To save humanity, save biodiversity: Q&A with Eric Sala

Dr. Eric Sala, founder of the ocean conservation initiative Pristine Seas, constructs an enlightened defense for biological diversity in his first book, The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild, in which he describes Covid-19 as "the most powerful wake-up call to the world about the enormous risks to human health posed by our broken relationship with nature.” (No paywall)

Trump’s trade and coronavirus aid to agriculture could hit $50 billion

With its new offer of $14 billion in coronavirus relief, the Trump administration could spend $50 billion — quadruple the cost of the auto industry bailout — in less than three years to buffer the impact of trade war and pandemic on agriculture. Farm groups welcomed the second round of coronavirus assistance while critics said it was "old-fashioned vote-buying" ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

While Congress fiddles, a critical tool to address child hunger is about to expire

A critical tool for fighting child hunger is set to expire at the end of the month, despite persistent need among millions of children due to the pandemic. The Pandemic-EBT program was created in March to give families funds to buy groceries in lieu of free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches their children would otherwise have been getting at school. Unless Congress renews the program before Sept. 30, eligible families will lose access to the benefit until at least after the presidential election. (No paywall)

Coronavirus requires a ‘massive response,’ Pelosi tells the NFU

Six months into the pandemic, America needs a "massive response" to the coronavirus to keep the economy running, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday speaking to the National Farmers Union. "You can't have a skinny deal," said Pelosi, urging NFU members to tell lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation.

Feds investigating after H-2A worker died of Covid-19 complications at a Texas potato plant

Marco Antonio Galvan Gomez, a 48-year-old husband and father from Guanajuato, Mexico, had worked eight years on a seasonal visa at Larsen Farms, one of the biggest potato producers in the nation, when he died of complications related to Covid-19 on July 20. He had spent the previous 12 days struggling to keep working despite suffering from fever, aches and shortness of breath; Larsen officials denied his request to return home to Mexico, and Galvan got no medical treatment from local health officials, according to FERN's latest story, published with Texas Observer. (No paywall)

Grocery prices fall for second month in a row

Lower prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs were the driving factor for a slight decline in grocery prices during August, the second month in a row that supermarket prices were down, said the monthly Consumer Price Index. Despite the decreases, food inflation ran at 4.6 percent in the past 12 months, rising far more rapidly than the overall U.S. rate of 1.3 percent.

At poultry plants allowed to run faster processing lines, a greater risk of Covid-19

Forty percent of the poultry plants participating in the USDA's controversial line speed waiver program have had Covid-19 outbreaks, according to an analysis of FERN’s outbreaks database. Labor advocates have warned that faster speeds on crowded processing lines could expose slaughterhouse workers to a greater risk of Covid-19, and even the top federal workplace authority has suggested that meatpackers reduce line speeds to curb the spread of the virus.(No paywall)

After record-low rate in 2019, hunger more than doubles in pandemic

Nearly 4 percent of U.S. households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in 2019, including 5 million children, according to the USDA. Although those numbers are significant, they are the lowest on record since the USDA’s Economic Research Service began tracking these statistics in 1998. But by August of this year, those numbers had more than doubled.

Pandemic paradox: As food poverty rises, so does obesity

The Covid-19 pandemic has limited trips to the grocery store, shut down neighborhood markets and generally made it harder for people struggling financially to find affordable healthy food, reports Bloomberg.  As a result, more people are relying on cheaper and more easily accessible fast and ultra-processed food, driving up rates of obesity around the world.

The largest U.S. student farm organization faces a reckoning on race

A racist incident involving a leader of the 700,000-member FFA spurred a backlash and revealed a long history of inequity at the student farm organization, says FERN's latest story by staff writer and associate editor Leah Douglas. (No paywall)