Q&A: A rural Montana school district scrambles keep kids fed during pandemic

Like school nutrition staff across the country, Marsha Wartick, food service director for the Ronan School District in tiny Ronan, Montana, spent the last six months feeding hungry kids and their families under a USDA emergency meals program. Now, as kids head back to school, Wartick is scrambling to react to mixed signals from the administration and hoping the emergency program is allowed to continue through the entire school year. (No paywall)

‘Trump bump’ in farm income to disappear in 2021

U.S. farm income, buoyed by record-setting farm subsidies this year, will sink in the new year with the disappearance of government payments to buffer the effects of the trade war and the coronavirus pandemic on agriculture, said the FAPRI think tank on Thursday. Farm groups and their allies in Congress are likely to seek billions of dollars in new federal assistance, said analysts.

Rural advantages in coronavirus recovery

The coronavirus "dealt an economically devastating hand to nearly the whole country," but job losses were smaller and shutdowns were shorter in rural America, said rural lender CoBank in a quarterly report. "Economic recovery may now favor rural communities for the first time in many years."(No paywall)

Senate bill would help farmers get into carbon markets, say backers

Farmers could combine environmental and economic sustainability through practices that lock carbon into the soil, but it's dauntingly difficult to enter the carbon sequestration market and get paid for it, said the leaders of the two largest U.S. farm groups on Wednesday.

For rural grocery stores, the pandemic is personal

Grocery delivery is nothing new, and it certainly has become much more common since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. But for stores like Michigan Hometown Foods, which is  the lone grocery in a town of 275 people, the process looks a lot different than it does in a larger city, as Stephanie Parker reports in FERN latest story.(No paywall)

USDA creates coronavirus loan guarantees for rural businesses and farmers

The Department of Agriculture said Thursday it would provide up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses and farmers meet their working capital needs during the pandemic. The new program is patterned on the USDA's existing Business and Industry program but with a higher loan guarantee level and lower requirements for collateral. (No paywall)

As coronavirus weakens ag sector, federal payments may be key

If 2019 was stressful for farmers and ranchers, with low commodity prices and bad weather for crops, the coronavirus crisis is compounding the economic challenges this year, said three Federal Reserve banks in recently released quarterly reports. (No paywall)

More coronavirus tests, broadband needed in rural America, say Senate Democrats

Covid-19 cases have been reported in more than two-thirds of rural counties, said a report by Senate Democrats, who called for nationwide rapid-response testing for the coronavirus and for expansion of high-speed internet to maintain commerce and healthcare in rural areas. (No paywall)

One year of coronavirus relief could match two years of trade war aid

The government could spend $25 billion, or more, to help the farm sector survive the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic slowdown, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday. If that happens, the administration will have spent more than $50 billion in three years to mitigate the impact of catastrophic disease and trade war on U.S. agriculture. (No paywall)