Ag Today August 12, 2020

Pistachio growers qualify for federal recovery money on appeal [Bakersfield Californian]

Persistence has paid off for growers of Kern County’s No. 3-grossing crop after the federal government reversed itself and ruled pistachio growers do qualify for financial compensation during the pandemic. … Other local crops were left off the USDA’s list as well, including table grapes, Kern’s top-grossing crop in 2018. … It turns out many crops have been added to the original list. A USDA website says more than 40 specialty crops were put on the list July 9 and almost 60 more were added Tuesday. Table grapes weren’t on Tuesday’s combined list.


‘I’ve now dipped into the pie.’ Will COVID-19 change Americans’ views of the social safety net? [Los Angeles Times]

… Some political scientists, historians and experts believe that the COVID-19-era could shift the national discourse about the role Americans want government to play in their lives and ultimately lead to an expanded social safety net that more closely resembles those in other affluent nations. … Early in the pandemic, Matthew Efird, a fifth-generation farmer who grows almonds, peaches, raisins and pistachios on a farm south of Fresno, carefully monitored his slipping profits. … His companies, Double E Farms and Efird Ag Enterprises, both applied for and received loans in the smallest category, less than $150,000, Efird said, adding that although he and his wife both got stimulus checks, they’d decided to donate them to nonprofits.


Farmworkers fear retaliation for airing COVID-19 concerns. What can be done to help? [Modesto Bee]

Some Stanislaus County farmworkers avoid requesting safety measures, reporting COVID-19 issues and even getting tested for fear of retaliation and job loss, according to a study examining agricultural labor issues in California. … Living off limited income, some farmworkers said they were afraid of getting tested, said Nayamin Martinez, survey team leader for Stanislaus County and director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network. … Scott Long, a grower of peaches and almonds east of Ceres, said reports of farmworkers fearing retaliation for requesting safety measures surprised him.


Rep. Raul Ruiz, congressman and doctor, takes coronavirus testing to farmworkers [NBC News]

In the nation’s patchwork response to the pandemic, Democratic congressman and physician Raul Ruiz is helping fill a gap by taking coronavirus testing directly to farmworkers in the Coachella Valley of California. … Purdue University is tracking the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture and its workers and estimates about more than 93,000 agricultural workers have been infected with the coronavirus, with the most in Texas, followed by California. … Beyond testing, Ruiz said there is need for assistance for farmworkers who test positive to be able to isolate away from family members.


U.S.-China trade deal in ‘fine’ shape, White House’s Kudlow says [Reuters]

China is continuing to buy U.S. goods, particularly commodities, under its Phase 1 trade deal with the United States, despite rising tensions over Hong Kong and other issues, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday. … Top U.S. and Chinese officials are due to meet for a “routine” video conference on Saturday to assess implementation of the Phase 1 agreement six months after the deal defused a trade war that hurt both nations and the global economy.


How a 30-ton robot could help crops withstand climate change [Wall Street Journal]

… The 70-foot-tall colossus, called a “Field Scanalyzer,” is the world’s biggest agricultural robot, the project’s researchers say. Resembling an oversize scaffold with a box perched in its middle, it lumbers daily over 2 acres of crops including sorghum, lettuce and wheat, its cluster of electronic eyes assessing their temperature, shape and hue, the angle of each leaf. … The effort—part of a five-year, roughly $26 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—is aimed at helping plant breeders identify characteristics and genetic markers pointing to the most efficient and resilient crop varieties.