Ag Today April 17, 2020
Cut farmworker pay during the crisis? Don’t do it, California growers say [Salinas Californian/CalMatters]
The Trump administration is considering cutting the pay of guest visa farmworkers during the coronavirus pandemic to help the farm industry. But California growers aren’t thrilled: They say it won’t help them much with their financial crisis. And they worry that it might even hurt them by creating uncertainty for their essential employees, prompting them to look elsewhere for work once the pandemic ends. … Agricultural industry representatives and workers’ advocates alike say the move to cut worker pay won’t solve the food-supply-chain crisis. “To see wages...
Ag Today April 16, 2020
Deportation protection sought for farmworkers in next coronavirus relief bill [McClatchy News Service]
Hispanic members of Congress are asking for more protections for farmworkers during the coronavirus outbreak, including assurances that they won’t be deported, hazard pay and help with childcare. … Congress has passed limited help for farmers during the pandemic. Most of the economic assistance has been to farmers directed to farmers rather the laborers. … Costa said the request for hazard pay in the caucus letter was meant to make sure farmworkers aren’t excluded if Congress offers that incentive to other essential workers like nurses or postal workers.
Ag Today April 15, 2020
Trump administration faces pressure to buy food for the needy, avoid waste [Reuters]
The Trump administration is facing mounting pressure to buy more meat, dairy and produce for food banks as farmers destroy agricultural goods due to reduced restaurant demand during the coronavirus outbreak. … Increased food purchases by USDA can "help ensure that the production that no longer has a foodservice market can be made available to help our nation's food banks," said Representative Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. … Feeding America, which says it is the largest U.S. hunger-relief organization, and the American Farm Bureau Federation...
Ag Today April 14, 2020
Trump administration to unveil $15.5 billion first phase of coronavirus farm aid: sources [Reuters]
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend up to $15.5 billion in the initial phase of its plan to bolster the nation's food supply chain against the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, according to three sources familiar with the matter. The plan, which could be announced this week, marks the Trump administration's first big push to ensure the pandemic doesn't trigger consumer food shortages … "It's not enough to cover all of agriculture, but we see it as a first step," said Andrew Walmsley, director of Congressional...
Ag Today April 13, 2020
National security issue’: What Congress wants to give farmers for coronavirus downturn [McClatchy News Service]
Don’t let bought-out grocery shelves fool you — farmers are having a lot of trouble because of the novel coronavirus. … But farmers have been mostly left out of the economic stimulus packages President Donald Trump has signed so far. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, says farmers are going to be a priority in the next bill Congress passes. … The main thing farmers say they need right now is loans. Their prices have taken a hit but they don’t want to lay off employees...
Ag Today April 10, 2020
Trump says he is speeding help to farmers hurt by coronavirus dislocation [Reuters]
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he has directed his agriculture secretary to expedite help to farmers, especially small farmers, hurt by the economic disruption caused by the new coronavirus outbreak. … Trump did not specify what he expected Perdue to do, but farmers are waiting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to announce how it will disburse $9.5 billion Congress set aside for the industry in the coronavirus relief bill signed by Trump last month. … The American Farm Bureau Federation said last week that...
Ag Today April 9, 2020
More pay for California farm workers promised in Democrat’s coronavirus proposal [Sacramento Bee]
California farm workers could get an extra $3 an hour and additional sick time during the coronavirus outbreak under emergency legislation announced on Wednesday ... The proposal, Assembly Bill 2915, would expand paid sick leave from three days to two weeks and would authorize “supplemental hazard pay” so workers can cover increased health and child care costs during the COVID-19 outbreak, said Assemblyman Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, who wrote the bill. … “Clearly, farmers and ranchers are rightfully concerned with their ability to keep their employees safe and keep...
Ag Today April 8, 2020
Dairy, asparagus farms in San Joaquin County hit hard by coronavirus [KCRA TV, Sacramento]
… The first major crop to grow this season, asparagus, has already been stunted by the coronavirus. … Farms like Klein Family Farms are feeling the impact of the coronavirus too. The Stockton farm is the main asparagus grower in San Joaquin County. … Owner Jeff Klein decided to stop production before it even began. … The impact is not just being felt by seasonal harvests, but year-round production like dairy farms too. … Because of supply chain issues, Raudabaugh said some local dairies are dumping their milk....
Ag Today April 7, 2020
Coronavirus update: State agency provides guidance on protecting farmworkers [Palm Springs Desert Sun]
With California farmworkers continuing to harvest fruits and vegetables during the coronavirus pandemic, the state Department of Industrial Relations has issued guidelines to prevent COVID-19 infection among agricultural employers and employees. The guidelines, released Monday by the Division of Occupational Safety & Health, do not introduce any new legal obligations. … The guidelines say employers should implement procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the work site.
Farmworkers are caught between coronavirus fears and feeding the nation: “We are very worried” [BuzzFeed News]
As many in the US stayed at home...
Ag Today April 6, 2020
U.S. agriculture: Can it handle coronavirus, labor shortages and panic buying? [USA Today]
… U.S. agriculture is strong enough to handle it, with farmers still farming and no major shortages in sight, experts say. But because consumers recently have changed the way they buy and consume food, various snags in the food supply chain have led to disruptions … "There will be enough food produced on the farm," said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. But "there’s a lot of things that happen to the food before it gets to the consumer, whether it be in processing or transportation. If this thing was...