Senators prod USDA for pandemic payments to contract growers – June 8, 2021

Senators prod USDA for pandemic payments to contract growers

Ten weeks ago, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack restarted the USDA’s coronavirus relief program for farmers and ranchers. But payments to contract growers, the farmers who produce hogs, poultry and eggs under contract for the owner of the animals, remain on hold and lawmakers from poultry states are getting impatient.

Highest carbon dioxide level in human history

The pandemic put the global economy in lockdown last year but it did not prevent a rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, scientists said on Monday. Measurements at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii averaged 419 parts per million (ppm) during May, the highest concentration of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere ever experienced by humans, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

In New York City, gig workers facing food-insecurity are fighting back

On a sunny Saturday in March, Gustavo Ajche and Ligia Guallpa welcomed two dozen food delivery couriers to a morning rally in lower Manhattan. As mimosa drinkers filled SoHo cafes’ outdoor tables, couriers lined up for hot chuchitos, Guatemalan tamales filled with chicken and beef. Guallpa, head of the immigrant-focused Workers Justice Project, and Ajche, a sometime courier himself, had invited the men to learn about Los Deliveristas Unidos, an informal WJP-backed network of mostly Mexican and Guatemalan delivery workers who banded together during the pandemic.

Today’s Quick Hits

Warnock draws a challenger: Gary Black, Georgia’s state agriculture commissioner since 2011, is the first prominent Republican to announce his candidacy for the Senate seat held by Democrat Raphael Warnock, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. (Associated Press)

USDEC hires Poindexter: Martha Scott Poindexter, Republican staff director on the Senate Agriculture Committee, will begin work on July 8 as chief operating officer of the trade group U.S. Dairy Export Council. (USDEC)

Spring wheat worsens: Only 38 percent of the spring wheat crop is in good or excellent condition as drought persists in the northern Plains, a decline of 5 points from a week ago and less than half of the 82 percent rated good or excellent at this point in 2020. (USDA)

WH Group buyback: The world’s largest pork producer, WH Group, the owner of Smithfield Foods in the United States, said it would buy back $1.93 billion of its shares because it doesn’t foresee any immediate demands on its cash reserves. (Wall Street Journal)

Vineyards sue dicamba: Five dozen wine grape growers on the Texas High Plains sued Bayer and BASF in state court, alleging hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to 5,000 acres of vineyards from dicamba herbicide that evaporated from cotton fields and landed on their vines. (Modern Farmer)

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