Tag Archives: COVID-19

A recent study finds rural residents are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development unfolds.

The Foundation is a nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues. The monitor shows three in ten people in rural areas say they will “definitely get” the vaccine, compared to four in ten people in urban areas and suburban areas. An additional one-third of people in rural areas say they will “probably get it” while 35 percent say they will either “probably not get it” or “definitely not get it.”

The report says there are many factors that are associated with an individual’s willingness to get the coronavirus vaccine, including their age, level of education, and political party identification. The COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds that Republicans are much less likely to say they will get a coronavirus vaccine compared to their independent and Democratic counterparts.

A new analysis of independent data for 2020 shows that new COVID-19 infection rates amongst meat and poultry workers were five times lower in December than in May.

Meanwhile, rates in the general population rocketed up nine times in the same period. According to data from the Food and Environment Reporting Network, the meat and poultry sector was reported to have an average of 19.91 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in December. That compares to an average of 98.39 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in May.

The New York Times reports that during the same period, the average new case rate for the U.S. population rose from 7.11 cases per 100,000 people per day in May to 63.01 cases in December. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts says, “This new data further demonstrates that the more than $1.5 billion spent on comprehensive protections implemented since the spring reversed the pandemic’s trajectory.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow, the incoming Senate Agriculture Committee chair, this week urged the Department of Agriculture to implement the bipartisan worker protection provisions in the COVID-19 assistance package.

The Michigan Democrat says, “In order to repair our food supply and feed families in need, USDA must prioritize safety in addition to food purchases.” In the recently passed COVID-19 assistance package, Congress provided no less than $1.5 billion to fund food purchases for distribution to those in need, provide worker protection measures, and retooling support for farmers, farmers markets, and food processors.

The provision was inspired by Stabenow’s bipartisan Food Supply Protection Act to help protect the food supply after the COVID-19 crisis put an unprecedented strain on farmers, workers and food banks. USDA recently announced funding for food purchases through the Farmers to Families Food Box program, but has yet to commit additional funds to protect workers and ensure the continuity of the food supply chain.

The Department of Agriculture this week announced the continuation of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says USDA will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food nationwide through the fifth round of the program.

Set to expire at the end of 2020, the recent coronavirus aid package provided more funding for the program. In total, USDA has distributed more than 132 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary Perdue says this new round will “go a long way in helping American families access nutritious and healthy meals.”

USDA will again purchase combination boxes to ensure all involved recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy, meat products, and seafood will also be included in this round. Contract awards are expected to be made by January 19. Deliveries will begin shortly after awards and continue through the end of April.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency is extending crop insurance flexibilities for producers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, relief provided for electronic notifications and signatures is extended through July 15, 2021.

Organic certification, replant self-certification and assignment of indemnity are extended through June 30, 2021. RMA is also allowing Approved Insurance Providers further flexibilities for production reporting, submitting written agreement requests and obtaining producer signatures for written agreement offers.

Producer signatures for written agreement offers, issued by RMA on or before June 30, with an expiration date on or before July 30, 2021, will allow producer signatures to be accepted after the expiration date with proper self-certification or documentation. However, all documentation and signatures for these offers must be completed no later than August 2, 2021.

Insurance providers also have 30 business days to submit written agreement requests and applicable documentation for requests with submission deadlines before July 1, 2021. Similar flexibilities were announced in March of 2020, to help producers meet deadlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new analysis of independent data for November shows that reported new COVID-19 infection rates among meat and poultry workers were more than eight times lower than the general population.

Data from the Food and Environment Reporting Network says the meat and poultry sector reported an average of 5.57 new cases per 10,000 workers daily in November. Infection rates among meat and poultry workers have declined steeply in the last six months while surging across the U.S. The New York Times reports that during the same period, the average new case rate for the U.S. population was 45.36 cases per 100,000 people per day.

The analysis follows a Centers for Disease Control decision this month to prioritize vaccinating frontline meat and poultry workers. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts says, “This new analysis is encouraging evidence that the more than $1.5 billion in comprehensive protections implemented since the spring have reversed the pandemic’s impact on the selfless men and women who keep America’s refrigerators full and the farm economy working throughout COVID-19.”

Department of Agriculture Chief Economist Robert Johansson is on the move. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced this week Johansson will leave USDA to become Associate Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance at the end of January.

Perdue also announced that Dr. Seth Myer will return to USDA to be the new Chief Economist. Perdue stated, “Rob’s leadership and economic support over the past two years with trade disruptions and COVID-19 relief has helped us make evidence-based decisions when designing programs to assist American farmers and ranchers during their time of need.”

Meyer is a Research Professor and the Associate Director for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. Meyer was previously the head of the World Agricultural Outlook Board in the Office of the Chief Economist, the agency at USDA charged bringing together USDA resources in the assessment of crops around the world.