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A roundup of news, reports, and research on agribusiness and related issues.

March 12, 2020 update: The USDA announced today that 14 states have received waivers to “congregate feeding” requirements. To date, Washington, California, Maryland, Alaska, Utah, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Maine, Kansas, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Virginia have all received waivers.

March 10, 2020 update: The USDA has now approved waiver requests in three states—Washington, California, and Alaska—to allow use of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to serve free meals to low-income children affected by school closures, and also waiving the SFSP’s requirement that children eat these meals in a group setting.

Looking for that elusive third crop to help you expand beyond the sea of soybeans and corn many Midwestern farmers now grow?

The answer may lie below your feet. Locus Agricultural Solutions (Locus AG) and Nori are partnering to pay farmers for sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil. Under the CarbonNow program that’s currently being piloted, farmers are to be paid according to a metric called a Nori carbon removal ton (NRT). This metric represents 1 ton of a carbon dioxide-equivalent heat-trapping gas that farmers remove from the atmosphere into the soil through regenerative practices. Regenerative practices include ones like no-till, cover crops, and additions of compost, green manure, or animal manure.

Europe’s $65-billion-a-year farm program needs to change radically if it is to protect the environment and support small farmers, a group of European scientists said in a paper published in the journal “People and Nature” on Monday.

The 21 authors of the paper said a planned overhaul of Europe’s farm policy is inadequate. They said policymakers must stop paying farmers based on the acres they cultivate and instead reward environmentally friendly practices such as organic farming or agroforestry. The scientists also asked the European Union to cut off subsidies that encourage livestock farming, which is linked to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

The team at agtech company Gro Intelligence is launching a full dashboard dedicated to COVID 19 and its effect on global agriculture. “The potential impact can’t be understated,” says Will Osnato senior research analyst with Gro Intelligence. “We are aiming to provide direct insights on the impact the outbreak is having.” Boiled down, there are 5 datasets these data pros are aggregating and monitoring. 

CHICAGO (Reuters) - As U.S. President Donald Trump touted the signing of a U.S.-China trade deal in January, he told cash-strapped farmers they would soon need bigger tractors and “a little more land” to meet additional Chinese demand for U.S. agricultural goods.

His administration assured farmers that they would no longer need the billions in aid the government had provided to offset their losses from the trade war Trump launched with China in 2017.

Now, with Chinese buying of most farm goods still lagging their 2017 levels, the administration says it may extend the farm subsidy program for a third year - money farmers say they still desperately need. Such an extension would expand what has already been a massive industry bailout.