Ag Today August 3, 2020

For these workers, getting Covid means getting fired [Bloomberg]

As coronavirus cases explode at U.S. farms and food factories, the foreign migrants who pick fruit, clean seafood and sort vegetables are getting trapped in tightly packed bunkhouses where illness spreads like wildfire. Often, they can’t leave — unless they’re willing to risk deportation. … Farm visas, known as H-2As, mandate that employers provide housing. Even in normal times, it’s not much of a perk: conditions are often cramped and facilities meager. Now, the bunkhouses are turning into petri dishes for disease. … Border-crossing figures from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol show that more H-2A guest workers have entered the country this year through June 30 than the same period in 2019.


Opinion: Children of farmworkers need care during COVID-19 pandemic [Salinas Californian]

… At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as foodstuffs quickly vanished from store shelves, the crucial importance of farmworkers became particularly clear. … It is shameful that as a nation we have failed to provide for these families, nor to protect the children of these essential workers, as we have for others that face the pandemic head-on. … Congress will soon deliberate on a stimulus package to rescue a failing economy, including as much as $50 billion for programs relating to child-care. Right now, these invisible workers who continue to feed you and your family need your support and your voice.


Onions shipped to all 50 states linked to Salmonella outbreak [Fox Business]

The recent Salmonella Newport outbreak that has hit the U.S and infected nearly 400 people may be linked to several onion brands, according to announcements from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control. Thomson International Inc., a California-based grower, packer, shipper and supplier was named in the government agencies’ public safety announcements, which noted that the company has voluntarily recalled a variety of onions for potential Salmonella contamination.


Amid Pine Mountain’s ancient trees, a forest ‘thinning’ project triggers protests [Los Angeles Times]

… In the name of forest health and reducing wildfire risk, the Forest Service is proposing to thin 755 acres from Pine Mountain up to the adjacent Reyes Peak, mostly within Los Padres National Forest. Yet conservation groups, city officials, outdoor enthusiasts and Chumash Nation leaders are questioning why the project is needed and the motivations behind it. Some plan to fight it. … The Forest Service maintains the project is not a “logging proposal,” as it has been characterized by opposition groups, and says it is necessary for the health of the forest and its surrounding communities.


Opinion: Time Is Ripe: Farmers’ Market Week a time to honor local vendors [East Bay Times]

… When conventional food supply chains failed at the start of the pandemic, farmers’ markets and local food systems clearly displayed the resilience of short supply chains, and interest in local foods spiked nationwide. We have worked diligently to ensure farmers’ markets are truly safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces for all who wish to participate, including farmers, customers, vendors and other stakeholders. The impact of COVID-19 created rapid change, adaptation and innovation in the farmers’ market sector and has equally demonstrated our capacity for flexibility and resilience.


Obituary: Hollandia Dairy co-founder Pete de Jong remembered as a man of faith [San Diego Union-Tribune]

For 70 years, the de Jong name has been associated with Hollandia Dairy in San Marcos, the oldest, largest and one of the last surviving dairy operations in San Diego County. But for its co-founder Pete de Jong, who died July 15 at the age of 93, he preferred to be remembered for something else. Jeanne de Haan, the eldest of de Jong’s seven children, said her father loved working at the dairy but his true calling was sharing his Christian faith with others. … De Jong served as president and a longtime member of the San Diego County Farm Bureau.


Fresno farming giant Jack Woolf, leader in transforming San Joaquin Valley, dies at 102 [Fresno Bee]

John Leroy Woolf Jr., a pioneering farmer who helped re-imagine the dry and dusty west side of California’s San Joaquin Valley into an agricultural oasis, died Tuesday. He was 102. … In the early days, the Woolfs farmed mostly cotton, grain and melons. But Woolf also began to move away from the traditional, subsidized crops like cotton in favor of specialty crops like processing tomatoes, almonds and pistachios. … With a laser focus, determination and a healthy amount of courage, Woolf laid the groundwork for how to farm and process higher-value crops, all with an eye on water efficiency.