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)

As the pandemic exposes low wages and unsafe conditions at food-distribution centers, workers are striking

On January 23, after a tense, week-long strike led by Teamsters Local 202, 1,400 employees of New York City’s Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market—the world’s largest wholesale produce market—reached an agreement with management that includes the biggest raise Local 202 has ever won through bargaining. The victory was the latest in a series of actions by the Teamsters, as the pandemic has ignited long-simmering labor disputes at food-distribution centers across the country.(No paywall)

Food workers face obstacles getting Covid-19 vaccinations

The thousands of workers who pick, pack, and process our food have become eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in many states. But they still face obstacles to actually getting the vaccine, as companies sort out their vaccination policies and advocates struggle to secure enough doses for a workforce that ranks among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. (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 …

With executive orders, Biden gives anti-hunger advocates a big slice of what they wanted

Amid the flurry of executive orders that marked his first 48 hours in office, President Joe Biden announced on Friday that he will ask the USDA to expand two critical food-assistance programs, as hunger continues to plague millions during the pandemic. The orders will raise SNAP benefits and increase funds awarded through the Pandemic-EBT program, which transfers the dollar amount of school lunches onto debit cards to compensate for meals kids miss while schools are closed. The early moves confirm expectations that the new administration will be serious about tackling food insecurity, through both general financial assistance and targeted food aid.(No paywall)

With new Covid plan, Biden calls for OSHA to update workplace safety protections

The nation's top workplace safety enforcer, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, will explore issuing enforceable workplace safety standards to protect workers from the spread of Covid-19 as part of President Joe Biden's new pandemic strategy. Labor advocates and congressional Democrats have pushed for enforceable standards for the duration of the pandemic, arguing that the existing voluntary guidelines for employers don't go far enough to protect workers.