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5@5: SBA update on the 2021 disaster loan program | Biden ramps up workplace safety through OSHA

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Each day at 5 p.m. we collect the five top food and supplement headlines of the day, making it easy for you to catch up on today's most important natural products industry news.

What small businesses need to know about the disaster loan program for 2021

In an effort to avoid the chaos and confusion that occurred during the last round of grants, the Small Business Administration will only consider businesses located in low-income areas that can demonstrate "more than 30% reduction in revenue during an 8-week period beginning on March 2, 2020, or later." SBA also announced it would prioritize businesses that applied for the last round of COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans but received nothing or only part of the grant. Fast Company reports.

After 10 months of minimal oversight, Biden orders OSHA to get to work

As part of several key executive orders to stop the spread of COVID-19, President Biden has directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enforce heightened safety measures in workplaces and create temporary standards that will hold employers accountable. Essential food workers have been hardest hit in many states by COVID-19; in California the death rate is 40% higher in this group. OSHA drew criticism last year for failing to ensure worker safety even after hundreds of farmworkers and meatpacking plant workers died. Learn more at The Counter.

The pandemic reveals racial gaps in school meal access

Emerging school meal program research shows that pickup sites for school meals during COVID-19 closures have been more conveniently located for white families. And while this placement was likely unintentional on the part of school staff, experts agree that it is still a result of the long and storied history of resources following white communities at the detriment of Black ones. Eater has the story.

There is an alarming amount of microplastics in farm soil—and our food supply

Microplastics. Are. Everywhere. While most studies on microplastics focus on ocean pollution, new studies show that they are also in our farms' soil in droves. This is important because microplastics alter the physical and biological properties of soil in ways that damage plant roots and reduce the nutrients in the resulting fruits and vegetables. Get the depressing details at Civil Eats.

Surging grain prices fuel surprise farm recovery

After six long years, the prices for soy, corn and wheat are soaring; this is largely thanks to increased exports to China. In 2020 U.S. farm income reached a near-record high despite widespread food supply chain chaos, and many farmers are now buying new equipment, making repairs and investing in more expensive crop inputs. Unfortunately for shoppers, this means food manufacturers could begin increasing prices at retail (again). Head to The Wall Street Journal for the rest.

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