Three pork plants are top U.S. priority for reopening, says Peterson
The Trump administration’s top meat-industry priority is reopening three pork plants, now shuttered due to coronavirus outbreaks, that account for 12 percent of U.S. hog slaughter, said the House Agriculture Committee chairman on Wednesday. Labor and public officials said meat production will not revive nationwide unless workers feel safe in the processing plants.
Faith leaders call for stronger worker protections at meatpacking plants
The crisis faced by meatpacking and food processing workers amid the coronavirus pandemic requires further intervention, say faith leaders. More than 100 religious leaders have signed a letter to be sent to Congress and President Trump demanding additional assistance for rural communities and food system workers.
Farmers to Families Food Box will move from ‘truck to trunk’
The first deliveries of the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box, a coronavirus relief initiative to move surplus commodities to food banks from U.S. farms, are expected in mid-May, said Agricultural Marketing Service officials on Wednesday.
USDA pilot offers 30-year contract for Conservation Reserve
Since 1985, the Conservation Reserve has paid landowners an annual rent to idle environmentally fragile land under contracts that last for 10 or 15 years. Now a pilot program will offer a 30-year contract in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay regions.
Leaders on the future of the food system
The novel coronavirus crisis has made it impossible to ignore the fundamental weaknesses of our system of food production and distribution. Highly efficient, this system evolved to fulfill expectations of endless choice, immediate service, high yields, and low prices — but it has come at a cost. Now the country is experiencing food shortages, massive food waste, and rising hunger, while food processing plants have become hot spots of Covid-19.
TODAY’S QUICK HITS
Senators want meat investigation (Ag Insider): Sens. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, and Josh Hawley, a Republican, have called on the Federal Trade Commission to open an antitrust investigation into the nation’s meatpackers.
Increase SNAP in next coronavirus bill (Merkley): Half of Senate Democrats signed a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer saying that the next coronavirus relief bill should increase SNAP benefits by 15 percent and that USDA proposals to tighten SNAP eligibility should be suspended.
House Ag turns 200 (House Agriculture): The House Agriculture Committee has reached its bicentennial; it was created under a resolution introduced on April 29, 1820, and officially passed by the House four days later, on May 3.
Coronavirus response echoes Depression efforts (Purdue): “The parallels are very clear,” said historian Douglas Hurt, comparing the coronavirus relief package created by the USDA with the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act: Both sent money to farm families and purchased surplus food from producers.
Grocery shopping like it’s 1996 (Quartz): Thanks to stay-at-home orders in response to Covid-19, Americans purchased 63 percent of their food and drink in stores during March, the sector’s highest share of the food dollar since January 1996 and a reversal of the trend of consuming food outside the home, said the Census Bureau.