Family Farm and Food Bytes
CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC TRIGGERS MAJOR SHIFT IN BUYING PATTERNS (FarmWeekNow)- Buying patterns for food and household items shifted dramatically since the second week of March, when states around the nation implemented isolation and social distancing measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Grocery aisles containing everything from meat and paper products to bottled water were decimated by a frenzy of buying activity. Retailers implemented practices such as reduced hours and purchase limits for key items to allow for restocking and to limit hoarding.
SAFETY ASPECTS OF INDOOR FARMING SIGNAL A CHANGE IN AGRICULTURE (Food Safety News)- An indoor agricultural evolution is in the making. That’s how some people see the surge of interest in growing leafy greens in greenhouses. This approach to farming has increased dramatically in every corner of the country.
THE MILK SITUATION (New York Times)- The question on dairy farmers’ minds these days is not whether anyone’s got milk. It’s how to sell it. Since 1975, milk consumption per capita has dipped roughly 40 percent, according to data from Nielsen, and between 2010 and 2018, sales of milk dropped by 13 percent. Dairy farmers are now pivoting to nondairy products, opening their farms to tourism and finding new ways to market in the hopes of bringing back the milk mustache.
USDA’S SUPPORT SQUAD FOR NEW FARMERS (Politico)- USDA is launching a team of staff to assist beginning farmers and ranchers, who account for a quarter of all agricultural producers but often face major obstacles when booting up their farm operations. The team will spearhead USDA’s efforts to boost farmers and ranchers as they try to break into the industry.
CHINA PAVES WAY FOR IMPORTS OF U.S. DISTILLERS’ GRAINS (Agri-Pulse)- China is paving the way for an eventual reopening of its market to U.S. dried distillers grains by announcing a list of U.S. companies that are eligible to export the product, according to documents and sources.
FOOD PRICES REMAIN STABLE AS BUYING HABITS CHANGE (FarmWeek)- The number of outlets where Americans purchase food increased substantially in recent years. But one thing that’s remained fairly constant involves the price consumers pay for their food. The average price of all food last year increased just 1.9% nationwide, according to Gianna Short, USDA Economic Research Service Food Markets Branch. In fact, the price of food consumed at home barely changed at all, with a slight uptick of just .9% last year, while the price of food away from home increased 3.1%.
This year, USDA projects a slight increase in the price of food at home (.5 to 1.5%) and 2 to 3% higher prices for food away from home. One of the largest prices increases last year was for fresh vegetables (up 3.8%), while the largest price decline (10%) was for eggs.
Until recently, people generally shopped at one primary store. Now, Americans visit an average of 4.4 different retailers for groceries each month. One relatively new form of food purchases, online shopping, increased in recent years. But it actually hasn’t reduced the number of trips to stores by consumers. They tend to make more specialized purchases at a variety of locations.
What about the effect on meat sales of growing alternative protein options? Early indications suggest alternative meat products tend not to be a replacement as much as an addition to the food basket. It doesn’t look like it will drive down red meat consumption.
PRITZKER APPOINTS NEW AGRICULTURE DIRECTOR (Daily Herald)- Gov. J.B. Pritzker last month appointed former state Rep. Jerry Costello II as the next director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Costello, a Democrat from southern Illinois, served nearly eight years in the General Assembly from 2011 to 2019. During that time, he chaired the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee and was a member of the House Environment Committee.
HEMP FARMERS CROP BEING STOLEN AND MISTAKEN FOR MARIJUANA (The 21st Show)- Demarkius Medley grows hemp on a small farm in Galesburg. Like many farmers, this was his first year growing the crop after it was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. The growing was going relatively smoothly until he started to notice some crops were disappearing. Upon setting up a camera, Medley determined it was people, not deer, sneaking onto his property and stealing the hemp plants.
U.S. UNDER PRESSURE TO KEEP SLAUGHTERHOUSES OPEN DURING VIRUS OUTBREAK (Reuters)- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking to reassure meat producers it will keep slaughterhouses staffed with federal inspectors as fears about potential shutdowns due to the new coronavirus hammer livestock prices and fuel concerns about food supplies, meat industry groups said on Monday.
About Family Farm and Food Bytes: This is a collection of articles gathered from both mainstream and agriculture media and is designed to keep you informed as a member and leader within the Cook County Farm Bureau® organization. The articles summarized above are not intended to represent Cook County Farm Bureau policy or positions, but rather to provide members an idea of what is being reported regionally, nationally, and globally.