April 1, 2020
Farmers want Newsom to act against animal rights ‘terrorism’
Farm and dairy groups are asking Gov. Newsom to address what they describe as a threat of “domestic terrorism” to disrupt the food supply through the use of biological agents.
In a letter to the administration, the California Farm Bureau and the Milk Producers Council of California fear that an animal rights group known as Direct Action Everywhere is planning to defy state and local home isolation orders to take animals from farms.
The ag groups say this would weaponize the threat of COVID-19 by potentially exposing a sector of workers considered as essential employees to the virus. The letter also alleges the activists are blaming the ag industry for the spread of the coronavirus.
Stealing livestock would also neglect biosafety measures for protecting the animals, they argue. A recent FBI assessment found that animal rights extremists are likely increasing the spread of virulent Newcastle disease.
The executives of the two ag groups encourage Newsom “to send a strong message that any attempts to harm the food supply chain in the middle of this crisis will be equally treated as an act of terrorism.”
Newsom’s plan to counter Trump’s biological opinions just got a permit
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife yesterday cleared an environmental review for the new long-term operations of the State Water Project. CDFW issued to the Department of Water Resources a permit covering the protection of the four endangered fish species at the center of the debate over flows in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Keep in mind: Among the many environmental commitments, the plan promises to dedicate more flows to support fish habitats during drier years, which 2020 is shaping up to be.
Surge in fresh produce demand
Fresh produce sales at groceries were up 34% in mid-March, according to an analysis by RaboResearch. Fruits had a 27% increase, while vegetables were up 41%.
“COVID-19 control measures have become even more stringent since then, and we expect that the surge in produce sales has continued,” the researchers note.
They also predict a surge in online sales and grocery delivery will lead to retailers investing more heavily in online marketing channels.
They caution, however, that landmines like logistics and potential labor shortages remain. And the value of the U.S. dollar is rapidly strengthening, as “money is flocking to the safe-haven currency.” Along with tariffs, this could hinder export demand.
State rejects Fresno fairgrounds for field hospital
A day after Fresno County proposed housing a coronavirus hospital on its fairgrounds, the governor’s Office of Emergency Services said the buildings were not up to code, according to the Fresno Bee.
The office is still finalizing decisions on emergency field hospitals and will continue to send needed emergency supplies to the county.
AND IN NATIONAL NEWS…
Ready for you: Forgivable loans to cover payroll
Help is on the way to small businesses across the country, including farms and other ag employers. The Small Business Administration has released rules for a landmark $349-billion forgivable loan program funded by the $2-trillion economic stimulus bill.
SBA will forgive the portion of the loan that is used for payroll costs and loan payments won’t start for six months. The interest rate is otherwise 0.5%.
The sample application requires applicants to stipulate that "current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant.”
Bottom line: “If you’re in business, you’re eligible,” Paul Neiffer, an ag accounting specialist with CliftonLarsonAllen, tells Agri-Pulse.
United Fresh taking trade show online
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Fresh Produce Association is moving online its annual trade show that was scheduled for June in San Diego. United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel says the Washington policy conference will still go ahead as scheduled in September but that the group may do more online meetings in the future.
United Fresh believes the online format will make the speakers and presentations available to a much broader audience.
Farmers ready for carbon markets
The latest Agri-Pulse poll of the nation’s farmers and ranchers shows there is significant support for carbon markets as a way to address climate change. About 46% of farmers say they’re interested in getting paid to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that interest is significantly higher among younger producers.
We also asked farmers what they’ve done to become more sustainable and whether they think climate change has affected their operations and how it may change their practices. Read the results in this week’s Agri-Pulse newsletter and at Agri-Pulse.com.
Age makes a difference: Some 54% of farmers under the age of 45 said they would take part in carbon markets, compared to 38% of those over 65 and 50% of those between ages 55 and 64.
Trump wants $2T in infrastructure
Planning for the next stimulus bill has taken a new turn with President Trump’s tweet on Tuesday that he wants to fund $2 trillion in infrastructure. “With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD,” the tweet said.
That puts him more or less on the same page as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has already said she wants Phase 4 to include infrastructure.
Deere weighs making face shields
A major ag equipment manufacturer is looking into how they can do more to help medical staff and others combat the COVID-19 outbreak. In an email to Agri-Pulse, John Deere and Co. said it is “exploring opportunities to produce face shields” while continuing to support local hospitals and first responders by donating personal protective equipment.
This comes as major automakers have partnered to make ventilators to help fight the outbreak.
Bayer settling Roundup lawsuit over labeling
Bayer will pay more than $39 million and alter its labeling of some Roundup products to settle a class-action consumer fraud lawsuit.
The company agreed to remove from its labeling on consumer grass and weedkiller products the statement that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, “targets an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets,” in favor of one “akin to ‘Glyphosate works by targeting an enzyme that is essential for plant growth,’” according to the settlement.
The plaintiffs alleged the labeling was false and deceptive because the enzyme at issue is found in people and pets. “This enzyme, in beneficial bacteria, is critical to the health and wellbeing of humans and other mammals, including their immune system, digestion, allergies, metabolism, and brain function,” said the original complaint in Missouri federal court.
The labeling settlement comes as Bayer works to resolve more than 13,000 lawsuits blaming exposure to glyphosate for cancer in users. The company denies glyphosate causes cancer.
She said it:
“On this Cesar Chavez Day, we honor the legacy of Mr. Chavez for his tireless work on behalf of farmworkers, and we reiterate our profound appreciation for the essential role of farmworkers.” – CDFA Sec. Karen Ross in a blog post yesterday
Bill Tomson, Ben Nuelle and Steve Davies contributed to this report.
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