Claim: War is poisoning Ukraine’s famously fertile soil
Ukrainian scientists say soil samples from the Kharkiv region show that “high concentrations of toxins such as mercury and arsenic from munitions and fuel are polluting the ground,” according to a Reuters report.
White House bolsters security for food and ag sector
The federal government will keep a closer eye on threats to the U.S. food supply, such as cyberattacks and pandemic diseases, under a national security memorandum signed by President Biden.
Trust the farmer, says Vilsack, as senators warn of food shortages
Republican senators slammed the Biden administration on Thursday for high inflation nationwide and said the USDA should free American farmers to plant as much land as they want to avert a potential food crisis. “We’re all hammered with” inflation, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
With eye on Ukraine, G7 ag ministers warn nations to avoid food hoarding and profiteering
To mitigate the impact of war in Ukraine on global food supplies, the G7's agriculture ministers called on all nations to keep their trade channels open and to guard against unjustified limits on exports. "We will not tolerate artificially inflated prices that could diminish the availability of food and agricultural products," said the ministers in a statement after a special meeting convened via the internet.
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.
Presidential election should be followed by a national food strategy, says report
The coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted food supplies and heightened food insecurity, should be the impetus for unified oversight of the food system, now splintered among dozens of regulatory agencies, said an "urgent call" for action from groups at the Harvard and Vermont law schools on Thursday.
Agriculture feels impact as pandemic reshapes U.S. diet, rattles producers
Americans will eat more chicken, already their favorite meat, as stay-at-home orders have consumers shopping at the supermarket rather than going to restaurants, said ag lender CoBank on Thursday in assessing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on food producers and processors. (No paywall)
Despite coronavirus worries, Europe’s food system is stable
The coronavirus has upended most aspects of life in Europe, but after a spate of hoarding early in the pandemic, shopping has returned to normal as food producers and retailers work to keep supply chains flowing and shelves stocked. This could be instructive to the United States, which is behind Europe in the progression of the disease.(No paywall)
Rural jobs wiped out by coronavirus, says survey
Fifteen percent of rural Americans surveyed in the past week said they had either lost their job or were laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic, and an additional 14 percent said they were worried they would lose their jobs, according to the results of a survey released on Thursday. (No paywall)
If farmworkers suffer a coronavirus outbreak, the nation’s food supply is at risk
In the coming weeks and months, tens of thousands of migrant farmworkers will arrive in agricultural centers across the nation, where they will live and work in conditions that are prime for a coronavirus outbreak. Yet despite the fact that these are the men and women Americans depend on to plant, tend, and harvest their food, "these workers and their advocates say that many of the farmers who employ them have provided virtually no information on how they can protect themselves, their co-workers, and their families from the coronavirus — creating the potential for a massive public-health and food-security crisis."(No paywall)
Empty shelves will soon be ‘a thing of the past,’ says grocery supply expert
As the novel coronavirus spreads, many people have stocked up on pantry items and paper products in anticipation of hunkering down at home for an extended period, creating temporary shortages of certain products. To better understand the grocery supply chain and how stores are stocked, FERN turned to Dr. Ananth Iyer, a professor of supply chain management at Purdue University and director of the university's Global Supply Chain Management Initiative. (No paywall)
Retailers, officials insist the food supply is strong as grocery stores are emptied
A recent surge of demand has emptied some grocery store shelves of staples, as shoppers concerned about the spread of the novel coronavirus prepare to self-isolate at home. But the U.S. has plenty of food and Americans should not panic, urged food retailers, producers, and the federal government over the weekend.(No paywall)
FDA, USDA pledge greater coordination on food safety
The leaders of the USDA and the FDA, which together oversee the U.S. food supply, signed a formal agreement at the White House to reduce regulatory overlap and improve the efficiency of the federal food safety system.
Scientists propose global research alliance to meet world food needs
The world’s need for food is growing faster than the projected supply, says a group of crop scientists in proposing the formation of a broad-based research network to develop new varieties and mitigate the impact of climate change on world hunger. Writing in the journal Science, the scientists say that the fruitful international collaboration on wheat, which began with the Green Revolution of the 1960s, can be a template for work on many crops.
Bill would add USDA to U.S. review of foreign investors
Senate Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley is sponsoring a bill to make USDA a permanent member of the U.S. panel that decides if foreign purchases of U.S. companies impinge on national security. "This bill will raise the stature of agriculture ... so we don't make the mistake of selling too much control of our food supply to foreign countries," Grassley told reporters.
Global land grab worsens, covers 30 million hectares
The worldwide spike in food prices nearly a decade ago set off a land-buying surge by wealthy investors and nations wanting to shore up their food supply by acquiring cropland in developing nations. The surge was decried by critics as land grabs that would displace small farmers and herders. "The emerging new trend we wrote about in 2008 has continued and become worse," says the nonprofit Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN).
Desert locusts, found in Yemen, jeopardize crops in region
Infestations of the Desert locust have been found on the southern coast of Yemen, says the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, describing the insects as a force of nature when the adults gather in swarms that ride with the wind. "A very small swarm eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people," says FAO.
Beef prices take a breather
After two years of dramatic increases, the grocery store price of beef is stabilizing, says the Food Price Outlook.
Dining today on the food of the future
Throughout the industrialized world, citizens are "the beneficiaries of food production technologies – and a wealth of delicious and formerly exotic ingredients – our ancestors could only dream about," says the NPR blog The Salt.