Ag Today June 17, 2020

COVID-19 cases among ag workers, Hispanics disproportionately higher in Santa Maria [Santa Maria Times]

Hispanics, Latinos and agricultural workers make up a disproportionate number of the COVID-19 cases in the Santa Maria area, where the number of cases is the highest in the county, according to a report delivered to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. … Based on occupation, agricultural workers make up 20% of the Santa Maria cases, with the next-highest category, 11%, being the unemployed and disabled.


Central Valley “left behind” on federal COVID contracts [KFSN TV, Fresno]

The federal government has spent more than $25 billion so far in a scramble to get everything this country needs during the coronavirus crisis. … About $1.1 billion of it has come to California, but my analysis uncovered only $7.9 million – in 19 contracts – to the Central Valley. … Even in agriculture, where the Valley leads the nation, the government isn’t looking here for much of its more than $400 million in COVID-coded spending. RJB Produce landed the biggest contract, a $4.5 million job. … Sun-Maid and Sierra Sun have also gotten ag contracts for less than $800,000 each.


State says local air district too generous with emission credits [Bakersfield Californian]

State air quality officials have accused Central Valley regulators of undermining local anti-pollution measures by repeatedly miscalculating emission credits for the benefit of industry. A report released this month by the California Air Resources Board says the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has for years overestimated gains achieved when businesses close and tractors are converted from diesel to electric power. … The outcome is likely to be greater regulatory transparency and higher costs for businesses applying for permission to vent exhaust in a region with some of the country’s dirtiest air.


Congress to probe Trump’s aggressive trade policies [Wall Street Journal]

Congress will scrutinize the Trump administration’s aggressive international trade initiatives on Wednesday as the top U.S. trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, appears before House and Senate committees. The administration completed a preliminary trade deal with China in January after a bruising trade war that saddled U.S. importers with tariffs on most Chinese imports and temporarily dried up the Chinese export market for U.S. farmers. … Mr. Lighthizer also negotiated a new trade accord with Mexico and Canada that was approved by Congress earlier this year.


Man arrested for allegedly stealing beehives in 5 states [Associated Press]

A man who stole dozens of beehives across the West has been arrested in Washington state, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said. The bees could be worth more than $200,000. “The case has the potential of over 30 victims spread across CaliforniaIdahoMontanaOregon and Washington,” the Sheriff’s Office told the Bellingham Herald. … A “beekeeper chop shop” is common in California and other parts of the country, the Sheriff’s Office said. … In 2017, a man was accused of stealing nearly $1 million worth of hives from almond orchards, The Associated Press reported.


Editorial: It’s now or never to save California’s bullet train [Los Angeles Times]

… It’s not too late to consider alternatives that might help keep high speed rail on track. Last week, lawmakers took the strongest action to date to try to pause or even reset the project. … The Assembly passed a resolution demanding that the High Speed Rail Authority not award key contracts to build the Central Valley segment of the system. … Signing the contract would make it nearly impossible for lawmakers to consider alternative ways to build the bullet train. … The question isn’t whether the bullet train should be built, but rather how