USDA

The USDA has extended the summer food service program to allow schools that have been providing meals to low-income kids through the summer to continue to do so through the end of the calendar year. But not all kids getting school meals will benefit.

The Trump administration has been celebrating an initiative that buys food from farmers and distributes it through charitable organizations such as food banks. "I'm proud to announce that we will provide an additional $1 billion to fund the Farmers to Families Food Box program. It's worked out so well," President Trump told a cheering crowd on Aug. 24 in North Carolina.

People all across Ohio have been getting mysterious seeds in the mail. Now, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has instructions for what to do with them.

Unsolicited packages of seeds have been showing up on some Ohioans porches.

Late last week, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) started getting reports of citizens receiving packages of seeds in the mail that they never ordered. Authorities think the packages appear to be sent from China, and they are urging anyone who gets one of these packages not to plant anything inside.

Visit almost any grocery store and you'll see how that food chain has been disrupted during the coronavirus pandemic. Even if food is in stores, millions of newly unemployed people may have trouble paying.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has been talking up part of the federal response: a $3 billion plan to distribute food to families, called the Farmers to Family Food Box Program.

Two pending rule changes meant to reduce what the Trump administration calls abuse of federal benefit programs could also mean hundreds of thousands of children lose access to free school meals.

In 2019, the federal government delivered an extraordinary financial aid package to America's farmers. Farm subsidies jumped to their highest level in 14 years, most of them paid out without any action by Congress.

The money flowed to farmers like Robert Henry. When I visited in early July, many of his fields near New Madrid, Mo., had been flooded for months, preventing him from working in them. The soybeans that he did manage to grow had fallen in value; China wasn't buying them, in retaliation for the Trump administration's tariffs.

Gov. Mike DeWine talks to farmer Kris Swartz in Perrysburg on June 19, 2019.
Nick Evans / WOSU

The USDA has issued additional money to farmers around the country who weren’t able to plant anything this spring. After Ohio suffered its worst weather prevented planting season on record, the additional 10 or 15% in crop insurance payouts is likely welcome news for many.

Ohio's Hemp Rules May Create Barrier For Small Farmers

Nov 25, 2019
Ty Higgins / Ohio Farm Bureau

The proposed licensing fees and planting minimums for hemp production in Ohio could create cost barriers that exclude smaller growers, farmers and industry groups said.

When Elle Simone Scott was a young girl, her family relied on food stamps and her school's free lunch program to get by.

"At several points in my life, receiving free lunch when I needed it the most, it was so beneficial for me," she says. "You know, it was sometimes the most complete meal that I and some of my friends would have in a day."

For the first time in half a century, the U.S. government just revised the way that it inspects pork slaughterhouses. The change has been long in coming. It's been debated, and even tried out at pilot plants, for the past 20 years. It gives pork companies themselves a bigger role in the inspection process. Critics call it privatization.

Gov. Mike DeWine talks to farmer Kris Swartz in Perrysburg on June 19, 2019.
Nick Evans / WOSU

Across the nation, farmers were kept from planting almost 10 times as many acres this year as they were in 2018. 

A Poor Planting Season For Ohio Farmers

Aug 14, 2019
tractor in farm field
Jean Beaufort / Public Domain Pictures

Ohio farmers are grappling with the worst weather-related planting season on record, with more than one in seven acres covered by the federal crop insurance program unplanted because of record rainfall.

But Ohio isn’t alone. Farmers across the Midwest have struggled with how to balance the equation of when, how or even if to plant their crops. 

Two vital research agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are hemorrhaging staff as less than two-thirds of the researchers asked to relocate from Washington to the Kansas City area have agreed to do so.

Baby cows outside the Kocher farm.
Olivia Miltner / WOSU

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced it will give loans to organizations impacted by excessive rain and flooding in Ohio.

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