Ag Today April 20, 2020

Farming, ranching industries to get financial aid amid coronavirus pandemic [Fresno Bee]

The Trump administration is preparing to release $19 billion in aid to help farms and related industries to weather the economic harm caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said late Friday. … The California Farm Bureau Federation welcomed Friday’s announcement of aid to farms and food banks. “The entire rural economy has been affected by the sudden, severe shift in demand we’ve seen since the stay-at-home orders went into place,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. … “It’s important at the same time to be sure,” Johansson added, “(that) food reaches people who need it.”


Is protecting farmworkers a national security issue? Fresno-area farmers say yes [Fresno Bee]

Protecting farmworkers during a health crisis is an issue of national security, according to farmers, industry advocates and public health professors who say outbreaks on the industry’s front lines could jeopardize the nation’s food supply chain. … Testing has been in short supply nationwide, including among food workers, according to farmers who spoke to The Bee. … Lack of testing is a common theme across different farms, workers and farmers have said. Michael said his company follows distancing guidelines and screens workers for any symptoms. He said he fears crops will go to waste if workers fall ill.


COVID-19 could permanently reshape the business of wine in Napa Valley [Napa Valley Register]

With tasting rooms closed, most of Napa Valley’s wineries have had to drastically alter the way they do business. Those changes could reshape the industry for good, experts say. … McMillan has long encouraged wineries to pivot away from dependence on tasting rooms, a tendency he calls both the industry’s “greatest weakness” and its “greatest opportunity.” Now that paradox is being laid bare. … Wineries nursing established relationships with distributors, who ultimately sell their wine to grocers and other retailers, might find themselves bolstered, in part, by the presence of their label on grocery store shelves.


‘A Herculean effort’: Bay Area food banks struggle to keep up with coronavirus demand [Bay Area News Group]

… With hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the region’s food banks and partnering schools, nonprofit and religious organizations are being inundated with requests from residents in need of assistance. … Since the region’s shelter-in-place order went into effect one month ago, the Second Harvest of Silicon Valley Food Bank — the South Bay’s largest food bank serving Santa Clara and San Mateo counties — has seen the number of people calling its helpline grow tenfold. For more than half of those people, it was their very first time reaching out to the food bank.


Editorial: We can’t let Americans go hungry as the pandemic worsens [Washington Post]

… The California Association of Food Banks, with support from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, already runs a Farm to Family program through which farmers can donate surplus product. The American Farm Bureau Federation and Feeding America, a national food bank network, have asked the Agriculture Department to help farmers and food banks work together to shorten the path from farms to food-bank shelves through a voucher program. These initiatives recognize the tragedy of wasting even one more pound of food than is necessary. …  Getting as much of it as possible to those in need is a challenge, but one that can be met with swift and creative action.


Wandering wolf that captivated the world is believed dead [Associated Press]

A wolf that wandered thousands of miles from Oregon and became the first wild wolf spotted in California in almost 90 years before returning to Oregon and starting a pack is believed to be dead, wildlife officials said. The wandering wolf, known as OR-7, leaves behind a pack composed of its mate and three other wolves in the mountains of southern Oregon, wildlife biologists said in an annual wolf report. … “We don’t know if OR-7 has died, but it would be reasonable to assume considering his age, which is old for a wolf in the wild,” said Roblyn Brown, the department’s wolf coordinator.


Opinion: California water war re-ignited [CalMatters]

The COVID-19 pandemic, we have been told, is transforming how we live, but one aspect of life in California appears immune to change: the state’s perennial war over water. President Donald Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom may have set aside their incessant squabbling over most issues to cooperate on the pandemic, but they are poised for showdown over who controls the state’s vital water supply. … Given Trump’s campaign promises, it’s difficult to see any settlement of the federal-state water conflict in this election year.