As questions mount about Roundup settlement, Black farmers sue Monsanto to stop herbicide’s sales

A lawsuit filed this week by the National Black Farmers Association seeks to stop agribusiness giant Bayer from selling Roundup, its popular herbicide that has been linked to cancer in recent years. The lawsuit, filed in St. Louis, alleges that Black farmers are forced by the agricultural system to spray Roundup and therefore are at risk of developing cancer. The lawsuit argues that Monsanto, which was bought by Bayer in 2018, knowingly failed and continues to fail to adequately warn farmers about the dangers of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. Glyphosate is considered a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Farmers to Families Food Box Program Reaches 75 Million Boxes Delivered

(Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed more than 75 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of students from states with higher infection rates may return to University of Illinois

As many as 25,000 students may return next week to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from areas with much higher infection rates of Covid-19 than Champaign County, according to a review of public health data by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. The campus has a total of about 51,000 students, of which 5,508 attended online in the last academic year. The university is located in Champaign County, which has a population of about 207,000, has an overall positivity rate of about 2%, although recently rates have been below 1%. 

The Midwest Center compared infection rates from public health data with student demographics and found: 

More than 20,000 students came from 357 Illinois ZIP codes that have positivity rates over 5%. About 33,000 students from 1,050 ZIP codes attended the university in the last academic year.10,769 of those students are from Illinois ZIP codes with positivity rates above 8%.As many as 5,000 students may be arriving from 33 states that have positivity rates higher than 5%. Governments are advised to have a Covid-19 positivity rate at 5% or lower for at least two weeks before reopening, according to the World Health Organization.

USDA provides update on investigation following 2019 Tyson beef plant closure and COVID-19 pandemic

(Washington, D.C., July 22, 2020) - As part of its commitment to ensuring fair and competitive markets for the livestock, meat and poultry industries, today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a Boxed Beef and Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report on its ongoing boxed beef and fed cattle price spread investigation. "The closure of the Tyson beef packing plant in Holcomb, Kansas, after a fire at the facility, and the COVID-19 pandemic clearly disrupted the markets and processing systems responsible for the production and sale of U.S. beef," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. "The report examines these economic disruptions and the significant increase in the spread between boxed beef and fed cattle prices that resulted from them. While we're pleased to provide this update, we assure producers that our work continues in order to determine if there are any violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act. If any unfair practices are detected, we will take quick enforcement action."

Secretary Perdue Statement on Dicamba Plaintiffs’ Attack on EPA Order

(Washington, D.C., June 12, 2020) - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement:

"USDA supports the actions taken by the EPA to respond responsibly to the decision of the Ninth Circuit regarding Dicamba. At a time when the security of the food supply chain is paramount, the Center for Biological Diversity and its allies seek to cripple American farmers and further limit their ability to feed, fuel, and clothe this nation and the world. The Ninth Circuit should not allow plaintiffs' hostility against the American farmer to cloud the fact that the EPA's actions follow both legal precedent and common sense." EPA's order allowing for the limited use of existing chemical stocks already purchased follows EPA precedents from the Obama and Clinton Administrations when the registrations for other crop protection tools were cancelled. #

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Farmers struggle for guidance after federal court bans popular herbicide

Soybean and cotton farmers, pesticide applicators and agriculture officials across the country scrambled for guidance after a federal court ruling to ban the popular pesticide dicamba this week, which means that many farmers no longer have a herbicide that will work to kill weeds in their fields. In some cases, the uncontrolled weeds may damage entire crop fields, costing farmers thousands of dollars.