Trump, Biden debate source of billions in aid to farmers

President Trump took credit for billions of dollars in trade war payments to U.S. farmers during the final presidential debate on Thursday. "I just gave $28 billion to our farmers," said Trump. "Taxpayers' money," interjected Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the only reference to agriculture, lasting less than a minute, in the two debates between the candidates.

Public health experts warn of possible Covid-19 resurgence at food plants this fall

Public health experts are concerned about a possible resurgence of Covid-19 in food production plants this fall, Leah Douglas reports in FERN’s latest story. They say more comprehensive testing, physical distancing, and better data reporting are essential to keeping the virus in check, even as …

Lawsuit says Trump administration tries to cut farm wages

Agricultural guestworkers will see sharply lower wages because of the USDA's decision to cancel a semiannual survey that is used to calculate their pay, said a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal district court in Fresno, California. The suit asks the court to order the USDA to carry out the October survey so that the Labor Department can use the results to set minimum wages for the country's 250,000 or more H-2A guestworkers.

Nitrate-tainted drinking water plagues California farmworker towns, study shows

California officials have long known that pollution from the state’s $50 billion farming industry fouls drinking water sources in poor Latino communities where many toil as farmworkers. Now a review of state and federal data shows the problem is getting worse. More than 5 million people in California’s largely Latino communities have nitrate levels in their drinking water at or above federal standards, says an analysis by the Environmental Working Group released Wednesday. (No paywall)

Farmworkers on the front lines of coronavirus and wildfires

Few farmworkers in Oregon report getting tested for the coronavirus despite knowing infected people or being directly exposed to Covid-19, according to a survey of 200 workers across the state. And unprecedented wildfires are only make things worse.

Picking grapes during California wildfires

As California suffers through its worst wildfire season in modern history, agricultural workers are still going to work, risking heat, smoke, and Covid-19 to pick grapes and harvest strawberries, according to FERN's latest story, broadcast on KQED's WorldAffairs show. Teresa Cotsirilos reports that activists in Northern California worry that 2020’s historic combination of disasters is also fueling labor abuses.

Feds investigating after H-2A worker died of Covid-19 complications at a Texas potato plant

Marco Antonio Galvan Gomez, a 48-year-old husband and father from Guanajuato, Mexico, had worked eight years on a seasonal visa at Larsen Farms, one of the biggest potato producers in the nation, when he died of complications related to Covid-19 on July 20. He had spent the previous 12 days struggling to keep working despite suffering from fever, aches and shortness of breath; Larsen officials denied his request to return home to Mexico, and Galvan got no medical treatment from local health officials, according to FERN's latest story, published with Texas Observer. (No paywall)

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.

Democratic platform redirects farm subsidies, boosts SNAP

Farm subsidies would be reformed "to better support small- and mid-sized farms" if Joe Biden is elected president, says the draft platform written ahead of next month's Democratic National Convention. "Democrats will increase funding for food assistance programs, including SNAP, WIC, and school meals."