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Pesticide Action Network

California Updates: December 2020

As California is one of the states in which PAN does on-the-ground campaign work, we send out regular updates on PAN and partners’ work in California and beyond — from pesticide-related science to opportunities to take action. If you’d like to receive these updates via email, sign up here.

State updates

Healthy soils & climate-friendly ag: Our partners at the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) recently released a report on the first three years of California’s precedent-setting healthy soils program. One highlight is a profile of the Carbon Sink Demonstration Farm, a project of Solidarity Farm and Pauma Tribal Farms that is implementing a suite of “carbon farming” practices to promote soil health. These include reduced tillage, an increase in perennial crops, the addition of compost and mulch, utilization of cover crops, and hedgerows and windbreaks — all practices that will improve pollinator habitat, increase the availability of traditional food, fiber, and medicine, and reduce wind erosion/evaporation. Read more here.

COVID-19 protections for workers: In November, CalOSHA passed and quickly implemented strong emergency regulations to protect workers, including farmworkers, from COVID-19 hazards. The rules include workplace protections, testing, and reporting to health department; these are necessary given the disproportionate risk California farmworkers face of contracting the virus. PAN and partners will be monitoring growers’ ability and willingness to fully implement these protections.

Nationwide updates

A misguided partnership: A few weeks ago, Qu Dongyu, the Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), announced his intention to develop a new partnership with CropLife (the pesticide industry trade body).

CropLife is a collection of private companies with the primary goal of maximizing profits, regardless of whether it is in the best interest of farmers or the environment. FAO, on the other hand, has a mandate to act independently to promote safe and sustainable forms of agriculture that work for farmers and conserve their environments. More than 600 civil society organizations and academics have called on the FAO to end this alliance with CropLife. Read more here.

Latest science

COVID-19 & California farmworkers: A new study was recently published by UC Berkeley researchers on California farmworkers and the COVID-19 pandemic, in which Salinas Valley farmworkers were tested for the virus that causes COVID-19. Between mid-July and November 2020, 13% of 1,091 farmworkers tested positive for the virus, and by the end of October, about 20% of the workers in the study tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. These figures are far higher than estimates for the general San Francisco Bay Area population (about 1% tested positive in July through September). The study also found that 58% of workers who had symptoms of illness and were infected continued to go to work, citing fear of losing their jobs or income. These findings are even further indications of the urgent need to safeguard farmworker communities, including information and support for access to resources like replacement income and emergency housing for quarantine. Read more here.


We’re hiring! PAN is seeking an experienced Organizing Co-Director to lead our work here in California. We’re looking for someone who is committed to supporting communities that are negatively affected by industrial agriculture to lead the development of a better food and farming system — someone who is committed to racial justice, and to confronting and dismantling racism and other forms of oppression within the food system and within our movements. Sound like you or someone you know? Apply today, or pass it on!

Take action

In the midst of this year’s many (!!) challenges, we’re inspired by the amazing ways our partners and communities have shown up for each other. Now, we continue building the food and farming systems we so urgently need as we move with determination into the year ahead.

Please consider supporting this work with a year-end gift to PAN.

Take Action

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Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network is dedicated to advancing alternatives to pesticides worldwide. Follow @pesticideaction

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