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April 2, 2020
A five-minute summary of AAI, regulation, and industry activities for members of the largest state agribusiness association in the nation.
  • A major trade deal could be delayed in the pandemic and the latest prospective planting report
  • A major Iowa pork event is canceled because of the coronavirus
  • Service centers are staying open for farmers during the coronavirus
  • There could be a lot of corn planted this year and the Farm Service Agency is staying open to help farmers keep up


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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NEWS
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has roiled the U.S. economy, the Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. In addition to direct payments to individuals of up to $1,200, extended unemployment benefits and federal loan guarantees, the $2 trillion CARES Act provides a number of food- and agriculture-related benefits, including funding to ensure children and low-income families have continued access to nutritious, affordable food and to ensure farmers have the financial resources they need to offset the more immediate economic impacts of the virus. Today’s article reviews the food and agriculture-related provisions of the CARES act.

For the agriculture-related provisions, the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture received $9.5 billion, approximately 19% of the total food and agriculture provisions, to provide financial support to farmers and ranchers impacted by coronavirus. The funding is allocated specifically for specialty crops, producers who supply local food systems and farmers’ markets, restaurants and schools, livestock producers, i.e., cattlemen and women, and dairy farmers.

Two traditional agriculture states in the USA have had their hemp programs approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The southeastern state of Georgia, and Iowa, which sits in the middle of the country’s vast farm-belt, both have been given the go-ahead on plans they submitted to the federal farming agency.

State officials said 57 farming and 5 processing applications were filed with the Georgia Department of Agriculture during the first four days after licensing opened.

Calling for a federal investigation, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley questioned Tuesday whether giant meatpacking companies are using the public health pandemic to “gouge” U.S. cattle producers, who have seen prices for their beef fall 3.5% over the past three weeks even as demand has surged.

“During this period of time, through no fault of their own, many farmers in Iowa have seen the prices of their products plummet, something you wouldn’t expect would happen in a crisis,” the Iowa Republican said Tuesday in a call with reporters.

Grassley, who plans to ask the U.S. Justice and Agriculture departments to investigate, said futures prices for live cattle are falling at the same time consumers are flooding grocery stores.

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