Groups across the United States will receive a total of $1.1 billion to plant and maintain trees in cities and towns to combat extreme heat and mitigate climate change, announced the Biden administration on Thursday. “We’ve never had the opportunity to provide resources at this level,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
In the last few weeks, academics and labor advocates have released a flurry of studies and surveys with the same urgent finding: Climate disasters are wreaking havoc on the health, safety, and economic stability of farmworkers, and well-funded government programs are the best way to provide workers with relief. (No paywall)
More children would be eligible for free school meals and the WIC program would cover children up to age 6 under legislation approved on a party-line vote by the House Education and Labor Committee on Wednesday. While the bill’s Democratic sponsors claimed it will reduce child hunger, Republican Rep. Lisa McClain said it “is chock-full of new spending” when austerity is needed to dampen high inflation.
In much of the country, as climate change drives increasingly brutal heat waves, farmworkers lack protection. How they fare will largely depend on whether their employers voluntarily decide to provide the access to water, shade, and rest breaks that are critical when working in extreme heat. (No paywall)
The world wheat crop is trending downward, due to a brutal heat wave in India and dry weather in Spain and France, said the Agriculture Department in its monthly WASDE report. Although Russia is expected to sharply increase its exports, more than 12 million tonnes of wheat would be liquidated from global stockpiles over the next year in the face of unrelenting demand for food.
California’s San Joaquin Valley is getting drier, hotter and more polluted as climate change intensifies, and its communities will need to embrace more equitable agricultural strategies in order to survive, according to local experts and political leaders.(No paywall)
As California enters its third year of drought, pressure is mounting for lawmakers to update the state’s antiquated water laws. On Thursday, a coalition of legal experts and retired state officials released a report with a list of suggested reforms, which they say would make California’s water politics more equitable and sustainable as climate change gets worse. If implemented — a major if — many of the reforms would provide a check on the state’s massive agricultural industry, which sucks up some 80 percent of all the water used in California.
Following what the White House called "a dangerously hot summer," Labor Secretary Marty Walsh announced on Monday the first step toward a federal standard to protect workers from exposure to excessive heat on the job. The work on a heat safety rule would be part of a government-wide initiative to lessen the impact of hotter weather, a feature of climate change.
In the wake of a heat wave blamed for the death of a farmworker, Oregon adopted an emergency rule on Thursday that guarantees workers rest breaks in the shade and plenty of cool water to drink during hot weather. Farmworker advocates called for the passage of federal protections against heat stress on the job.
Officially, about five farmworkers die every year from heat-related illness, though that number is likely an undercount. But whatever the true death toll, it’s expected to rise sharply in coming years. According to a study led by climate scientist Michelle Tigchelaar, the number of unsafe days in crop-growing U.S. counties will jump from today’s 21 per season to 39 days per season by 2050. The near doubling of unsafe days implies a near doubling in deaths. (No paywall)