Effort to Make Ag Workers a Top Vaccine Priority

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) on Dec. 2 urged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to include agricultural workers among the state’s top priorities for the COVID-19 vaccine allocation. The request was similar to one various national-level food industry organizations made to President Donald Trump in November. “We understand the state has begun preparations for the rollout of the initial … Read More

Managing COVID-19 Risks in the Citrus Industry

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19

By Joyjit Saha, Matthew Krug and Michelle D. Danyluk The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed so much. SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is primarily transmitted person-to-person, with no evidence it is transmitted by food or food packaging, including citrus and citrus products. Managing COVID-19 among workers is extremely important. COVID-19 impacts on the health of employees can have catastrophic … Read More

COVID-19 Impacts on Florida Citrus

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

citrus

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Florida’s citrus industry were recently summarized by Fritz Roka, director of the Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Center of Agribusiness. Roka discussed pandemic impacts on both the citrus production side of the industry and the packing and juice-processing segments. Here are some highlights of Roka’s presentation that apply to both the production and … Read More

Hesperidin to Be Tested Against COVID-19

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

orange juice

The National Institutes of Health’s National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) recently announced plans to evaluate the clinical efficacy of hesperidin against COVID-19. Orange juice and sweet oranges contain hesperidin. NCBI referred to hesperidin as “an old herbal medicine … used to treat vascular diseases in Europe and Australia and distributed with vitamin C as a dietary supplement in the … Read More

COVID-19 Emergency Standards for California

Len WilcoxCOVID-19, Regulation

The California Department of Industrial Relations adopted emergency temporary standards to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19. Pending approval by the Office of Administrative Law, the temporary standards will be in effect immediately. The emergency standards will undergo a lengthy review process before becoming permanent California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) standards. The temporary standards apply to … Read More

Program to Protect California Ag Workers Expands Again

Len WilcoxCOVID-19, Labor

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced that Yolo and Imperial counties are now included in the Housing for the Harvest program. This program provides temporary hotel housing for farm and food-processing employees to self-isolate if they have been exposed to COVID-19 and cannot properly self-isolate at home. Twelve counties are now participating in Housing for the Harvest: … Read More

More COVID-19 Tests for Florida Ag Workers

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Labor

town hall

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently announced updates to COVID-19 testing sites in Hendry, Miami-Dade, Collier and St. Lucie counties for farmworkers. The effort to provide access to no-cost testing for farmworkers is part of a partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Florida Division of Emergency Management and county governments.  Testing services will continue as … Read More

Proving COVID-19 Isn’t Foodborne

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Food Safety

When the COVID-19 pandemic became news in the United States early this year, some consumers and others wondered if it might be spread by food or food packaging. Food scientist Michelle Danyluk says there is no epidemiological evidence that COVID-19 is spread that way. “But epidemiological evidence isn’t the same as hard science data,” she adds. Consequently, she and other … Read More

COVID-19 Testing for Hendry County Farmworkers

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) announced COVID-19 testing sites in Hendry County for farmworkers as the fall harvest season begins. The announcement follows COVID-19 testing for farmworkers that was made available earlier this month in Miami Dade, Hillsborough and St. Lucie counties. Testing is made possible by a partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the Florida Division of Emergency Management and local county governments. … Read More

Keeping Farmworkers Safe From COVID-19

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Labor

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) experts are working with farmworkers to help keep them safe from COVID-19. The experts are connecting the farmworkers with COVID-19 free testing, safety information and training – a role they have been serving throughout the pandemic. Extension agents are partnering with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), … Read More

Housing for the Harvest Program Expands

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19, Labor

orange

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced that the counties of Sacramento and San Luis Obispo are participating in Housing for the Harvest. This program was announced by California Governor Gavin Newsom in July to provide temporary hotel housing options for farm and food-processing employees to self-isolate if they are COVID-19 positive and do not require hospitalization. Counties … Read More

More COVID-19 Protection Needed for Ag

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Labor

The nation’s essential agricultural industry has worked relentlessly through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure food is put on the tables of American families. Agricultural employers recognize that the health and safety of their employees are imperative to the success of their operations. These employers also recognize consumer demand for fresh, safe and nutritious produce. For years, agricultural employers have adhered … Read More

COVID-19 Testing for Florida Farmworkers

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Labor

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced new efforts to provide COVID-19 testing for farmworkers as the fall harvest season begins. The efforts are in partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) and local county governments. Farmworkers will have access to numerous no-cost COVID-19 testing events in some … Read More

Florida Crop Workers at Risk

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Labor

As laborers return to the fields this fall in Florida, both unauthorized crop workers and H-2A workers are vulnerable to the coronavirus. According to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) study, an estimated 75 percent of Florida crop workers have at least one underlying health issue that puts them at risk of developing COVID-19 … Read More

Growers Urged to Apply for CFAP Funds

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Mike Sparks has joined Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in urging growers to apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The program will provide up to an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. “We are strongly urging you … Read More

COVID-19 Safety Video Series for Farmworkers

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) partnered with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) on a nine-part video series to provide guidance on COVID-19 safety precautions for farmworkers. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Florida’s farmworkers “face an elevated risk of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, and often lack access to health resources … Read More

COVID-19 Challenges in Citrus Packinghouses

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Tip of the Week

By Michelle Danyluk and Ben Chapman Citrus packers have some unique challenges when it comes to COVID-19 management, including working in an indoor environment. It is becoming increasingly clear from recent reports of clusters of COVID-19 illnesses that being indoors and around people for prolonged periods of time are risk factors for transmission. Air flow, the limitations of physical distancing … Read More

Physical Distancing in the Citrus Industry

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Tip of the Week

By Michelle Danyluk and Ben Chapman While there is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is a food-safety concern, it certainly is a worker health concern. It spreads person-to-person through close contact (defined as within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) or by contact with contaminated surfaces. Systematically walking through the grove, packinghouse or processing plant and thinking about … Read More

California Introduces Housing for the Harvest

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19, Labor

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that Housing for the Harvest is underway in Fresno and other Central Valley counties. This is a new program designed to provide temporary hotel housing options for farm and food-processing employees to self-isolate if they are COVID-19 positive and do not require hospitalization. The state is securing hotel rooms in participating counties like Fresno and … Read More

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Operation?

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researchers have opened the second round of surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s agriculture and marine industries. The surveys are intended to capture changes in operations for the first half of the year.  The Assessment of COVID-19 Impacts on Florida surveys were first deployed in mid-April and … Read More