With success in clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine and pharmaceutical companies waiting on approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the administration and states continue to finalize plans on who will have priority access to the vaccine.
A group of food and beverage organizations are requesting that priority be given to protect food processing and agricultural workers which will help protect workers and keep the food supply chain running.
The groups say in a letter to President Trump, "Our members have been on the front lines of the response to the pandemic by continuing operations and ensuring Americans have access to safe, nutritious and affordable food. Challenges have taxed the food supply chain over the past eight months, but the food, agriculture, manufacturing and retail industries are resilient, and the supply chains have not broken.
"Prioritizing vaccinations for food, agriculture, retail and CPG workers will be a key intervention to help keep workers healthy and to ensure that agricultural and food supply chains remain operating."
Those signing the letter include American Bakers Association, FMI-The Food Industry Association, International Dairy Foods Association, National Grocers Association, National Restaurant Association, North American Meat Institute and United Fresh. A similar letter was sent earlier this year.
A similar letter was also sent to President-elect Joe Biden.
In October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an interim guidance on priority populations in the initial distribution of COVID vaccines. They are health care workers who have contact with COVID patients or infectious materials; non-health care essential workers; adults with high-risk medical conditions; and people 65 years of age and older.
FY '21 ag exports estimated at $152 billion
USDA's latest "Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade" report is estimating fiscal year 2021 U.S. agricultural exports will reach $152.0 billion. Much of the increase is because of increased soybean and corn export values.
USDA is projecting that China will import $27 billion in U.S. agricultural products which will make China the top export market for U.S. agricultural exports. The last time China was the top market was in FY '17.
The report estimates exports for various commodities at:
- Grain and feed: $35.6 billion due to higher corn, sorghum and wheat exports.
- Corn: $13.2 billion because of reduced competition from Ukraine and higher values and record volumes.
- Soybeans: A record $26.3 billion because of strong demand from China, higher values and record volumes.
- Wheat: $6.2 billion.
- Beef: $7.1 billion with higher volumes offsetting lower unit values.
- Pork: $6.8 billion with slower demand from China.
- Poultry: $5.2 billion.
Agricultural imports are estimated at $137.0 billion due to increased imports of horticultural products, sugar, tropical fruits, livestock, and oilseeds and oilseeds products.
Biden begins to name cabinet members
President-elect Biden began naming members of his cabinet this week.
Those announced include Tony Bliken, secretary of state; Janet Yellon, secretary of the Treasury; Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of Homeland Security; Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; and former-Sen. John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate.
The General Service Administration acknowledges Biden as the apparent winner which formally begins the transition process. Biden's transition teams will now be able to make contact with federal agencies, review information and will be provided office space in federal agencies. This will also allow for background checks to begin on Biden's White House appointments and cabinet nominees.
2021 ag outlook conference registration open
USDA's 97th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum will be held Feb. 18-29 and will be held virtually because of COVID-19 restrictions in the Washington, D.C., area. Registration is free.
"Building on Innovations: A Pathway to Resilience" is the theme of the forum. There will be a panel of distinguished speakers and 30 breakout sessions. Topics will include food price outlook, innovation in agriculture, U.S. and global agricultural trade developments, sustainability and conservation.
Click here for registration information.