Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Borders Closed by Virus Imperil European Farming

Because of generous welfare provisions, Western European countries often have large numbers of unemployed  -- over 10% in the case of France.  So a local workforce for local farms is actually there.  Some version  of work for welfare would unlock a local workforce.  And the Coronavirus might be just what is needed to get that going

America already has such provisions. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is a United States federal law passed by the 104th United States Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

After the passage of the law, the number of individuals receiving federal welfare dramatically declined as previously unemployed people got jobs

Agriculture in the EU depends on easy migration and an interconnected market.  Covid-19 is tearing at that, raising questions about the viability of an economic system built on borderless migration and a single market that matches labor supply with demand. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the sudden reordering of its agricultural industry.

Normally, workers from poorer parts of the EU, particularly Central and Eastern Europe, would take many of these jobs. Each spring they hopscotch the continent on buses, moving from farm to farm to plant and pick crops.

Now, with many borders closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, many in Western Europe are rethinking the dependence on distant pools of labor—and are trying to spur an interest in farm work among people closer to home.

Travel is still restricted in many areas for nonessential workers. In response to the labor squeeze, the EU deemed seasonal workers essential, but countries have the final say on whether the laborers can cross their borders and under what conditions.

And many workers in Central and Eastern Europe, where the pandemic is less severe, are hesitant to travel to more heavily afflicted countries in the West, because of the health risk, particularly if it means crowding into buses.

Ewa Adam, a 45-year-old in Poland, had been planning to travel by bus, passing through Germany, to the south of France for a three-month farming stint that pays €8,000, or about $8,700.

“I can live comfortably in Poland for a year” with the money, Ms. Adam says.

But she’s putting it off, waiting for the spread of the virus to slow. She’s also spooked about the potential for sudden border closures, which would cut her off from elderly family members in Poland

The demand for seasonal farmworkers is less acute in the U.S., because farms are concentrated in the hands of fewer owners, who have embraced automation to a greater degree than Europeans. The U.S. grows a higher proportion of bulk crops, which are easier to plant and harvest with machinery.

In Europe, low-wage labor and hefty subsidies feed a patchwork of more than 10 million farms. Most are a fraction of the size of the average American farm. Many have focused on higher-value crops that require more hand labor. That caters to European palates accustomed to pearl-size Champagne grapes and mozzarella from buffalo’s milk.

In many cases, rich countries have a hard time filling jobs with local people, who can choose work with fewer physical demands and higher pay. But workers from Central and Eastern Europe are attracted by minimum wages in countries like France and Germany that are more than double what similar work pays at home.

People in some countries have raised concerns that foreign workers could help spread the virus. Antiforeigner sentiment has increased in some countries in recent years amid a rise of nationalist groups.

The Dutch government has rolled out an information campaign in several languages to reassure Eastern European workers that they are welcome in the Netherlands during the pandemic.

Germany has chartered planes to carry 80,000 laborers from Central and Eastern Europe, with the aim of reducing the exposure of bus travel through multiple countries. The workers are screened for symptoms upon their arrival, including temperature checks, and bused to farms, where they are expected to live in dormitories, under quarantine conditions, until the end of May.

News of the German airlifts led to crowding at airports in Romania, where prosecutors are investigating the recruitment firms for violating the country’s strict lockdown regulations. One Romanian worker died of coronavirus after arriving in Germany for the harvest.

The scramble, farmers and officials say, shows the need for structural change to guarantee Europe’s food security. With the threat of a disrupted single market, countries might need to farm more staples for stockpiling and produce fewer delicacies like asparagus, farmers say. It also means developing a local workforce or increasing automation.


Why is the Left censoring Michael Moore’s Green energy movie?

Filmmaker Michael Moore released his latest movie, Planet of the Humans, on Earth Day.

Moore hails from the deep roving anti-capitalist Left, so imagine everyone’s surprise when we learned that the film powerfully skewers wind, solar, biomass, ethanol and the rest of so-called “renewable energy.”

The global warming crowd, and of course the people making their fortunes from renewable subsidies, went apoplectic.

Leading the charge to censor and bury Moore’s film is fellow left-wing filmmaker Josh Fox, best known for his movie Gasland, an anti-fracking propaganda flick.

Marc Morano has full coverage over at CFACT’s Climate Depot, including an incendiary series of tweets.

We recommend you watch Planet of the Humans on YouTube, right away, in case the move to completely censor the film succeeds.

Keep in mind that Michael Moore is no choir boy, and certainly no friend of free markets, individual freedom and industrial prosperity. You might want to skip around a bit, but you’ll love watching power company executives admit that their solar array, which would cover a football field, can only put out enough electricity to power ten homes, when the sun shines. To power the entire city of Lansing, Michigan, the array would have to be three miles by five miles! How’s that for a footprint?  The last things the climate people want you to contemplate are “solar dead zones.”

The organizer of a Green concert is greeted by cheers and applause when he shouts that the entire concert is powered by solar energy. Then go behind the stage where the piddling solar array is only big enough to power a single toaster. The actual electricity comes from diesel generators!

Watch citizens hike over a pristine mountaintop, and share their dread as they prepare for the construction of 21 mega wind turbines that will drive nature off the mountain.

Watch the biomass absurdity; burning whole trees or grinding them into chips to generate electricity, receive the contempt it deserves.

The film even exposes massive industry funding of the Sierra Club and the rest of the eco-Left!

There’s plenty more to savor.

So this weekend grab a big bowl of popcorn, fast forward through the Green misanthropy, and watch an arch-Leftist devour the Greens.


Green alarmism obtuse as ever

Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Not a few green activists and media-types can avoid pointing out how much “cleaner” is the environment (“the play”) since the economy has gone into a worldwide depression because millions of people have lost their jobs and/or remain idle at home.

The coronavirus has brought rampant death worldwide combined with now 26 million jobless Americans (and millions more globally). But, we’re being told by many, it’s splendid the environment is better!

Here are samples of this callous, out-of-touch thinking, all of which from people who appear to remain gainfully employed.

Christopher Jones of the “CoolClimate Network” at UC Berkley said, “If we can think about how to prepare for climate change like a pandemic, maybe there will be a positive outcome to all of this.”

Excuse me, but there is no “positive outcome” lurking. There is a massive, well-funded cottage industry of organizations like the CoolClimate Network, which for decades have been thinking about “how to prepare for climate change.” We don’t need a pandemic as a reminder.

Victoria Rochard, head of “Thought Leadership” at SAP, noted the clearer skies in Asia.  In an article in Forbes headlined, “Every Day Earth Day: A Silver Lining in the Pandemic…,” she wrote, “Despite the hardship COVID-19 has created, people are finding comfort in the view of the [Himalayan] mountain range, previously denied to them.” [An aside: Steve Forbes, call your office; with such drivel, what has happened to Forbes media?]

Isn’t it lovely? People who have lost their jobs and livelihoods, along with losing friends and family members to coronavirus, can get a better view of the Himalayas. In Italy, a nation that has suffered the worst, those in Venice can now see fish swimming in the canals.

Monica Medina and Miro Korenha, founders of Our Daily Planet, wrote, “In the midst of the economic and health tragedy posed by the coronavirus pandemic, there is an unexpected bright side: the marked improvement in our environment as a result of the massive slowdown.”

How reassuring. Human misery and tragedy has a bright side: environmental “improvement.”Green alarmism obtuse as ever 1

Sarah McFarlane, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, wrote, “One hopeful development from the coronavirus pandemic: Global air quality is improving dramatically as the outbreak sends many countries into lockdown, climate scientists say.”

She also reported that green groups including Greenpeace and the World Resources Institute are “seizing the crisis as an opportunity to press governments” to impose a green agenda on the teetering private sector.

There are countless more examples of this colossal lack of empathy from green alarmists ready to exploit human suffering, so let’s conclude with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, often featured on CFACT. She is delighted over the collapsing oil industry in America, even though thousands of workers are in jeopardy. Along with many in Congress, she wants to exploit the pandemic to impose a green political agenda.

“You absolutely love to see it,” she tweeted, referring to the oil collapse. “This along with record low-interest rates means it’s the right time for a worker-led, mass investment in green infrastructure to save our planet.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez grew up middle class in prosperous Westchester County, New York. Affordable and viable oil and gasoline remains integral to that living standard throughout America. She deleted her tweet.

Green extremism has long included viewpoints that too many people occupy the Earth and capitalist-style economic growth harms the planet; i.e., people and prosperity are zero-sum with environmental nirvana.  But, America has demonstrated in the last half century since the first “Earth Day” that higher living standards, increased population and robust commerce have coincided with a cleaner environment.

What good is a cleaner, “carbon-free” environment if tens of millions of people lose their livelihoods they spent decades building? Is waiting in a bread line or for an unemployment check more acceptable because satellite photos show clearer skies?

The 26 million jobless Americans along with millions more in economic lockdown would surely tolerate the very congenial air quality we had two months ago in order to reclaim their lives. More so, anyone would forgo a nicer view of a mountain range to have a friend, colleague or loved one spared from coronavirus death.

Maybe it’s news when satellite photos show a clearer atmosphere during a tragic pandemic, but let’s not contend there is an environmental “silver lining” or “bright side.” There is no “hopeful development” with the environment when the cost is the death of scores of thousands of people and economic suffering of millions more.


Imperiled Monarch Butterfly benefits from private conservation plan

There is an ambitious plan involving the private sector in efforts to protect the habitat of the monarch butterfly. This holds the promise of sparing nearby communities the burden of having the creature put on the federal endangered species list and could serve as a model for the recovery of other at-risk plants and animals.

In early April, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) concluded an agreement with private landowners and 45 energy and transportation companies under which the private entities will provide habitat for the monarch butterfly. It is the latest of 51 such agreements, known as “candidate conservation agreements with assurances” (CCAAs), that have been struck since 2000. Once a CCAA has been finalized, and provided its terms are adhered to, landowners are not required to carry out any additional conservation measures.

This means landowners and the surrounding communities will not be subjected to the rigorous land-use restrictions of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) which can keep broad swaths of private land out of production for years.

The monarch butterfly or simply monarch (Danaus plexippus) is the most familiar North American butterfly and is considered an iconic pollinator species. Its numbers have declined in California from an estimated 10 million in the 1980s to 300,000 now, according to research from Washington State University, Vancouver, Bloomberg reports.

In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety filed a petition requesting ESA protection for the monarch and its habitat. The decision on whether to list the monarch is still pending, and a new deadline for completion of an internal FWS species status review report is set for December 2020. FWS’s willingness to sign CCAAs with affected parties indicates that the Trump administration is looking for ways other than the bureaucratic ESA to protect the butterfly.

Aware of the shortcomings of the ESA – both in terms of species recovery and the economic harm it inflicts on affected areas – the Trump administration last year adopted new rules for the statute aimed at speeding up recovery and enlisting the cooperation of landowners to that end.

Cooperation Instead of Coercion

Referring to the CCAA program, Georgia Parham, a spokeswoman for FWS told Bloomberg: “It’s designed to encourage landowners or land managers to conserve species that are at risk of extinction,” with the goal of avoiding listing altogether.

CCAAs are increasingly being used across the West to help protect the habitat of the greater sage grouse, a chicken-sized, ground-dwelling bird whose dwindling numbers raised concerns that it could be added to the Endangered Species List. That could wreak havoc on the region’s natural resources industry, and state and local officials, along with the private sector, have welcomed CCAAs as a viable alternative to an ESA listing.

“By engaging early in voluntary conservation, utilities and departments of transportation can avoid increased costs and additional delays as a result of a potential listing,” Iris Caldwell, program director at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Energy Resources Center, which will administer the agreement, said in a statement.

Encouraging Voluntary Conservation

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, which represents small oil and gas producers, points out that her industry has long supported CCAAs as a sensible way to protect at-risk species while minimizing economic harm to nearby communities.

“CCAAs can be an effective tool for protecting habitat while providing regulatory certainty for producers. CCAAs encourage voluntary conservation, and when they are working well, can take the place of a species list,” she told Bloomberg. “We support their voluntary use and other voluntary measures to protect species.”



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