Year in Review: Agriculture in 2020

Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 7:49 AM CST
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - So what have been the top stores relating to agriculture in 2020? We think most would agree the Covid-19 pandemic and all its implications would be number 1. It has disrupted supply chains, caused meat packers to shut down and back up the supply of animals to those plants, forced dairy farmers to dump milk because of supply need changes, made people stay closer to home resulting in less driving and less ethanol demand for the gasoline supply. And the list of disruptions goes on. Number 2 might be how government payments to farmers because of marketing disruptions changed farm income this year. Those government payments shot net farm income up to $120 billion, the highest since 2013 and those payments aren’t done yet. About 40% of that 120 billion came from those federal payments. Number 3 on the list might be trade with one of the biggest stories being the signing of the Phase One trade deal between the U.S. and China that happened this past January 15th. Other top stories include Joe Biden’s election to be our next President and his naming of Tom Vilsack to once again be our Agriculture Secretary. They come to Washington as long time Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Colin Peterson leaves town after serving 30 years in the House. He was defeated in the November elections. We also can’t forget stories like the Dicamba herbicide decisions, the county fairs, the 2020 growing season and how farm meetings all went virtual this year.

The total payments for the second Coronavirus Food Assistance program total just a tick under $13 billion at the end of the year. Checks to crop farmers have totaled about 6.2 billion so far, livestock producers have gotten $3.4 billion and dairy farmers have received 1.17 billion dollars. Iowa farmers have gotten the most—just under $1.2 billion. California is next followed by Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois.

State Senate leaders have named the members who will serve on the Agriculture Committee during the next term. Serving on the Republican side from our area will be Patrick Testin of Stevens Point, Jerry Petrowski of Marathon and Kathy Bernier of Chippewa Falls. Democrats on the Senate Ag committee from our area include Brad Pfaff of the Onalaska-Melrose area and Jeff Smith of Eau Claire. The next legislative session in Wisconsin will begin on January 4th.

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