Near-record U.S. ag exports seen with China back as top customer

With expectations that the coronavirus will eventually recede, U.S. farm exports will catapult to a near-record $152 billion during the fiscal year that started on Oct. 1, said the USDA on Monday. China was forecast to import a record $27 billion in fiscal 2021, ending the agricultural …

A ‘hungry winter’ ahead, as food insecurity remains severe

Child hunger has dipped since the summer but still remains near record levels, according to a new analysis from The Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project. With Thanksgiving around the corner, the findings point to enduring hardship and food insecurity, eight months after the first pandemic-related shutdowns began. (No paywall)

Meat plants tied to 6-8 percent of early Covid-19 cases

Livestock processing plants "may act as transmission vectors" for spreading the coronavirus, said researchers who estimated the plants were associated with from 6 to 8 percent of Covid-19 cases nationwide during the early months of the pandemic. "Ensuring both public health and robust essential supply chains may require an increase in meatpacking oversight and potentially a shift toward more decentralized, smaller-scale meat production," said the researchers in a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Biden names Kerry as climate envoy on national security team

Former secretary of state John Kerry pledged on Monday to treat climate change “as the national security threat it is” as the presidential envoy for climate in the Biden administration. “The climate crisis demands nothing less than all hands on deck,” said Kerry on social media soon after …

Today’s quick hits, Nov. 24, 2020

Hunger groups back Fudge for USDA: Five dozen food banks, hunger relief and anti-poverty groups from across the country signed a letter to President-elect Biden in support of Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge for agriculture secretary, hailing her as a stalwart advocate of public nutrition programs and …

After decades of decline, food’s share of personal spending holds steady

Since the turn of the century, Americans have spent roughly 10 percent of their disposable income on food each year, two decades of stability that may reflect a leveling-off of U.S. incomes, say two USDA economists. Their analysis provides context to the frequent boast by farm and food industry leaders, often joined by government officials, that Americans enjoy the safest and most affordable food supply in the world.

Keep food flowing during pandemic, FAO urges G20

World leaders must remain vigilant to keep food trade flowing during the pandemic and to continue using trade as a lever to improve farm income and productivity, said the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on Sunday. Speaking during the Group of 20 summit held online, director general Qu Dongyu said, "It is essential for the G20 to keep working on preventing this health crisis from becoming a global food crisis."

Today’s quick hits, Nov. 23, 2020

Smaller processors struggle with coronavirus: Workers and advocates say smaller poultry processors have struggled just as much as the big processors, “often taking longer to implement fewer safety measures than their larger counterparts.” (Facing South) Lobster industry hopes for …

‘Justice’ bill would transfer up to 32 million acres to Black farmers

Black-owned farmland could expand sevenfold under a bill filed by three Democratic senators on Thursday to reverse decades of discriminatory practices by the Agriculture Department, sometimes called "the last plantation." The Justice for Black Farmers Act would enable Black farmers to acquire up to 160 acres apiece at no charge through a USDA system of land grants. (No paywall)

Tyson orders investigation of ‘betting on Covid’ allegations

Former attorney general Eric Holder will lead an independent investigation into allegations that managers of a Tyson Foods hog plant in Waterloo, Iowa, ran a betting pool on how many employees would become ill with Covid-19, said the meat processor on Thursday.