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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.

Walmart is expanding a program that allows for online orders of groceries to be picked up and paid for with food stamps at more than 2,500 locations.

It's the latest move by a major retailer to give low-income shoppers more options for using food stamps in the modern era of online shopping. Walmart, one of the world's largest retailers, began piloting the use of food stamps for online grocery pickup service in 2017 in a few locations.

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

In Perrysburg on Wednesday, Kris Swartz hosted Gov. Mike DeWine and a couple dozen local famers to explain how badly this spring’s rain has derailed planting. Swartz says this year he’s had only one day—June 12—where he was able to plant.

Bret Davis looking out on his fields during a rain storm.
Nick Evans / WOSU

Bret Davis leans against a work bench at a farm north of Delaware. He and his partners are casting about, trying to stay busy while the rain keeps them from planting.

A coalition of state attorneys general is suing the Trump administration for weakening the federal nutrition standards for school meals that are fed to about 30 million children across the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it's putting an end to a controversial research program that led scientists to kill thousands of cats over decades.

Since 1982 the USDA's Agricultural Research Services division had been conducting experiments that involved infecting cats with toxoplasmosis — a disease usually caused by eating undercooked contaminated meat — in order to study the foodborne illness. Once the cats were infected and the parasite harvested, the felines were put down.

Government Shutdown Affects Food Assistance Program

Jan 15, 2019

People who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance or SNAP benefits will be getting February benefits early due to the government shutdown.  

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has told states they have to distribute February benefits by January 20th, otherwise there would be no funding to cover them.

Summit County will distribute benefits on Wednesday.

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