October 15, 2020
State budget cuts now permanent
Under the budget agreement Gov. Newsom signed in June, the state made drastic spending cuts to account for the $54 billion deficit. It gave Congress until today to act on a rescue package that would restore some of that funding. But a viable stimulus bill is still months away.
The state needed $14 billion to completely restore the funding, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The cuts include more than $6 billion for schools, nearly $3 billion for state worker salaries and nearly $1 billion for state universities. Counties needed $250 million to restore revenue losses.
Trump creates ‘water subcabinet’
Through an executive order this week, the president created a 'water subcabinet' focused on providing farmers with reliable water supplies and communities with safe drinking water. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will lead the group.
The subcabinet will focus on “actions to increase water storage, water supply reliability and drought resiliency.” This includes updating dam operations to add more capacity, streamlining permit reviews and developing voluntary conservation programs. The subcabinet will also deliver policy recommendations for modernizing storage and conveyance infrastructure and will “cut bureaucratic red tape,” according to Bernhardt.
Bill Northey, USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation, said this will make it “easier for farmers to be successful and to ensure they are the most innovative in the world.”
United Farm Workers sues over discontinued ag labor survey
The USDA decision to stop collecting farmworker wage information will significantly reduce the income of those workers, according to a United Farm Workers lawsuit that seeks to maintain the survey.
The department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said Sept. 30 it was discontinuing both the Agricultural Labor Survey and its quarterly Farm Labor Report, which contains wage information used to set the Adverse Effect Wage Rate for the H-2A program.
“USDA has determined the public can access other data sources for the data collected in the Agricultural Labor Survey,” NASS said in its Federal Register notice.
Plaintiffs for UFW and the UFW Foundation, however, said it did so without considering “the significant effects that the decision will have on farmworkers whose wages are based in part on the wages reported in the survey,” the group’s complaint says.
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On that note: Like Gov. Newsom, Trump owns vineyards. UFW argued Trump would “personally benefit from this policy change by paying less to workers at his Virginia vineyards.”
Mnuchin: ‘Difficult’ to get COVID-19 stimulus package before election
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are expected to meet again today to continue talks over a new coronavirus stimulus package, but it will be “difficult” to finish before the election, Mnuchin said Wednesday.
The Trump administration and House Democrats are still “far apart” on some issues like liability protection, Mnuchin said Wednesday after an hour-long meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
“One major area of disagreement continues to be that the White House lacks an understanding of the need for a national strategic testing plan,” said Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, in a tweet.
Advocates fear hunger needs could worsen as winter approaches
As winter moves in over the next few months, food advocates fear hunger needs during the COVID-19 pandemic could only worsen and urge swift passage of a relief bill in Congress.
Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research and Action Center, says the pain for people experiencing hunger right now is real.
“The government has a role to play ... by boosting the benefits" of programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Guardia said during a Bipartisan Policy Center webinar Wednesday. "We need to do something about this before it gets worse."
A Feeding America analysis suggests some 54 million people could go hungry this year alone, which is up from its estimate of 37 million before the pandemic started.
By the way: A newly released study funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), suggests the success of emergency local food programs depends on cross-sector collaboration, supply chain adaptability and fixing gaps in service to increased risk populations.
Correction: Yesterday, Daybreak reported the Department of Pesticide Regulation has reduced the number of days it monitors for 1,3-D. The department has actually reduced the number of air monitoring sites in its network but maintained weekly monitoring at key sites. We regret the error.
He said it:
“In honor of the landmark movement pioneered by César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, Larry Itliong and other activists who fought tirelessly for the rights of workers and their families, we continue our efforts…to further support our farmers and farmworkers.” — Newsom, in declaring October as Farmer and Farmworker Month.
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