Ag Today July 28, 2020

California’s Central Valley now a coronavirus hot spot [Associated Press]

As coronavirus cases spike in California’s Central Valley, the state will send “strike teams” to help staff hospitals in the vast agricultural region and spend $52 million to speed up testing and help infected people quarantine so they don’t infect others, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday. … The teams will assess outbreaks in factories, nursing homes, high-density housing and agricultural settings. Armando Elenes, secretary-treasurer of United Farm Workers, said the spike in infections in the Central Valley comes as thousands of migrant workers arrive for the harvest season.


Coronavirus ravages California’s Central Valley, following a cruel and familiar path [Los Angeles Times]

… The demographics of those getting sick in the rural hamlets of America’s famed agricultural zone are the same as those who have been hit hard in big cities and suburbs: Essential workers — many of them Latino — who cannot stay home for financial reasons when they fall ill on the job and also have a hard time isolating in housing that can be crowded and multigenerational. … The surge in Central Valley cases has taken a particular toll on farmworkers, in part because they often live in close quarters, share transportation to job sites and have little access to healthcare.


Napa County Farm Bureau hosts COVID-19 webinars for employers [Napa Valley Register]

The Napa County Farm Bureau is hosting a series of industry-wide educational webinars addressing COVID-19 during harvest. On July 24, the Farm Bureau hosted the latest industry-wide webinar addressing pressing issues to educate Napa Valley’s agricultural employers and employees on how to best respond to COVID-19 as they begin to embark on harvest. … The Napa County Farm Bureau will continue to hold these educational webinars for Napa’s ag community to ensure that employers and employees are receiving the latest information to protect themselves and their workplaces as before harvest in the Napa Valley.


Almond industry weighs measures for cutting harvest-related air pollution [Bakersfield Californian]

As Central Valley almond growers gear up for the annual harvest in coming weeks, efforts are underway to reduce the amount of air pollution kicked up as part of the process. Among recent developments are a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set aside $10 million in incentives for California almond growers to replace conventional equipment with new, cleaner technology and an industry initiative aimed at testing out new methods for controlling dust.


Americans receive mystery seeds in the mail, mostly from China [Wall Street Journal]

State officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are investigating reports that hundreds of residents have received seeds in the mail they didn’t order. Agricultural officials across the U.S. have launched probes after residents received unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have mostly originated from China. … Officials are trying to identify the seeds, which they worry could be invasive plant species, and threatening to native plants and crops, or could introduce diseases or be harmful to livestock.


Walmart, Kroger bottle their own milk and shake up American dairy industry [Wall Street Journal]

… When supermarket shoppers reach for white gallon jugs these days, most of the time they grab a low-priced store brand. To expand those offerings, major grocery retailers, including Kroger Co., Walmart Inc. and Albertsons Cos., have built their own milk-bottling plants. Grocers’ move into the bottling business is threatening some of the biggest operators in the $40 billion U.S. milk industry, the purveyors of national brands. … For the supermarket chains, milk still has much appeal. They know that shoppers who come for a jug of milk tend to stay and buy a few other items.