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**Thanks to COVID-19, the USDA has temporarily suspended past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency.

According to www.agrimarketing.com, the announcement expands previous actions undertaken by the USDA to lessen financial hardship.

According to USDA data, more than 12,000 borrowers, approximately 10% of all borrowers, are eligible for the relief.

www.agrimarketing.com/s/134677

**While U.S. ag exports rose in the second half of the year, there’s mounting evidence shipping companies are leaving U.S. ports and returning to Asia with empty cargo containers rather than filling them with American ag products.

www.agfax.com reports, due to demand for Chinese imports, shippers would rather deliver empty containers to China where they’re quickly loaded with more profitable cargo to send back to the U.S.

Members of the Federal Maritime Commission have launched inquiries into practices at ports in California, New Jersey and New York.

www.agfax.com/2021/01/28/u-s-ag-exporters-come-up-empty-dtn/

**The combination of drought and the pandemic has California farmers reassessing their planting plans.

The prospect of reduced water supplies has caused some farmers to reduce their planned acreage of field crops, to assure they’ll have enough for their orchards and vineyards.

Farmers who have grown specialized vegetables and herbs for restaurants may concentrate instead on crops intended for home use, as restaurants remain limited by pandemic guidelines.