Deadly swine disease confirmed in Haiti
Disease experts confirmed a case of African swine fever in Haiti, the second known case in the Western hemisphere in two months and a potential risk to U.S. hog farmers. African swine fever is harmless to humans but has a high mortality rate among hogs; it wiped out nearly half of China's hogs in 2018 and 2019.
USDA to create ‘protection zone’ against disease deadly to hogs
In a step to protect U.S. swine and pork exports, the USDA said on Thursday that it will establish a "foreign animal disease protection zone" in two Caribbean territories, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. African swine fever was confirmed a month ago in the Dominican Republic.
In Puerto Rico, 40 percent suffer food insecurity with no end in sight
Even before the pandemic, Denise Santos was struggling to get food to in-need families in Puerto Rico. As president of the Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico, the island’s largest food bank, she had spent the years that followed Hurricanes Irma and Maria—which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017—working to fight hunger. Then, in January, a massive earthquake hit, unleashing thousands of smaller temblors that left thousands of families homeless, and destroyed infrastructure. Two months later, the pandemic struck. (No paywall)
Replacing school meals, P-EBT program lifted millions of children out of hunger
The Pandemic EBT program, created by Congress to help low-income families buy food for their children during school closures, "is hitting its target," said researchers at the Brookings Institution. "We find that Pandemic EBT reduces food hardship faced by children by 30 percent in the week following its disbursement."
Difficult choices when crop insurance, disaster aid and Trump’s bailout intersect
The farm safety net offers many strands of support to farmers swamped by a historically slow planting season, but the strands pull in different directions, says associate professor Bradley Lubben, of the University of Nebraska. "The complexity for producer decision-making is compounded," he said, when potential Trump tariff payments and disaster aid are woven into traditional crop subsidies and crop insurance.
Trump signs disaster bill with $3 billion for agriculture
A smiling President Trump announced enactment of the $19.1 billion disaster bill that includes $3 billion for agricultural relief on Thursday. Delayed for months by White House efforts to limit aid to Puerto Rico, the disaster package empowers Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to allot the …
House passes disaster bill by large margin on fourth attempt
The long-delayed, $19.1-billion disaster bill is on its way to the White House for President Trump’s signature. The House passed the bill, which includes $3 billion in agricultural aid, 354-58.
Senate passes long-delayed disaster bill with ag relief money
On Thursday, with President Trump giving his support, the Senate passed a $19.1-billion disaster bill that includes $3 billion for farmers hit by flooding and severe wet weather this spring along with aid to producers pounded last year by hurricanes in the South, wildfires in the West, and volcanoes in Hawaii.
In a break, disaster relief bills could pay farmers’ crop insurance premiums
When Congress passes disaster bills, the government commonly compensates growers for loss of crops and livestock with the proviso they buy crop insurance in the future so they are protected against catastrophic damage. Companion bills filed by Democrats in the House and Senate would go a step farther by giving farmers the money to pay for the policies — a "terrible" expansion of the federally subsidized program, says a small-farm advocate.
Farm lenders urge disaster aid for Southeast and Midwest
Senate Democrats proposed a $16.7 billion disaster relief bill on Tuesday, hoping to break a deadlock over aid to Puerto Rico with a package that provides more money for hurricane and flood recovery on the mainland. During a House hearing, Farm Credit System leaders called for assistance to …
Disaster bill sidetracked in Senate in fight over Puerto Rico aid
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shelved, at least for the moment, a $14-billion disaster aid bill on Monday after Democrats and Republicans took turns threatening a filibuster over aid to Puerto Rico.
Disaster bill faces procedural hurdle on Monday
The Senate delayed debate on a $13.5-billion disaster assistance bill, which includes flood relief for the western Farm Belt, until next week, with a procedural vote on Monday to determine if the bill will advance.
Senate clears way for disaster aid to agriculture
In a test vote, senators overwhelmingly supported a $13.5 billion disaster bill on Tuesday that includes flood aid for the Northern Plains and Western Corn Belt. "People back home are counting on us to get this done," said sponsor Sen. David Perdue, after speaking against proposals to boost funding for Puerto Rico beyond $600 million allotted for food stamps.
A year after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s farmers still struggle
A year after Hurricane Maria caused thousands of deaths in Puerto Rico, the island's farmers are still struggling to come back, according to FERN's latest report, in partnership with On the Table, a farm-bill-focused podcast produced by NET, Nebraska public media. (No paywall)
Puerto Rico’s agro-ecology brigades are a model of resiliency in a changing climate
After losing 80 percent of its crop value to Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico's farmer brigades are not only helping their neighbors rebuild, but steering the island toward agro-ecology as a sustainable way to farm in the face of a changing climate, reports Audrea Lim in FERN's latest piece, published with The Nation. No paywall
Public nutrition program in Puerto Rico gets $1.27-billion boost
Puerto Rico's version of the food stamp program temporarily will cover more households and provide larger benefits to participants as it recovers from hurricane damage, said the USDA. The maximum benefit for a family of four will rise to $649 as a result of a $1.27 billion line item in the government funding bill passed by Congress earlier this month.
Ag census delayed by a year for Puerto Rico
Farmers in most of the United States will receive questionnaires this month as part of the twice-a-decade Census of Agriculture, but the USDA has decided to delay the survey of producers in Puerto Rico until December 2018.
Seeds planted in the Midwest may have Puerto Rican ties
Farms in Puerto Rico are used in the research and development of up to 85 percent of the corn, soybean, and other hybrid seeds grown in the United States. “So the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in September stretches to the croplands of the Midwest and Great Plains,” reports Harvest Public Media.