NMPF News Alerts – June 15, 2020

Looking back:

USDA said last week nearly one-fourth of the nation’s 32,000 dairy operations have received assistance from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Just over 7,700 dairy producers applied for and have received $337 million, with other livestock producers receiving another $676 million.

USDA held a dairy producer education webinar on CFAP last Thursday. The slides of the presentation are available here.

Last week, leaders in both the Senate and House introduced the Paycheck Protection for Producers Act, which would allow sole proprietors, independent contractors, or self-employed farmers and ranchers to use their 2019 gross farm income to determine their Paycheck Protection Program loan amount, as opposed to a net farm income figure. NMPF is working with the bill’s sponsors in both chambers to advance this measure.

Looking ahead:

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will release a draft report of its conclusions on Wednesday. The Committee will then finalize its report based on the discussion at the webinar meeting and submit its final report to the Secretaries of USDA and HHS at the end of June.

Dairy Defined: Rising milk sales bust ‘death of dairy’ myth

NMPF – June 15
The coronavirus crisis appears to be resetting consumer grocery habits, and early signs are that that some of these changes — including increased milk purchases — are continuing as the country re-opens. If current trends hold, milk’s revival may finally force a revision of one of the few non-fake talking points the “death of dairy” myth ever had. This year’s data tells the story. As consumers emptied store shelves, both dairy and plant-based beverages saw gains – but the sizes of those gains were drastically different.

China a bright spot for U.S. in gloomy global trade picture

The Wall Street Journal – June 14
China has retaken its mantle as America’s largest trading partner, emerging as a rare bright spot for U.S. farmers and other exporters as the coronavirus pandemic constrains global commerce. Trade between the two nations rose to $39.7 billion in April, up nearly 43% from the month before, and enough to once again surpass Mexico and Canada. The jump followed the signing of a trade pact in January in which China agreed to sharply step up purchases of U.S. farm products and other goods.

Trade triangle: U.S., Britain, and European Union

Politico – June 14
The second round of talks between the U.K. and U.S. kicks off today, with Britain clear that one attraction is the hope parallel talks with America would pile pressure on the EU in discussions about a post-Brexit trade deal. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is pushing for a freer hand in negotiations with the U.S., while more cautious ministers, led by Food Secretary George Eustice, are keen to protect the U.K. agricultural sector.

Why milk’s best sales in a decade won’t save struggling dairy farmers

The Wall Street Journal – June 15
Milk sales at supermarkets in the U.S. have risen by volume this year from the comparable period last year, reversing 10 years of declines. Overall, though, domestic demand for dairy has dropped, as restaurants and hotels that purchase nearly a third of U.S. dairy products have closed because of the pandemic, and exports are expected to suffer, said Tom Bailey, senior analyst for agricultural lender Rabobank. Dairy farmers had hoped 2020 would be a better year because of reduced milk supplies and strong demand.

Unions tap into burst of worker angst over coronavirus

Politico – June 15
Across corners of the labor market traditionally without unions, coronavirus is spurring new interest in organizing for safer workplaces and better pay as the nation embarks on a long economic recovery. Most states have already crafted plans to reopen their economies after shutting them down to curb the spread of Covid-19. Now, many among the people who toiled away at low-wage jobs stocking shelves or setting up medical equipment the whole time are looking to capitalize on how “essential” they’ve become.

Democrat accuses OSHA of being ‘invisible’ while infections rise among essential workers

The Washington Post – June 14
Despite well-documented outbreaks among healthcare, meat-processing, nursing home and retail workers, OSHA has issued only voluntary guidance on coronavirus mitigation, resisting calls from some lawmakers and labor advocates to mandate social distancing and other protocols recommended by public heath professionals. OSHA is facing a lawsuit from the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of unions, which is seeking to compel the agency to issue an enforceable emergency temporary standard.

A canal that opened the Montana prairie may soon dry up

The New York Times – June 14
A century ago, one of the first of the ambitious federal water projects that helped build the West was constructed to carry water from the mountains of Glacier National Park hundreds of miles east, irrigating an area twice the size of Maryland. Last month, however, a crumbling concrete portion of the antiquated ditch system known as the St. Mary Canal collapsed, cutting off the flow of mountain water to farms and towns in much of eastern Montana. As the heat of summer looms, water users are worried.