Ag Today September 4, 2020

Hazardous air quality threatens California farmworkers after devastating wildfires [CBS News]

After wildfires blazed through California’s northern and central regions, parts of the state have been blanketed by ash-filled air and smoke. That’s putting the nation’s farmworkers, who are already battling triple-digit temperatures and the coronavirus, at risk, multiple farmworkers told CBS News. … Norm Groot, the executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau, said employers quickly tried to secure masks for their employees when the fires broke out. The state allocated 175,000 N-95 masks to be distributed to all agriculture employees and their farmworkers, and should have reached everyone, Groot said.


Message is clear at vigil to honor Foster Farms workers who died from COVID-19 [Fresno Bee]

In front of grieving and frustrated community members at the Max Foster Sports Complex, Naindeep Singh echoed a familiar sentiment heard Thursday night about the treatment of workers at the nearby Foster Farms facility. “They call us essential, but treat us as expendable,” said Singh, the Executive Director of Jakara Movement, a statewide community and youth organization. … Many of the roughly 50 people attending on Thursday night complained about the working conditions. They talked about the lack of N95 masks, close working quarter and the risk of being exposed to the virus.


Farmers’ outlook improves amid pandemic woes [Marketplace]

… “The last several months have been super tense,” said Dale Moore, executive vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Now, farmers are a little more positive. “[That] doesn’t mean they’re jumping up and down and shooting off fireworks, but I can see some sunshine on this.” Ray of sunshine No. 1 is trade, according to Michael Langemeier, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue. …Ray of sunshine No. 2: prices. “Farmers are paying attention to prices,” said Dan Sumner, professor of agricultural economics at University of California, Davis. “That’s the big deal going on here.”


Pistachio harvest could set new U.S. record [Bakersfield Californian]

Only time will tell but it’s looking like the pistachio harvest just now coming into full swing in Kern County will set a new record this year — without a substantial drop in prices. Despite less-than-ideal weather conditions during the all-important winter months, industry observers say U.S. production this year could top 1 billion pounds, possibly surpassing 2018’s record of 994 million pounds. That’s good news in Kern, the leading county in the leading state in the leading country for global pistachio production.


Opinion: Can Valley farms be sustainable water users? People worldwide depend on the answer [Fresno Bee]

… We are in danger of losing this farming paradise, however, and right when the world is trying to figure out how we’ll feed 10 billion people in 2050. We’ll need more farm land to be able to do that, but a new state regulation is threatening to fallow up to 1 million acres in the Valley. … Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen agrees farming needs to be sustainable. … He says we need an approach that addresses both sources of water together. … Whether you agree with fallowing a million acres or providing more surface water for farmers, the bottom line is that we have to make ag sustainable.


Opinion: New approach needed to protect health of California’s rivers [CalMatters]

… In the face of the changing climate, biodiversity loss and continuing conflict over water, California urgently needs to rethink how it manages water for the environment. … In our new report, we recommend moving away from minimum flow standards to the use of “functional flows” – the seasonal components of river flow that sustain the biological, chemical and physical processes upon which native freshwater species depend. … We recommend the allocation of an “ecosystem water budget” – a fixed volume of water for the environment, overseen by an independent trustee – to be flexibly managed for functional flows.