Ag Today March 13, 2020

Trump likely to declare national emergency over the coronavirus [Los Angeles Times]

Several local farmers markets will suspend operations because of coronavirus concerns, including those in Beverly Hills, Culver City and the Saturday Torrance market. Other markets such as Hollywood, Pasadena and Santa Monica plan to remain open for now, officials said. Farmers, managers, restaurants and customers are all scrambling to deal with the quickly evolving situation….Susan Hutchinson, assistant manager of the Torrance farmers markets, said she learned Thursday afternoon that the city’s event would not be held on Saturday,…“Farmers are devastated, a lot of them were crying at my farmers market today, saying that they may not survive this,” she said.


Food banks face shortages of volunteers; many Bay Area pantries close as coronavirus spreads [CalMatters]

…As the coronavirus pandemic grows, food banks across the state, which serve about 2 million Californians annually, are facing precipitous drops in volunteers. This shortage has been particularly severe in Northern California, where the first cases were confirmed and the number of cases has grown quickly….So far, the numbers of Californians seeking food have not substantially changed and food banks have found ways to keep up with demand. But leaders of multiple food banks worry that the volunteer shortage could cripple their ability to respond to increasing need as many Californians lose wages or even jobs due to the coronavirus and its economic aftershocks.


The good news about food safety and coronavirus: It’s the same advice we’ve known all along [Washington Post]

We’re constantly being reminded that one of the ways the coronavirus can enter our bodies is through our mouths. Naturally, this raises the question of food. Can food give us the respiratory illness? According to the USDA, “We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest covid-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.” Many of the assumptions and extrapolations being made about coronavirus are based on what experts have learned from similar strains, such as SARS, says Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia….The good news is that all the food hygiene advice you’ve heard before applies here, too. If you follow that advice, “there is minimal risk,” Diez-Gonzalez says.


U.S. travel ban is expected to snarl trans-Atlantic airfreight [Wall Street Journal]

The U.S. 30-day ban on some travel from Europe could have a significant impact on the movement of trans-Atlantic cargo flown in the bellies of passenger planes, driving up shipping rates and crimping airfreight capacity, industry executives said….Airlines faced with a reduction of passenger volumes will likely cancel flights between Europe and the U.S., said Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association, an industry group….Airlines are scrambling to respond to the ban, which restricts European travelers from 26 countries but doesn’t apply to the U.K. and Ireland. Last year, there were roughly 200,000 flights scheduled between the U.S. and those countries, equivalent to around 550 flights a day, according to the International Air Transport Association.


Petaluma farmers feeling the effects of a record-breaking dry February [Petaluma Argus-Courier]

…The lack of rain after a record breaking bone-dry February is affecting farmers across Petaluma, from small-scale growers like O’Doul to grape-growers, dairy farmers and ranchers that rely on grassland to feed cows, sheep or goats. While farmers regularly say that each year presents its own unique weather challenges, several in Petaluma are growing increasingly concerned as the year trundles on with little rain in sight….Lack of any measurable rain in February has caused some stress for Petaluma’s dairy farmers as well, who rely on water for production and to provide for hundreds of animals. “For these dairies, it’s hard to find enough water for 300 or 400 milking cows as it is,” said Executive Director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau Tawny Tesconi.


Strong weekend storm in Northern California to bring rain, drop feet of mountain snow [Sacramento Bee]

A “miracle” may not be the right term, but it looks like California is about to get a heavy dose of precipitation this weekend after a bone-dry February and meager start to March. The National Weather Service says a system developing from the Pacific Northwest will bring heavy snow to the Sierra Nevada range, creating “major” mountain travel impacts, starting Saturday. The storm will also drop significant amounts of much-needed rain throughout all of Northern California, NWS forecasts show. Parts of the Sierra foothills could see close to 4 inches from Saturday through Monday, and Sacramento should get between 1 and 2 inches over that span.