Three-fourths of farmers fear coronavirus damage to their income

The coronavirus pandemic punctured the Farm Belt euphoria of early 2020 and sent a Purdue University gauge of farmer confidence plunging by 28 percent in one month. Three-fourths of producers taking part in the monthly Ag Economy Barometer said they were worried about the impact on their …

Farmers to Congress: make sure coronavirus aid isn’t just for agribusiness

A coalition of organizations that represent rural and farming communities called on Congress to ensure that federal coronavirus aid earmarked for agriculture goes to independent farmers rather than multinational agribusiness companies. The groups emphasized that smaller and independent growers …

Plunge in fuel usage could sideline half of U.S. ethanol production

Ethanol makers have idled 41 plants because the coronavirus pandemic is slashing demand for biofuels. A pro-ethanol trade group said on Tuesday, “At this rate, nearly half of America’s biofuel production could soon be offline.” Farm-state senators said the USDA should use coronavirus relief …

Most SNAP recipients can’t buy groceries online. Now, some states push for change.

With millions of Americans sheltering in place, many are opting to buy groceries online for home delivery to reduce risk of exposure to the coronavirus. But that isn't an option for most people who receive federal food assistance from the USDA. Now, states are asking the department to address the issue, but the agency hasn't said whether it will update the policy. (No paywall)

North Carolina food bank scrambles to feed the hungry

Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina distributed 82 million pounds of food last year, but this year it's scrambling to find the food and volunteers to deliver food directly to people in need, many of them seniors, Barry Yeoman writes in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)

USDA evaluating its coronavirus aid powers

The USDA is monitoring the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on commodity markets and evaluating the authority it received from Congress to distribute billions of dollars in aid to farmers and ranchers, said a spokesperson on Monday. (No paywall)

Economic impact of coronavirus outweighs federal help, says U.S. farm group

Congress allotted $23.5 billion for agriculture in the coronavirus relief package, but "that amount of money will not sustain" the farm sector, said the president of the largest U.S. farm group. The sector will need "a whole lot more [money] than was in the CARES Act," said Zippy Duvall of the American Farm Bureau Federation.(No paywall)

Virus is changing how urban farms operate, and even what they grow

The coronavirus is forcing urban farms to adapt, creating more space between people and even shifting the types of crops they grow. “We had wanted to plant a ton of snap peas this year,” says Saara Nafici, farm director at Red Hook Farms in Brooklyn, New York, “but harvest will be too labor intensive.” To conform with social-distancing rules, the farm is reducing the number of staff working at a given time and spreading out its washing and packing stations. Lower staffing levels mean adding new work slots, so everyone gets their hours in and the farm work gets done.(No paywall)

Coronavirus adds uncertainty to Chinese purchase commitments

China recently stepped up its purchases of U.S. corn and cotton, said USDA chief economist Robert Johansson, but the coronavirus pandemic creates uncertainty about whether Beijing will meet its "phase one" purchase commitments. The agreement, signed on Jan. 15, calls on China to buy $40 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products this year and in 2021.(No paywall)

A first: Tiger tests positive for coronavirus

A USDA veterinary laboratory confirmed a tiger at a zoo in New York, one of several tigers and lions showing signs of respiratory illness at the facility, was infected with the coronarvirus. "Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus," said the USDA. "This is the first case of its kind."(No paywall)