Ag Today September 18, 2020

Trump announces a new round of farm aid in battleground Wisconsin [Wall Street Journal]

President Trump unveiled $13 billion in new aid to farmers facing economic harm from the coronavirus pandemic as he aimed to boost support among rural voters at a campaign rally. … The newly announced aid would be the second tranche of money issued as part of the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. … This time, the USDA said up to an additional $14 billion would be available to farmers and ranchers facing continuing market disruptions and costs from the pandemic, including producers of row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and other commodities.


Gavin Newsom signs laws requiring companies to report COVID-19 infections, provide workers’ comp [Sacramento Bee]

California will require employers to let their employees know if they had any potential exposure to COVID-19 at their workplaces under a new law Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Thursday. It was one of two new laws Newsom signed to improve coronavirus protections for workers. The second is meant to ensure that more Californians are eligible automatically for workers’ compensation if they become infected with COVID-19. Labor advocates have pushed for the bills for months, encouraging the state to do more to protect frontline workers and those considered “essential” in coronavirus pandemic, such as farmworkers and grocery employees.


Strawberry-producing Santa Barbara County announces new COVID-19 protections for temporary ag workers [Cal Matters]

Starting this week, Santa Barbara County has adopted new rules aimed at preventing explosive COVID-19 outbreaks among farmworkers brought on a special visa from other countries to harvest produce in the U.S. … The public health order, which was announced last Friday and went into effect Monday evening, requires agricultural guest workers to be screened daily for coronavirus symptoms and isolated immediately if they exhibit symptoms, and that the housing operator notify the county as soon as a positive case is detected — or face a $1,000 penalty.


Wine industry faces wildfire smoke taint uncertainty [KCRA TV, Sacramento]

The wine industry is dealing with the risk of smoke taint due to wildfires in August and September during the brunt of harvest, the latest challenge in an already difficult year. “In 2017 and 2018, it was later in the season. There were less grapes still on the vine,” Anita Oberholster, with UC Davis Viticulture and Enology, said. “This year it came pretty early on. So, the impact will be more severe, it will be more widespread. But obviously it’s almost impossible to predict.” … Winemakers like Sullivan are essentially conducting micro samples to determine whether to bring the whole lot.


Drone video shows rice harvest beginning. How is wildfire smoke affecting the crop? [Sacramento Bee]

The rice harvest in Sacramento Valley, where most of the California crop is produced, has begun for 2020. Much of the rice was planted earlier than normal this year because of a dry spring, allowing for earlier field preparation, according to the USA Rice Federation. However, smoke from the massive wildfires seems to be slowing crop maturity as harvest approaches. Bruce Linquist, a plant species specialist at UC Davis told USA Rice that smoke, and therefore lower temperatures, are delaying grain drying and harvest.


Editorial: Trump, Harris pose different solutions to California’s wildfire problem. They’re both right [Fresno Bee]

… Dried-out trees and forests badly overgrown. A warming climate causing droughts, leaving vegetation starved for moisture and susceptible to fire. Which is right? Actually, both are. National forests, as the president noted, are in desperate need of clearing. … But Harris was correct to point out that wildfires are exacerbated by climate change — and that it will only get worse if ignored. … Bottom line: Americans badly need their elected leaders to ramp up both forest clearing and getting real about climate change.


Ag Today is distributed by the CFBF Marketing/Communications Division to county Farm Bureaus, CFBF directors and CFBF staff, for information purposes only; stories may not be republished without permission. Some story links may require site registration. Opinions expressed in stories, commentaries or editorials included in Ag Today do not necessarily represent the views of CFBF. To be removed from this mailing list, reply to this message and please provide your name and email address. For more information about Ag Today, contact 916-561-5550 or