‘Rescue’ bill for county fairs wins committee support

The House Agriculture Committee approved a bill on Tuesday to create a $500 million a year grant program to support local, county and state fairs that lost attendance and revenue due to the pandemic. An estimated 98 percent of the fairs were canceled last year and more are at risk in the fourth wave of Covid-19.

ERS report: Despite pandemic, U.S. food insecurity remained flat in 2020

One in 10 U.S. households were food insecure in 2020, the same level as a year earlier, the USDA's Economic Research Service reported Wednesday. The flat rate of food insecurity provided evidence that government and charitable programs during the Covid-19 pandemic tempered a rise in hunger despite the deep recession.

Ag leaders urge Covid-19 vaccinations in rural America

While nearly half of urban Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the rural rate is much lower — less than four in 10. "We still have so far to go," said the leaders of 30 farm and agribusiness groups on Wednesday in an open letter to their members that encouraged vaccinations to head off the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

With $8.75 billion, USDA nears bottom of pandemic aid list

Since it revamped its pandemic relief programs in March to "reach a broader set of producers," the Agriculture Department has committed $8.75 billion in assistance to farmers and ranchers, including $750 million for the dairy sector and up to $1 billion for contract growers of pigs and poultry. Only a few items remained on its list for implementation on Tuesday, among them $700 million for biofuel producers.

Discourage dewormer as Covid treatment, FDA asks veterinarians, retailers

Since early this year, the FDA has warned against using the drug ivermectin, a livestock dewormer, to treat or prevent Covid-19. On Monday, it asked veterinarians and retailers to discourage their clientele from buying the medicine to use on themselves. “People are purchasing various highly …

USDA offers $1 billion in pandemic aid to contract growers

Nearly seven months after it froze a Trump-era plan, the Biden administration said on Tuesday that up to $1 billion was available to contract growers of pigs and poultry to offset revenue lost to the pandemic in 2020. With the announcement, the USDA has committed more than $8 billion in pandemic aid to farmers and ranchers since March. The total would grow with the expected announcement on Wednesday of a $400 million program to donate dairy products to food banks. The dairy donation program, like the aid to contract growers, was on a USDA list of coronavirus assistance to be implemented this summer.

Early warning system for zoonotic diseases

The USDA will boost its surveillance among animals for diseases such as Covid-19 and create an early warning system against zoonotic diseases that threaten people and animals alike, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday. Early detection could prevent or limit the spread of the diseases. "Up to 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans can also impact the health of animals—we’ve seen this link firsthand with COVID-19,” said Vilsack. The USDA planned to spend $300 million in pandemic relief money for the new project on zoonotic diseases. The CDC says Covid-19 has been confirmed in domestic pets, otters, mink on mink farms and wild white-tailed deer.

Tyson Foods sets Covid-19 vaccination deadline

The largest U.S. meat processor, Tyson Foods, said on Tuesday that all of its 139,000 employees must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1, with a proposed $200 "thank you" for to frontline workers for compliance. "We do not take this decision lightly," said chief executive Donnie King in a memo. "We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today under half of our team members are."

WIC program saw widespread declines during the pandemic

Participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) saw widespread declines during the pandemic, continuing a trend that took hold over the past decade due to significant enrollment hurdles. The declines contrasted with the sharp rise in demand for programs like SNAP and Medicaid. (No paywall)