Ag Today October 6, 2020

Proposition 15: The new tax and who it effects, explained [KMPH TV, Fresno]

One of the more hotly debated measures up for a vote is Proposition 15 – the “California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020.” … Residential property is exempt from the new tax regulations, and the bill says no changes are made to the tax laws for agricultural land. But Jamie Johansson, the President of the California Farm Bureau, is wary of that exemption. … “There really is a tax increase all along the food chain, so not just our farmers, but people who transport our foods to the market, distribution centers, our processors, farmer-owned co-ops, their commercial food production facilities would see an increase in taxes, as well as our grocery stores. So it really is a farm-to-fork tax increase.”


Farmers ask Vice President Pence for more PPE [KYMA TV, Yuma]

It’s peak harvest season in the desert southwest, and farmers are working in close quarters to provide food for the nation. However, they say they need Vice President Mike Pence’s help feeding America. … Farmers in California recently teamed upon to send Pence and the White House Coronavirus Task Force a three-part letter. The Agriculture Workforce Coalition organized the letter endorsed by 167 organizations, including the California Farm Bureau. Jamie Johansson, President of the California Farm Bureau says the letter stresses the important role masks play in protecting the nation’s food security.


Glass Fire: 6 more Napa Valley wineries damaged or destroyed by worst fire in region’s history [Bay Area News Group]

As of Monday, the Glass Fire, now recognized as the most destructive fire to ever hit the world-famous Napa Valley region, has destroyed or damaged structures at more than 15 wineries in the valley, including Spring Mountain, the small, elevated western AVA that had evaded wildfires up until this season. Late last week, the flames jumped across the valley floor regions and reached into the western hillsides. Despite evacuation orders, some of Spring Mountain’s multi-generation family vintners were forced to stay behind and battle the flames threatening their boutique wineries.


Some Kern County farmers are worried Trump’s immigration policies affect their workforce [Valley Public Radio, Fresno]

Kern County is known for Big Agriculture and traditionally leans to the right.  Many of the farmers there support Donald Trump. But when it comes to immigration—one of the President’s signature themes—not all the farmers there line up behind him. … It’s no secret that many of the farm workers in this country are undocumented. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says as many as half. Some farmers and labor contractors have estimated it’s more like three-quarters.


Fresh wave of meat plant shutdowns unlikely, JBS USA chief says [Wall Street Journal]

Another wave of coronavirus-driven closures of meatpacking plants is unlikely because worker testing and safety practices have improved since the spring, the chief executive of beef and pork giant JBS USA Holdings Inc. said. JBS and other major meat companies have installed automated temperature checkpoints, distributed safety gear to plant workers and installed partitions between some work stations to catch Covid-19 symptoms and prevent its spread in plants. Those moves came as thousands of employee infections in March and April forced JBS, Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill Inc. and other meat companies to temporarily close plants to stem outbreaks.


Experts say local crops seem to be doing well amid weather, pandemic [Marysville Appeal-Democrat]

Despite a pandemic, a very active wildfire season filling the sky with smoke and ash and temperatures sometimes well-above normal, experts say most local crops seem to be doing well this year. “With the exception of the smoke it has been a fairly normal year weather-wise,” said Stephen Scheer, Yuba County Agricultural Commissioner. “I have not heard of any major crop effects due to the year’s weather.” Scheer said officials are expecting some negative effects on agriculture production due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year but to what extent has yet to be determined.


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