- An NMPF/FARM Program-created guidance for farmers if an employee tests positive for COVID-19;
- NMPF’s two-page “What Farm Employers Need to Know about Sick Leave Requirements” document;
- Temporary guidance for veterinarians and producers regarding telemedicine and the Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship, created by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; and
- And a guide for Wisconsin farmers on the emergency disposal of milk.
The coronavirus outbreak has exposed major flaws in the American farm labor system. Politico says that’s upping the pressure on the federal government to make migrant labor much more accessible to farmers. It also highlights a lack of health and safety protections for these “essential” workers.
Farm workers who are still planting and harvesting crops have a higher than normal risk of being infected because they typically live, work, and travel in crowded conditions. Most don’t have any form of healthcare. Meanwhile, farmers are worried that the closure of U.S. embassies, especially in Mexico, will slow the flow of migrant labor into the U.S.
That will make an already chronic labor shortage on produce, livestock, and nursery operations across the country that much worse. Farm labor lobbyists see an opportunity to slide labor provisions into an expected fourth stimulus bill that would provide some relief. Also, because food production has been declared a critical industry under federal guidelines, agriculture employers are giving undocumented farm workers letters stating that they’re “essential.”
CoBank says the COVID-19 outbreak has brought the U.S. economy to a “screeching halt.” A quarterly report from the CoBank Knowledge Division has underscored the critically important nature of agriculture, as well as other industries essential to rural America.
The U.S grains sector is still stuck in a rut, with pressure on commodity prices, weakening basis for both corn and soybeans in some markets, and export volatility likely for the next few months. While crop farming fundamentals remain challenging, ag retailers enter this year’s growing season on a relatively stable footing. Retailers say they’re optimistic about a full agronomy season, given the pent-up demand for fertilizer and crop protection products, especially after a wet and complicated fall application period last year.
The U.S. chicken industry was optimistic heading into 2020 thanks to expected renewed exports to China. However, the shift to at-home eating because of COVID-19 has boosted chicken demand domestically. U.S. cattle has seen a swift and sharp decline in the last month. Chinese demand for U.S. hogs has set records, but it hasn’t led to strong prices or profit margins.
Milk prices have fallen off due to COVID-19. Cotton prices have sunk to new lows despite strong exports due to fears of slower economic growth. Specialty crop growers face an even tighter labor situation this spring.
The COVID-19 situation has caused a rapid drop in the demand for fluid milk and other dairy products. Now some dairy cooperatives are instructing their producers to dump their milk. Kris Bousquet is the Executive Director of the Nebraska State Dairy
Association. He says it’s not all bad news….
Bousquet says the equivalent of 11 semi loads of milk will be dumped over the three days of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week. He says they are not able yet to project if any milk will have to be dumped next week. Bousquet says that the current situation has forced milk processors and cooperatives to manage the supply coming off the farm….
Bousquet says farmers will be compensated for the milk that is dumped. Dairy farmers in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota this week wrote a letter to USDA requesting an additional enrollment period in the Dairy Margin Coverage program.
Reports continue to come in from states like Wisconsin of dairy producers having to dump milk because of diminishing demand and Nebraska dairies are now facing the same issue. Shalee Peters has more…
And in Wisconsin they have seen an increase in dumping of milk…
A group of dairy organizations wrote a letter this week to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and asked the USDA to help the struggling dairy industry. They want the agency to use its extensive purchasing power given to it by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security Act, to alleviate at least some of the stress on the U.S. dairy industry.
Approximately 80 percent of Americans are under orders to shelter in their homes. That means hundreds of thousands of restaurants, schools, and other food service outlets have either significantly reduced their offerings or shut down. That means cheese and butter manufacturers have lost their largest market segments.
While retail sales have increased during recent weeks, those sales are now leveling off and orders are slowing down. Overseas markets have been decimated. The letter to Secretary Perdue asks USDA to focus on purchases of nonfat dry milk, as well as cheese, including cheddar, mozzarella, and other Italian-style cheese.
They’re also asking USDA to look at different ways they have available to make farmers whole for the milk they’ve produced, but had to dispose of, or received drastically reduced payments. Some of the groups signing onto the letter include the Wisconsin Cheese Makers, Dairy Business Association, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, and the Wisconsin Farmers Union.
NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ — GENYOUth, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating healthier school communities, announced today the establishment of the COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund to assist schools nationwide as they strive to provide school meals containing essential nutrition to students during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Approximately 124,000 U.S. public and private schools across the nation are now closed as a result of COVID-19 but they remain a critical source for the 30 million students who rely on school meals for a substantial portion of their daily nutrition. Across the nation, school nutrition professionals and volunteers are adopting new methods of delivering healthy meals during school closures, employing a variety of solutions – grab and go, drive through pick-up, bus stop drop-off and summer meal sites – to ensure students receive the vital nutrition they need. While federal funding continues to support school feeding programs, additional funding is crucial to provide schools with the necessary resources for food storage, single-serve packaging, distribution, delivery and sanitation/safety protective gear as they adapt to new means of delivering healthy meals to feed our nation’s children.
To meet this unprecedented need, GENYOUth is launching a national campaign and movement, “For Schools’ Sake – Help Us Feed Our Nation’s Kids!” This is a national call-to-action for corporations, foundations, athletes, influencers and individuals to raise their hands with urgency and compassion to support the COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund and spread the word to help feed the need #ForSchoolsSake. They can do this by making a donation at www.genyouthnow.org and by posting pictures with their hands raised in support for school nutrition professionals and volunteers on their social media channels.
The campaign also invites schools to apply for grants of up to $3,000 per school feeding site to purchase supplies for meal distribution and delivery. Schools can apply at https://COVID-19.genyouthnow.org/.
“I cannot underscore how critical the need is right now for the 30 million kids who rely on school meals. The demands are urgent and time-sensitive to support our front-line school nutrition workers as they feed our nation’s students,” said Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth. “To date, beginning with the support of America’s Dairy Farmers, the NFL Foundation and purpose-driven corporations, we have raised almost $3 million to provide critical resources to schools across the nation. By raising your hand and donating to this fund, we can ignite a movement that will benefit tens of millions of students.”
In addition to the generous commitments from America’s Dairy Farmers, initial commitments from top corporations and foundations include the American Beverage Association, Arby’s Foundation, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, NFL Foundation, PayPal, PepsiCo Foundation and TD Ameritrade. Their support provides a solid foundational starting point knowing the urgency to raise millions of dollars to meet the unprecedented demand is great.
“One of the most important things right now is making sure children across the country who rely on school for their meals are receiving the nutrition they need,” said NFL Commissioner and GENYOUth Board Member Roger Goodell. “It’s critical that meals are distributed safely to the students who need it most and we’re proud to support our partner GENYOUth who is making that happen.”
“America’s Dairy Farmers have had a long-standing commitment to youth wellness for over a century,” says Audrey Donahoe, dairy farmer, and Chair of National Dairy Council. “I am proud of our continued commitment to the front-line workers feeding our nation’s youth – the school nutrition personnel and volunteers – who help schools at the grass roots level flourish by increasing access to school meals during this most critical time.”
Since GENYOUth’s inception almost a decade ago, the non-profit has provided $100 million in grants and equipment to schools. With GENYOUth’s extensive network of schools, through its flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60, and with the help of generous donors, an immediate and substantial impact can be made to support U.S. school communities during this unprecedented time.
Just when you thought the markets couldn’t get anymore uncertain. Always has had the feel the markets should trade…people need to have the opportunity to sell. Under the surface is the global supply system, ag has had issues with ports not being open, people not being able to get food-food reserves of the past seem to have gone away. The feeling could be a strong behavioral change. Smart Money insider buying currently being seen in the KC wheat, MN wheat, bean oil, lumber and live cattle markets. Class IV milk had some limit up action.
ARLINGTON, VA – In light of consumer concern over food-supply disruptions, Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, the largest U.S. organization of dairy farmers, offered the following statement:
“U.S. dairy farmers are stewards of a product that’s harvested around the clock, 365 days a year, and they understand the importance of steady production as well as steady consumption. The U.S. food-supply chain is more than capable of meeting demand, and consumers should be reassured that milk and dairy products will continue to be produced and available in the coming weeks and months.
“Dairy supplies aren’t experiencing production interruptions at this time, and dairy farmers and processors will continue to do what they do best: produce safe, quality products every day for consumers in the U.S. and worldwide. We will vigilantly work with all aspects of the dairy supply chain to ensure these products get to everyone who needs them and that — as has always been true — dairy will remain something consumers can count on.”
ARLINGTON, VA – In response to the continued spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) in the United States and the virus’s potential impact on domestic and international markets, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern said the following:
“As the organization representing U.S. dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own, the National Milk Producers Federation stands ready to assist its members in addressing coronavirus challenges. From possible damages to domestic and world markets, to supply chain labor disruptions on the farm, at the processing plant or in transporting milk, the potential ramifications for dairy are wide-ranging. We will devote our resources to the best of our ability to helping dairy farmers and cooperatives respond to whatever challenges they may face.
“The good news is that the U.S. dairy supply is safe, and production of high-quality products continues unimpeded. The FDA has confirmed that heat treatment kills other coronaviruses, so pasteurization is expected to also inactivate this virus. In addition, there is no evidence that this strain of coronavirus is present in domestic livestock such as cattle.
“Still, all producers will remain vigilant as what has now been labeled a pandemic continues its path. We will continue to answer questions and offer information to help our members. Policy solutions also may be needed for producers whose operations have been affected by the virus. In keeping with our mission of serving our members, regardless of the challenge, we will work with lawmakers and regulators to ensure a safe and adequate supply of milk and to mitigate potential economic harm to dairy farmers.”
Dairy farmers from the National Milk Producers Federation are in Washington, D.C., this week visiting with lawmakers. The visits are part of a fly-in calling for an agricultural labor bill that could be reconciled with a plan the House approved last year, providing the stable, secure labor force U.S. dairy producers need.
U.S. dairy producers face labor shortages that are more intense than those felt in agriculture as a whole because they cannot use the H-2A farm worker program, which only provides for seasonal labor rather than the year-round workers dairy needs. With domestic workers in short supply and foreign labor difficult to employ under current policies, dairy farmers are urging lawmakers to find solutions. of NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says, “The situation is dire,” adding “uncertainty on the farm harms individuals and rural communities that rely on those farms to generate jobs.”
The House of Representatives in December passed bipartisan legislation allowing for year-round visas in dairy as part of the first ag-labor bill to pass that chamber since 1986.