Big coronavirus increases in SNAP and farm spending

The food stamp program will cost $145 billion this year, more than double its pre-pandemic total, due to expansion to combat the pandemic, estimated the CBO in updating its budget outlook. Mandatory agricultural spending was forecast at $48 billion this year, an increase of $17 billion from 2020.

Essential work, low wages on the farm

Farmworkers earned less than 60 percent of what comparable workers did off the farm last year, says an Economic Policy Institute blog. The wage gap in 2020 was virtually unchanged from 2019.

Pandemic brings highest global hunger rate in 12 years

Nearly one of every 10 people on earth is undernourished, a huge increase in global hunger in a world wracked by the pandemic, said the United Nations on Monday. In an annual report on world nutrition, the UN said around 768 million people — more than population of Europe — were hungry in 2020, …

First decline in global food prices in a year

Sharply lower prices for vegetable oils, down nearly 10 percent in a month, contributed to the first decline in the Food Price Index since last May, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on Thursday. The index fell by 2.5 percent in June, although it was still about one-third higher than a year ago.

After pandemic pain, school meal programs brace for next year

School districts across the country pared their menus, reduced staffing, and canceled equipment purchases because of the pandemic, but nearly half of them still lost money in the cafeteria during the past school year, said a survey released on Thursday by the School Nutrition Association. More than eight of every 10 food directors said they were concerned about financial losses and staff shortages in the upcoming school year.

Trump administration tried to influence state responses to meatpacking plant outbreaks, documents reveal

Top staff at the Department of Agriculture, including former agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue, and at the Vice President’s office sought to influence how states responded to early outbreaks of Covid-19 in meatpacking plants last spring, a trove of documents reveals.(No paywall)

Smithfield exaggerated meat-supply risk of pandemic, says lawsuit

Pork processor Smithfield Foods fanned fears of a meat shortage during the pandemic and failed to adequately protect its workers from Covid-19 while fattening its profits, charged the consumer group Food & Water Watch in a lawsuit. Filed under the District of Columbia’s consumer protection …

Report: Pandemic waivers helped boost WIC enrollment

Pandemic-era tweaks to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children helped boost participation in the program, commonly known as WIC, after years of declining enrollment, according to a report released yesterday by the Food Research & Action Center.

After months of waiting, labor advocates disappointed new OSHA rule excludes food system workers

After months of delay, the Biden administration on Thursday released a rule dictating how employers in the healthcare sector should protect workers from the spread of Covid-19. The exclusion of meatpacking, food processing, farm, and grocery retail workers from the new workplace standards sparked an outcry from worker advocacy groups and unions.(No paywall)