Ag Today August 8, 2020

Small farmers left behind in Trump administration’s COVID-19 relief package [NBC News]

… The preliminary data suggest that it has favored large, industrialized farms over smaller, diversified ones, provided loopholes for corporate farms and sent sizable payments to foreign-owned operations. … “We were getting voicemails and emails from farmers all around the country saying: ‘What am I going to do? I’m going to lose everything if I don’t get something,'” said Michael Nepveux, an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Our role was saying, ‘Don’t forget about these guys, and don’t forget about those guys,'” Nepveux said.


‘Everyone tested positive’: Covid devastates agriculture workers in California’s heartland [The Guardian]

… The virus is surging in the Central Valley, with several reported deaths among essential workers. In 10 counties, state authorities list workplaces and businesses as likely drivers for increased transmission. … From the beginning of the pandemic, advocacy groups expressed concern for the safety of essential food workers. … Padilla and Flores of UC Merced say that only more stringent policies and enforcement around workplace conditions will curb the crisis. Workplace safety and health concerns existed before Covid-19, they argue. Now, with the threat of a virus all around, the risks are potentially fatal.


Following COVID-19 outbreak at Wasco farm, officials calling for more attention to ag workers [KERO TV, Bakersfield]

Farmworkers at a local farm in Wasco have tested positive for COVID-19 causing the farm to close completely to thoroughly clean everything. Now officials are calling on more help for those in our agriculture industry. … Tracking the spread of COVID-19 among farmworkers, or any specific occupation, is difficult because patients are not required to list their occupation when they get tests. But all that could change.


Why are some groceries still so hard to find during Covid? [Wall Street Journal]

… As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in certain states, grocers are reporting a new increase in staples purchases that could lead to scarcity. The even-stronger demand for items such as baking ingredients and paper towels has made it tough for manufacturers to produce the items fast enough to keep shelves full. … Flour mills are behind on deliveries despite boosting production by as much as 40%. As increases in Covid-19 cases cause states to pull back their reopening plans, grocery makers and retailers say demand is ticking up and they have little extra stock to spare.


Apple Fire adds fuel to smoldering debate over California fire management [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

A debate over fire management in Southern California reignited this week as the Apple Fire tore a blazing path through Riverside and San Bernardino counties. …  After more than a century of aggressive fire suppression across the West, Cal Fire and other land management agencies push for large-scale removal of built-up fuel through techniques ranging from prescribed burns to mechanic thinning. But a growing chorus of researchers and environmentalists argue firefighting agencies have gone too far.


Opinion: Protection of the California agriculture-port relationship should be a top priority [CalMatters]

California’s agricultural industry and its port system are inextricably linked, and both are now at risk. … Gov. Gavin Newsom should steer his administration in a direction that ensures state regulations are balanced against the economics of international commerce. Thoughtful port policy that protects California’s agricultural and related industries should not be conflated with a wholesale rollback of regulatory policies. … Californians need the Newsom administration to review state regulatory policies with the goal of economic resilience.