Reporter’s Diary: Illinois Farm Bureau encourages farmers, ag business be considered essential business

The American Farm Bureau Federation said they called on Congress to include farmers in rescue measures. The new agreement includes as much as a $14 billion increase in the United States Department of Agriculture’s, USDA’s, borrowing power through the Commodity Credit Corporation. This measure is set to support agriculture and assist specialty crop producers, direct retail farmers and livestock operators, according to the American Farm Bureau.

Coronavirus: Investigate Midwest Reporter Diary

First reported in December, there are now just over 297,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, worldwide as of midday Saturday — including more than 22,177 cases in the U.S., according to data collected by John Hopkins University. The Midwest Center is reporting on the pandemic's impact in rural areas and in farm country.

Big ag companies say business continues amid coronavirus pandemic

Farmers across the U.S. are prepping for planting season, amid concerns about how the Covid-19 pandemic could disrupt the supply chain, lead to labor shortages and influence price manipulation. Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, raised these concerns in a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday. The letter discussed the need for farm laborers, as the State Department is not processing any non-emergency visas and the unique markets farmers are facing during the outbreak. First reported in December, there are now just over 229,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide as of Thursday morning - including more than 10,700 cases in the U.S. according to data collected by John Hopkins University.  

Since the highly-infectious respiratory illness was declared a worldwide pandemic on March 11, U.S. federal and state officials have made moves to limit its spread, including closing down schools, restaurants and bars, cancelling large events and encouraging people to practice ‘social distancing’ by keeping at least 6-feet away from others. 

Duvall wrote that social distancing could have a “significant impact on the processing plants that drive America’s supply chain.” These include meat packing plants, dairy processors, ethanol plants and others. He also raised concerns about farmers’ access to seed, fertilizer and chemicals. For now, even as grocery shelves empty across the United States amidst the coronavirus pandemic, food suppliers and retailers have promised there is plenty of food in reserve.

USDA Working with Private Sector in Response to COVID-19

(Washington, D.C., March 17, 2020) - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new contacts to encourage communication with USDA to help feed kids and ensure the United States food supply chain remains strong in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:

"Food is essential all year round, but in the face of a pandemic it is critical the shelves remain stocked and supplies remain plentiful. America's farmers and ranchers, and those on the front lines in the food service industry are doing their part," said Secretary Perdue. "President Trump is encouraging a whole of America approach to the challenges we currently face. At USDA we know when we work together to solve the problems facing us, we can overcome this time of uncertainty and fear. If you have ideas or solutions for USDA, I urge you to reach out - we want to hear from the experts in the field."