Ag Today April 1, 2020

California’s agriculture industry faces ‘uncertainty’ amid coronavirus pandemic [KTXL TV, Sacramento]

During this unprecedented time, those in the agriculture industry who are already dealing with little rainfall this season are now going up against the coronavirus pandemic. Joe Fischer, the director of the Placer County Farm Bureau, said those he oversees on Placer County farms are taking every precaution. “We have some little buggy-type cars they drive around, little Kubota RTVs, they don’t ride in that in tandem anymore. One takes that, one takes the quad. Afterwards, we have a strict cleaning regimen that everybody cleans their own equipment and then mutually-used equipment,” Fischer told FOX40.


Farm industry worries about workers [Lodi News-Sentinel]

While shoppers empty grocery store shelves, going after necessary commodities such as bread, eggs, milk and rice, leaders in the agricultural industry focus on building a workforce to keep up with the growing demand for goods. In recent years, farmers throughout San Joaquin County have struggled to find an adequate labor force, often relying on immigrant labor to make up the employment gap, according to San Joaquin County Agriculture Commissioner Tim Pelican. … San Joaquin County Farm Bureau Executive Director Bruce Blodgett agreed that with the recent coronavirus pandemic there were still some questions unanswered, but added that the continued communication was a step in the right direction to ensure answers would be met.


Farmworkers can’t pick crops remotely. How can they stay safe? [KQED, San Francisco]

… The FDA is reassuring consumers that there’s no evidence of COVID-19 transmission through food or food packaging. Another question, however, is how to keep farmworkers safe from exposure on the job when social distancing is often difficult. … Frank Polizzi, a public information officer for the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), said the agency recently began working on industry-specific guidance for agricultural workers, after receiving questions from employers. … State labor officials said they are committed to enforcing California law when it comes to protections for low-wage workers, including farmworkers who may be undocumented.


Worker at Blue Diamond’s large Sacramento campus has coronavirus, almond grower says [Sacramento Bee]

A worker at the Blue Diamond Growers facility in downtown Sacramento has tested positive for the coronavirus, the company said Tuesday. … The facility will remain open, the company said. … The role of that employee, who is also self-isolating, was not specified. … The facilities have remained open during the coronavirus pandemic, as food is an essential industry and thus exempt from both Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide and Sacramento County’s stay-at-home orders issued last week.


How the coronavirus pandemic is crippling California’s efforts to prevent catastrophic wildfires [San Francisco Chronicle]

California’s ability to prepare for a dry and potentially dangerous fire season this year is being crippled as the coronavirus pandemic prompts fire agencies across the West to cancel or delay programs aimed at preventing catastrophic wildfire. From clearing out undergrowth in forests to training firefighters to tamp out flames, local, state and federal fire forces are trying to move forward within new social distancing guidelines, as well as with potentially sick employees, but that’s making their work harder and sometimes impossible to do.


Kern County Farm Bureau names new administrator [Bakersfield Californian]

A Bakersfield resident who has introduced local students to the world of agriculture has been named administrator of the Kern County Farm Bureau. Colleen Taber replaces Ariana Joven, who has left the organization to work in government affairs for Kern’s largest farming company, Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Co. Taber worked most recently as regional manager of the FARMS Leadership Program, where she partnered with Kern high schools to teach young people about local farms and careers in ag.