Ag Today

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Ag Today February 12, 2021

Local ag looks to spotlight its climate-friendly profile [Bakersfield Californian] The Kern County Farm Bureau issued a "call to action" this week asking local growers and ranchers to participate in a series of upcoming meetings that will influence the role California's agricultural lands will be expected to play, or continue to play, in fighting climate change. Besides asking members to speak up at a series of online meetings the state is hosting this month, the bureau is collecting data it hopes will illustrate local ag producers' "climate-conscious nature" with an eye toward ensuring private industry will continue managing its property "on...

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Ag Today February 11, 2021

Coachella institutes ‘hero pay’ for farmworkers: ‘Part of the cultural ethos’ [Los Angeles Times] The city of Coachella late Wednesday passed a mandate for hazard pay for some retail and food workers, including those at grocery stores, restaurants and farms. … Juan Manuel Moran, a United Farm Workers internal organizing coordinator, said farms were already struggling with higher worker pay and may not be able to operate with further wage hikes. Some farms, for example, have been steadily lowering the availability of overtime hours, he said. Hero pay sounds good in theory, he added, but in practice it’s possible that “the worker...

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Ag Today February 10, 2021

City of Coachella considers adopting controversial 'hero pay' for essential workers, including farmworkers [Palm Springs Desert Sun] Even as several California cities face pushback for requiring businesses to provide so-called "hero pay" to grocery employees and other essential workers, Coachella is considering following suit and even extending the controversial hazard benefits to farmworkers. A proposed city ordinance would require certain agricultural operations — as well as grocery stores, retail pharmacy stores and restaurants — to provide a premium pay of an additional $4 per hour to their employees in Coachella for at least 120 days. … The city council will consider the ordinance Wednesday. If approved,...

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Ag Today February 9, 2021

World Ag Expo makes online debut Tuesday. Farm show 'greatly missed' by local business, nonprofits [Visalia Times Delta] This year's World Ag Expo will look unlike any other in the event's 54-year history, as California's premiere agribusiness show prepares to launch online Tuesday. … Local ag leaders said the online show provides an "exciting new avenue" for growth, though "growers are disappointed that the show is not in person," according to Tricia Stever-Blattler, Tulare County Farm Bureau executive director. … No physical farm show also means many local schools and non-profits will lose out on the year's biggest fundraiser. https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2021/02/08/world-ag-expo-makes-online-debut-tuesday-tulare/4439215001/   Meatpackers want workers to get Covid-19...

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Ag Today February 8, 2021

Newsom promised to end California’s water wars. Now that Trump is gone, can he do it? [Sacramento Bee] … The governor appears to have so far fallen into the same fate as governors before him with grand ambitions over California’s most precious resource. The modern version of California’s water war is now a quarter-century old, with no clear end in sight. His top environmental advisors say negotiations continue on the grand bargain, which was first envisioned by Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, at the tail end of his governorship. But they acknowledge that talks have stalled over the past year, largely because...

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Ag Today February 5, 2021

Biden administration postpones lifting penalties for accidental killing of migratory birds [Wall Street Journal] The Biden administration said Thursday it will postpone implementing a measure approved in the final days of the Trump administration that would have removed criminal penalties for killing migratory birds, calling the decision misguided. The measure lifting penalties was set to take effect this coming Monday. … In seeking to end the criminal penalties, the Trump administration was responding to business groups, farmers and others who said criminal penalties were too harsh for accidental deaths. https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-administration-postpones-lifting-penalties-for-accidental-killing-of-migratory-birds-11612472046?mod=searchresults_pos1&page=1   The impact of COVID-19 on Kern County agriculture [KGET TV, Bakersfield] Studio 17’s Vanessa Dillon spoke...

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Ag Today February 4, 2021

First mass vaccinations for Santa Cruz County ag workers begin [KSBW TV, Monterey/Salinas] … On Wednesday, mass vaccinations for 1,000 agriculture workers began in Santa Cruz County. … This clinic is a partnership between Dignity Health Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau and the California Strawberry Commission. … Thomas Am Rhein is a Pajaro Valley Strawberry Grower and is the Chairperson of the Farm Bureau Covid Task Force. "We need ambassadors amongst the workers. They can speak positively to the incoming workers to encourage them to get the vaccine." https://www.ksbw.com/article/first-mass-vaccinations-for-santa-cruz-county-ag-workers-begins/35412268   Despite recent storms, California's dismal snowpack raises worry of dry year ahead...

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Ag Today February 3, 2021

USDA nominee Vilsack casts farmers as leaders in climate fight [Wall Street Journal] President Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture said farmers and cattle ranchers are potential leaders in the new administration’s battle against climate change. Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor who led the USDA for eight years during the Obama administration, said Tuesday that government-funded incentives could get farmers and agricultural companies to adopt climate-friendly practices without the need for additional regulation, and could make U.S. food more attractive on export markets. … The Senate committee voted Tuesday to advance Mr. Vilsack’s nomination to the full...

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February 2, 2021

‘Major, major problem.’ California isn’t fully tracking workplace COVID infections, deaths [Sacramento Bee] A year after the first COVID-19 case hit California, the state agency in charge of policing warehouses, offices, factories and other workplaces is woefully understaffed and significantly undercounting the number of employees who have fallen seriously ill or died as a result of the coronavirus. … Farm labor leaders said they’ve been disappointed in Cal/OSHA’s response to the pandemic. … [T]he agency was hit with two lawsuits — one by the California Farm Bureau Federation and other farm groups, the other by a collection of business groups such as...

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Ag Today February 1, 2021

Prioritizing farm worker vaccines a food security matter, state senator says [KTVU TV, Oakland/San Francisco] … California's farm workers, a million essential workers, are the working poor, who labor side by side and live in close quarters. It's the perfect petrie dish for the unbounded spread of all strains of COVID. … State Senator Melissa Hurtado, a daughter of agricultural workers, sees this as a matter of national food and economic security. … Senator and lawyer Anna Caballero has fought for farm workers her entire life and says they are put in an even lower priority tier than other essential workers. Equity demands...

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