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Ag Chat with Bob Bosold - June 26

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 6:18 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - So far this week, the government has sent out over $4 billion in Coronavirus Relief Aid to farmers but none of it has gone to apple growers. And they are complaining to USDA officials that that's not fair. Apple prices have fallen 25% and shipping volumes have dropped 24% since the aid program began earlier this spring. Another group complaining about how the program is short changing them is the National Potato Council. Potato prices have dropped over 20% since payments began, and even though potato prices are over the 5% decline threshold for more aid, the USDA has taken no action to increase payments to potato growers.

A couple of Democratic U.S. Senators, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, want some of the country's top meatpackers to explain themselves. The senators want specifics on how much pork, beef and chicken they shipped to China during the Coronavirus pandemic while warning of meat shortages here at home. The companies, Tyson, JBS, Smithfield and Cargill, shipped a combined total of over 1.3 billion pounds of pork and beef to China from the 20th of March through early June-at a time when thousands of packing plant employees tested positive for the virus. The senators pointed out that those export numbers were up over 250% from a year earlier. They want the companies to explain how they took care of their workers during that time, how they protected their communities from the virus spike and if they had unusual financial gains from domestic meat prices caused by shipping such huge amounts overseas. They also want those answers by this coming Tuesday, June 30th.

The USDA is giving rural areas in 8 states $86 billion to upgrade rural broadband access. Northwest Wisconsin will be getting 10 million of those dollars. The Chibardun Telephone Cooperative will use the money to install 328 miles of fiber optic lines serving the prairie Farm and Sand Creek exchanges.

Another major agricultural event has been cancelled for this fall. The Royal Agriculture Winter Fair, scheduled to run from November 6th through the 15th, has now been cancelled for this year. The Royal is the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world. This would’ve been the 98 year for the Royal.

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