Stung by coronavirus, producers ask government to buy their goods

The government should step up its food purchases as a way to mitigate the potential loss of billions of dollars in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, said dairy farmers and two dozen lawmakers representing fruit and vegetable growers. And a small-farm advocacy group estimated a three-month …

Fishers, brewers, distillers: What aid do they need to survive Covid-19?

As the spread of the novel coronavirus disrupts business as usual across the country, food producers of all kinds are turning to the government for the help they say they need to stay afloat through the pandemic. From fishermen to produce growers to brewers, companies and organizations are lining up for federal aid as policymakers argue about the coming stimulus for small businesses.(No paywall)

Vegetable prices rise but food inflation stays dormant

Thanks to declines in food prices in 2016 and 2017, grocery store prices will stand at a lower overall level at the end of this year than they were at the end of 2015, said the monthly Food Price Outlook. For the second month in a row, USDA raised its forecast of price increases for fresh vegetables but forecast a scant 0.5 percent rise in food prices for the year.

WWF finds enormous rate of food waste in produce

In a study on food waste in the United States, the World Wildlife Fund found that on a specific set of farms in four states, 40 percent of tomatoes, 39 percent of peaches, 56 percent of romaine lettuce, and 2 percent of processing potatoes were left in the field rather than harvested.

Canada expects to be back soon at NAFTA negotiations

The three-corner negotiations for the new NAFTA have looked bilateral for a few weeks, because the United States has been meeting with Mexico. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that Canada expects to return to the talks very soon. Agriculture has been a stubborn and often over-looked issue for the nations. The Trump administration reportedly dropped a proposal for seasonal restrictions on imports of Mexican produce.

Vegetable farming gains volume in the Arctic

Whether growers operate indoors or out, vegetable production "seems to be on the rise in the Arctic," says Arctic Now, a news partnership based around the polar north. "Greenhouses and hydroponic systems are beacons of hope for the improvement of food security and health issues, and a diversification of the economy in remote Arctic communities."

Lost in California wildfires: North Bay vegetable farms

The wildfires in northern California destroyed vegetable farms in Sonoma County, "including several that were founded in the past six years by young farmers taking part in the local organic farm movement," says the San Francisco Chronicle. Growers lost homes and farm buildings and say that getting back into production will be an uphill battle.

Whole Foods’ prices have hardly budged since Amazon takeover

Despite rumors of cheaper groceries, prices at Whole Foods have only decreased by 1.2 percent overall after Amazon bought the company for $13.7 billion five weeks ago, says a study by the research firm Gordon Haskett.

Consumers and the U.S. diet have a stake in the new NAFTA

The second round of negotiations to update NAFTA begin today in Mexico City with the leaders of Canada and the United States hoping for an agreement by the end of the year. Agricultural trade among the three nations more than quadrupled since NAFTA took effect in 1994, helping to add more …

Sure, you can eat vegan, but is your farm ‘veganic’?

The owners of Lazy Millennial Farms, near Salinas, Calif., may be the only veganic – vegan and organic – farm in the San Francisco Bay area, growing fresh produce without animal products, reports Civil Eats. “That means no animal fertilizers, fish emulsions, blood or bone meal … that are …

Meet the farmers who say NAFTA hasn’t helped them

Big Ag has long chanted the benefits of NAFTA to American farmers, pointing out that the free-trade deal with Mexico and Canada has quadrupled U.S. farm exports since it went into effect in 1994. “But despite the largely pro-trade drumbeat in the ag sector, there are plenty of farmers who feel otherwise,” say Kristina Johnson and Sam Fromartz in FERN’s latest story, published with NPR’s The Salt.

Indoor-farming company set to go global with major investment

The tech-investment firm SoftBank Vision Fund says it will spend $200 million to help the indoor farming startup Plenty expand around the globe. Currently the company has two farms, one in San Francisco and another in Laramie, Wyoming, but it wants to scale up, tapping into population centers around the world.

FDA says it will allow more time to comply with farm water standards

In the face of industry complaints, the Food and Drug Administration said it would extend the date, now set for January 2018, to comply with agricultural water standards for produce. In an announcement, the agency said "the length of the extension is under consideration" and will be determined "using appropriate procedures at a later time." The extension does not apply to sprouts.

Not a peachy year in the South, but the sun shines on the Northeast

Peach orchards in Georgia and South Carolina will produce a meager harvest this year, the result of a warm winter followed by a hard freeze in the early spring, said the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "What does that mean for peach eaters in the Peach State? Probably only a shorter season," said the newspaper, as growers sell the fruit close to home and curtail out-of-state sales.

Don’t want to slice your own tomato? Ask the produce butcher.

In Manhattan, Whole Foods' latest store offers customers a “produce butcher” to cut up vegetables in real time — and for a price. According to the store’s sign, the produce butcher will “julienne (long, thin matchsticks), mince, dice, chop, and slice” produce for a dollar a pound, says Modern Farmer.

Scientists try to create kale 2.0

Scientists are asking consumers to help them develop a new variety of kale customized for American tastes, says NPR. But the same traits that make kale hearty against drought and disease, also give it its characteristic bitterness and tough texture. The study, which was developed by …

In Iowa, some farmers look beyond corn and soybeans … to veggies

A tiny percentage of Iowa farmers are turning to diversified vegetable and fruit production to augment or replace their fields of corn and soybeans, the Des Moines Register reports. The paper says that the chance for farmers "to diversify their crop mix, receive more income and avoid the price volatility that has squeezed profitability recently for corn and soybean producers can be enticing."

Pre-washed bagged salad mix as safe as whole heads

Pre-washed, packaged leafy greens have gotten a bad wrap due to E.coli and Listeria outbreaks that have sickened and even killed people, but studies say the bagged stuff is just as safe and healthy as whole lettuce heads, says NPR. “Detectable contamination in both whole head lettuce and …

Demand for perfection is biggest factor in U.S. food waste

Nearly half of the fruit and vegetables grown on U.S. farms never reach consumers, because the “cult of perfection” demands perfectly shaped peppers and blemish-free apples, says the Guardian.

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