Ag Today

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Ag Today August 14, 2020

Why you shouldn't be worried about getting the coronavirus from food [CNN] Health experts say there's no evidence the coronavirus can be transmitted through food. You might have seen reports this week that Chinese authorities said a surface sample from a batch of frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil tested positive for coronavirus. But don't panic. … Here's the bottom line: Doctors and health experts have repeatedly said the coronavirus is not likely to be transmitted by food. … "People should not fear food or food packaging or the processing or delivery of food," Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the...

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Ag Today August 13, 2020

COVID-19 is hammering the Central Valley. Can Newsom’s ‘strike team’ make a difference? [Sacramento Bee] … As the Valley’s surging infection rate has drawn national attention, Gov. Gavin Newsom is dispatching three of his coronavirus “strike teams” to the region to help local officials track COVID clusters, inspect workplaces, quarantine the sick and ramp up testing. Each team, consisting of about a dozen experts on health, housing, public outreach, agriculture and other fields, will try to contain an alarming spread through the region. … One infectious-disease expert says the additional boots on the ground will surely help - but ultimately it’s...

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Ag Today August 12, 2020

Pistachio growers qualify for federal recovery money on appeal [Bakersfield Californian] Persistence has paid off for growers of Kern County’s No. 3-grossing crop after the federal government reversed itself and ruled pistachio growers do qualify for financial compensation during the pandemic. … Other local crops were left off the USDA's list as well, including table grapes, Kern's top-grossing crop in 2018. … It turns out many crops have been added to the original list. A USDA website says more than 40 specialty crops were put on the list July 9 and almost 60 more were added Tuesday. Table grapes weren't on...

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Ag Today August 11, 2020

U.S. farmers leave fields fallow as COVID-19 wrecks crop prospects [Reuters] … Farmers routinely make changes to their acreage intentions as the calendar advances, substituting in different crops if the weather mucks up their original plans. But leaving the ground bare is new territory for U.S. farmers who typically plant fencerow to fencerow, trying to squeeze profit out of every available acre. … The coronavirus pandemic caused many farmers to give up on their corn crop before it was even in the ground. … Cotton plantings also were sharply lower, with farmers dropping seedings by 10.9% from their March intentions of...

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Ag Today August 8, 2020

Small farmers left behind in Trump administration's COVID-19 relief package [NBC News] … The preliminary data suggest that it has favored large, industrialized farms over smaller, diversified ones, provided loopholes for corporate farms and sent sizable payments to foreign-owned operations. … "We were getting voicemails and emails from farmers all around the country saying: 'What am I going to do? I'm going to lose everything if I don't get something,'" said Michael Nepveux, an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation. "Our role was saying, 'Don't forget about these guys, and don't forget about those guys,'" Nepveux said. https://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/small-farmers-left-behind-trump-administration-s-covid-19-relief-n1236158   'Everyone tested positive': Covid...

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Ag Today August 7, 2020

California's undocumented food workers face grim dilemma: health or wages [NBC News] … For thousands of vulnerable, predominantly Latino undocumented workers across this sprawling agricultural region, there is immense fear and reluctance to self-report possible COVID-19 infection — even with some doctors promising confidentiality. … The pressure to work is forcing some laborers to potentially ignore their exposure to COVID-19. … Dr. Harjeet Brar, the president of the Good Samaritan Hospital in Bakersfield, told NBC News that his medical staff are not asking patients about their immigration status. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-s-undocumented-food-workers-face-grim-dilemma-health-or-n1236038   After first being spared, rural California now being ravaged by the coronavirus [Los Angeles...

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Ag Today August 6, 2020

More farmers declare bankruptcy despite record levels of federal aid [Wall Street Journal] More U.S. farmers are filing for bankruptcy, as federal payments projected to reach record levels this year fall short of compensating for the coronavirus pandemic and a yearslong slump in the agricultural economy. … The pandemic has pressured prices for many commodities, squeezing farmers who raise crops and livestock, and prolonging a six-year downturn in the Farm Belt. … In California, agricultural businesses stand to lose as much as $8.6 billion, according to a study commissioned by the California Farm Bureau Federation. https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-farmers-declare-bankruptcy-despite-record-levels-of-federal-aid-11596706201?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1   New bill would require employers notify workers of COVID-19 infection within 24 hours...

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Ag Today August 5, 2020

U.S., Chinese officials to meet Aug. 15, assess trade deal [Wall Street Journal] ...The trade pact has emerged as one of the few remaining avenues for the two countries to engage on matters of mutual concern. Relations have deteriorated in recent months, with the Trump administration hammering Beijing over the coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong and the treatment of Uighurs in western China....The focus will be on the so-called phase-one deal, which includes China’s commitment to boost its U.S. imports by $200 billion over two years. So far, China has fallen well short of the pace needed to reach the target, even...

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Ag Today August 4, 2020

As Wine Country harvest approaches, farmworkers continue to pay high pandemic price [North Bay Business Journal] With the 2020 grape harvest approaching, growers and farmworker support groups face new evidence that agriculture workers are being hit hard by the coronavirus. … Trade groups Sonoma County Winegrowers and the Farm Bureau of Sonoma County provide COVID-19 prevention education, information and training opportunities through webinars, websites, printed materials and videos. … Kruse said a partnership between the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and Sonoma County Winegrowers has been convening Ag Stakeholder communications and outreach meetings and together are filming videos in Spanish of farmworkers...

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Ag Today August 3, 2020

For these workers, getting Covid means getting fired [Bloomberg] As coronavirus cases explode at U.S. farms and food factories, the foreign migrants who pick fruit, clean seafood and sort vegetables are getting trapped in tightly packed bunkhouses where illness spreads like wildfire. Often, they can’t leave — unless they’re willing to risk deportation. … Farm visas, known as H-2As, mandate that employers provide housing. Even in normal times, it’s not much of a perk: conditions are often cramped and facilities meager. Now, the bunkhouses are turning into petri dishes for disease. … Border-crossing figures from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol show...

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