Jenny’s Food & Ag Update June 22, 2020


  • Coronavirus myth-busting: The truth about empty shelves and toilet paper shortages (grist)
  • Vancouver Island residents turn their yards into gardens and encourage others to do the same (CBC)      Community groups are encouraging more people to grow food gardens amid COVID-19
  • After Canceling Their Annual Tulip Festival, This Oregon Farm Began Delivering Flowers To Isolated Seniors (Forbes)
    • A Dutch flower farm spelled out a special message for tourists missing the annual tulip blooms(CNN)
  • ‘The future of food is local.’ Dave Whalen of the Edible Landscape Project says now is the time for us to make the change (the journal)
  • As Food Banks Face Shortages and Fresh Produce Rots, Pandemic Spurs Calls for Sustainable Supply Chain (Common Dreams)                                                                                             “To truly be resilient, our system must shift to one that relies on small and medium producers and independent, responsible operations.
  • Millions of farm animals culled as food supply chain chokes up (The Guardian)                                                           US government vets said to be ready to assist with culls, or ‘depopulation’ of pigs, chickens and cattle because of coronavirus meat plant closures
  • Major US meat producer warns of ‘food supply chain is breaking’ (The Guardian)                                                          Tyson foods says ‘there will be limited supply of products’ until it can open plants forced to close amid coronavirus pandemic
  • Tyson Foods chairman warns ‘the food supply chain is breaking’ (nbc news)                                                      In recent weeks, the poultry producer has suspended operations at plants across the country.
  • Covid-19 outbreaks at Irish meat plants raise fears over worker safety (The Guardian)                                               Third of workers at factory in Tipperary test positive, while McDonald’s supplier forced to temporarily halt production
  • Belgians Urged To Eat More Fries To Help Potato Farmers Amid Pandemic-Related Glut (NPR)
  • Gates Foundation is spearheading the neoliberal plunder of African agriculture (The Ecologist)
    • Study: Ag One: Recolonization of Agriculture (Navdanya International)                                                          Bill Gates who became a billionaire through the deregulation of corporate globalization is now leading the recolonization of Indian and African agriculture. The report unveils the real motives of Bill Gates.
  • Impossible Burgers Won’t Save the Environment – They’re Just a Greenwashing Trend (In These Times)        High-tech fake meat giants are more interested in making a quick buck than mitigating mitigating climate change
  • Winners of Food Photographer Contest Highlight How Our Lives Are Tide to


Farmers, Farming, Ranching, Herding, Fishing & Production

  • Farmers on Remote Island Fight Food Insecurity With Their Flock (Mother Jones)                                                               Quadra Island farmers want to put goats into backyards as a way to improve food security in the face of COVID-19.
  • Gorgeous Photos Show How Farms Are Helping People During The Covid-19 Crisis (BuzzFeed)                         Maine farmers are showing their resilience and leaning into the COVID-19 crisis.
  • One potato, two potato – well a lot of potatoes (LA Times)                                                                                                   Washington state farmers sitting on a billion pounds of spuds
  • W. Kamau Bell: What an Oklahoma rancher want you to know about America’s broken food supply (CNN)
  • Why Some Farmers Are Ditching Livestock And Growing Plants Instead (Huffington Post)                                         Switching from meat production to growing crops for vegan foods can be good for farmers and the environment.
  • This is the broken and disturbing reality of modern chicken production – but there’s a way out (AlterNet)


Plants, Seeds & Cultivars


Water & Our Oceans

  • As Flint Water Crisis Enter Sixth Year, ‘Astounding’ Report Exposes Lies of Ex-Governor Rick Snyder and Other Officials (Common Dreams)
  • How Pepsi and Coke make millions bottling tap water, as residents face shutoffs (The Guardian)
  • Lawsuit Challenges California’s Failure to Address State Water Project’s Threat To Bay Area Delta Salmon Runs (Maven’s Notebook)
  • University of South Florida researchers test 2,500 fish 10 years after Deepwater Horizon. There was oil in all of them. (WTSP10)


Hunger, Food Access & Security, Obesity, Malnutrition & Nutrition

  • Irish payback Great Hunger kindness reaching out to Native Americans struck by COVID-10 (Irish Central)                                                                                                 At least people in the Navajo Nation in Utah and Arizona have contracted the virus.
  • No Video, No Camera, No Drama. Just Pure Goodwill (Australia Newsly)                                                                              In Germany, bags of food are hung for the poor, needy and hungry. No public display, no video, no drama, no camera. Just pure goodwill.
  • The COVID Crisis Is Reinforcing the Hunger Industrial Complex (The MIT Press Reader)                                        The unholy alliance between food banks and corporate America has shown itself to be more interested in maintaining the problem of hunger than actually solving it.
  • Friends come together to get free food across US from farms to those in need (abc News)                               Their first shipment of potatoes from an Idaho farm is due for the Bronx.
  • Publix Supermarkets Are Buying Food From Struggling Farmers So They Can Use it to Feed Families in Need (Good News Network)
  • Kroger buys and redirects dairy farmers’ surplus milk to feeding America food banks (Food Navigator)
  • Meet the people feeding their Native elders in Minneapolis during COVID-19 (KARE11)                                 Minneapolis American Indian Center’s Gatherings Café is closed to the public due to COVID-19 but staff and volunteers are still providing meals for their elders.
  • Mutual aid: “When the system fails, the people show up” (Roar)                                                                                                 Across the US, mutual aid initiatives provide basic goods and services while building community, resilience and collective power that could outlast the pandemic.
  • NYC Immigrant Communities Fight Hunger, Exploitation & Invisibility Through Mutual Aid (Democracy Now!)
  • Meet the two people buying and delivering groceries to 60 San Francisco seniors (KTVU Fox2)                            Grocery deliveries to need San Francisco senior citizens a massive endeavor
  • A retired South Africa policeman has started a vegetable garden on his pavement to feed the hungry (Good Things Guy)
  • North Brooklyn Angels Feed The Front Lines While Keeping Local Business Alive (Brooklyn Paper)
    • Brownsville Catering Company Mass-Produces Meals For Borough-Wide Distribution (Brooklyn Paper)
    • Do-Gooders Install Outdoor Fridge With Free Food In Bed-Stuy (Brooklyn Paper)
  • The Coronavirus Reveals The ‘Invisible Inequalities’ In Our Food System (Huffington Post)
  • Op-ed: A Fairer, More Resilient Food System is Possible (Civil Eats)                                                                                    The President of the National Farmers Union argues that strong anti-trust enforcement is needed to make a better life for workers, farmers, rural communities, and animals.
  • Coronavirus Is Creating a Food Security Crisis in Indian Country (Civil Eats)                                                                         ‘There’s no way This is going to end well.’ The coronavirus is devastating indigenous communities, long shut out of food supply chains and infrastructure development.
  • 3 Changes Big Food Must Make In Wake Of Coronavirus Perfect Storm (Forbes)                                                                COVID-19 disproportionately harming those with obesity


Gleaning, Foraging, Reuse, Recycling, Composting & Waste

  • Africa’s Exploding Plastic Nightmare (The Intercept)                                                                                                                   As Africa Drowns in Garbage, the Plastic Business Keeps Booming
  • Teen Invents Biodegradable ‘Plastic’ That Decomposes in 33 Days Using Prawn Shells and Silk Cocoon Protein (Truth Theory)
  • Why farmers are dumping milk down the drain and letting produce rot in the fields (The Conversation)
  • Two Men Created “Leather” From Cactus to Save Animals and the Environment (My Modern Met)


Children & School Food

  • School Lunch Programs Are Rapidly Going Broke (Huffington Post)                                                                                Schools are keeping kids fed, losing millions of dollars in the process. They fear they will have to make deep cuts next year, when the country is still reeling.


Labor, Unions & Coops

  • Save Yesterday’s Restaurant Industry – Or “Let It Die”? (Mother Jones)                                                                                 “What sort of employment are you advocating for? The sort that we had before? Well, that’s terrible.”
  • My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore? (NYT)                                                    Forced to shutter Prune, I’ve been revisiting my original dream for it – and wondering if there will still be a place for it in the New York of the future.
  • Meatpackers and Others to Lose Jobless Benefits If They Refuse Return-to-Work Orders (Democracy Now!)
  • At least 4,500 Tyson workers have caught COVID-19, with 18 deaths. The meat giant still doesn’t off paid sick leave, as the industry blames workers for outbreaks. (Business Insider)
  • Calls to Break Up ‘Big Meat’ as Nearly 900 Workers at Single Tyson Processing Plant Test Positive for Covid-19 (Common Dreams)                                                                              “The pandemic is exposing the big lie of industrial agriculture.”
  • McDonald’s Workers Charge Grotesque Sexual Harassment in New $500 Million Lawsuit (In These Times)
  • American Farmers Are Panicking Because Coronavirus Is Holding Up Workers Visas (Vice)                                      Farmers who rely on thousands of foreign workers are racing against time as the growing season begins.
  • Migrant farm workers from Jamaica are being forced to sign COVID-19 waivers (Toronto Star)                    Migrant workers bound for Canadian farms are being forced to sign waivers releasing the Jamaican government of any liability for any “costs, damages, and loss” caused by exposure to COVID-19 – despite workers being warned they are at increased risk…
  • A Former Farmworker on American Hypocrisy (NYT)                                                                                          In the pandemic, “illegal” workers are now deemed “essential” by federal government.
  • ‘If one of us gets sick, we all get sick’: workers on the coronavirus front line (The Guardian)
  • Agricultural Workers Have Struggled for Decades. They Need COVID-19 Relief Now. (Truthout)
  • Essential or Expendable? Farmworkers Condemn Lack of Protection and Economic Help During Pandemic (Democracy Now!)
  • Essential but Exposed (grist)                                Farmworkers are risking their lives to feed a nation in lockdown.
  • While NYC residents remain in lockdown, the farmworkers providing their food still lack basic protections (The Counter)
  • Dozens of grocery store workers have died. Here’s what workers say their employers did wrong (Reveal)
    • OSHA Flooded With Thousands of Worker Complaints Accusing Employers of Violating Covid-19 Guidelines (Common Dreams)
  • At Safeway’s huge Tracy (CA) warehouse, 51 workers have coronavirus and one is dead (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Gig Workers at Instacart and Grocery Stores Demand Safety Gear and Hazard Pay (Truthout)
  • Millions of Essential Workers Are Being Left Out of COVID-19 Safety Protections (Truthout)
  • Amazon-owned Whole Foods is quietly tracking its employees with a heat map tool that ranks which stores ae most at risk of unionizing (Business Insider)
  • Trader Joe’s and other US firms suppress unionization efforts (The Guardian)                                                             As workers become increasingly concerned about workplace safety, employers have been suppressing organizing efforts
  • Pandemic Crash Shows Worker Co-ops Are More Resilient Than Traditional Businesses (Truthout)



  • Coronavirus Has Cause More Than 150 Strikes. This Map Is Tracking Them All (Vice)                                        The pandemic has placed underpaid workers in untenable positions and they’re trying to fight back.
  • ‘Stop throwing us bones’: US union activism surges amid coronavirus (The Guardian)


Business, Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise & Our Economy

  • A 19th century work ethic with an Instagram account: A Buffalo milkman rides again (CNN)
  • One-Thousand-Year-Old Mill Resumes Production to Supply Flour Amid Pandemic (Smithsonian Magazine)                                                                                            In April alone, the Sturminster Newton Mill ground more than one ton of wheat
  • How to Get Your Food from Farms, Not Corporations (Vice)                                                                                                As the systems we’ve grown to depend on crumble before us, CSAs can be an entry point into more sustainable solutions.                                            Just a couple of months ago CSAs were struggling to survive, now, at least locally in the SF Bay Area, they are having trouble keeping up.
  • In A Valley Bursting With Produce, Fruit & Veggie Subscriptions Struggle To Survive (Valley Public Radio)
  • Tillamook County Creamery plans a $4 million relief package to aid workers, charities, ailing small businesses (Oregon Live)
  • Why the oldest restaurant in San Francisco refuses to lay off a single employee (SFGate)
  • This restaurant in Amsterdam Introduced ‘quarantine greenhouses’ so diners can eat while social distancing (CNN)
  • Why offering businesses immunity from coronavirus liability is a bad idea (The Conversation)
  • Banks Funneled Stimulus Funds To Largest Companies To Fatten Fees, Lawsuits Say (Huffington Post)                  Small business owners are suing Wells Fargo and other Banks, saying they “rigged” the coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program to favor large companies.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program Has Not Serve Restaurants Well (Huffington Post)                                            The hardest-hit industry is not getting the most help from the new anti-layoff initiative.
  • As Paycheck Protection Program Runs Out Of Money, Many Firms Haven’t Seen Any (Huffington Post)  Lawmakers say they want to add funding, but they’re fighting about how to do it.
  • It’s Not Just Shake Shack – Dozens of National Chains Got a Piece of the Coronavirus Bailout (Vice)                      Here’s how big national chains like Potbelly and Ruth’s Chris claimed money intended to help small businesses.
  • Trump’s restaurant recovery plan is built on fast food, as independent restaurants struggle to survive (Business Insider)
  • Ruth’s Chris Made $468 Million in Revenue but Gobbled Up $20 Million in Small Business Relief (GQ)
  • Shak Shack returning $10 million government loan meant for small businesses (NBC News)                With the Paycheck Protection Program already out of money, the burger chain says other restaurateurs needs its loan more than it does.
  • Coronavirus Lockdowns Prompt Smaller Restaurants to Rethink Delivery (WSJ)                                                Eateries examine different ways to get food to customers to avoid paying the commission fees charged by delivery giants
  • More than 50 Atlanta restaurant owners unite in decision not to reopen (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
  • Cold, Crowded, Deadly: How US Meat Plants Became a Virus Breeding Ground (Bloomberg)                With thousands of works sick, plants are closing and the food supply is faltering.
  • Four employees at Foster Farms facility in Kelso (OR) tests positive for coronavirus (KATU2)
  • Another Smithfield Meat-Processing Plant Shuts Down Over Coronavirus (Newsweek)                                      Smithfield Foods has closed another meat-processing plant amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company’s fifth facility to discontinue operations this month as a result of the illness.
  • Employees Say Smithfield Plant In Wisconsin Concealed Covid-19 Infections, Pressured Them To Work Elbow To Elbow Without Protection (The Intercept)
  • Smithfield Foods Is Blaming ‘Certain Cultures’ for the Coronavirus Outbreak at Its Own Plant (Vice)
  • Another Pork Plant Shuts Down Amid Coronavirus Outbreak (NPR)                                                                                  Tyson Food, one of the biggest meat producers in the US, is suspending work at its pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa.
  • Olymel (Quebec) pork plant closure update: Industry working to keep pork moving (Real Agriculture)
  • Bay Area favorite Three Twins Ice Cream cases operations as coronavirus pandemic continues (msn)


Government, Regulation, Policy & Farm Bill

  • Federal Court Rejects Trump Administration’s Attempt To Lower The Nutritional standards For School Meals (Forbes)
  • Rural Landowners, Farmers, and Conservation Groups Celebrate Court Victory Halting Risky Oil and Gas Giveaway of 150,000 Acres of Montana Public Lands (Earth Justice)                                                                                                Victory: Federal judge rules BLM failed to consider risks to Montana’s environment and water supply before issuing 287 oil and gas leases
  • How the Trump administration treats meat processing workers says a lot about our priorities (CNN)
    • Trump treats meatpacking workers as disposable (CNN)                                                                                      Tyson employee says HR told him, ‘Come to work, you’re safe’
  • Republicans Keep Blaming Workers for Coronavirus Outbreaks at Meat Plants (Mother Jones)                            Trump’s HHS secretary Alex Azar said the virus was linked to the “home and social” lives of workers.
  • EPA Gives Agribusiness Giant Syngenta a Pass on Pesticide Monitoring Due to COVID-19 Concerns (In These Times)
  • Trump’s EPA Finalizes Its Gutting Of Clean Water Rules (Earth Justice)                                                                              Rollback comes as a one-two punch to clean air and water in less than a week
  • ‘Lowest of the Low’: McConnel and Trump Ripped for Blocking Food Assistance in Covid-19 Package (Common Dreams)                                                                                                “McConnell and Trump don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from – but they don’t think others should be afforded the same right.”
  • The Government Will Spend $3 Billion to Direct Fresh Produce and Dairy to Food Banks (Mother Jones)
    • $3 Billion in Coronavirus Response Funds available to Food Hubs and Distributors to Provide Fresh Food Boxes to Those In Need (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition)
  • Here’s How Trump’s USDA Could Help Struggling Farmers and Hungry People In One Go (Mother Jones)  It’s a Depression-era mechanism.
  • Critical Food and Farm Rules Have Been Rolled Back Amid Pandemic (Civil Eats)                                                           Inspection suspensions, enforcement freezes, and rule rollbacks by the EPA,  USDA, and the FDA could have dire impacts on the food system.
  • Change to Federal Rule Could Expose More Farmworkers to Pesticides (Civil Eats)                                                 The EPA has proposed dropping a rule requiring safety zones when spraying pesticides, just as farmworkers are deemed ‘essential’ during the pandemic.
  • USDA Is Removing Safeguards Food While Everyone Else Is Fighting a Pandemic (EcoWatch)
    • FDA Suspends Routine Food Inspections Amid Coronavirus Pandemic (Eater)                                           About 77 percent of the US food supply is regulated by the FDA
  • The Trump Administration Is Writing a Death Sentence for America’s Most Important Restaurants (Esquire)                                                                                                                                             The CARES act bails out homogenous chains but ignores the local restaurants that have transformed every region of this country.
  • Guess Who Trump Chose for His Committee on Reviving Restaurants After COVID-19? (Mother Jones)
    • Trump’s restaurant recovery plan is built on fast food, as independent restaurants struggle to survive (Business Insider)
  • Elizabeth Warren and Corry Booker Join Forces on Bill to Ban Most Factory Farming By 2040 (Newsweek)
  • 20 Attorneys General Call on Trump Administration to Improve Worker Protections at Meat Processing Plants (Newsweek)
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom Orders Sick Pay and Protections for Food Workers (Eater)
  • Washington’s record $18M fine stands against foodmakers (Capital Press)                                                                      A record-shattering fine levied against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for concealing the identities of the food and beverage companies that spent $11 million to defeat a GMO-labeling initiative in 2013…
  • New York City is hiring out-of-work taxi drivers to deliver meals to the elderly and vulnerable (CBS News)
  • As coronavirus spikes in Black Hawk County (IA) local officials blast Tyson Foods for not closing its Waterloo plant (Des Moines Register)


Non-Governmental Organizations

  • This Appalachian Collective Has Launched Its Own “Green Stimulus” (Truthout)                                                              West Virginian beekeepers are supporting local agriculture and demonstrating the benefits of non-extractive livelihoods.


Pollinators & Insects

  • Insect numbers down 25% since 1990, global study finds (The Guardian)                                                                        Scientists say insects are vital and the losses worrying, with accelerating declines in Europe called ‘shocking’
  • Study: Meat-analysis reals declines in terrestrial but increases in freshwater insect abundance (Science)



  • New evidence emerges on decline of monarch butterflies (Irish Times)                                                                                  Dramatic fall in monarch numbers has been widely blamed on Roundup weedkiller


Education & Training

  • Bilingual training program teaches laborers how to start their own sustainable farms (Yale Climate Connections)                                                                                                    Participants learn how to write business plans, care for chickens, and more.