Ag Today July 3, 2019

A push to equalize labor laws for child farmworkers, who are often immigrants [Center for Public Integrity]

At a time when immigrants are in the national spotlight, a California congresswoman has reintroduced a bill to strengthen federal protections for children hired to work in agriculture, an industry that relies heavily on migrants from Latin America. The bill tightens labor standards for child farmworkers, whose protections under federal law fall short of those protecting minors working in other industries. While federal law prohibits minors from working in non-farm industries until they’re 14, for example, children as young as 12 can be hired to perform farm labor. The proposed Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety, or CARE Act, would raise the minimum age to 14. This proposed rule change and others would be incorporated into the Fair Labor Standards Act.


Hopeful news for California almonds emerges from trade summit [Sacramento Business Journal]

California almond growers can feel some relief after the U.S. and China paused their escalating trade war….Since the trade dispute started, China has raised tariffs on almonds from 10% to 50%. Almond exports to China have dropped 30%, said Julie Adams, vice president of global technical, regulatory and government affairs with the Almond Board of California. She is hopeful that now, trade negotiations between the U.S. and China can get back on track.


Chicken-killing Newcastle outbreak shows signs of subsiding [Orange County Register]

It’s been nearly a month since the last positive test for the chicken-killing Newcastle disease that’s led to the euthanasia of 1.2 million birds, spurring guarded optimism from officials that the 13-month-old outbreak could be nearing an end. But 273 birds were euthanized as recently as June 28 as state and federal officials continue to track down poultry that may have been exposed to the virus in Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire, even if they haven’t tested positive….Before the current lull in positive tests began, on June 5, the longest stretch without a positive result was 10 days.


New Ventura County program is here to help farmworkers [Ventura County Star]

After two years of preparation, the Ventura County Human Services Agency has launched a farmworker assistance program to help and recruit a key part of the local agriculture industry’s labor force. Staff members will help farmworkers resolve workplace concerns on such matters as payroll and working conditions as they struggle to find affordable housing and learn how to use the services available to them….As envisioned when the Ventura County Board of Supervisors approved the program in June 2017, the program aims to build trust, promote the county as a place to work, inform farmworkers about labor protections and help them navigate public agencies.


John Giumarra, who helped grow family table-grape business to international status, dies at 78 [Bakersfield Californian]

Giumarra, the president and CEO of Giumarra Vineyards, died Sunday afternoon of natural causes, according to his family. He was 78. History will remember Giumarra as a chief combatant in the epic battle between California grape growers and the United Farm Workers of Cesar Chavez. And with good reason: Their standoff, for a time a nightly staple of TV network news, brought about the Great Delano Grape Strike of 1965 and ultimately a worldwide boycott of California table grapes. But Giumarra was a highly influential grower and industry leader who left his mark on agriculture and on his Kern County home in ways that went well beyond farm labor relations.


Commentary: Here’s how California can help farm workers sleep at night [CALmatters]

…Assembly Bill 1783, by Assemblyman Robert Rivas of Hollister, would give agricultural employers a streamlined option to dedicate a portion of their land for housing….If any growers find any provisions of the bill too objectionable, the legislation contains an easy remedy: they wouldn’t have to participate. “Guest worker” programs are a growing source of controversy, and while this bill doesn’t stop any employer from participating in them, it does preclude the state from funding any “bracero” type housing programs in which workers in the past have been subjected to wage theft, job dangers, and deplorable housing conditions. With only a limited number of state dollars available for farmworker housing, it makes sense to focus on housing that can accommodate families.