Ag Today December 24, 2020

Thousands gather in Sacramento, block traffic on Highway 50 to protest India farming laws [Sacramento Bee]

Thousands of protesters blocked traffic on Highway 50 in Sacramento during a day of protest against India’s new agricultural laws, which advocates say will cut Punjabi farmers’ profits and make it easier for large corporations to drive them out of business. The implications, organizers say, can be felt a world away in California, which has nearly 300,000 Indian Americans, and the U.S., one of India’s key trading partners…. India is one of America’s largest agricultural producers, bringing $2.6 billion into the country — including spices, rice, natural oils and produce — according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office. Many members of the protests, including some of California’s roughly 5,500 farmers of Asian descent, can trace their roots to the Punjab region, known as India’s bread basket.


California Farm Bureau voices support of Indian farmers [KSBW, Monterey]

On Wednesday, the California Farm Bureau released a statement in support of Indian farmers….“We understand the deep concern and distress from thousands of farmers in the states of Punjab and Haryana to peacefully protest recent agriculture reforms in New Delhi. The agriculture economy in India is a main source of livelihood for over 55% of India’s population and accounts for approximately 15% of their gross domestic product. As such a critical part of India’s economy and culture, these voices need to be heard just as we expect our voices would be heard here,” said president Jamie Johansson.


Historic Napa winery Stony Hill sold to Arkansas billionaire, with a star winemaker taking the helm [San Francisco Chronicle]

One of Napa’s most well-loved historic wineries has changed hands again. Stony Hill Vineyard, the rare major Napa winery known for its white wine instead of red, is now owned by Arkansas billionaire Gaylon Lawrence Jr. and Carlton McCoy, Jr. — just two years after Stony Hill’s original family owners sold it to another local family. The small production Spring Mountain winery’s change brings along with it an esteemed winemaker, Jaimee Motley. Motley, who made her name at Pax Wine Cellars and was a 2018 Winemaker to Watch for her own label, will be overseeing wine production at Stony Hill. Laurie Taboulet will be estate director….Lawrence is an Arkansas agriculture magnate who’s also been building an empire in Wine Country; he first started buying land in Napa in 2018 with the acquisition of storied Cabernet Sauvignon producer Heitz Cellar.


Court orders virus safety rules for Foster Farms plant [Associated Press]

A chicken processing plant in central California that saw a deadly coronavirus outbreak must provide its workers with masks and follow a raft of other anti-COVID-19 health orders, a court ruled Wednesday. A judge in Merced County granted a temporary restraining order sought by the United Farm Workers of America union against Foster Farms, where a virus outbreak at its Livingston facility — one of the world’s largest chicken plants — killed nine people and sickened hundreds earlier this year. The plant was temporarily ordered to close. Another outbreak two weeks ago at another processing plant in Fresno forced that plant to shut down for a deep cleaning, although it later reopened. California’s heavily agricultural San Joaquin Valley has seen its COVID-19 infection rate explode. Hospitals there have been out of normal intensive care unit beds for days, forcing them to use other makeshift areas to treat patients.

Court orders virus safety rules for Foster Farms plant (


Fox News fooled by Berkeley animal activist posing as pork CEO [San Francisco Chronicle]

A Berkeley-based animal rights activist impersonated the head of the world’s largest pork company on Fox News Wednesday in a hoax he said was meant to draw attention to the company’s sordid practices. Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo thought she was interviewing the newly appointed CEO of Smithfield Foods, Dennis Organ, about a coronavirus outbreak at one of the company’s meat processing plants. She was instead talking to Matt Johnson, a grassroots organizer with the Berkeley animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere. “It appears we have been punk’d,” Bartiromo later told viewers, identifying Johnson as “an impostor making false claims.”


2021 Farm to School grant application period open [Imperial Valley Press]

The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) is accepting applications for the 2021 Farm to School Incubator Grant Program. Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Feb. 16….The Farm to School Incubator Grant Program will award competitive grants to support innovative local and regional farm to school projects in nutrition education, sustainable food production and procurement, and high-quality student engagement through experiential learning. Review the Request for Applications for the grant program here.


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