Ag Today March 1, 2021

Thousands of farmworkers are prioritized for the coronavirus vaccine [New York Times]

… A landmark effort is underway across the Coachella Valley to bring the vaccine directly into the fields. … In the Coachella Valley, the vaccination program, which began in January, is the culmination of a monthslong effort to educate farmworkers about Covid-19, bringing testing close to their workplaces and encouraging them to stay home if they contract the virus. … In Riverside County, farmworker advocates and growers have been fielding calls from across the country about the vaccination effort, which is considered a model for how to administer vaccines to this population.


Vaccine rollout for farmworkers is fraught with confusion and bad timing [Los Angeles Times]

… The collision of harvest season with the Blue Shield takeover has left many community organizers and health officials worried that existing plans, though criticized for being inadequate and uneven, will be abandoned for a different set of uncertainties. … To date, the rollout of vaccines to farmworkers has been hit-or-miss, often driven by local elected officials, unions, nonprofits and employers using their connections to get doses into laborers’ arms. The patchwork system has raised questions about whether vaccines are being equitably shared with farmworkers, but the pending transition seems to be charging ahead without an on-the-ground perspective.


Gavin Newsom makes Fresno appearance with comedian George Lopez, says COVID vaccines safe [Fresno Bee]

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced efforts Friday during his visit in Fresno to drive up the confidence of the COVID-19 vaccines among California’s farm laborers. Newsom made his appearance at Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries in central Fresno, saying the state is partnering with 337 nonprofit organizations statewide to get word out that the COVID vaccines are safe. The state has a $52.7 million public-private partnership with the California Community Foundation, the Center at Sierra Health Foundation and the Public Health Institute to fund the efforts with the nonprofits, Newsom said.


Farmworkers get coronavirus vaccines at on-site Santa Clara County clinic [Bay Area News Group]

… The two-day mobile clinic has a goal of vaccinating 1,000 employees of the region’s farms as Santa Clara County public health officials increase efforts to ensure all eligible citizens have access to vaccinations. … Monterey Mushrooms owner Shah Kazemi said he wants to protect his 1,200 workers but also farmworkers across the country. … The collaboration Sunday felt like a triumph for Dr. Cody, who has spent the past year trying to resolve one crisis after another. She said she felt good watching the farmworkers receive vaccinations.


Area experiencing labor shortage [The Appeal Democrat, Marysville]

… Sutter County Supervisor and life-long peach farmer Karm Bains said his crews are a bit behind schedule this year and are working to finish pruning trees in the orchards before the bloom comes. The reason for the delay is a lack of workers. … The labor shortage also drives up the price for workers, which ultimately impacts the farmer’s returns on the crop. Another challenge, he said, is the commodity’s processors haven’t increased payouts for growers that stay in line with the rising costs of running a farm.


Editorial: Protecting public health, not industry should be goal

Months-long efforts to come up with a better system to alert Kern County residents about farmers’ use of potentially toxic pesticides is going nowhere fast. It’s time for the Legislature to step in, stop the squabbling and approve a statewide pilot project to enhance the notification system and better alert residents and workers to potential dangers. … The goal should not be to protect the agricultural industry from pesticide opponents who may use public information to advance their cause. … The development of a better notification system should be focused on protecting public health — and that requires public information.


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