Family Farm and Food Bytes
WITH SCHOOLS AND COFFEE SHOPS CLOSED, ILLINOIS DAIRY FARMERS FACE TOUGH CHOICES IN AN ECONOMY BATTERED BY CORONAVIRUS (Chicago Tribune) – The coronavirus pandemic is touching all aspects of the American economy, including dairy farmers throughout Illinois and the Midwest who are the lifeblood of rural communities and essential to the nation’s supply chain. Commodity prices have fallen, demand has dropped, processing systems have been under pressure, and the transportation network is under strain.
AMERICA HAS A LOT OF FOOD. MOVING IT IS TRICKY. (Wall Street Journal) – You wouldn’t know it from the bare grocery store shelves across the country, but America has plenty of food. The challenge is getting it from the farm to your table. Restaurant closures and shoppers’ rushing to stock their pantries are forcing the agriculture industry to boost production, hire new employees, and set up “war rooms” to keep grocery stores stocked.
SENATORS CALL ON USDA TO PAY GROWERS, RAMP UP PRODUCE PURCHASES (The Packer) – Twenty-nine U.S. senators have signed a letter asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to use money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to directly pay specialty crop growers and to immediately increase purchases of fresh produce for food banks and federal feeding programs.
SCHOOL DISTRICTS GET CREATIVE TO FEED STUDENTS (Politico) – Pop-up food systems, grab-and-go meal pickups, school bus routes. These are just a few ways localities are supplying food to low-income students — more than 22 million of whom rely on school meals as their main source of nutrition — who are now staying home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
NORTH AMERICAN MILLERS, BAKERS SCRAMBLE TO SATISFY BREAD-BUYING BINGE (Reuters) – North American flour mills and bakeries are rushing to boost production as the spread of the new coronavirus leads to stockpiling of staples like bread and pasta. The United States is the world’s fifth-largest wheat producer and consumer.
CORONAVIRUS PUSHES FARM LABOR FAILINGS INTO SPOTLIGHT (Politico) – The outbreak has exposed major weaknesses in the U.S. farm labor system, both upping pressure on the federal government to make it easier to hire migrant labor, as well as highlighting the lack of health and safety protections for these essential workers.
US BAKERS CELEBRATE MORE SUGAR AS CORONAVIRUS SPURS CONSUMER DEMAND (Agri-Pulse) – The USDA’s decision to open the tightly-controlled U.S. sugar market to more foreign sugar comes as a relief for bakers and food manufacturers as consumer demand for their products spikes in grocery stores across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
YEAST AND BAKING POWDER TOP AMERICA'S SHOPPING LISTS (NPR) – Yeast, baking powder, and spiral hams were big hits in America's shopping carts last week. As the country settles in under stay-at-home orders, baking projects appear to be a common distraction, while panic purchasing of some products seems to be subsiding.
JOHN DEERE TO MAKE MORE THAN 225,000 PROTECTIVE FACE SHIELDS IN MOLINE (Quad-City Times) – Deere & Co. is in the process of making 25,000 protective face shields, with supplies being ordered for the production of an additional 200,000 to be made at its Moline Seeding Group, the company announced. The news is a response to nationwide calls for more personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
'WE ARE SWAMPED': CORONAVIRUS PROPELS INTEREST IN RAISING BACKYARD CHICKENS FOR EGGS (NPR) – The coronavirus pandemic is heightening interest in raising young chickens for a reliable supply of eggs, with hatcheries saying they're seeing a flood of new customers.
FOR GROCERS, EGGS ARE GETTING MORE EXPENSIVE AMID CORONAVIRUS (Wall Street Journal) – Wholesale egg prices have more than tripled as consumers’ coronavirus-driven buying clears supermarket shelves, piling up costs for grocers as they struggle to keep the staple in stock and affordable. Egg prices for grocers across the U.S. averaged $3.01 a dozen in early April compared with 94 cents at the beginning of March, according to USDA data.
ILLINOIS’S SMALL FARMERS TURN TO TECH DURING PANDEMIC RESTAURANT CLOSURES (Chicago Eater) – For producers who have made a living by selling goods at farmers’ markets or wholesale to area restaurants, challenges ripple outward from farmers to wholesale distribution companies, retail stores and restaurants. For farms, the path forward depends largely on reinforcing connections to customers through technology.
FARMERS STRUGGLE WITH SURPLUSES AS CONSUMERS SEE EMPTY SHELVES (The 21st Show)- As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we’re buying less food from restaurants and more from the grocery store. That’s meant headaches and surpluses for farmers, as they struggle to meet consumers where they are. The coronavirus pandemic and changing consumer buying habits have left some grocery store shelves empty, but farmers with a surplus of fresh produce, dairy, and meat.
HOW THE PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS IS HURTING ILLINOIS’ LIVESTOCK FARMERS (WTTW) – Bacon: It’s never really been something the Illinois Pork Producers had to actively promote. In recent years, it’s become so popular you can find it in places you’d have never thought possible, like bacon-flavored mints, bacon-infused vodka and even bacon-shaped Band-Aids. But like so much else these days, the coronavirus has changed all that.
CHINA BUYS ANOTHER 567,000 TONS OF US CORN (Agri-Pulse) – China is continuing to live up to its purchase promises under the “phase one” trade deal, buying up 567,000 metric tons of U.S. corn, according to new export sales announced Friday by the USDA. Most of it — 504,000 tons — is for delivery in the 2020-21 marketing year, while 63,000 tons are for delivery in the current 2019-20 marketing year.
CORONAVIRUS OFFERS REPRIEVE FROM AIR POLLUTION (The Hill) – Environmental experts say the planet is getting a breather from the constant output of pollution by humans as the coronavirus puts many activities by individuals and businesses on hold. Smog levels in China were reduced after factories shuttered during the outbreak there, and satellite images show a significant drop in air pollution in Italy while the country remains in a nationwide lockdown.
USMCA TIMELINE GETS MURKY (Politico) The Trump administration is not on track for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to go into effect on June 1 as it had planned, making it likely automakers will have extra time to prepare to comply with the deal’s new rules. The U.S., Mexico and Canada are supposed to exchange letters to certify they have met all the necessary obligations under the deal.
ETHANOL PLANTS SEEK RULE CHANGES TO RESUPPLY HAND SANITIZER (ABC News)- As hospitals and nursing homes desperately search for hand sanitizer amid the coronavirus outbreak, federal regulators are preventing ethanol producers from providing millions of gallons of alcohol that could be transformed into the germ-killing mixture. The U.S. FDA roadblock has been frustrating the health care and ethanol industries, which have been calling for a relaxed regulation to deal with the public health care emergency.
BIOFUEL PLANTS BRACE FOR POTENTIAL SHUTDOWNS (Agri-Pulse) – As fuel prices begin to drop nationwide, ethanol and biodiesel plants are making hard decisions as to whether to shut down or idle production. The Renewable Fuels Association and several other organizations are asking Congress and the White House in a letter to provide credit to pay workers, suspend business taxes, and amend the tax code to restore the ability of businesses to carryback any net operating losses against previous year tax payments.
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.