Vilsack recuperating from Covid-19; ‘thankfully, my symptoms are mild’
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “will continue his official duties” while isolating and recovering from Covid-19, said the Agriculture Department on Saturday. Vilsak is the latest among Washington officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Attorney General Merrick Garland, to test …
Labor Department says potato grower systematically violated workers’ rights—again
Blaine Larsen Inc.—one of the largest potato growers in the country—must pay hundreds of farmworkers more than $1.3 million in back wages, after a Department of Labor investigation found it had systematically underpaid employees. It is at least the third time the DOL has investigated the company for labor violations in as many years.
New study adds to mounting evidence that farmworkers suffer higher rates of Covid-19
The rate of Covid-19 infection among farmworkers in California’s Salinas Valley was four times higher than in the rest of the local population, according to a new study published by JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. Based on a survey of more than a thousand workers done between July and November 2020, the study described a strong correlation between high rates of infection and the conditions that farmworkers face in their day-to-day lives, including overcrowded housing and a lack of workplace benefits like paid medical leave.(No paywall)
Vilsack sets $700-million program to help farm and meatpacking workers
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new $700 million grant program to provide direct financial relief to U.S. farm and meatpacking workers hit hard by Covid-19. But it was unclear whether undocumented immigrants, who make up roughly half of all farmworkers and nearly a quarter of meatpacking workers, would be eligible.
Rural Covid rate exceeds rural share of U.S. population
Rural communities are bearing the brunt of new Covid-19 cases nationwide with the pandemic in its seventh month, said a report from the Center for American Progress on Wednesday. "Since the beginning of August, the rural share of new cases has exceeded the rural share of the U.S. population."
At poultry plants allowed to run faster processing lines, a greater risk of Covid-19
Forty percent of the poultry plants participating in the USDA's controversial line speed waiver program have had Covid-19 outbreaks, according to an analysis of FERN’s outbreaks database. Labor advocates have warned that faster speeds on crowded processing lines could expose slaughterhouse workers to a greater risk of Covid-19, and even the top federal workplace authority has suggested that meatpackers reduce line speeds to curb the spread of the virus.(No paywall)
Covid-19 rages on among food system workers
While the nation starts to reopen unevenly, a new analysis of data collected by FERN since mid-April shows that the virus is spreading steadily among meatpacking, food processing, and farmworkers, and many states are experiencing multiple outbreaks in food and farm sectors. (No paywall)