Pandemic aid to farmers at $7 billion as USDA pro-rates timber payments
The USDA will prorate its final round of pandemic payments to timber harvesters and haulers to stay within the $200 million limit for the aid program, officials said on Thursday. Meanwhile, USDA data showed disbursements of $6.98 billion in coronavirus relief to farmers and ranchers this year.
Bill would add protections for meatpacking workers, target industry’s monopolistic practices
A bill introduced in the Senate this week would improve working conditions and whistleblower protections for meatpacking workers while also cracking down on monopolistic practices in the industry. Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced the Protecting America’s Meatpacking Workers Act on Tuesday. In a press release, he called it a “critical piece in transforming our food system into one that is rooted in resilience, fairness, and justice.”
FDA proposes water rule for produce growers
Fruit and vegetable growers would be required to conduct annual assessments of their water supplies to identify and mitigate threats of contamination for their crops under a rule proposed by the FDA on Thursday. The assessments would replace a requirement that growers conduct tests of water quality.
Today’s Quick Hits
Rural infrastructure announcement: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is scheduled to announce funding for climate-smart and resilient rural infrastructure on Friday and to visit a Pennsylvania grocery store that plans a solar power project. (Ag Insider)
Highest prices in a decade: The Food Price Index, based on international prices of cereal grains, sugar, vegetable oil, meats and dairy products, rose by 1.2 percent in October and is the highest it’s been since June 2011. (Food and Agriculture Organization)
Ag bankrolls ag school: With money tight for state universities, ag schools are increasingly turning to private donors and agribusinesses to pay for costly research facilities, running the risk, critics say, of corrupting science. (The Counter)
‘F’ is for tuna: Sixteen supermarket chains flunked a Greenpeace USA assessment of their tuna supplier policies; the survey included human rights records for the first time. (Greenpeace USA)
Milk price hearings: Three U.S. senators from the Northeast filed a bill that would require the USDA to call public hearings on a proposal to change how the price of fresh milk is calculated under the federal Milk Marketing Order system. (Gillibrand)