After pandemic pain, school meal programs brace for next year – July 8, 2021

After pandemic pain, school meal programs brace for next year

School districts across the country pared their menus, reduced staffing, and canceled equipment purchases because of the pandemic, but nearly half of them still lost money in the cafeteria during the past school year, said a survey released on Thursday by the School Nutrition Association. More than eight of every 10 food directors said they were concerned about financial losses and staff shortages in the upcoming school year.

USDA adds 101 counties to drought disaster list

In its largest set of declarations since mid-May, the USDA designated 101 counties in the Midwest and West as natural disaster areas due to drought. The designations make farmers and ranchers eligible for USDA emergency loans.

Opinion

The opportunity to unleash farmers to fight climate change

Producing environmental benefits will become an important enterprise for American farmers, giving tAmhem the ability to monetize their response to climate change and other environmental challenges. But as these new enterprises get going, farmers, agribusiness professionals, researchers, policymakers, and rural leaders need to ask how these solutions can be created by farmers — not just be something that happens to farmers.

Today’s Quick Hits

Complicating conservation: A push for the increased use of cover crops and other stewardship practices is complicated by the sizable portion of farmland that is rented each year. This could require changes in leases to cover the upfront costs of practices with long-term benefits, say four university economists. (Farmdoc Daily)

Hottest June ever: North America recorded its warmest June on record, with average temperatures 2 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 30-year average, said an EU-supported climate agency. (New York Times)

Rural ambulance turnover: More than half of emergency medical services in rural America are staffed by volunteers, and 70 percent of them have trouble finding replacements for volunteers who retire or drop out. (NPR)

Record meat exports: Although demand in some nations remains fluid because of the pandemic, exports of U.S. beef were a record $ 904.3 million in May and pork exports hit a record $ 813.2 million. (U.S. Meat Export Federation)

Resume GE approvals: While attending a meeting of North American trade ministers, U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai asked Mexican officials to resume the approval of new GE crop varieties, which was halted three years ago. (USTR)

School food expansion: On Thursday, at an elementary school in the city of Henderson, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will discuss Biden administration proposals to expand school food programs, said the USDA. (FERN’s Ag Insider)

America’s Farm Report