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)

EPA wants to retract three last-minute RFS waivers

In a legal motion filed in Denver, the EPA asked a federal appeals court to vacate RFS exemptions granted to three small refineries during President Trump’s last day in office. The EPA, now directed by Biden appointees, said the outgoing Trump officials “did not analyze determinative legal …

Environmentalists, fishermen protest bill to allow open-ocean aquaculture

Environmental advocates, fishermen, and residents of several states on the Gulf of Mexico appeared at a virtual hearing on Wednesday protesting a bill and other measures to expand ocean aquaculture. Under the new legislation, which is looking to settle a long-running debate over the future of aquaculture in the United States, fish farming would be allowed in federal waters.

Religion comes with the USDA food box

Some faith-based groups taking part in USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box giveaway, the Trump administration’s answer to hunger during the pandemic, are mixing religion with their taxpayer-financed charity work, reported The Counter on Tuesday. The groups include letters saying the food is a …

Trump administration seeks overhaul of fishing industry with new executive order

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the meatpacking sector, the Trump administration late last week made a major announcement about another essential food industry: seafood. With a late-afternoon executive order, the administration laid out a pathway for the approval of ocean aquaculture in federal waters, a controversial departure from existing policy that could reshape the country’s seafood production.(No paywall)

Farmers to Congress: make sure coronavirus aid isn’t just for agribusiness

A coalition of organizations that represent rural and farming communities called on Congress to ensure that federal coronavirus aid earmarked for agriculture goes to independent farmers rather than multinational agribusiness companies. The groups emphasized that smaller and independent growers …

Trump SNAP rule called unwieldy

The Trump administration saddled state officials with an unwieldy threshold for determining when they can provide SNAP benefits to able-bodied adults without dependents beyond the usual 90-day limit if they do not work at least 20 hours a week, said an Urban Institute report on Tuesday. The …

Trump administration weakens fuel economy standards

Federal agencies sided with the oil industry in relaxing the gasoline mileage requirements for cars and light trucks in model years 2021 to 2026, said the pro-ethanol group Renewable Fuels Association. The DOT and EPA finalized the new standards, which were proposed two years ago, on Tuesday, …

‘Public charge’ rule chills nutrition program enrollment among immigrants

Across the country, fear and confusion about the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule has prompted immigrants and their families to drop out or stay out of pubic nutrition programs, even when they are eligible, according to immigrant and anti-hunger groups. Enrollment in the Special …

Tougher SNAP rules may worsen food insecurity, per USDA analysis

A cost-benefit analysis by USDA says its proposal for tighter eligibility rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program “may also negatively impact food security,” reported Politico. The USDA estimated 3.1 million people, or nearly 9 percent of SNAP recipients, would be denied …