Expanding Support for Local and Regional Food Systems in COVID-19 Response

Originally published at the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law & Policy, Food Law & Policy Blog. As the response to coronavirus continues and states increase or extend stay-at-home orders or advisories, the local food system is in a precarious position. The CARES Act stimulus explicitly includes the local food system in a new $9.5 billion disaster relief program. But…

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New Horizons for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Disasters and Pandemics (D-SNAP & P-SNAP)

While it’s currently a challenge not to keep up with the latest developments on COVID-19, you might not know that states have been tirelessly submitting requests to the federal government for major disaster declarations. At the time of this writing, New York, California, Washington, Louisiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Georgia, Oregon, Connecticut, Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri, Maryland, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Colorado,…

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Actions for Congress and USDA to Support Local and Regional Food Systems During COVID-19

Originally published at the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law & Policy, Food Law & Policy Blog. As social distancing measures close schools and public gatherings nationwide, farmers markets closures reveal a difficult reality for a particularly vulnerable segment of the food system: local and regional farmers and ranchers. Estimates indicate that direct-to-consumer markets and institutional purchases, such as…

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Student Series: Investigation into USDA’s Handling of Climate Research

The USDA has come under scrutiny recently over whether the agency withheld various climate change reports from the public. On September 19, 2019, Senate Democrats released a report (the DPCC report) citing more than 1,400 climate studies from USDA that the agency failed to publicize. According to the report, the USDA did not issue announcements or press releases on more…

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Student Series: The USDA’s Interim Rule for Hemp Regulation

The USDA recently released its interim final rule regulating the production of hemp. Hemp, a resurging commodity, has recently found its way back into the hearts of Americans and has a wide variety of uses. Hemp is a cannabis plant that can be found in fabric, paper, construction materials, food products, cosmetics, the production of cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), and…

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Student Series: A Blow to Farmers? Trump Administration’s Proposed Biofuel Policy

On October 15, 2019, the Trump Administration EPA proposed a new method of estimating the amount of gasoline and diesel that would be exempt from biofuel blending requirements due to exemptions for certain refineries. Offered through a Supplemental Notice, the calculation would be used to increase the amount of biofuel that is blended into transportation fuel by accounting for and…

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Student Series: USDA Poised to Reduce SNAP Benefits for Thousands in Third Proposed Rulemaking

Today is the last day to submit comments to USDA for its proposed changes to utilities calculations for SNAP benefits. The below student post describes the changes contemplated by USDA. Following the Senate’s rejection of the House’s proposed restrictions on enrollment to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS),…

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USDA gave almost 100 percent of Trump’s trade war bailout to white farmers

Nathan Rosenberg is a visiting scholar at the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and Bryce Wilson Stucki is an independent researcher and journalist focusing on food and agriculture. Last July, the Trump administration announced a major new subsidy program designed to help farmers weather America’s ongoing trade war with China. That initiative—dubbed the Market Facilitation Program (MFP)—has become the…

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What USDA is Doing to Address Mental Health — Farmer Suicide

Recently, USDA has taken a particular interest in mental health concerns in rural America. This two part blog post will address what USDA is doing to address both the opioid crisis and farmer suicide. Farmer Suicide In 2016, the CDC reported that among various occupational groups, suicide rates were highest in the farming, fishing, and forestry (Triple-F) industry at 84.5 suicides…

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