Ag Today March 18, 2019

Deadly chicken disease spreads to Bay Area, flocks at risk [Bay Area News Group]

…News that a highly contagious and deadly bird virus was detected at a veterinary clinic in Redwood City on Thursday has alarmed the Bay Area’s poultry community, indicating that the dreaded Virulent Newcastle Disease has moved north from Southern California….“The really big concern is the spread into commercial flocks,” said Richard Blatchford, a poultry specialist at UC Davis Department of Animal Science. It has already been found in three commercial facilities in Riverside County.


Tulare Co. Farm Bureau seeks action for olive growers affected by contract cancellations [KMPH TV]

Olive orchards are starting to disappear from the landscape in Tulare County. That’s because the country’s largest canner of table olives is cancelling grower contracts. Growers started receiving letters in the beginning of March….After the announcement, the Tulare County Farm Bureau is asking state and federal officials to help those growers impacted by the contract cancellations.


Why are so many farmers markets failing? Because the market is saturated [NPR]

…In 2018, with attendance down and just five vendors signed on to sell produce, organizers of the Nipomo Certified Farmers’ Market decided to shut down the event at the end of last season. Nationwide, the number of farmers markets increased from 2,000 in 1994 to more than 8,600 in 2019, which led to a major problem: There are too few farmers to populate the market stalls and too few customers filling their canvas bags with fresh produce at each market. Reports of farmers markets closing have affected communities from Norco, Calif., to Reno, Nev., to Allouez, Wis.


Trump crackdown unnerves immigrants, and the farmers who rely on them [New York Times]

…It has long been an open secret in upstate New York that the dairy industry has been able to survive only by relying on undocumented immigrants for its work force. Now, this region has become a national focal point in the debate over President Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants and their role in agriculture….The pressures here reflect broader challenges facing farmers across the country who rely on undocumented workers. The farmers are struggling with a shrinking labor pool as fewer migrants cross illegally into the country and migrants who are long-term residents become too old for field work.


Opinion: Who is joint employer under federal employment discrimination law? [San Diego Union-Tribune]

Growers that use temporary or seasonal foreign guest workers must provide those workers with clean and safe housing and transportation to and from the worksite plus nominally priced meals or free access to cooking facilities. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that growers may be liable under Title VII, the federal employment discrimination law, if those accommodations are provided in an unlawfully discriminatory manner, even where the growers delegate those non-farm matters to a labor contractor.


Opinion: To help farmers, rein in agribusiness [Sacramento Bee]

…Instead of new trade deals with China, what American farmers and consumers really need is a serious effort to reign in agribusiness corporations. And that effort must focus on heeding popular calls to enforce our country’s existing anti-trust laws. Let’s be honest – everywhere you look, rural America is in crisis….The reason trade deals with China will not improve farm incomes is that corporate retailers and processors take a disproportionate share of every food dollar.