AgToday April 3, 2020

Farmworkers ‘harvesting America’s food supply’ amid coronavirus pandemic fight for safety [NBC Latino]

California has ordered all residents to stay home because of the threat of COVID-19, but thousands of farmworkers like Mariana are still showing up at work — despite worries that their employers are not doing enough to protect or support them. … While Mariana’s employer told her and her colleagues to “keep distance between each other” in the fields and wash their hands, she said she would feel safer going to work if her bosses would openly address how the virus affects her daily tasks and what specific precautions agricultural workers should be taking to avoid infection.


Monterey ag commissioner wants more protection for farm workers [KSBW TV, Monterey/Salinas]

New concerns being raised surrounding how to better protect workers in Monterey County’s largest industry during the coronavirus pandemic. “Without the workers, there is no ag there is no food there is no business and here in Monterey county being the 4th largest ag producing county in the state and in the nation it’s crucial for us,” said Monterey county ag Commissioner Henry Gonzales. … Gonzales who admits to traveling around farms to see if the recommendations are being practiced is now recommending that ag companies who bus their employees to the fields consider doing multiple trips to limit the number of workers in their buses.


Opinion: COVID-19 in the Central Valley: Let’s not forget immigrant farm workers [Fresno Bee]

… Recently we reached out to farm worker families and communities to learn about how they are coping with the coronavirus crisis. Many people told us that they lack critical information about how to protect themselves, their families and their communities from the COVID-19 pandemic. … We urge employers and political leaders to do everything possible to ensure the well-being of immigrant farmworkers and their families.


Opinion: What happens if America’s 2.5 million farmworkers get sick? [New York Times]
… America’s 2.5 million farmworkers are among the groups most at risk of contracting the coronavirus. And if they are at risk, our food supply may be too. … The two most promising measures for protecting ourselves from the virus and preventing its spread — social distancing and self-isolation — are effectively impossible in farmworker communities. … Despite this dire picture, however, farmworkers and growers alike are stepping up to stave off the virus for as long as possible.


U.S. dairy farmers dump milk as pandemic upends food markets [Reuters]

… Despite strong demand for basic foods like dairy products amid the coronavirus pandemic, the milk supply chain has seen a host of disruptions that are preventing dairy farmers from getting their products to market. Mass closures of restaurants and schools have forced a sudden shift from those wholesale food-service markets to retail grocery stores, creating logistical and packaging nightmares for plants processing milk, butter and cheese. … The dairy industry’s woes signal broader problems in the global food supply chain, according to farmers, agricultural economists and food distributors.


Opinion: As coronavirus impacts the hospitality business, chefs cook up a plan to help farmers and restaurants, and it also will help feed the hungry [CalMatters]
… The disruption from the pandemic has sent shock waves through the economy, from farmers to our wait staff to people who go hungry every day. Our solution is the “Family Meals for four.” By using independent restaurants as micro-commissaries, we can create meals for the hungry, get cooks back in the kitchen, and support local farmers and purveyors we rely on. … Small farmers in California who supply restaurants are especially vulnerable. Our leading produce company has seen sales drop 65%. … We ask the state of California to help reopen restaurants in this way.