USDA is using a new round of coronavirus relief funding to help farmers who serve local markets and socially disadvantaged producers. Food banks also will benefit from the $1 billion in funding that USDA is allocating.
Some $400 million will be used to help state governments and local entities buy commodities from local and regional markets, as well as from socially disadvantaged farmers, with the food will going to local food banks. “These partnerships with farmers and food banks will ensure that the programs feeding communities are supporting their own local agricultural systems,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga.
Food banks also will receive commodities through The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which is getting $500 million under the new initiative. The remaining $100 million will help organizations afford the storage and refrigeration capacity needed to provide food assistance in underserved areas.
Food industry employment relatively flat
Employment in food manufacturing remains significantly below levels prior to the pandemic, even as the economy reopens.
According to the latest jobs report, 1.64 million people were employed in food manufacturing in May, up slightly from April but about the same number as in March. That’s still a significant improvement from the 1.58 million employed in May 2020 but down from 1.66 million in February 2020, just ahead of the coronavirus shutdowns.
Textile mills still haven’t recovered fully, either. Employment inched up to 95,900 in May, up from 87,300 in May of last year but still down from the pre-pandemic levels of about 107,000.
For context: The U.S. added 559,000 jobs in May, dropping the unemployment rate by 0.3 percentage points to 5.8%.
Carbon emissions labels for packaged food?
As consumers increase demand for companies to reduce carbon emissions, one food ingredient company expects a label is coming for packaged food.
Cargill CEO Dave MacLennan suggested at the National Grain and Feed Association conference last week that a rating system on carbon emissions and sustainability soon will be tied to food labels.
“They want to make their food purchases in a way that is more informed about how it was produced, who produced it, and what impact that has on the environment,” MacLennan said, referring to today’s younger generation of consumers. But he warned against “overbearing” or “oppressive” government involvement in pushing for more sustainable and environmental goals.
USDA reports strong shipments of corn, sorghum to China in late May
U.S. exports of corn and sorghum to China remained strong the week of May 21-27, according to the latest trade data out of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The U.S. shipped about 1.1 million metric tons of corn and 236,300 tons of sorghum to China for the seven-day period.
Outstanding sales of corn to China for delivery in the current 2020-21 marketing year remain substantial at about 8.4 million tons. That’s a little less than half of outstanding U.S. corn sales to all foreign buyers.
There are outstanding sales of U.S. sorghum to China of 766,400 metric tons for 2020-21 delivery, according to the latest FAS weekly trade data.
Hong Kong lashes out at US in WTO over origin labeling
Hong Kong has filed its first written comments to a World Trade Organization dispute panel in its suit challenging the U.S. demand that all Hong Kong exports to the U.S. be labeled as Chinese products, according to a report from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
The Trump administration, in reaction to China forcing its National Security Law on Hong Kong, imposed a regulation last year requiring that all Hong Kong exports to the U.S. be labeled as “Made in China.” Hong Kong, which exported $167 million worth of noodles, sauces and other food products to the U.S. in 2020, considers its goods as superior to those made in China, according to FAS analysts in Hong Kong.
"The U.S. has imposed such a discriminatory and unjust requirement for political reasons unrelated to a proper determination of the place of origin of the goods as required under the various WTO covered agreements,” Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said in a statement. “This approach, if accepted, would undermine the critical role that accurate origin determination plays within the rules-based multilateral trading system."
Major railroad worried by Kansas City Southern merger proposal
A major Class I railroad has competition concerns about the Kansas City Southern merger, either with Canadian National or Canadian Pacific Railway.
President and CEO of BNSF Railway Katie Farmer says either one of those transactions further restricts the competitiveness with cross-border traffic with U.S. and Mexico.
“We think that unfortunately, what it does, is it fragments an already challenging transporter movement between multiple routes, and the two routes ... we believe are not as good routes velocity-wise,” she told members of the National Grain and Feed Association Friday.
However, she noted BNSF is undecided about which merger would be best and noted it still unclear which transaction the Surface Transportation Board will approve. Last month, KCS announced it was merging with CN over CP.
Ex-accountant for Pennsylvania egg supplier indicted for embezzling millions
A former accountant for Hillandale Farms in Pennsylvania has been indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly embezzling about $6.8 million from the company, a nationwide supplier of eggs and other farm-related goods, the Justice Department said Friday.
DOJ said from October 2005 to January 2019, Jonathan A. Weston “engaged in a scheme with a person known as VP” to embezzle and then launder the stolen money, “buy collectible cars and real estate, and engage in lavish personal expenditures.”
Weston faces a maximum total sentence of 58 years in prison and a fine of $2.55 million, or both.
He said it: “It took gasoline and beef for us to think this is really a serious problem." — Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt on “Meet the Press,” discussing cyberattacks on the Colonial Pipeline and JBS, suspected of being launched by Russian hackers.
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