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USDA Announces More Eligible Commodities for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that additional commodities are covered by the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) in response to public comments and data. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline to apply for the program to September 11th, and producers with approved applications will receive their final payment. After reviewing over 1,700 responses, even more farmers and ranchers will have the opportunity for assistance to help keep operations afloat during these tough times.

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American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act provides an additional payment of $600 per week to individuals receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through July of 2020. This provision would continue supplemental payments of $200 per week for weeks of unemployment through September. Starting in October, this payment would be replaced with a payment (up to $500) that, when combined with the state UI payment, would replace 70 percent of lost wages—either via a formula specified in the bill or by a state proposing an alternative method and receiving approval from the Secretary.

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California Public Health Officials Release Guidance Requiring Californians to Wear Face Coverings

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The California Department of Public Health today released updated guidance that requires Californians to wear a face covering in high-risk settings. A growing body of scientific research has shown that people with no or few symptoms of COVID-19 can still spread the disease and that the use of face coverings, combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing, will reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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FSA Expands Set-Aside Loan Provision for Customers Impacted by COVID-19

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USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will broaden the use of the Disaster Set-Aside (DSA) loan provision, normally used in the wake of natural disasters, to allow farmers with USDA farm loans who are affected by COVID-19, and are determined eligible, to have their next payment set aside. In some cases, FSA may also set aside a second payment for farmers who have already had one payment set aside because of a prior designated disaster.

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Senate Leaders Unveil Proposed State Budget Approach, Proposal to Aid California’s Economic Recovery

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As the California State Senate returns to the Capitol and resumes session this week, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), along with Senators Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), and Robert M. Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles), unveiled the Senate Democratic Caucus’ proposal for the state budget and California’s economic recovery.

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Governor Newsom Provides Update on California’s Progress Toward Stage 2 Reopening

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Governor issues Report Card on state’s progress in fighting COVID-19. Governor’s Report Card indicates California will be prepared to move into the early phase of Stage 2 of reopening this Friday, May 8. Stage 2 allows gradual reopening of lower-risk workplaces with adaptations including bookstores, clothing stores, florists and sporting goods stores, with modifications.

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Federal COVID-19 aid could arrive in May

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Applications will begin in May for $16 billion in federal aid for farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses due to market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue saying he hopes the assistance can be distributed by the end of May.

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Governor Newsom Announces Paid Sick Leave Benefits for Food Sector Workers Impacted by COVID-19, Additional Protections for Consumers

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Governor Gavin Newsom today signed an executive order to support California workers from large employers in the food sector industry impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with two weeks of paid sick leave, filling a gap left by federal relief that had provided similar paid leave benefits for employers with fewer than 500 workers.

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Assemblymember Rivas Introduces California Farmworker COVID-19 Relief Package

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With California farms facing labor shortages, grocers experiencing empty shelves because of logistical bottlenecks, and many of the state's up to one million farmworkers lacking access to health care, Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) today introduced legislation to protect the health, safety, and economic security of agricultural workers and prevent disruptions to the nation’s food supply.

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Congressman Panetta Leads 108 Members in Calling on USDA to Provide Direct Support to Specialty Crop Producers

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Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), along with Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI-06), Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA-16) and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01) led 108 members of the House of Representatives in sending a bipartisan letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue calling for the Administration to provide direct support to specialty crop producers the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is implemented.

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Department of State waives interview requirement for H-2A workers

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The Department of State is taking steps to reduce delays in the processing of H-2A workers caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of State suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates on March 20. While some returning H-2A workers were processed after that date, industry leaders were alarmed about potential delays in H-2A worker availability.

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USDA and DOL Announce Information Sharing to Assist H-2A Employers

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to help facilitate the identification of foreign and domestic workers that may be available and eligible to transfer to other U.S. agricultural sector employers to fulfill critical workforce needs within the U.S. under existing regulatory authority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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