NMPF News Alerts – July 30, 2020

Arizona dairy farms pivot from restaurants to food banks as COVID-19 shifts demand

Inside Tucson Business – July 29

The past four months have been a roller coaster for Arizona dairy farmers. And the ride isn’t over yet: Arizona is a COVID-19 hotspot and impacts on school and restaurant operations – and their dairy needs – remain uncertain. Food banks find themselves overwhelmed with demand, yet some struggle to safely store and distribute donated milk. And beyond Arizona’s borders, foreign dairy markets continue to evolve. “In 46 years, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Keith Murfield, CEO of United Dairymen of Arizona.

USDA report describes fast-paced consolidation in dairy industry, centered in the Midwest

Wisconsin Public Radio – July 30

A new USDA report shows how consolidation in the dairy industry continues to play out in Wisconsin and other dairy states. The report found consolidation in hog and egg producers has occurred at a similar pace to dairy, but other livestock sectors have seen consolidation at a much slower pace. “It doesn’t mean that smaller farms are doomed to go away. But over time, they’ve been shifting and changing,” Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said.

Central Valley becomes California’s new coronavirus concern

Politico California – July 28

California’s Central Valley survived the early months of the pandemic, and local officials suggested that the rural region may be protected due to less density and fewer travelers. But the region has become the state’s biggest problem spot, prompting new attention and $52 million to stop the spread. It is not just a question of health, but equity. The Central Valley has a disproportionate share of essential blue-collar workers and Latino residents, many working on farms and in factories to provide food for the nation.

Big-money investors gear up for a trillion-dollar bet on farmland

NPR – July 30

Oregon farmer Ray Williams and his brother sold their farm for $23 million. The buyer was a company registered in Delaware, with a mailing address in Manhattan. The end result: Control over this land has passed to people with little personal connection to it, who live a thousand miles away. The new owners will decide what happens to that land, whether to plow or drain it, or even to stop farming it entirely. Their decisions will have profound effects on rural communities, wildlife, and even the global climate.

‘Brushers’ come into focus as officials test mysterious seeds

The Wall Street Journal – July 29

An e-commerce technique known as brushing is coming into focus as federal officials look to whether the practice is behind a phenomenon of seeds appearing in mailboxes across the country. USDA said it is collecting the packages and will test them for anything of concern. Brushing involves using fake transactions to enhance the reputations of online merchants. It began attracting attention in the U.S. about five years ago.

One month left to apply for coronavirus payments

Dairy Herd Management – July 29

Farmers have until Friday, August 28, to apply for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments at their local USDA Farm Service Agency office. USDA reports that it has paid out $6.552 billion to 473,124 applicants. Of that, $1.286 billion has gone to dairy farmers for losses to milk checks brought on the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill Northey, USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation, says farmers can expect to receive the remaining 20% by the end of August.

Judge denies Stop QIP referendum petition

Capital Press (Salem, OR) – July 29

An administrative law judge has denied a petition aimed at eliminating California’s quota program, which assesses all Grade A milk producers to pay a premium to quota holders. The petition by the Stop QIP (Quota Implementation Plan) Tax Coalition seeks a referendum on whether to continue the quota program and to have the referendum subject to a simple majority vote. The primary issue is whether termination of the quota plan requires a simple majority vote or a supermajority vote.

Sen. Booker targets corporate consolidation in agriculture for ‘fundamentally broken’ US food system

Food Navigator – July 29

Decrying the US food system as “fundamentally broken and worsening the challenge of justice in our country,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is on an mission to block and dismantle consolidation in agriculture, which he argues places profits over the safety of workers, the food supply, animals and the planet. Booker said that some farm animals are “treated with such immense cruelty that we are forced to look away from how we deal with industrial farming rather than admit that such horror is going on on a daily basis.”

China needs ‘explosive’ buying to meet U.S. farm import target

Reuters – July 29

An ambitious $36.5 billion target for Chinese imports of U.S. farm goods this year may not be out of reach, but it’s looking like a big stretch. By end-May, imports were running behind 2017 levels and while orders for soybeans have started to pick up, scorching buying levels would be needed to hit the mark. Add in a rapid deterioration in U.S.-China relations, an upcoming U.S. election, a global pandemic and questions over just how much soybeans China needs, and farmers and analysts say it may be a stretch too far.