Ag Today June 10, 2020

Federal government restores Klamath Basin irrigation water following protest [Jefferson Public Radio, Ashland, Ore.]

Farmers in the Klamath Basin were notified Tuesday that the amount of water they’ll get for crops and livestock will be increased from the record low amount they thought they were getting. The change came after hundreds rallied in Klamath Falls over concerns of a devastating drought this year. … While that’s only about 40% of what they get during a normal year, it’s more than what Reclamation water managers said they’d be getting on May 1, as the basin faces a punishing drought this summer.


In absence of federal action, farm workers’ coronavirus cases spike [Politico]

Coronavirus outbreaks among farm workers are popping up in rural communities across the country, sparking fears within the agriculture industry that cases will skyrocket as harvest season stretches into summer. … The federal government has not made safety rules mandatory, leaving it to farmers’ discretion whether to enact any safety measures at all. … In the absence of federal action, advocates are turning to state governments with their pleas for more support to be provided to farm workers who form the bedrock of the U.S. food supply chain.


Coronavirus outbreaks at 60 U.S. plants raise specter of more food shortages [Bloomberg]

… At least 60 food-processing facilities outside the meatpacking industry have seen outbreaks, with more than 1,000 workers diagnosed with the virus, according to a new study from Environmental Working Group. … In addition to the human tragedy, the outbreaks also expose the vulnerability of America’s food supply. … Unions, advocacy groups and experts have said that employers haven’t done enough to keep workers safe. … But employers also have run into issues because of shifting direction from authorities on proper protective measures.


Rice prices spike to highest level since 2011 [Wall Street Journal]

Rice futures spiked to their highest level in nearly nine years after the global pandemic boosted shoppers’ demand for the grain. … The surge has been fueled by a spike in retail sales, with consumers stocking up on essentials during pandemic lockdowns. Through 13 weeks ending May 30, retail rice sales were up nearly 40% versus the same time last year, according to data from Nielsen. That increase in demand met a lower-than-expected supply. … Rice export prices have been climbing in Asia as well.


While some farmers face new challenges amid COVID-19, others have found success [KALW Radio, San Francisco]

In California, farms have not been immune to COVID-19. A Farm Bureau Federation survey recently found that more than half of farms across the state have lost customers or sales due to the pandemic. Small family farms are especially vulnerable. … Although it has been really tough for some farmers, others adjusted quickly and are doing well. In general, farms that are doing well right now already had a CSA in place. … Consumers like the idea of getting local produce directly from local farmers during the pandemic.


Napa Valley’s wine industry cautiously embarks upon reopening process [Napa Valley Register]

Napa Valley wineries this week began opening their tasting rooms to the public after almost three months of pandemic-prompted closures. … Much about the process of welcoming guests has been fundamentally changed. … Those are provisions in line with what Napa Valley Vintners has recommended to its members. … The group worked with officials at the local, state and federal levels to solidify its recommendations, and formed a vintner task force to develop and identify how guidelines could best be applicable to wineries of all sizes.