Labor Department starts work on heat safety rule
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.
New study adds to mounting evidence that farm workers suffer higher rates of Covid-19
The rate of Covid-19 infection among farmworkers in California’s Salinas Valley was four times higher than in the rest of the local population, according to a new study published by JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. Based on a survey of more than a thousand workers done between July and November 2020, the study described a strong correlation between high rates of infection and the conditions that farmworkers face in their day-to-day lives, including overcrowded housing and a lack of workplace benefits like paid medical leave.
Ag purchases are a test of Chinese credibility, says Vilsack
Speaking to a farm conference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said China’s adherence to its commitment to buy mammoth quantities of U.S. farm exports will be a test of the Asian nation’s place in global relations. While China has buoyed commodity prices with its purchases, it is not on track to meet the goal of importing $43.6 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural, and seafood products by the end of December.
Ag leaders seek Chesapeake Bay cleanup funds
The presidents of six state farm bureaus asked the USDA to share the cost with farmers of reducing sediment and nutrient runoff into Chesapeake Bay. “We are now at a critical stage in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup,” with a 2025 deadline for reducing pollution, said the farm leaders in a letter.
Today’s Quick Hits
Grant money for fairs: The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act, which would create a $500-million-a-year USDA grant program to support local, county, and state fairs that lost attendance due to the pandemic. (House Agriculture)
WOTUS exemptions for ag: EPA administrator Michael Regan told state agriculture directors that the new definition of the upstream reach of the clean water law will preserve exemptions for farming and ranching. (DTN/Progressive Farmer)
Nutrition strategy lacking: Although some 21 agencies have 200 “efforts related to diet,” there is no cohesive federal strategy to improve the U.S. diet and prevent obesity and related chronic diseases, said the Government Accountability Office. (Rep. DeLauro)
Farm Belt ransom: BlackMatter, a computer hacking group, demanded $5.9 million to return data stolen from NEW Cooperative, a grain marketer with 60 locations across Iowa. (Brownfield)
OTA names Kovalcik: The Organic Trade Association has hired Reana Kovalcik to be its director of public affairs. She will succeed Maggie McNeil, who will retire as media relations director on Sept. 30. (Ag Insider)