The coronavirus pandemic was top of mind for nearly every aspect of the global economy in 2020, and farm policy stakeholders were keeping a close eye on Agri-Pulse’s coverage of the virus and legislative efforts to lessen its blow throughout the year.

With the exception of the first two months of the year, when the pandemic’s impact on the American ag economy was thought to be limited to China’s ability to fulfill “phase one” trade commitments, the most read stories of nearly every month on included a coronavirus-related item. But it was also a busy year for election coverage and job changes in key farm policy positions.

For this piece, Agri-Pulse examined the top news stories of every month of 2020 and cataloged what readers clicked on the most throughout the year.


Top story: EPA reasserts glyphosate safe to use, probably not carcinogenic

EPA’s interim registration review decision reaffirmed glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide roundup, is safe to use and unlikely to cause cancer. The move drew both praise and criticism and came as lawyers representing plaintiffs in ongoing litigation over the product were in settlement talks.

Also in the news:

Roundup settlement talks continue as speculation builds

Trump to headline Farm Bureau convention for 3rd straight year

EPA replaces WOTUS with new Navigable Waters Protection Rule


Top story: Bayer announces development of new herbicide molecule

Ag inputs topped things off again in February, but this time for a very different reason. Bayer touted a new discovery as the “first new post-emergence mode of action for broad-acre weed control in 30 years.” However, the molecule is still in the “early development” stages, the second of four phases in Bayer’s research and development process. The third phase covers late development; the fourth takes place when registrations are filed for the product.

Also in the news:

USDA IG investigating MFP payments

Coronavirus causes diversion of US chicken shipments

Missouri peach farm wins $265M in dicamba damage case


Top story: Homeland Security deems agriculture as ‘critical infrastructure’ amid COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in full force beginning in March, forcing producers and processors to wonder how stay-at-home orders and other mitigation measures would impact things like the upcoming planting season. Ag lobbyists quickly recognized the need to be labeled critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security, which provided some insulation from possible disruptions of ag and food production and processing. Still, some facilities were forced to shut down after outbreaks of the virus among workers.

Also in the news:

Massive stimulus deal authorizes billions in new farm aid

USAPEEC confirms China bird flu regionalization deal

Trump signs relief bill with emergency food aid


Top story: Farm Bureau makes sweeping appeal to USDA to rescue producers nationwide

Farm groups and policymakers alike scrambled to react to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many to wonder how to best approach the multifaceted crisis. This story detailed a six-page letter from the nation’s largest farm organization detailing policy recommendations for the $23.5 billion in ag relief that was included in the CARES Act. The relief would eventually become the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which included direct payments to producers as well as food purchases for distribution through food banks.

Also in the news:

USDA rolls out $19B COVID-19 recovery program

FDA reversal may block ethanol plants from hand sanitizer market

High-path bird flu confirmed in South Carolina


Top story: USDA launching coronavirus aid signup May 26, prorating payments

The April announcement of the program stopped short of declaring specific CFAP details or a signup time frame, which was then unveiled in May. This story detailed how payments would be distributed and what producers could expect from the program.

Also in the news:

SBA announces grants, loans available to farms

House Democrats propose billions in additional farm relief

In comeback mode, Syngenta appoints Hollinrake, makes other leadership changes


Top story: FFA removes Logemann from national officer team

In a saga that rocked the leadership core of a major farm youth organization, Lyle Logemann was removed from the National FFA Organization’s officer team following the emergence of what the group called “concerning” social media posts. The move was both praised and ridiculed by supporters of the organization, and Logemann has since filed a lawsuit over his removal.

Also in the news:

Findlay out as American Soybean CEO

EPA says growers, applicators can use existing stocks of dicamba

Ninth Circuit rejects request to halt dicamba use


Top story: Senate GOP unveils coronavirus relief package with $20B in ag aid

The passage of the initial coronavirus relief legislation was accompanied by the reality that more would need to be done down the road. This story explored an effort from Senate Republicans to counter the House-passed HEROES Act in a debate that would ultimately last the rest of the year.

Also in the news:

Biden's $2T environmental plan offers farm assistance, pledges farmworker protections

Senate GOP's $1T aid plan authorizes expanded ag assistance

Lohr to depart NRCS post


Top story: Logemann sues FFA over removal from national officer team

A dismissal covered in June escalated to a lawsuit when former National FFA officer Lyle Logemann sued the organization for his removal, saying the situation caused a “loss to his reputation and loss of income.” The matter has not been settled and is awaiting further legal action.

Also in the news:

Pence goes after Biden-Harris ticket on meat, regulations

Biden hits Trump over Renewable Fuel Standard delays, waivers

GROWMARK Inc. to acquire Southern States Cooperative wholesale assets


Top story: USDA opens new, expanded round of COVID aid to farmers

The Department of Agriculture rolled out a fresh iteration of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program funding to producers, using about $14 billion authorized earlier in the year. The so-called CFAP-2 tweaked the payment methodology and included some commodities that had previously been left out of the program.

Also in the news:

Perdue: Second round of CFAP to be announced next week

Democrats block CCC funding in stopgap bill

Trump announces second round of CFAP payments


Top story: Biden's cabinet possibilities would include deep roster of ag lawmakers

Heading into the November elections, all eyes were on the race for the White House and what the results might mean for rural America. This story explored some of the possibilities for Biden’s team, and included thoughts from former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. Vilsack, who Biden ultimately selected for another stint as the nation’s top ag official, said at the time he had “no idea who might be in line” to lead USDA under the Biden administration.

Also in the news:

Near record levels of farm and ranch land on the market

Farmers could be hit hard by some aspects of Biden tax plan

ADM sells and ships first US commercial load of rice to China


Top story: Farm policy expert Barry Flinchbaugh dies

In a month that included news that will shape the farm policy landscape for years to come, no story hit home with Agri-Pulse readers more than the passing of Kansas State farm policy professor Barry Flichbaugh. The mentor to countless students was also a well-known speaker and spread his understanding of the intersection of agriculture and politics to audiences around the country.

Also in the news:

Carbon markets lure farmers, but will benefits be enough to hook them?

Corporate giants’ climate pledges take root, pressing farmers to go green

Coalition of farm, conservation groups unites on climate proposals


Top story: Congress, White House reach deal on COVID aid package

Farmers and ranchers looking for more coronavirus relief had to wait until a few days before Christmas to see a deal worked out between congressional leaders and the Trump administration. The new round of aid will be available to a wide array of agriculture sectors. 

Also in the news:

Peterson calls for mandating 50-million-acre CRP to address climate change

Massive year-end deal promises more CFAP, broad array of aid for rural, ag needs

Trump signs coronavirus relief, federal funding package

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