Huddle Notes from September 28th, 2020

    The huddles this week focused on the impacts of the current fires on the west coast, food insecurity trends, and how COVID is changing our industry’s landscape.

    Talking Points

    • Livestock, Fruit, and Vegetable Agriculture
      • California & Oregon
        • Northern California Including Napa
        • Ash has been falling on fruit and vegetable fields
          • In some cases, you can wash it off, in some you cannot
          • Grapes are absorbing the smoke flavor
        • Livestock problems and disruptions
          • Moving animals elsewhere
          • Losing animals completely
          • Fires are burning up feed and land
          • Oregon Department of Ag set up a program to help farmers find lost livestock
        • Small local sales are impacted in California, producers must meet their big buyer commitments to avoid contract issues
        • Due to drought, hot weather, and fires the cost of hay is going up. The Midwest has had a good season though.
          • What other impacts will this have in the hay market?
        • Farmers markets and restaurants are closing from fires AND COVID
        • Western Oregon – more conventional farming, less likely to take crop insurance because usually less of a fire impact area until now
        • N-95 Masks being issued to farmworkers in Oregon
        • Oregon farmers are looking for donations of hay to feed their animals
      • Flooding in the South
        • Arkansas – significant poultry operation livestock losses
        • Electric fencing goes down and larger livestock losses happening
        • Hayfields are flooded
        • Crop Insurance
          • The private sector doesn’t often offer this as they wouldn’t be able to charge premiums which is why the USDA gets involved, which reduces the types of crops covered.
            • Big deterrent towards practicing regenerative practices because they’re not covered
          • Will be interesting to see how the crop insurance market changes with such big losses across the board this year.
        • Conservation Easements
          • Freezes the use of the land where it is to restore it back to what it should be/where it is. Becomes an issue for climate change because where it is may not be great for the future.
          • Can be difficult for farms under easement because they can’t put up structures for advanced technology or agritourism (parking lot for weddings, etc.)
          • How can we be adaptive?
        • Cannabis
          • Fire or smoke damage, flowering prematurely due to darkness caused by smoke overcast and has a grilled flavor…
            • Bumper crop last year so price increases should be okay but late 2021 there may be
            • 822 locations grow cannabis in Oregon – just for scale…
          • Food Insecurity | NPR Article
            • In 2019, data from the USDA showed 13.7M households experienced some food insecurity (10.5% of the US population, or 35M people)
              • Of these, 1/3 said they did in fact go hungry and did not have enough food. The remaining 2/3 had to change what they ate (people going to food pantries).
                • food insecurity doesn’t mean they ate less food necessarily
              • In April of 2020, due to COVID, this number rose to 23% or 78M people
                • 5M households with children in June of 2020 13.9M children
                • Rate of 19.1% – Black, 15.6 – Hispanic, 7.9 – White
                  • 5% are college graduates, 27% have no high school education
                • Food Deserts
                  • Access to grocery stores: Rural, have to drive more than 10 miles to get to a grocery store; Urban, More than 1 mile
                  • 19M people lived in food deserts
                  • Rural counties are slightly more likely to be a food desert than Urban
                  • 80% of the counties with the highest food insecurities are associated with food deserts. Not just an income issue but also an access issue. In food deserts, the price of food is also typically higher.
                • SNAP Benefits
                  • 1 in 8 people in June was receiving benefits
                  • The average payment is $129/mo.
                  • Benefits are based on proof of income, need an address, etc.
                  • Held up throughout COVID, good communication was provided and those in need were able to easily access this resource
                • UN World Food Program estimates going from 135M acutely food insecurity to 265M in 2020 due to COVID


    • COVID Impacts
      • Foodservice economies were hit harder than other industries such as manufacturing
        • Wisconsin: Skewed more towards food manufacturing than the rest of the country. Currently, have a 6.5% unemployment rate.
      • China halted the import of frozen food from countries with severe COVID outbreaks (India, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States)
      • Local Grocery: pallets of hand sanitizer, paper towels, and toilet paper stocked within aisles (not on shelves) to get stocked up for winter
      • Campbell’s soup is still behind on inventory levels
        • This means the people we work with that do staple products will still see demand for their items. Strong sales.


    • October 12th will be the last regular Huddle meeting
      • Consultant Huddles: Changing to the first Monday of the month, same time 1pm, same place. Calendar invitation to come.
      • Entrepreneur Huddles: Reach out to Shelbie to take advantage of Tera’s office hours on Fridays!

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