Ag Today July 30, 2020

California lawmakers advance three bills spurred by coronavirus [Associated Press]

California lawmakers on Wednesday advanced several bills spurred by the coronavirus, including one designed to aid food sector employees and another to stockpile personal protective equipment so the state isn’t caught short again. …Democratic Sen. Anthony Portantino of La Cañada Flintridge said his bill expanding paid sick leave for food sector workers, including farm workers, would mean people who are sick “do not have to choose between a proper quarantine and going to work.” The two weeks of “COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave” would be in place for as long as there are any local or state emergency declarations.


Farmworkers are getting coronavirus. They face retaliation for demanding safe conditions [The World, Public Radio International]

… From the start of the pandemic, warnings were clear that farmworkers — deemed “essential” to the nation’s food supply and thus exempt from lockdown orders — would be at high risk for COVID-19. … Now, those early warnings are bearing out as outbreaks are reported at farms and food processing plants across the US. … Some US lawmakers are pushing for broader federal help — and more safety at farms. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, a Democrat of California whose district includes the heavily agricultural Salinas Valley, has co-sponsored bills that aim to loosen eligibility requirements so that workers, regardless of their immigration status, have access to financial aid during the pandemic.


Children of California farmworkers are being left behind during pandemic, advocates say [KCRA TV, Sacramento]

Advocates for farmworkers rights are fighting to make sure children of essential workers are not left behind. Lideres Campesinas’ concern is that school is about to start back up and many cannot afford childcare. … They are now calling on lawmakers to do something immediately to provide that childcare. … They are working with the governor and lawmakers and they are hopeful something will happen soon and childcare will be made available to these farm working families in time for the fall.


Feds pledge $1.2 million to update Klamath Project science [Klamath Falls Herald and News]

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will invest $1.2 million into a “new science initiative” for the Klamath Project. This announcement comes after Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman held a historic joint visit to the Klamath Basin earlier this month. Farmers and ranchers urged federal officials to overhaul the science that informs how much water the Klamath Project receives each year, arguing that it does not protect endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake and salmon species in the Lower Klamath River, while also harming the local agricultural economy.


Warren Buffett controls dams in Northern California. Why Gov. Newsom wants them torn down [Sacramento Bee]

Desperate to complete a historic but complicated dam removal on the California-Oregon border, Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed to one of the world’s wealthiest men to keep the project on track: financier Warren Buffett. Newsom dispatched a letter to Buffett and two of his executives Wednesday urging them to support the removal of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath River, where the dams have hurt salmon populations. The dams are owned by PacifiCorp, an Oregon-based electric utility that’s part of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate.


Mystery seeds spread around the world [Wall Street Journal]

… The U.S. Department of Agriculture said consumers in at least 22 U.S. states and several other countries had received unsolicited packages of seeds. … Osama El-Lissy, a deputy administrator for USDA’s APHIS, said the agency has so far identified 14 different species of seeds, from mustard and morning glory to cabbage, rosemary and roses. As of late Wednesday, there is no indication any of the seeds carry pests or diseases, according to the USDA.