Ag Today July 21, 2020

She has cancer and is high-risk for COVID complications. But like many essential farmworkers, she can’t stay home [PBS Frontline]

… While millions of people in America have been sheltering in place, Hernandez is one of many members of the country’s largely immigrant agricultural workforce who have been maintaining the country’s food supply throughout the pandemic — and who speak out in a new FRONTLINE investigation about their experiences of having to choose between their health and their jobs. … Through the stories of people including Hernandez, the investigation examines how so far, there are no national mandatory COVID protections specifically for agriculture workers — only voluntary guidelines; how companies don’t have to tell employees about outbreaks at their worksites; and the efforts to put in place more aggressive measures in California, where many of America’s fruits and vegetables are grown.


Santa Maria Code Enforcement helps respond to H-2A housing COVID-19 outbreak [Santa Maria Times]

As the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department takes the reins in investigating and responding to a COVID-19 outbreak among agricultural workers in Santa Maria, city Code Enforcement office is also working to ensure compliance with health and safety standards within the agricultural industry. The ongoing outbreak involves a group of motels being used partially for H-2A worker housing, operated by labor contractor Alco Harvesting, with 40 COVID-positive individuals and one death as of Friday, according to Public Health.


Forgotten farmers ask Congress for relief in next COVID-19 loan package [Nextar Media Group TV stations]

Only a tiny fraction of American farmers have been able to access coronavirus relief through the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loan. The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking Congress to change the language in the next coronavirus relief package to include all farmers and extend access to PPP loans through harvest. … Karney says 86% of U.S. farmers, who identify as self-employed and lost money last year because of the trade wars, don’t qualify for a PPP loan. He’s asking Congress to change the wording of who qualifies.


Award to Vallejo groundskeeper in Monsanto cancer case slashed again — verdict upheld [San Francisco Chronicle]

A state appeals court on Monday upheld a San Francisco jury’s groundbreaking verdict that Monsanto’s widely used herbicide caused a Bay Area school groundskeeper’s cancer and that the company disregarded public safety in marketing its product. But the First District Court of Appeal reduced Dewayne “Lee” Johnson’s damages from $78.5 million to $21.5 million, saying California law does not allow damages for reduced life expectancy. … With other trials pending nationwide, Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018, announced a settlement last month that will pay nearly $10 billion to as many as 125,000 claimants.


Lassen Wolf Pack, state’s only known family, gives birth to pups for fourth consecutive year [Redding Record Searchlight]

The Lassen Wolf Pack, believed to be the only known wolf family remaining in California, gave birth to a new litter of pups for the fourth year in a row in 2020. The new litter has at least eight pups, bringing the pack’s total 14 members. Others in the pack include a mother, father and four “subadult wolves” from the pack’s prior litters. … Of this year’s eight pups, at least four are males and two are females, genetic testing shows.


Farmers doing more with less need help from above [Bakersfield Californian/Kern Business Journal]

… A combination of expanding global demand for California produce, stretched water resources, receding ground water levels and increasing government regulations caused Ackerknecht to search for ways to do more with less. Ackerknecht turned his attention to the sky for help. Like many valley farmers, Ackerknecht relies on aerial monitoring of his acreage and sophisticated computer systems to do the job that old-time farmers used to do by painstakingly walking the rows of their crops, vineyards and groves to spot problems.