Today’s quick hits, Dec. 16, 2020

Coronavirus payments hit $23 billion: The USDA sent nearly $900 million in coronavirus payments to farmers and ranchers last week, raising the total to $23 billion since disbursements began in May. Slightly more than half of the money has gone to cattle producers, $7.05 billion, and corn growers, $5.06 billion. (FERN’s Ag Insider)

McCarthy is Biden climate adviser: Former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, now head of environmental group NRDC, will serve as climate adviser to President Biden when he takes office, according to three unnamed sources. (Washington Post)

FRAC backs Hipp for No. 2 at USDA: The anti-hunger Food Research and Action Center urged President-elect Biden to nominate Janie Hipp, chief executive of the Native American Agriculture Fund, for deputy agriculture secretary. (The Hagstrom Report)

Coronavirus in wild mink in Utah: Tests confirmed a “free-ranging wild mink” captured in Utah was infected with the coronavirus, making it the first known wild animal with the virus, said the USDA. There is no evidence of coronavirus circulating in wild animals near infected mink farms in Utah, Michigan and Wisconsin. (ProMED)

Texas farmworkers sue over H-2A wages: Four farmworkers filed suit in federal court to block a Labor Department rule that would freeze the wages paid to agricultural guest workers for two years and indirectly hold down wages for American farm laborers. The new rule would take effect on Dec. 21 (Texas RioGrande Legal Aid)