthly Food Price Outlook, noon ET. At present, grocery prices are forecast to rise by a larger-than-usual 3.5 percent this year, due chiefly to higher meat prices. On average, grocery prices rise by 2 percent annually.
USDA releases monthly Cold Storage and annual National Hop reports, 3 p.m. ET.
USDA releases quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, 3 p.m. ET.
Federal offices are closed ahead of Christmas.
USDA releases monthly Agricultural Prices report, 3 p.m. ET.
Congress convenes for a new two-year session, with new representatives and senators sworn into office, noon ET.
First session of Real Organic Symposium, sponsored by the Real Organic Project, and held each Sunday in January.