Restaurant workers would stay in the industry if wages rose, new report finds

Restaurant owners have reported difficulty finding workers as many states and cities lift the pandemic restrictions that led to mass layoffs in the sector last year. But the vast majority of restaurant workers say they would stay in the industry if provided with a stable, livable wage, according to a new report from One Fair Wage and the U.C. Berkeley Food Labor Research Center.

Biden delay on new workplace Covid-19 standards concerns food worker advocates

In the early days of his administration, President Biden directed the nation’s workplace safety regulator to explore enforceable Covid-19 standards to better protect workers from the threat of the coronavirus. But months later, the new standards have not been issued, worrying advocates concerned about the health of vulnerable workers.

Operating loans drive decline in ag lending

With federal pandemic aid in their hands, farmers and ranchers borrowed far less money than usual from ag bankers during the opening months of this year for equipment, livestock, and operating expenses, according to a Federal Reserve survey of commercial lenders.

After a year of pandemic, food system workers still face risks

Although media reports and public data about Covid-19 cases among food system workers dropped off significantly after a first wave of outbreaks last spring, the virus quietly returned in waves at dozens of plants last year, writes Leah Douglas in FERN's latest story. No paywall

Meatpacking plants in the spotlight at House hearing

Meatpacking, poultry, and agricultural workers have faced "devastating" conditions during the pandemic, in part due to employers' and federal regulators' lax approach to worker safety, argued advocates during a hearing before a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday. The hearing comes as food system workers are becoming eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in many states, but new outbreaks and cases of the virus continue to emerge in these crowded workplaces across the country. No paywall

Low market prices mean less land planted to cotton, says survey

U.S. cotton growers plan to reduce plantings by 5 percent this spring because of lingering low prices caused by the pandemic, said the National Cotton Council on Thursday at its annual meeting.

Tyson faces investor pressure over handling of Covid-19 pandemic

Tyson Foods investors attending its online annual shareholder meeting this week will consider several proposals to increase oversight of the company, all of which stem from the company’s handling of the Covid-19. Thousands of Tyson workers have contracted the virus and dozens have died at plants around the country.

Biden order upping FEMA cost share allows restaurants to get paid in full to feed the hungry

The executive order President Joe Biden signed on Tuesday effectively bypasses a major pandemic relief bill that had been stuck in Congress, and represents a significant step in addressing two major crises: unprecedented rates of food insecurity and the nation’s ailing restaurant industry.(No paywall)

House committee to investigate meatpacking plant outbreaks

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis launched an investigation Monday into the spread of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants during the course of the pandemic. The committee sent letters to the country's top meatpackers — JBS, Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods — as well as to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requesting scores of information on the entities' management of the spread of the virus among meatpacking workers, with a response deadline of Feb. 15.(No paywall)

Highest grocery price inflation in nine years

Grocery prices rose by 3.5 percent during 2020, the largest increase since prices rose 4.8 percent in 2011, said the USDA on Monday. Beef led the parade of pandemic price increases, up by 9.6 percent for the year, followed by pork, up 6.3 percent, and poultry, up by 5.6 percent. “Only the price …