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7 ag stories you might have missed this week - April 17, 2020

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Governors ask for biofuel waiver, Smithfield closes plants and Perdue is finalizing aid package.

Missed some ag news this week? Here's seven stories to catch you up.

1. Five governors - Greg Abbott of Texas, Gary Herbert of Utah, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma and Mark Gordon of Wyoming - are asking the Trump administration to waive U.S. biofuel-blending requirements. The general waiver request is distinct from targeted, refinery-specific exemptions. The EPA must consult with the Energy and Agriculture departments and ask for public comment before making a decision. – Farm Futures

2. USDA and the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are working to reduce wages for foreign guest workers on American farms, who have been declared essential workers. The "wage relief" effort comes as USDA works to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers impacted by COVID-19. – NPR

3. Smithfield Foods has closed its Sioux Falls, S.D., slaughterhouse indefinitely after a COVID-19 outbreak at the plant. The company is now closing its Cudahy, Wis., and Martin City, Mo., processing facilities. COVID-19 has also stricken workers at nearly half of Wayne Farms' 11 poultry processing plants. The JBS plant in Colorado closed and a Cargill meat plant in Pennsylvania closed too. – National Hog Farmer, CBS News, BEEF magazine

4. The U.S. government is giving companies the green light to run some meat processing plants at higher speeds. Experts and labor advocates have long said the higher speed is dangerous for plant workers. The National Chicken Council said that the part of the processing lines related to the higher speeds are mostly automated. The coronavirus outbreak is highlighting the often dangerous role that slaughter workers play to provide the world with plentiful, affordable food. – Bloomberg

5. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says he is close to finalizing an aid package for farmers. The package will likely include direct payments in addition to product purchases. –

6. A federal court ruled that USDA's 2018 rule to relax whole grain and sodium standards in school lunches violated the Administrative Procedure Act. If USDA wants to keep its policy, the department will likely have to start the rulemaking over, including soliciting comments. The School Nutrition Association is asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to quickly restore school meal flexibilities. – Politico

7. Ten Finns is the first A2 creamery in Minnesota. Joel and Amanda Hendrickson built the facility on their Menahga farm and deliver non-homogenized whole milk to stores and restaurants within a 50-mile radius of their farm. – The Farmer

And your bonus.

In the years following World War II, the popularity of aviation was booming and Kansas farmers were encouraged to build landing strips on their farms, one with north-south orientation and another with east-west orientation. The prediction was that veterinarians, feed salesmen, livestock buyers and other professionals would arrive by plane. – Kansas Farmer

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