The latest out of Iowa: Welcoming Rob Faux; COVID-19 stability; Pandemic support
Welcoming Rob Faux to the PAN team: We’re excited to welcome Rob Faux to PAN as our Iowa-based Communications Associate. Rob owns and operates the Genuine Faux Farm, a diversified produce and poultry operation near Tripoli, Iowa. Rob and his partner Tammy have been committed to organic and sustainable practices while producing food for local consumption since 2004. An improperly targeted aerial pesticide application in 2012 placed Rob in a position where he could effectively use his farm story to advocate for positive changes in policy and practice with respect to pesticides in Iowa. Bringing several years of informal volunteer and advocacy experience through organizations such as Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa Farmers Union and the Iowa Organic Association, Rob joined the PAN team. We’re honored to be working with him!
Rob has helped develop materials to aid those who have experienced pesticide drift, including participating in a video project to help educate pesticide applicators about alternative crop growers. He may be best known for his blog posts chronicling the farm’s journey after experiencing poorly targeted chemical applications.
Rob was born and raised in Iowa, returning after working and pursuing advanced education elsewhere. In a former life, Rob earned doctoral degrees in Computer Science and Adult Education and has worked as a post-secondary educator in the field of Computer Science. Please join us in welcoming Rob! He can be reached at Rob_Faux@panna.org.
At the Capitol: The suspension of the current Iowa legislative session has been extended through April 30. We continue to support this decision as an important step toward reducing the spread of COVID-19. When the legislative session resumes, we look forward to reestablishing the momentum around several legislative priorities, including a bill that would mandate the development of an Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) online reporting system for pesticide spray drift. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as things progress.
National food system resources: Those who are most likely to suffer negative impacts from industrial agriculture are also most at risk to harm from COVID-19. Farmers, workers, and communities of color are all bearing the brunt of this crisis in different ways. PAN has collected some compelling food system resources, both for accessing immediate support and pushing for the longer-term, systemic shifts needed.
There’s a lot moving out in the world right now. In food systems work, resources are being mobilized in Iowa to help those most in need during this public health crisis. One (of many ways!) you can help? Iowa’s food banks can use your support at this time. If you’re able, consider visiting the food bank site in your region to learn about their current needs:
- Northeast Iowa Food Bank
- St. Stephen’s Food Bank – Dubuque area
- HACAP – Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area
- Food Bank of Siouxland – Northwest Iowa
- Riverbend Foodbank – East Iowa
- Food Bank for the Heartland – Southwest Iowa
- Food Bank of Iowa – North, Central, South and Southeast Iowa
Farmers in Iowa are also feeling the effects of the pandemic. Practical Farmers of Iowa has compiled a useful summary of resources available to those who might need them.
Coronavirus stability in aerosol and on surfaces: The current pandemic has researchers scrambling to learn more about COVID-19. A new NIH study found that the novel coronavirus was viable in aerosols during the experimental time of three hours. The virus was also found to be more stable on plastic and stainless steel surfaces than on copper and cardboard, and could be detected for up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. On copper and cardboard, the coronavirus survived up to four hours and 24 hours, respectively.
Additionally, a recent CDC study found some virus RNA on surfaces 17 days after infected passengers vacated a cruise ship. However, the NIH study measured viable virus while the CDC study measured RNA only — it is unclear whether the RNA found on cruise ship surfaces means the virus was still active, the results warrant further testing.
Food and farm system laborers are risking their health to keep our food system going without adequate health, safety, and financial protection in the midst of COVID-19. One example? Workers in Iowa’s meat-packing plants have been afforded little to no protections while on the job.
Meanwhile, this administration has proposed slashing minimum wages for agricultural workers on guest worker visas as “aid” to industrial agriculture. We should be strengthening protections for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, not cutting wages and slashing protections.
Join us in calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to block this proposed wage cut for farmworkers.