Ag Today August 13, 2020

COVID-19 is hammering the Central Valley. Can Newsom’s ‘strike team’ make a difference? [Sacramento Bee]

… As the Valley’s surging infection rate has drawn national attention, Gov. Gavin Newsom is dispatching three of his coronavirus “strike teams” to the region to help local officials track COVID clusters, inspect workplaces, quarantine the sick and ramp up testing. Each team, consisting of about a dozen experts on health, housing, public outreach, agriculture and other fields, will try to contain an alarming spread through the region. … One infectious-disease expert says the additional boots on the ground will surely help – but ultimately it’s up to Valley residents to take the necessary precautions.


California’s migrant farmworkers face evictions with no safety net amid pandemic [Los Angeles Times]

… As California searches for ways to avoid an “eviction cliff” caused by the economic devastation of the coronavirus, including an eviction moratorium currently in place, immigrants such as Barbosa are bearing the brunt of the crisis with the least access to help, advocates say. … In San Joaquin and other rural counties, these workers often live in spaces not meant for human habitation. … They are scared that their immigration status will be used against them if they don’t comply with landlords, and they have little access to either legal advice or government aid.


Valley Latino leaders say farmworker health is critical to our economy [KMPH TV, Fresno]

Valley Latino leaders say farmworkers must be protected from COVID-19. They say their health is critical to our economy at harvest time. A who’s who of Latino leaders wrote the Governor to explain why farmworkers must be tested during harvest. … In the letter, Latino leaders reminded the Governor and state lawmakers that California agriculture adds $50 billion to our state economy. … Supervisor Valle says farmworker safety rests with every elected politician. He adds it’s all about protecting an essential labor force and our economy.


Opinion: Despite the ag industry’s efforts, a documentary reveals farmworker realities [Monterey County Weekly]

… Early in the pandemic is also when documentary filmmaker Daffodil Altan, a producer and correspondent for the long-running PBS series Frontline, came to town to investigate how farmworkers were being treated during the pandemic. … Monterey County Farm Bureau Executive Director Norm Groot has been putting in long hours since the start of the pandemic, and he’s weary when I ask him about the industry’s response to the Frontline episode. There are several dynamics at play, he says, but a lot of the material they presented is out of date.


U.S., Chinese officials jointly pursue mystery seed shipments [Wall Street Journal]

U.S. agriculture officials said they are working with their counterparts in China to determine who is sending mysterious seed packages to U.S. residents and to stop future shipments. … As of Tuesday evening, Mr. El-Lissy said his department had found no major problems, though the agency has managed to check just a fraction of the packages delivered to residents from Virginia to Washington. … Lawmakers this week pressed the USDA and other federal authorities to solve the seed puzzle and strengthen shipping safeguards to catch similar episodes in the future.


Iowa farmers assess losses after storm flattened cornfields [Associated Press]

Farmers across a wide swath of Iowa are dealing with the heartbreaking aftermath of a rare wind storm that turned what was looking like a record corn crop into deep losses for many. The storm, known as a derecho, slammed the Midwest with straight line winds of up to 100 miles per hour on Monday, gaining strength as it plowed through Iowa farm fields, flattening corn and bursting grain bins still filled with tens of millions of bushels of last year’s harvest. … Before the storm hit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had been expecting a record national corn crop this year of 15.3 billion bushels.