specialty crops

Trade war payments skipped specialty crop, underserved farmers

The USDA sent $23 billion in trade war payments to more than a half million farming operations, with the lion's share of the aid going to row-crop producers, said the Government Accountability Office on Thursday. Historically underserved farmers received less than 4 percent of the money.

USDA announces $330 million in pandemic assistance

Textile mills and specialty crops will get three-fourths of the $330 million announced by the USDA on Tuesday in a broad-ranging program to help producers and the food supply chain recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic. In addition, the package earmarked $75 million in grants to help low-income Americans buy fruits and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetable growers face coronavirus squeeze

With Americans spending more of their food dollars at the supermarket, the specialty crop sector will continue to adapt to the pandemic and the loss of food-service sales in the new year, said agricultural lender CoBank. "Steep financial losses from the loss of food service contracts will ultimately result in the rationalization of some processing assets and production acreage."

Pandemic aid is too constricted and too slow, ag groups and lawmakers tell USDA

The USDA should immediately release the $1.4 billion of coronavirus payments it's holding in reserve for farmers and change the rules — particularly on eligibility, payment limits and the deadline for applications — that are keeping aid from producers, said 28 farm and agribusiness groups.(No paywall)

‘Rough-and-tumble ride’ awaits hemp growers

Industrial hemp, an infant crop heading for its first year under national regulations, is likely be a small player in the farm sector, with a future like a rodeo ride, said panelists at the Ag Outlook Forum on Thursday. "This is going to be a rough-and-tumble ride," said Tyler Mark, a professor at the University of Kentucky.

Future of industrial hemp clouded by economic uncertainties

Challenges including competition for acreage, the threat of imports, and the necessity of building marketing networks "will determine patterns of development in the emerging U.S. hemp industry," said USDA economists in a report issued Wednesday.

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."

Specialty crops get $118 million for promotion and research

The Agriculture Department announced $118 million in grants for research and market-building for specialty crops - fruits, vegetables, horticulture, nuts and nursery crops.

Risk of biofuel crops turning invasive; controls needed

There are few federal or state safeguards against the introduction of an invasive species as a biofuel crop, say researchers at the University of Illinois in two newly published papers.