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

One third of rural counties report coronavirus cases | Daily Yonder

An additional 101 rural counties reported cases of coronavirus Wednesday, March 26, 2020, bringing the total number of rural counties reporting cases of the virus to 606.

The number of deaths from the coronavirus in rural counties increased to 21, as three more rural residents died from the disease. The number of cases in rural counties grew from 1,713 on Tuesday to 2,160 on Wednesday, an increase of 26%.

There are 1,976 rural counties, so by the end of the day Wednesday, nearly a third had reported cases of the coronavirus.

Grocery store workers—’heroes to the community’ during coronavirus—to get hazard pay | Civil Eats

As Americans in multiple states have been ordered to remain in their homes for all but essential needs, many have been “panic buying” toilet paper, bottled water, and pantry items, putting supermarkets on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, however, thousands of grocery store workers in Southern California received good news: The Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions supermarket chains agreed to pay employees $2 more per hour.

“Albertsons Companies today announced to all non-union and union hourly workers our appreciation pay program,” spokesperson Melissa Hill told Civil Eats. “Structured to recognize our hard-working team members on our front lines, our e-commerce, store, distribution center, and manufacturing plant workers will receive this temporary $2 per hour increase.”

Cargill Protein boss: ‘We are making decisions by the hour. I’ve been almost 30 years in the business and this is a unique situation’ |Food Navigator USA

Meat giants Cargill Protein and Tyson Foods are flexing their supply chain muscles to adjust to a sudden shift in demand away from foodservice and towards retail as consumers stay at home.

Sanderson Farms slaughterhouse worker tests positive for COVID-19 | Reuter’s

U.S. chicken company Sanderson Farms Inc said on Monday that a slaughterhouse worker was infected with the new coronavirus, the first publicly confirmed positive test of a worker in a U.S. meat plant, though the plant is not closing.

Farmers and traders have been worried that slaughterhouses could shut if workers or government inspectors fall ill. Closures would remove markets for farmers to sell their livestock and threaten to tighten meat supplies as consumers are stocking up due to concerns about the pandemic.

‘This will be a wallop’: Rural areas brace for hard economic hit | Politico

Rural communities are bracing for a looming recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, expecting that it could devastate already shaky economies.

As the virus shuts down schools, factories, restaurants and other businesses, rural towns contend with a smaller tax base, less access to high-speed internet and growing strain among lenders.

Both farming and manufacturing have been hurt in recent years under President Donald Trump’s trade wars, which in turn took tolls on community banks concentrated in the Midwest. Stimulus policies since the last recession have been less effective in rural areas, where key industries like agriculture, mining and manufacturing have struggled for years even as other corners of the U.S. economy boomed.