**The USDA will be investing $42.3-million to help rural residents gain access to health care and educational opportunities.

Rural areas are seeing higher infection and death rates related to COVID-19 due to several factors, including a much higher percentage of underlying conditions, difficulty accessing medical care, and lack of health insurance.

The $42.3 million includes $24 million provided through the CARES Act.

**The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance joined 70 other agriculture associations in an urgent plea to President Biden for intervention into the container shipping crisis.

The group is requesting provisions available to the Federal Maritime Commission via the Shipping Act “be immediately applied to stem the current ocean carrier practices that are so damaging to our agricultural products.”

Access to international markets is being jeopardized by this unprecedented dysfunction, which includes the rejection of U.S. ag cargo by ocean carriers that are shipping empty containers overseas to keep up with the demand for U.S.-bound goods.

**Severe winter storms in much of the country have affected vegetable farmers in the California desert, who have seen demand drop due to logistical problems in moving and storing produce in the affected regions.

At the same time, warm weather in the desert causes vegetables to ripen quickly, leading to a further oversupply.

Farmers say the weather has added volatility to vegetable markets already coping with pandemic-related demand swings.

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