Today’s quick hits, April 27, 2018

Bayer-Monsanto nears approval (Reuters): According to a source familiar with the matter, Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto is likely to be approved by the Department of Justice by the end of May.

Algae blooms continue on Lake Erie (Detroit Free Press): Despite efforts by Ohio and Michigan to mitigate algae blooms in the western part of Lake Erie caused by fertilizer and other agricultural runoff, there has been no discernible decrease in algae.

A fast food union (Willamette Week): A group of workers at a Portland, Oregon, location of the Burgerville chain formed the first recognized fast food union in the nation this week.

Young farmers get Senate support (Heidi Heitkamp): Sen. Heitkamp was joined by Sen. Susan Collins on Thursday in introducing the Next Generation in Agriculture Act, which would build out farm bill programs that support beginning farmers and ranchers.

Fear drives undocumented immigrants from SNAP (Harvest Public Media): Undocumented immigrants are increasingly fearful of receiving SNAP benefits — even on behalf of their citizen children — because of the rising threat of deportation under the Trump administration.

Wildfires burn 320,000 acres in Plains (NCBA): The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and an Oklahoma ranchers’ group invited President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to survey losses from grassland fires in western Oklahoma.

Farmworkers face housing shortage (Mother Jones): A long-standing housing crisis in the Salinas Valley, where two-thirds of U.S. lettuce is grown, means that tens of thousands of farmworkers live in cramped and dangerous conditions.

The arid West moves east (Civil Eats): The 100th meridian, which runs north-south through the Great Plains, used to be the unofficial dividing line between the arid, wheat-growing West and the better-watered East, home to corn and soybeans. Now climate change has pushed the arid area eastward by 140 miles.

Spring reading list (Food Tank): The group, the “think tank for food,” lists 20 worthy new books on food and agriculture, with topics from bread and local food to foraging for fruit.

Salad more dangerous than meat (Vox): The CDC estimates that produce causes nearly half of all food-borne illnesses, compared with 20 percent by meat, because people are eating more fresh produce than in the past and it’s usually consumed raw.

Climate crisis in Nigeria (Daily Trust): Climate change could reduce Nigeria’s economic productivity by 11 percent within two years, say two studies.

Missouri allows more time for dicamba (Missouri Agriculture Department): Due to a late spring, growers in 10 counties in southeastern Missouri will be allowed to use the weedkiller dicamba until June 10, instead of the original cutoff date of June 1.

Senate confirms Barbic for USDA (U.S. Senate): On a voice vote, the Senate confirmed Ken Barbic, a produce industry official, as assistant agriculture secretary for congressional relations.