Ag Today April 7, 2020

Coronavirus update: State agency provides guidance on protecting farmworkers [Palm Springs Desert Sun]
With California farmworkers continuing to harvest fruits and vegetables during the coronavirus pandemic, the state Department of Industrial Relations has issued guidelines to prevent COVID-19 infection among agricultural employers and employees. The guidelines, released Monday by the Division of Occupational Safety & Health, do not introduce any new legal obligations. … The guidelines say employers should implement procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the work site.


Farmworkers are caught between coronavirus fears and feeding the nation: “We are very worried” [BuzzFeed News]

As many in the US stayed at home to protect themselves from the global coronavirus pandemic, Teresa Mendoza, a 58-year-old undocumented farmworker from Mexico, spent six days a week picking green onions in Kern County, California, cleaning them, and tying them into bunches, just a few feet away from others like her. … Farmworkers with few safety nets should they fall ill say they are toiling in fields with no information on how to protect themselves. … While the agriculture industry is expected to receive $23.5 billion in aid as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, half of farmworkers won’t qualify for federal stimulus benefits because they’re undocumented.


With restaurants closed, Ventura County lemon growers see reduced demand [Ventura County Star]

… After strawberries, lemons are the second highest-value crop in Ventura County’s $2 billion agricultural industry … But much of that value is reliant on the food service industry, so recent closures of restaurants and other establishments have caused a domino effect for lemon growers. “More than half of the lemon production goes to food service, and coming on the heels of a couple of bad years from a production standpoint, with the heat waves and drought, it is going to be a really rocky year for the lemon industry,” said John Krist, CEO of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County.


San Diego Farm Bureau explains how agriculture and farmers have been affected by COVID-19 [KUSI TV, San Diego]
Farmers are essential during this time and although their office is closed, the­­­ San Diego County Farm Bureau is working closely with the California Farm Bureau Federation and the local, state and federal government to resolve a wide variety of agricultural issues. Their priority is ensuring your business can continue to maintain economic viability and your products can be moved to the market.


Coronavirus hits meat plants as some workers get sick, others stay home [Wall Street Journal]

The coronavirus pandemic is hitting U.S. meat operations, slowing and temporarily halting production at some plants as sickness and fear keep workers home. Meat plant employees, working by the hundreds in plants, with many standing side by side on processing lines, play a critical role in replenishing supermarkets. But workers’ concerns that they could contract the coronavirus have prompted walkouts and complaints, while a growing number of positive cases prompts some meat companies to scale back operations.


California wildfire smoke rule pushes use of N95 respirators [Bloomberg]

California worker safety regulators are pushing forward with a rule to protect outdoor workers from wildfire smoke by using N95 respirators despite the shortage of the tight-fitting nose and mouth covers due to the coronavirus pandemic. … A temporary emergency wildfire smoke rule was enacted in July 2019 and has been renewed twice while work on the permanent rule continued. The proposed rule is largely unchanged from the emergency rule.


USDA agrees to limit wildlife kill program in 10 California counties [Courthouse News Service]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will stop using pesticides on mammals and limit the use of lead bullets, aerial gunning and body-gripping traps to kill wild animals in 10 California counties under the terms of a settlement approved Monday. … The deal builds on a prior settlement reached in 2017 in which the USDA agreed to similar restrictions for its wildlife culling program in 16 other California counties. … Like the settlement reached in 2017, the USDA agreed to abide by a host of restrictions for its wildlife killing program until it completes a statewide environmental impact review by Dec. 31, 2023.