Ag Today June 22, 2020

Lack of sales data hurts cotton farmers hoping for federal recovery money [Bakersfield Californian]

…Pima growers aren’t giving up. They’re trying to make the case to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the crop did, indeed, suffer a big enough price decline to deserve some of the $16 billion in federal money set aside last month to help farmers. Qualified growers stand to receive direct payments of up to $250,000 each. This week, the Kern County Farm Bureau issued a “call to action” asking local Pima farmers to write letters urging the USDA to reconsider its ruling that the crop didn’t qualify for federal financial assistance.


San Diego County farmers fight for share of federal COVID-19 relief money [inewsource, San Diego]

Farmers who grow San Diego County’s most valuable crops may miss out on federal cash for coronavirus-related losses because some of their agriculture products — primarily flowers, nursery plants and exotic fruits — are not included in the relief program. The growers are pushing to get their specialty crops added to the government’s eligible list, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture appears willing to hear them out. … Hannah Gbeh, the San Diego County Farm Bureau’s executive director, described the region’s agriculture as unique.


Farmworkers adjust to new health protocols as grape harvest peaks during coronavirus pandemic [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

… With the harvest season peaking as communities in the eastern part of the region continue to report higher rates of infection than other neighboring cities, farmworkers are forced to make the difficult decision between a paycheck or sheltering at home. … In the fields, many workers have traded bandanas, long used to protect faces and necks from the sun, for cloth masks. Efforts to practice good hygiene — disinfecting tools and washing hands after using the bathroom — have increased.


For some California teens, school closures led to work in the fields [CalMatters]

… Like many students in California’s agricultural communities, the Salvador sisters’ personal and educational lives have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic  When the health crisis interrupted education across the state, closing schools in March and moving learning online, many of these students went to work in the vast green fields that feed much of the country. … The dilemma is playing out in agricultural communities from Imperial County on the southern border to Monterey on the Central Coast to Butte County in Northern California.


Opinion: Essential workers indispensable for feeding us but remain afterthoughts [Ventura County Star]

… The indispensable contributions of farmworkers before and especially during this pandemic confirm the legitimacy of their commitment to this nation. They have more than earned the right to be treated with respect and assurances that labor laws that are supposed to protect them are enforced. … Regardless of their status, they should not be working in the shadows and whispers of a democratic society. We must give farmworkers the right to legalize their status in the U.S.


What’s gotten into the price of cheese? [New York Times]

The wholesale market for Cheddar is typically a mild one. But the vagaries of supply and demand during the pandemic have caused sharp swings in cheese prices, which rose to record highs this month — just weeks after plummeting to nearly 20-year lows. Consumers are buying way more cheese, even as the usually huge demand from restaurants and schools has fallen off. Dairy farmers and prepared-food companies, which supply ingredients to cheese makers or buy their products, have seen disruptions in their businesses. Together, these countervailing forces have fueled the up-and-down trading in the market.


Battery-powered pickups? California’s next clean air rule targets gas-powered trucks, big rigs [Sacramento Bee]

… California’s air pollution agency this week is poised to pass a rule that would require truck manufacturers to cut their production of gas-powered vehicles by more than half over the next 15 years and instead sell battery- and hydrogen-powered machines. … The main fight behind the scenes as the Air Resources Board developed the regulation centered on how quickly it would apply to heavy pickup trucks and delivery vans. … By 2035, the rule would require zero-emission trucks to account for 55% of medium-duty sales — including pickups — beginning with a 5% requirement in 2024.