Survey finds high risks faced by California farmworkers in pandemic

Farmworkers in California face increased vulnerability to the coronavirus, due to working conditions and lack of access to healthcare, according to a survey released Tuesday by farmworker advocates. In Monterey, one of the top farm counties in the state, the survey found that farmworkers were three times as likely to become infected by the coronavirus than people employed in the county’s non-agricultural industries.

As Covid-19 cases spike, an unprecedented alliance races to protect California farmworkers

An outbreak of the novel coronavirus among farmworkers in California's Salinas Valley spawned a coalition of former adversaries that is racing to safeguard both the workers and the farms where they work, as Liza Gross reports in FERN's latest story, published with Univision.(No paywall)

Farmworkers win rate hike from Driscoll’s supplier after walkout, petition

Farmworkers at a supplier for Driscoll’s, the largest berry distributor in the world, won a raise earlier this month — as well as some Covid-19 safety measures — following a series of actions demanding better pay and working conditions.(No paywall)

Farmworkers at Driscoll’s supplier demand fair pay, safe conditions amid pandemic

In a rare organized action, more than 100 nonunion workers joined a work stoppage at Rancho Laguna Farms, a California grower that supplies Driscoll’s, the largest berry producer in the world. The workers were protesting a demand that they pick only the best fruit for the same pay, even though quality was spotty, making it hard to earn more than minimum wage at their piece-work rate of $1.90 a box.(No paywall)

Covid-19 drives emergency steps for school food in two states

The USDA approved requests from California and Washington State to provide free meals to low-income students when schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The waivers, good through June 30, were the first by USDA to help schools deal with the disease in part by allowing them to stop serving meals in group settings, such as a cafeteria.

Fewer dairy farms as milk production rises

U.S. milk production is projected to top 220 billion pounds this year as a long-running structural shift puts production in the hands of fewer, but larger, dairies. At the same time, the USDA said there were 34,187 dairy herds licensed to sell milk in 2019, a drop of 9 percent from the previous year.

Trump orders more San Joaquin Valley water into farms, California cities

During a visit Wednesday to California's Central Valley, President Trump announced the completion of a regulatory review that will send more water from the San Joaquin Valley to farms and cities in the southern half of California. Environmentalists say the new allocation of water poses a risk to endangered fish and other native species.

Wildfires strike California’s wine country

The rapidly moving Kincade fire destroyed the historic Soda Rock winery near Healdsburg in Northern California and "had Sonoma County wine country under siege," the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. "Structures in the famed wine country were burning, including some owned by wineries in the Alexander Valley." Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency as fires burned thousands of acres throughout the state.

California sets Feb. 6 deadline to end sale of chlorpyrifos

An agreement between pesticide manufacturers and the California EPA will cut off sales of the insecticide chlorpyrifos on Feb. 6 and ban virtually all use of the chemical in the state after next Dec. 31. It offers a much speedier schedule for withdrawing the chemical from the market in the No. 1 agricultural state than initially expected.

Meat industry challenges California animal-welfare referendum

Eleven months after Californians approved "cage-free" Proposition 12 in a landslide vote, the meat industry asked a federal court in Los Angeles to overturn the referendum that guarantees farm animals more space to move about. The trade group North American Meat Institute says the referendum violates the Constitution, which puts the federal government in charge of interstate commerce.