Ag Today, May 4, 2020

Billions in coronavirus aid will go to farms. But farmers say it’s not enough to keep them afloat [Fresno Bee]

… While demand at California’s food banks has risen by 73 percent during the pandemic, demand for the products of farmers and ranchers has dropped by 50%. Because it’s too costly to harvest and transport the food, and much of it is perishable, California growers are destroying some crops, milk and livestock. Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen expects the problem to grow as the region approaches harvest season and restaurants and ports remain closed or barely operating. … The aid will help food banks, but isn’t enough to help most farmers, according to industry professionals who spoke with The Fresno Bee.


‘We had to do something’: Trying to prevent massive food waste [New York Times]

… Over the next few weeks, the Department of Agriculture will begin spending $300 million a month to buy surplus vegetables, fruit, milk and meat from distributors and ship them to food banks. … The Agriculture Department grants are expected to be announced this week, but farmers say their losses far exceed what the grants can provide. … There are some signs that the waste is starting to dissipate. … Even as the waste declines for some food, other farmers are scrambling to find new buyers. California strawberry growers, for example, are reaching peak harvest season in May.


As tight living conditions bring coronavirus risks, farms secure housing to isolate workers [Wall Street Journal]

… As they try to prevent the virus’s spread and keep food flowing to customers, agricultural employers have recently begun securing hotel rooms and other shelter so that potentially contagious workers can self-isolate. … The Salinas-based Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, which represents about 400 producers of crops like spinach and strawberries, has contracted with multiple hotels and motels left empty amid the pandemic. Christopher Valadez, the association’s president, said he has begun filling the rented rooms with coronavirus-positive workers, as well as some who may have been exposed to the virus.


Opinion: Farmworkers are an essential part of California’s economy. It’s no different during a pandemic. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

… Right now, many of us are living in hardship because of the quarantines imposed as a result of the novel coronavirus. We take a risk every time we go to work in the field. … The Trump administration wants to minimize the pay for farmworkers to help save the agriculture companies, but I want the president to know that thanks to us — the farmworkers out in the field working from sunrise to sunset — you have fruits and vegetables on your table. … Instead of cutting our pay, he should be creating a fund to help support the small agricultural businesses so they can survive, and in turn help us, the workers.


Opinion: Rural areas have a message for Newsom: One size doesn’t fit all in reopening California [Los Angeles Times]

Rebellion is infectious. Rural people are in revolt against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide virus-fighting rules, which make little sense in burgs such as Bieber. … Politically, these northern mountain and valley farm counties are California outliers. They’re largely Republican. … Both parties are trying to keep partisan politics out of the virus fight. … Newsom keeps hinting at loosening his reins. He shouldn’t dawdle. Rural folks are beginning to cut the reins themselves and head in another direction.


California, 15 other states sue over new rule diluting protections for nation’s waterways [San Francisco Chronicle]

A coalition of 16 states led by California and New York sued the Trump administration Friday over a law that eliminated Obama-era protections for wetlands and streams across the United States. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, accuses President Trump and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of illegally exposing waterways to pollution and development by rolling back a key provision of the Clean Water Act. … The Obama rule infuriated businesses and some farmers, who feared having to seek costly permits for projects like building a barn on land next to a protected pond or slough.