Ag Today August 20, 2020

As smoke fills the air, California farmworkers still labor to put food on the table [San Francisco Chronicle]

… Raging wildfires don’t stop the harvest, and many farmers said they have no choice but to plow on through the smoke to put food into stores and onto tables, which meant farmworkers had to work in conditions already made extremely difficult by the heat wave and pandemic. … Produce needs to be at a certain quality for the supply chain, and farmers have only a short window to achieve that, Norm Groot, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau, explained. … While most workers are already wearing a face covering because of the pandemic, only N95 masks filter smoke out of the air. The pandemic has shortened supply of this protective equipment, Groot said.


Two Santa Cruz County fires threaten cluster of wineries [Bay Area News Group]

Raging fires sparked by lightning in Santa Cruz County prompted widespread evacuations Wednesday, including a cluster of wineries located in Santa Cruz, Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond and Pescadero. … Marcella Thompkins, spokesperson for Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, said that five wineries in the San Lorenzo Valley, Bonny Doon and Woodside/Skyline AVAs were in or near evacuation zones. … Brown planted vineyards around the house and one side of the winery. … But one of his biggest concerns is that he has no crop insurance. And if the smoke becomes too dense over the vineyard for any length of time, his grapes will be ruined due to smoke taint.


Wildfires near California wineries compound issues in an unusually tough harvest season [San Francisco Chronicle]

The 2020 vintage was always going to be a challenging one for California wineries, thanks to the safety challenges and economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. But the state’s winemakers could never have imagined that excessive heat, lightning storms and raging wildfires — which, in addition to threatening buildings and people, also bring the possibility of smoke that could damage flavors in the grapes — would also accompany the outset of this year’s harvest.


Farmworkers in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties remain vulnerable as the COVID-19 crisis continues [New Times SLO]

… At the start of the pandemic, the main concern was getting enough personal protective equipment for farmworkers and getting local public health information to Spanish and Indigenous-language speakers, but concerns have evolved with the extended length of the crisis. Preliminary findings from a recently released study show that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities farmworker communities endure in their living, working, and health conditions. The study states that farmworkers face additional risks because they lack critical social safety net support that other members of society have access to.


Non-profit to distribute an additional $500K to Coachella Valley undocumented immigrants [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

More funding is coming to the Coachella Valley for undocumented immigrants who have suffered financially amid the coronavirus pandemic. Alianza Coachella Valley, a non-profit organization based in the City of Coachella, has received an additional $500,000 from the California Immigrants Resilience Fund,the organization announced Wednesday. … To be eligible for the funding, a person must live in the Coachella Valley, face financial hardship related to COVID-19 and be excluded from state or federal relief programs because of immigration status.


In rural Butte County, families turn to hot spots, independent study for school [Chico Enterprise-Record]

… Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, every school in Butte County must operate with distance or online learning. Insufficient internet connectivity in rural and remote areas is making it challenging for students to attend school. In the rural areas of Butte County, families are having to pivot by finding alternative ways for schooling when internet access isn’t available. … Internet hot spots powered by AT&T or T-Mobile can be issued to students based on need. And if hot spots won’t work at a student’s home, the outdoor areas at Concow Elementary School are available to use as the campus is set up with high-speed internet.