Ag Today June 3, 2020

California braces for second wave of coronavirus even as first wave is far from over [Los Angeles Times]

… California is one of about 20 states where new cases are increasing over the past five days, according to Johns Hopkins University. … Officials are not sure whether the new cases reflect a larger spike as the economy reopens or the result of increasing testing, or perhaps a combination of both. … The rise in cases comes as weekly hospitalizations and deaths are down statewide. … One of the nation’s most important agricultural areas, Imperial County, saw such a surge in coronavirus patients needing hospital care that it has transferred nearly 200 patients into neighboring counties.


Grocers, restaurants benefit from hedging prices of beef, pork [Wall Street Journal]

Some grocers, food manufacturers and restaurant chains weathered the supply-chain disruption in recent months in part because they use a common hedging practice: Locking in beef prices and quantities of meat purchases months in advance. Costco Wholesale Corp. and Jack in the Box Inc. are among the companies that have said they negotiate prices of some supplies in advance, providing finance chiefs with a forward look on costs. That practice became a key tool for these companies after the pandemic disrupted the U.S. meat supply and prices soared.


Why are there international pleas to eat more cheese? It melts the brain, so to speak [USA Today]

… Dairy farmers had to dump milk that couldn’t be redirected to other markets in time before it spoiled. Same with cheese businesses that suddenly had too much cheese supply with a limited shelf life. In the U.S., the Department of Agriculture also has stepped up purchases of dairy products to more than $330 million during April through May, up from $88 million during the same months last year, according to the USDA. “That has helped to bring more balance to market prices for milk and cheese,” said Matt Herrick, spokesman for the International Dairy Foods Association.


California court hears appeal of $289 million verdict against Bayer in first Roundup cancer trial [Reuters]

A California appeals court on Tuesday heard arguments in the first case that went to trial over allegations that Bayer AG’s glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup causes cancer, resulting in a $289 million judgment against the company. The August 2018 jury verdict in favor of groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, later reduced by a judge to $78 million, launched massive litigation over the weed killer that has led Bayer’s stock price to tumble more than 30%. A favorable appeals court decision in the Johnson case could help Bayer pressure plaintiffs’ lawyers in settlement negotiations currently underway.


Big Uesugi Farms site in Gilroy is bought by veteran developers [San Jose Mercury News]

A veteran and savvy Bay Area development company has bought the big Uesugi Farms site in Gilroy in a deal that points to ongoing interest in Silicon Valley commercial real estate amid the coronavirus outbreak. The purchase of the nearly 69 acres of land near the San Benito County line rescues the storied farm site, which was operated as a family-run agriculture enterprise for decades, from the early stages of a foreclosure proceeding against the property. The farmland’s future became murky after the abrupt revelation in early 2019 that the principal owners of the Uesugi Farms property had decided to cease operations.


UC Cooperative Extension monitoring for rice-eating pest [Marysville Appeal-Democrat]

As pest populations are expected to increase soon, the University of California Cooperative Extension is monitoring the presence of rice-eating insects called armyworms throughout the north state. Luis Espino, a rice farming systems advisor for UCCE, said the most recent numbers were low but are expected to climb in the next few weeks. … Espino said in severe cases, armyworms could eat all of a field’s foliage down to water level. While the rice crop can recover, the pest’s presence can lead to yield reduction.


This plane wasn’t snooping on protesters in Los Angeles, it was dropping irradiated bugs [The Drive]

… To some, it looked like the plane might be flying a surveillance mission. Los Angeles has seen significant protests and rioting, as well as harsh responses from police, in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. … The California state government has a contract with Dynamic to provide this service as a means of controlling the population of Mediterranean fruit flies, or Medflies. … SIT involves aircraft releasing male insects, which are bred in captivity and then irradiated, making it impossible for them to reproduce, over an affected area. Females then make futile attempts to mate with them.