Today’s quick hits, Jan. 7, 2021

Omicron goes rural: The explosion of Covid-19 infections due to the omicron variant is moving into rural areas, where the number of new infections rose 72 percent last week. (Daily Yonder)

Pipeline lawyer: Jess Vilsack, son of the U.S. agriculture secretary, is general counsel for a proposed pipeline that would capture carbon dioxide emitted by midwestern ethanol distilleries and carry it to North Dakota for injection into the ground. (Mother Jones)

Mechanized grape picking: Equipment including robotic pickers to pluck bunches of grapes from the vine and autonomous carts to haul the freshly harvested fruit are being tested as part of an overall drive to automate vineyard operations. (California Table Grape Commission)

Environmental justice departure: Cecilia Martinez, who helped develop President Biden’s environmental agenda while he was running for office, will step down Friday as the top White House official on environmental justice. (Associated Press)

State fair manager: Rebecca Clark, who was the spokeswoman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, is the new manager of the Illinois State Fair, announced state agriculture director Jerry Costello. (State of Illinois)