Today’s quick hits, Aug. 5, 2021

Meatpacker mask rule: Workers at meat processing plants are expected to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status, when USDA meat inspectors are present if the plant is in an area with “substantial” or “high” community transmission of the coronavirus. (Food Safety and Inspection Service)

Multimillion-acre dead zone: This year, the low-oxygen “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, which is created by nutrient runoff from farms and cities in the Mississippi River basin, is a larger-than-average 6,334 square miles, equal to 4 million acres. (NOAA)

California water woes: The state’s Water Resources Control Board voted to end, for the most part, the diversion of water for farm use from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers to preserve the drinking water supply during the ongoing drought. (Associated Press)

Bovine fire brigade: While goats are more often mentioned for their fire-prevention value, cattle, through rotational grazing, can be effective in checking the buildup of grass and brush on farmland that can fuel wildfires. (Modern Farmer)

Garsts sell farmland: Descendants of Roswell Garst, who showed Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev the productive capacity of modern agriculture at his Iowa farm in 1953, are selling 2,000 acres of their land on the condition that the buyers maintain cover crops and use no-till practices. (Storm Lake Times)