coronavirus

Dana Cronin/Harvest Public Media

 

At a campaign rally in Wisconsin last week, President Trump announced U.S. farmers will receive an additional $14 billion in coronavirus relief aid.

 

This second round of relief aid builds on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program launched in April to allocate $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers. 

 

However, the initial round of CFAP still has $6 billion unpaid dollars in the pot.

 

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

Missouri and Oklahoma are both trying to help reduce the supply chain problems in the meat industry seen during the coronavirus pandemic by directing federal grant dollars to meatpacking plants.

Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants led to shortages and higher prices.

“During COVID-19, our food supply was tested from farm to fork. Farmers and ranchers saw tight livestock supplies on their farms, while consumers saw their choices of certain cuts of meat shrink or go away,” said Chris Chinn, Director of the MIssouri Department of Agriculture.

Dana Cronin/Harvest Public Media

 

When you walk into Cyndy Ash’s barn, one of the first things you notice is a huge burlap sack, bursting at the seams with wool.

“We’re sitting on about 600 lbs of wool from when they were sheared last. And it’s been sitting there since they were sheared in March,” Ash says.

 

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media file photo

 

The number of families experiencing food insecurity has hit a record due to the pandemic, and Black and Hispanic families are disproportionately affected.

 

A new study from Northwestern University, based on Census Bureau data, shows that 40% of Black households and 36% of Hispanic households are struggling to afford food. Meanwhile, about 22% of white households are reporting food insecurity.

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

National forests, including Mark Twain in the Missouri Ozarks, saw big crowds over the 4th of July holiday weekend, proving to be a popular destination for leisure activities while coronavirus concerns remain.

While forest office staff are still working from home because of pandemic concerns, the campgrounds, bathrooms and other public areas and facilities started opening to visitors in mid to late June.

National forests in the region are still accumulating data, but are reporting full campgrounds over the Independence Day holiday and full parking lots during the day.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

 

In the past two weeks, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued about $1.4 billion to agricultural producers to provide a boost amid the coronavirus pandemic.

What’s unclear is how those distributions were calculated.

 

“We lack some pretty key transparency on how they get to the payment,” says Jonathan Coppess, Assistant Professor of agriculture at the University of Illinois.

 

Amy Mayer / IPR

In January, amid much fanfare and optimism, China and the United States signed phase one of a trade deal intended to be the first step toward ending the nearly two-year-old trade war. In the agreement, China agreed to increase its purchases of agricultural products by $32 billion over the next two years. 

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding hit to the global economy, which led to lower prices for commodities like soybeans, one of the things China buys from the United States. 

David Kovaluk / St. Louis Public Radio

Rural hospitals have been planning for the arrival of the coronavirus, but the preparations for a virus that may not come are putting some already struggling rural hospitals in danger.

Mike Gruenberg, director of disaster preparedness at Salem Memorial Hospital, a 25-bed critical access care facility, said getting ready for coronavirus patents meant making major changes.

Juanita Gryfinski

Lisa Marlow is worried about her students. Marlow is a school nurse and educator with the Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186. 

The district serves primarily low-income students in a rural part of southern Illinois. 

When school is in session, Marlow says having eyes on students, especially those with chronic conditions like Type 1 diabetes or asthma, is crucial.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / Harvest Public Media file photo

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