Stronger protections needed for farm workers as pandemic stretches into second year, argue researchers – May 14, 2021

Stronger protections needed for farm workers as pandemic stretches into second year, argue researchers

Farmworkers face serious occupational risks that the pandemic has only exacerbated, and better policies are needed to protect them from exposure to heat, chemicals, and Covid-19, say two new related reports on social and health conditions in the sector.

Hunger relief organizations say pandemic revealed systemic flaws

Safety constraints related to the coronavirus pandemic forced hunger relief organizations to eliminate key operations over the last year, including community meals and school-related programs, even as they struggled to meet increased demand for their services, according to a survey released yesterday by WhyHunger and Duke University.

‘Very dangerous fire year’ is likely, say Biden officials

The government will deploy 15,000 firefighters, 1,600 engines, and 625 aircraft against what is expected to be another dangerous year for wildfires, said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday.

USDA plans its single biggest seafood purchase

The USDA said Thursday it would buy $ 159.4 million worth of U.S.-produced seafood, nuts, fruits, and vegetables for its public nutrition programs, including donations to charity. The deal includes the agency’s single largest purchase of seafood ever.

Today’s Quick Hits

Senate confirms Bronaugh: On a voice vote, the Senate confirmed Jewel Bronaugh as deputy secretary of agriculture. She is the first Black to hold the post. (Senate Agriculture)
Pressure on Warnock: After narrowly winning election to the Senate, Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock is under pressure from the state’s Black farmers to deliver promised USDA assistance, including debt relief, which is being challenged in court by white farmers. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

High-performance food banks: Following a year of the pandemic, food banks “are settling into a new normal” of continued high demand for food that is being met through innovations, such as home delivery, that are likely to become permanent. (Food Bank News)

Manure rules challenged: Republicans in the Minnesota Senate are attempting to derail regulations intended to prevent water contamination by manure from the state’s largest feedlots. (MinnPost)

Stranded barges: The Coast Guard said 709 barges are stalled on the Mississippi River, a major waterway for agricultural exports, by the closure of the river beneath the crippled I-40 bridge at Memphis. (S&P Global)

America’s Farm Report