Nutrition assistance expands as pandemic impact deepens

The USDA has issued waivers to 43 states that make it easier for schools to provide food to low-income children who lost access to free or reduced-price meals due to coronarvirus closures, said a spokesman on Wednesday. An anti-hunger group called for more flexible treatment and speedy handling of the burgeoning number of applications for food stamps. (No paywall)

Dairy Farmers of America wins bid for Dean Foods

The milk cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has entered into an agreement to buy most of milk processor Dean Foods’ assets as part of the latter’s bankruptcy proceedings. If approved, the $433 million deal will make DFA both the largest milk supplier and the largest milk processor in the country.

Conservation Reserve rental rates fall by $8 an acre for new land

The USDA will pay an annual rent of $55 an acre on land entering the Conservation Reserve through the recently completed signup, a drop of $8 an acre from the last time landowners idled large tracts of land in the reserve, said a USDA spokeswoman on Wednesday.

Roberts: $9 billion for livestock producers

Out of the $23.5 billion earmarked for agriculture in the latest coronavirus relief package, "I think at least $9 billion will be going to livestock producers," said Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts on Wednesday.(No paywall)

Today’s quick hits, April 2, 2020

Food banks implore USDA to change protocols (Washington Post): Although food banks are seeing a major increase in demand, the USDA has delayed an administrative change that would allow food bank staff and volunteers to distribute food faster and more safely. Trader Joe’s workers speak out …

Despite coronavirus pandemic, farmers plan to plant a record corn crop

Spooked by the China-U.S. trade war, American farmers say they will plant so much corn that production could near 16 billion bushels for the first time. “We’ll be swimming in corn,” said economist Todd Hubbs of the University of Illinois. Growers also could reap the fourth-largest soybean crop …

Trump administration weakens fuel economy standards

Federal agencies sided with the oil industry in relaxing the gasoline mileage requirements for cars and light trucks in model years 2021 to 2026, said the pro-ethanol group Renewable Fuels Association. The DOT and EPA finalized the new standards, which were proposed two years ago, on Tuesday, …

Today’s quick hits, April 1, 2020

Food donations spike (Miami Herald): In Florida, food banks are being flooded with produce from area farms and restaurants whose supply chains have crumbled in the wake of coronavirus-related restaurant closures. Meat plant hit by possible coronavirus (Wall Street Journal): The meatpacker JBS …

Crop outlook tainted with uncertainty

Corn and soybean plantings by U.S. farmers are sure to surge this spring, according to USDA and private analysts, but the coronavirus pandemic is creating uncertainty about whether there will be enough buyers for a bumper crops this fall. The economic slowdown is likely to reduce demand for corn ethanol, hitting corn growers in the wallet, but the alternative crop for many farmers, soybeans, faces a glut of its own.

Big money is pouring into ‘carbon farming.’ But can it help mitigate climate change?

As efforts to wean society off fossil fuels have stalled, “natural climate solutions” such as soil carbon sequestration have rapidly gained steam. But, as Gabriel Popkin reports in FERN's latest story, published with Yale Environment 360, "a growing number of scientists worry that mounting societal pressure to do something to counter climate change is pushing money into so-called carbon farming before the science needed to underpin it is mature."(No paywall)