COVID-19 and Farm Labor

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Labor

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is encouraging growers to ensure that the farm labor contractors with whom they work pledge to implement COVID-19 workplace safety guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FDACS issued an addendum to be signed by farm labor contractors (see here) and a training acknowledgment form to be signed … Read More

Coronavirus Program Adds Citrus Varieties

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

Florida Citrus Mutual Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Sparks recently advised Mutual members that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has added several commodities that now qualify for Part 1 of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The CFAP provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19. … Read More

California Ag Responds to COVID-19 Pressure

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19

Now a COVID-19 hot spot, California agriculture has been working to protect its labor force from the pandemic. However, COVID-19 exposures have occurred and illness reports are on the rise. “Rising rates in the Central Valley are concerning. California is making $52M available to increase testing, contact tracing and quarantine efforts, and sending strike teams to four counties with increased … Read More

Labor Ban Costs Australia Growers Millions

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, International, Labor

On July 27, Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said a ban on citrus workers entering New South Wales (NSW) is costing growers $1.7 million a day. Hancock has urged NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to consult with industry and cancel the ban that is keeping out seasonal harvesters. The restriction on harvesters entering NSW was instituted to curtail the spread of … Read More

COVID-19 Restriction Puts Australian Citrus at Risk

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, International, Labor

Citrus Australia says a newly enacted border zone instituted to curtail the spread of COVID-19 will result in citrus crops rotting if seasonal harvesters can’t get into New South Wales (NSW) quickly. The new border zone along the Murray River will tighten restrictions for entry from Victoria into NSW. “Although the agriculture industry has been defined as a critical service, … Read More

New California Face Mask Rules and Availability

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19, Regulation

In addition to California Division of Occupational Safety and Health face mask regulations, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued new mandates regarding face mask use in certain settings. WHEN TO WEAR A MASKFace masks are required whether or not members of the public are present in workplaces. The CDPH guidance also specifies that individuals engaged in work, … Read More

FFVA: Protect Ag Workers From COVID-19

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

town hall

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Labor have provided joint COVID-19 guidance for agriculture workers and employers. Topics in the guidance include: creating an assessment and control plan; screening and monitoring workers; managing sick workers; returning to work after exposure; engineering controls; cleaning, disinfection and sanitation; administrative controls, including training and social distancing; cloth … Read More

Food Safety in Light of COVID-19

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Food Safety

With millions of American workers staying home to aid public health efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the security of America’s food supply is more important than ever before. It’s crucial that growers are taking the appropriate measures to ensure food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of … Read More

Masks and Materials for Florida Ag Workers

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19

The Florida Department of Health has been distributing cloth masks and COVID-19 informational materials in three languages (English, Spanish and Haitian Creole) for agriculture workers in Southwest Florida. The masks and information are available to farmers and labor contractors. To access these resources, contact your local Health Department: Hendry Glades Health Department – Brenda Barnes, email: Lee County Health … Read More

Consumer Response to OJ During COVID-19

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Orange Juice

Yan Heng, Marisa Zansler and Lisa House have authored a new study on consumer response to orange juice (OJ) during the COVID-19 outbreak. Heng is a research assistant scientist and House is a professor, both with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Food and Resource Economics Department. Zansler is the director of the Economic and … Read More

COVID-19 Hurts Texas Citrus

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

florida citrus

The COVID-19 pandemic that reduced food-service sales nationwide took a toll on some Texas citrus growers this season. MARKET DISRUPTION“Schools and restaurants make up a significant percentage of sales for Texas citrus,” said Dale Murden, a grower and president of Texas Citrus Mutual. “Whether it’s fresh or juice, the loss of those markets definitely hurt.” At least in part because of the … Read More

Research Pushes Forward in COVID-19 Era

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19, Research

As Florida moved to “safer at home” measures, not all University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) research projects could be put on pause. There are living plants, animals and insects to feed and maintain. Some projects have regular monitoring procedures for which postponement could have broader environmental consequences. “We are very proud of our faculty, staff … Read More

Georgia Citrus Avoids COVID-19 Harm

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Georgia

Georgia’s citrus crop was harvested before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, so the state’s small but growing citrus industry has thus far avoided impacts from the disease. “We don’t think marketing will be affected by COVID, but harvesting (next season) could become problematic if our harvest crews experience problems,” said Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association. “Although … Read More

Citrus Expo and Coronavirus: Input Wanted

Tacy CalliesCitrus Expo, COVID-19

As of May 20, Citrus Expo and Vegetable & Specialty Crop Expo are still scheduled for Aug. 12–13 at the Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers, Florida. But as you can imagine, there are a few “ifs” involved amid the coronavirus pandemic. They include: 1) if everyone attending Expo can do so safely and 2) if Florida’s governor, local … Read More

New Details on Coronavirus Assistance to Growers

Tacy CalliesCOVID-19

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced new details on May 19 regarding the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). It will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. CFAP provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due … Read More

Waiver of Hauling Restrictions Extended

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has extended until May 31 a waiver of truck size and weight restrictions for agricultural commodities in the face of COVID-19. Citrus is among the commodities for which the restrictions have been lifted. FDOT on May 8 issued a letter announcing the waiver extensions to law enforcement personnel. Other commodities for which size and … Read More

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: Grower Update

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will provide direct payments to growers and grower-shippers of fresh produce for demonstrated losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was announced by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on April 17. See initial information about the program here. Updated information was provided by the USDA recently. Program details and … Read More

Lemons Hit Hard by COVID-19 Losses

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner, COVID-19, lemons

Lemon growers are seeing good production this year, but the market for choice lemons has been ruined by COVID-19 food-service industry losses. “We’ve seen 20 to 25 percent decrease in fruit movement, and that’s mainly attributable to the decline in the food-service industry,” according to Ventura County lemon grower Will Pidduck. Ironically, it is otherwise a good year for lemons … Read More

COVID-19 Agriculture Loans Available

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

The Small Business Administration (SBA) on May 4 announced that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. The loan availability is a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation, signed into law by President Donald Trump, provides additional funding for farmers … Read More

Valencia Oranges Hit by Heavy Fruit Drop

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, Processing, Weather

Heavy fruit drop and weather issues reportedly could lead to reduction in Florida’s Valencia orange crop. Some in the citrus industry said COVID-19 issues in processing plants have also limited the intake of Valencias from groves, but the Florida Citrus Processors Association (FCPA) says that is not likely the case. “Processors have slowed down presumably due to COVID-19 … They … Read More