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Ag Today July 20, 2020

Trump rolls back landmark environmental law NEPA [The Hill] … On Wednesday, the White House finalized its rollback of the environmental law, which President Trump called the “single biggest obstacle” to major construction projects. During his announcement on Wednesday, President Trump cited the “mountains and mountains of red tape” that had been holding up infrastructure projects across the country. … His revision of the 50-year-old law is one of the most consequential deregulatory actions by the Trump administration to date. https://thehill.com/changing-america/sustainability/climate-change/507843-trump-rolls-back-landmark-environmental-law   UFW calls on state to investigate Wasco nut processor experiencing COVID-19 outbreak [Bakersfield Californian] United Farm Workers announced Friday it's calling on the...

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Ag Today July 17, 2020

Opinion: ‘COVID’s Hidden Toll’ and the threat of the virus to farm workers keeping our food supply going [Baltimore Sun] … “Frontline,” the premier PBS documentary and investigative series, movingly explores the lives of one group of workers facing that decision in the harshest terms: workers in the fields and meat processing plants of California, many of whom are undocumented immigrants. … With its combination of hard-edged investigative reporting and empathetic storytelling, “COVID’s Hidden Toll” is a video call to the nation’s social conscience to think and care about the people who are risking their lives to keep the food supply...

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Ag Today July 16, 2020

In Wine Country, coronavirus cases rise in cramped farmworker housing [San Francisco Chronicle] As Eppie Ordaz, a grape grower in Sonoma County, readies his vineyard for the late August harvest season, he is stocking masks and gloves for all employees, planning empty rows to allow workers to keep their distance and putting extra disinfectants and sanitation stations into place. … Coronavirus cases among farmworkers have been rising, with outbreaks tied to low-income, multifamily housing, rather than fields. The Bay Area's crushing costs mean farmworkers have few housing options that they can afford, and closer quarters make them more vulnerable to the...

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Ag Today July 15, 2020

COVID-19 outbreak, death among Santa Maria farm workers [KEYT TV, Santa Barbara] At least one person has died and 14 farm workers have tested positive in an outbreak of COVID-19 in Santa Maria. According to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, the outbreak is related to Alco Harvesting and it includes H-2A worker housing in the Santa Maria Valley. … A spokesperson for Alco Harvesting confirms a lettuce crew foreman who drove a bus as employee transportation has died. … Alco Harvesting says he was a U.S. citizen and not an H-2A worker. The company says since he lived out...

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Ag Today July 14, 2020

Only eight U.S. states have virus rules for farms as cases rise [Bloomberg] Only eight U.S. states have imposed mandatory protections specifically for farmworkers from coronavirus amid a series of agricultural outbreaks across the country and a national rise in new infections, according to a survey of state regulations by an advocacy group. … Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin are the only states to require produce growers and other farm operations to provide personal protective equipment to farmworkers and to require physical distancing, according to the advocacy group, which favors farmworker protections. … California has...

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Ag Today July 13, 2020

From flour to canned soup, coronavirus surge pressures food supplies [Wall Street Journal] Grocers are having trouble staying stocked with goods from flour to soups as climbing coronavirus case numbers and continued lockdowns pressure production and bolster customer demand. Manufacturers including General Mills Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and Conagra Brands Inc. say they are pumping out food as fast as they can, but can’t replenish inventories. Popular items such as flour, canned soup, pasta and rice remain in short supply. … There is enough food in the U.S. to keep people fed, executives say, but every product might not be available everywhere while inventories are strained. https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-surge-challenges-struggling-food-supply-chains-11594546200?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=2   Coronavirus...

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Ag Today July 10, 2020

State inspectors visit ag workplaces to help employers protect laborers from COVID-19 [Bakersfield Californian] A multiagency enforcement initiative announced last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom has dispatched Cal/OSHA inspectors across the state to help employers including local farming companies comply with COVID-19 health and safety precautions. …  The Kern County Farm Bureau gave its members notice Monday of the visits, noting Cal/OSHA views the disease as a workplace hazard that employers must address in a systematic way. … Bryan Little, director of employment policy for the California Farm Bureau Federation and chief operating officer of the Farm Employers Labor Service, said...

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Ag Today July 9, 2020

Clusters of COVID-19 cases arise among North Bay farmworkers, who remain vulnerable [Napa Valley Register] Significant clusters of coronavirus cases have in the last few weeks been reported among the North Bay’s farmworker community – and public health officials say those populations remain at risk. Napa County has partially attributed its recent uptick in COVID-19 cases to clusters among residents of congregate living facilities, including the county’s three farmworker housing centers. … Neighboring Solano County has attributed part of its own recent uptick in coronavirus cases to “a large outbreak among farmworkers in the vineyards in Sonoma and Napa who are residing in...

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Ag Today July 8, 2020

Judge questions Bayer’s Roundup settlement plan [Wall Street Journal] A federal judge cast doubt on Bayer AG ’s proposal to neatly resolve all future lawsuits over the safety of its Roundup weedkiller, potentially snagging the German company’s attempts to move past the massive liability....But with Roundup still being sold and no plans to change the label or active ingredients, settling the litigation isn’t as easy as paying those who have already sued. Bayer proposed a novel type of class action to capture all future claims, which would be guided by the conclusions of a court-approved panel of scientists chosen to study...

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Ag Today July 7, 2020

A look at COVID-19's devastating impact on California agricultural industry [KCRA TV, Sacramento] … During the shutdown between April and May alone, the agricultural industry lost $2 billion, according to a study commissioned by the California Farm Bureau. … The report focuses on the production side of the industry but points out that if losses to processors are factored in, it nearly doubles the overall economic impact. The California Employment Development Department shows unemployment in the agricultural industry at around 13% statewide. In some rural communities where agriculture is the main employer, that number is as high as 80%, according to...

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