Huddle Notes from February 1st, 2021

The Huddle this month focused on COVID issues related to food, the impacts the Biden administration may have on food and agriculture, and many topics to consider when working with your clients. Listen to the recording here.

Talking Points

  • COVID Issues related to food
    • Vaccination frustrations: Still not at a place where farmworkers or food manufacturing workers are getting vaccinated. Still lots of testing going on in facilities which creates additional risk for those administering the testing.
    • Hunt Point Produce Market (NY) – went on strike in January to increase salaries by $1/hr due to the increase in risk to workers. Won! Management also agreed to have more involvement in the union workers’ healthcare as 300 had gotten sick and 6 had died.
    • Food manufacturers have historically had issues finding enough labor due to the low wages offered for these positions, which could be a lasting impact due to COVID.
    • We may still be in the “wait and see” mode with COVID even with the vaccinations due to COVID – keep on the forefront when working with clients.
  • SBA second draw PPP funding available!
    • “A 14-day exclusivity period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees will begin on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at 9 am ET and end on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at 5 pm ET.”
  • Biden impacts on food and agriculture
    • Nutrition Business Journal, guest editor edition (Tera is an editor!) article discusses opportunities for policy change in Washington such as climate change which may help brands in the natural category
    • Agriculture memo included language prioritizing the promotion of carbon sequestration and asking for feedback from farmers on how to incorporate government adoption of climate change mitigations on farms, measuring verifiable carbon reductions, and opportunities creating new income and jobs for rural communities.
    • Immigration policy will positively impact food systems (food processing facilities, farms, etc.)
    • Food security – recommendation to increase in SNAP benefits 15%, reassess metrics to receive benefits, and increase funding for child/family programs
  • Urban and Rural Farms on the Farm Bill
    • David Scott, the new chair of the Committee on Agriculture, turning the lens towards racial disparity, hunger, and climate change
    • Debbie Stabenow (MI), the new chair of Senate Ag Committee, may bring new views as Michigan agriculture is extremely diverse
  • US Recyclable Plastic and Packaging
    • Municipalities were making money selling plastic when they couldn’t recycle it but now, they are losing money because countries aren’t buying our plastic anymore
    • Betterbin – a software company with a database on the types of waste streams going into landfills and whether or not items are recyclable in your location
    • NY, MA, CA, OR, ME, IN are all considering charging manufacturers for the cost to dispose of their packaging – keep this in mind for your clients!

Trends

  • Who do you think is currently the biggest farmland owner in the USA? Bill Gates!
  • Stock market increases during COVID… impacting investment behavior?
    • Disconcerting, recent issues have taken the stock market into the realm of gambling
      • Retirement funds are now sitting in a vehicle that is prone to this… many are taking their money out of the stock market and direct investing instead.
    • Probiotic strains used in foods are becoming intellectual property. Could this be the answer to food sensitivities? Custom probiotics? Custom diets?

Tips & Next Steps

  • Federal Regulations
    • CBD is a great example of Federal regulation developing a market and economic activity by creating consistency.
    • What else could be in policy? Carbon sequestration through Aronia berries instead of importing acai, hazelnuts, etc.
    • A good time to advance these new ideas to get good policy to help!

 

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