The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.
California budget confronts climate change, homeless, crime – California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday proposed a $286.4 billion budget that sets off months of budget talks with his fellow Democrats, who control the state Legislature, before the new fiscal year begins July 1.
Newsom focused much of his budget proposal on some of the state’s biggest issues — climate change, homelessness, education, abortion, high-speed rail, the pandemic, crime.
Newsom wants to spend $22.5 billion over the next five years to fight climate change and protect communities most at risk from changing weather patterns.
About $15 billion would go to climate-related transportation projects such as helping low-income people purchase electric cars; expanding charging infrastructure in disadvantaged neighborhoods and helping schools buy electric buses.
Newsom also proposes to release $4.2 billion in bond money for the controversial high-speed rail project that advocates say will eventually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Assembly Democrats stalled the funding last year.
After consecutive record-setting wildfire seasons the past two years, the governor proposed a nearly 20% increase in the budget for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Spending would increase from $3.1 billion approved last year to $3.7 billion and add more than 1,200 new CalFire positions. It would also include $400 million to be spent to improve the health of firefighters who have been on the front lines during the lengthy seasons.
Newsom proposed spending another $2 billion on homelessness on top of the $12 billion in last year’s budget.
California taxpayers already pay for the health care of low-income young adults and people 50 and over who are living in the country illegally. Now, Newsom wants the state to pay the health care expenses for every low-income adult in the state regardless of their immigration status. The plan would cost about $2.2 billion per year and would begin in January 2024.
California’s K-12 public schools and community colleges would see $102 billion to help schools deal with the ongoing pandemic and expand early childhood education and childcare programs.
School funding would increase by $8.2 billion based on minimum funding guarantees under state law, with another $7.9 billion in one-time funds for facilities, transportation and other programs.
The proposal includes $1 billion to begin phasing in universal transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds by 2025 and an additional $3.4 billion for expanded learning opportunities, including before- and after-school programs for low-income elementary school students. Read More > in the Associated Press
Newsom’s budget sparks concerns – From CalMatters Capitol reporter Alexei Koseff: Newsom’s record-breaking budget proposal was met with some caution on Thursday, when the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal advisor warned that his spending plan includes more proposals than districts and departments — many of which are still figuring out how to use funds from last year’s massive surplus — might be able to effectively implement. The Legislative Analyst’s Office suggested that lawmakers instead consider directing more of the surplus into the state’s reserve accounts, which hold more money than ever before but haven’t kept up with the growth in general fund spending — a potential risk in another economic downturn.
Newsom alluded to those concerns on Monday, but said his hands were tied by a 2014 ballot measure that annually directs a portion of taxes into a rainy-day fund until it reaches 10% of general fund revenue. After hitting that limit — as would be the case in this budget — any additional money must be spent on infrastructure.
- Newsom: “I know many people believe that our reserves are not as high as they should be. I agree with you. But I hope they also would agree with me that in order to get those reserves where they need to go, we need a constitutional amendment to reform our reserve system.”
But that’s not exactly true. Once the rainy-day fund reaches the 10% cap, the state can still make additional optional deposits in the account. It remains to be seen whether Newsom and lawmakers have any desire to do so — let alone try to change the law to require even higher reserves — when there are so many billions of dollars to hand out. Read More > at CalMatters
Nearly extinct salmon spawn in the Bay Area for the first time in 18 years – At first, barely visible beneath the rippling waters of Montezuma Creek in Forest Knolls, the bright red tail of a coho salmon suddenly emerged, splashing along the surface as it swam upstream.
The recent sighting by Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) biologist Ayano Hayes was a milestone for the Bay Area, marking the first time the endangered fish has been spotted in the small tributary of the San Geronimo Valley in Marin County since 2004.
The biologist also discovered salmon in Arroyo Creek, Woodacre Creek and Larsen Creek, where they had not been seen since 2006.
The species has experienced a “serious decline” since the mid-20th century, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, due to threats such as loss of habitat, overexploitation (which occurs when more fish are harvested beyond the species’ capacity to repopulate), interaction with hatchery-raised fish and climatic factors such as lack of precipitation. In recent years, the coho salmon that typically spawned in creeks between the Golden Gate and Monterey Bay were blocked by sand bars because of the drought. They faced extinction over most of their range. Read More > at SFGate
California education issues to watch in 2022 — and predictions of what will happen – There will be record school funding again next year, which will make staff shortages all the more frustrating. But as quotable film star Mae West would say: “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, and rich is better.”
Onward with the sobering future. Here are my forecasts for the new year plus background on big K-12 issues looming ahead.
Testing: This spring, California’s third- through eighth- and 11th-graders will resume taking a shortened version of Smarter Balanced standardized tests in language arts and math after missing two years because of the pandemic. Based on results from interim assessments that most districts have administered the past two years, the Smarter Balanced scores will be abysmal, with a widening of the already big gaps in scores between white students and their Black and Latino peers.
Chances that 2020-21 Smarter Balanced scores will drop more than 10% overall and significantly more for Black and Hispanic students:
Student wellness: Each year, most districts administer the state’s California Healthy Kids Survey, a confidential and anonymous survey of students in odd-numbered grades. It provides a window into school climate and student wellness. Many teachers this year are reporting that students’ stress and mental health issues that were somewhat hidden during distance learning were exposed with the return to school.
Chances that the percentage of high school students feeling connected to school (65% in 2019) and academically motivated (72% in 2019) will drop significantly in 2022:
Chronic absenteeism: Based on early data, McKinsey & Co. projects that the nationwide rate of chronically absent students will be 28% 2021-22, an astounding number that would be 2.7 times what it was two years ago. California, which has a similar definition — missing 10% or more of school days — doesn’t release timely absenteeism data, but some districts do. As of Dec. 17, 1 out of 7 students in Oakland Unified were absent more than 20% of the time and 1 out of 5 were absent between 10% and 20% of the time.
Hedy Chang, executive director of the San Francisco-based nonprofit Attendance Works, has created a new category: extreme chronic absences, describing students missing half of the school year. “There is a huge potential dropout crisis developing,” she said.
Chances that more than one-fifth of California’s students will be chronically absent in 2021-22: Read More > at EdSource
California Lets 23 Leases Expire as Workers Stay Remote – New budget documents show California’s state government has begun to make progress on one of the promises of telework: saving money on office leases.
The Department of General Services, which manages about 14.4 million square feet of leased office space for the state, has relinquished or is in the process of relinquishing about 767,000 square feet of space, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Monday budget proposal.
The changes will save the state about $22.5 million per year, according to the state’s projections.
They’re the first specific figures on lease savings the state has released since Newsom announced in May 2020 that he would move to make telework a permanent option for state workers with jobs that could accommodate it.
Over the next three years, the state expects to reduce leased office space by 20%, which would save about $84.7 million per year, according to the budget proposal. Read More > at Governing
In a First, Man Receives a Heart From a Genetically Altered Pig – A 57-year-old man with life-threatening heart disease has received a heart from a genetically modified pig, a groundbreaking procedure that offers hope to hundreds of thousands of patients with failing organs.
It is the first successful transplant of a pig’s heart into a human being. The eight-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, and the patient, David Bennett Sr. of Maryland, was doing well on Monday, according to surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” said Dr. Bartley Griffith, the director of the cardiac transplant program at the medical center, who performed the operation.
“It’s working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring us. This has never been done before.”
Researchers hope procedures like this will usher in a new era in medicine in the future when replacement organs are no longer in short supply for the more than half a million Americans who are waiting for kidneys and other organs. Read More > in The New York Times
Expect ‘huge battles’ over working from home between employees and bosses soon, says Stanford professor who’s studied remote work for 20 years – Flexible work arrangements have become non-negotiable for job-seekers and employees alike — so much so that people now value such flexibility as much as a 10% pay raise, according to new research from the WFH Research Project. But not all companies are on the same page as their employees when it comes to remote and hybrid work.
Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University, co-founded the research team in May 2020 alongside Jose Maria Barrero, an assistant professor at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in Mexico City, and economist Steven J. Davis.
Their latest research, shared on Jan. 3, collected responses from more than 17,000 employees in the United States about their attitudes toward working from home versus returning to the office.
About 50% of respondents who have worked from home during the coronavirus pandemic said they would prefer a hybrid schedule once the virus is under control.
Although large shares of people prefer a remote or hybrid work arrangement, Bloom, who has studied remote work for nearly 20 years, tells CNBC Make It that he expects there to be “huge battles” between employees and managers over remote work in the coming months. Read More > at CNBC Make It
Even Mark Zuckerberg is leaving California for Texas – First Elon Musk, now Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg’s company, Meta (formerly Facebook), announced it would lease offices in a massive new building in Austin, Texas. Big tech companies, who cut their teeth and built empires in California, are fleeing the state and relocating to Texas. It’s almost as if high taxes, stifling corporate regulations, and out-of-control housing costs are unattractive to businesses and long-term sustainability. Who knew?
The Austin Business Journal was among the first to report on Meta’s move.
“Months of speculation have come to an end as California-based Meta Platforms Inc. — the parent company of Facebook — recently leased the entire commercial half of Sixth and Guadalupe, the 66-story high-rise under construction downtown that will be Austin’s tallest building when finished. The social media company has also pledged hundreds more jobs in the Texas capital,” the Austin Business Journal reported.
The California-to-Texas “techs-odus” is becoming a trend. Other tech companies such as Oracle, HP Inc., and 8VC have recently relocated to Texas. As of November 2020, 35 major companies had relocated or opened new sites in Austin, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
California has become not just advantageous for businesses to remain in the state. Compared to California’s high cost of living and regulatory burdens, Texas offers companies fewer restrictions, less taxation, and lower housing prices. Read More > in the Washington Examiner
Rare Earths: Fighting for the Fuel of the Future – Rare earths have become a fundamental part of modern life. Cell phones, computers, televisions, and cars are among the indispensable products powered by the strong internal magnets manufactured from rare earths. Modern medical devices, communication systems, and a sustainable, “green” energy transition are entirely dependent on successful exploitation of this non-renewable resource and, as can be easily inferred, rare earths are vital for the development of military technology.
To introduce a more familiar comparison, OPEC controls 41 percent of oil production and, with that, has wielded tremendous geopolitical power for decades. This dependency compelled the United States to aggressively support the development of alternative supply chains. Today, despite China controlling approximately 60 percent of rare earth ore, producing 85 percent of the oxides, and accounting for more than 95 percent of the rare earth manufacturing, there is no comparable response.ADVERTISEMENT
With growing tensions in Southeast Asia, an ongoing trade war, and mounting global pressure to combat climate change with “green” technology, the potential for a global crisis is rising. In such a situation, beyond diplomatic and economic measures, military supremacy and deterrence are essential for the United States to continue defending its interests.
To complicate matters, the ability for the U.S. to maintain any militarily competitive edge over China is largely dependent on the same vulnerable supply chain. Precision-guided weapons, stealth technology, drones, and satellites are among the key strategic defense elements that rely on rare earths. Each F-35 aircraft, shared by 14 allied nations and considered instrumental for future warfare, contains 920 pounds of rare earth material. China has already demonstrated the ability to directly affect this development. Read More > in The Diplomat
Heating Up Testicles With Nanoparticles Could Be a Form of Male Birth Control – Women have a variety of methods for contraception, but only two methods are commonly available to men: condoms and vasectomies. Both methods have their drawbacks.
Condoms can break, and some men are allergic to the latex in standard condoms. Vasectomies are surgical procedures that can be painful and difficult to reverse.
So the search for alternative male contraceptive options continues, and one method currently being investigated is nanocontraception.
Nanocontraception is based on the idea that nanoparticles — here, about 100 nanometres in diameter, or roughly one-thousandth the width of a piece of paper or of a strand of human hair — can somehow be delivered to the testicles, where they can be warmed.
If you could warm up the testicles just a bit, you would have a way to turn sperm production on and off at will because the warmer they get, the less fertile they become. But it’s a delicate process because the testicles can be irreversibly destroyed if they become too warm; the tissue dies and can no longer produce sperm, even when the testicles return to their normal temperature. Read More > at Real Clear Science
CDC says ‘over 75 percent’ of COVID deaths were in those with ‘at least 4 comorbidities’ – Speaking to Good Morning America, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky confirmed that “the overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 percent, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities, so these are people who were unwell to begin with.”
These comments come as questions are being raised about the data collected and parsed by the CDC, with concerns about the gap between those who died with COVID as opposed to those who died because of COVID. There have been concerns that those who died from other causes, but also had COVID at the time of death, have had their deaths attributed to COVID.
Walensky was citing a CDC study released on Friday that found that so-called breakthrough coronavirus deaths among those who are vaccinated were more likely to happen in those with 4 or more comorbidities, Fox News reported. According to CDC data, 52 percent of COVID deaths in the US were COVID plus pneumonia.
Walensky spoke to Fox News’ Bret Baier, saying “In some hospitals that we’ve talked to, up to 40 percent of the patients who are coming in with COVID are coming in not because they’re sick with COVID but because they’re coming in with something else and have had COVID or the omicron variant detected.” Read More > at Post Millennial
The true story behind the West Coast’s only native oyster. – At San Francisco’s nostalgia-inducing Swan Oyster Depot, the menu includes oysters from both coasts: you might choose among Kumamotos from Humboldt Bay, California; Miyagis from Puget Sound, Washington; Blue Points from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. But if you go to the restaurant, with its marble counter and 18 wooden stools, half of which date back to the 1800s, you might be able to try the favorite oyster of one of the restaurant owners. “If I had one oyster I could eat from anywhere in the world, it would be the Olympia. It’s a very unique oyster, with a very briny, very mineral-y, almost coppery taste,” says Steve Sancimino.
Sancimino loves to tell interested customers that the Olympia is San Francisco Bay’s native oyster and that the miners came and ate them all. Then, two of the biggest growers—John Stillwell Morgan and Michael Bolan Moraghan—cultivated them in places like Oyster Point, in South San Francisco, and the East Bay. But during the gold rush, the sludge from hydraulic mining came down from the rivers and smothered the oyster beds.
However, the history of the hometown oyster may be more about quiet resilience than boom and bust. When throngs of gold-seekers arrived in San Francisco in the mid-1800s, they definitely brought their appetite for oysters with them. But the ’49ers, while guilty of many things, may not have actually plundered and then destroyed the bay’s native oyster beds. Andrew Cohen, director of the Center for Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions, who has been investigating the story intermittently for more than a decade, thinks that the bay’s wild-oyster population could be about the same as or even greater than it was back in the day. “There’s no evidence to support the idea that native oysters were more abundant in the bay when the Europeans first showed up and were wiped out during the gold rush,” he says. “People who are trying to restore them are laboring under a misconception.”
Restoration-minded scientists in California agree that the historical record is spotty, but the overarching reasons to support native oysters are sound. “Oysters have always been present in the bay, and we know that they have benefits. I’m not sure it’s important whether they were enormously abundant 50 years ago, 500 years ago, or 5,000 years ago,” says Ted Grosholz, a professor of ecology at UC Davis. Read More > at Alta Online
Oil Bulls Begin The Year With A Bang – Oil has started off on a positive note in 2022 so far, with robust demand continuously exceeding market expectations and Omicron fears waning.
– Even though there has been a relative lack of major developments in the market, partial supply disruptions in Libya and Ecuador have kept markets tighter than expected, pushing oil prices above the $80 per barrel mark.
– Initial production data seem to suggest that the gap between OPEC+ quotas and actual production keeps on widening, with a recent Platts survey hinting that December additions amounted to only 310,000 b/d.
– A total of 14 counties (out of the 18 nations participating) failed to hit their production targets in December, including Russia whose crude output has been stagnating for a couple of months already.
The limited impact of Omicron on markets compared to all previous COVID variants has been the main bullish factor for oil prices in 2022, with demand continuously proving skeptics wrong. This week finally brought a resolution to Libya’s prolonged infrastructure blockade yet it will be weeks before we see production and exports back at levels they were before December 2021. That being said, global inventories are still low and there has been little change on that front recently. News of European stocks dropping 11% month-on-month in December, as well as the tacit anticipation of US crude inventories seeing their seventh consecutive weekly draw, is only adding to bullish sentiment. Read More > at Oil Price
Your teen’s being sarcastic? It’s a sign of intelligence – If I were to tell you that sarcasm is one of our most powerful linguistic tools, your first response might reasonably be, yeah right! Perhaps you’d even simply assume that I was indulging in a little irony myself.
We are often reminded, after all, of Oscar Wilde’s jibe that “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit” while forgetting that the famous twister of words immediately qualified his statement by adding “but the highest form of intelligence”. Parents or teachers of teenagers, in particular, may find it hard to believe that this linguistic quirk is a sign of a flexible and inventive mind.
Yet that is exactly what psychologists and neuroscientists have been arguing. They have found that sarcasm requires the brain to jump through numerous hoops to arrive at a correct interpretation, requiring more brainpower than literal statements. And although it’s often dismissed as juvenile snark, sarcasm is actually evidence of maturity – as it takes years for a child’s developing brain to fully grasp and master it.
The mental effort pays off. Sarcasm allows us to add much-needed nuance to our interactions, softening the blows of our insults or adding a playful tease to a compliment. There is even some evidence that it can prime us to be more creative and that it can help us to vent negative emotions when we’re feeling down Read More > at the BBC
Grocery shortages seen across country amid omicron surge – Many people going grocery shopping recently have come out empty-handed as the omicron variant of COVID-19 has disrupted food supply chains.
Over the past few weeks and days, photos of empty shelves have popped up on social media.
The new omicron variant of COVID-19 has helped cause the shortages at grocery stores.
When workers at jobs such as meatpacking factories or warehouses are out, products end up being delayed getting onto trucks for delivery. Furthermore, if truckers are out sick, they aren’t able to deliver food products to stores, resulting in empty shelves and unhappy shoppers.
“So what’s changed now in the past couple weeks? Obviously, there’s omicron,” said John Rosen, an adjunct economics professor at the University of New Haven. He noted that the new strain of the virus affects supply chains, and thus grocery stores, in a number of ways.
The first is simply the scale of the virus’s spread. While it is believed to be less severe than other iterations of COVID-19, omicron is thought to be much more contagious than previous variants.
Another way omicron is affecting grocery stores is through schools. Some schools have gone back to remote learning, which means that in many cases, parents need to watch their children during the day.
“People who work at grocery stores tend to be part-time people who have young children, so [when] the schools are closed, like they are in Chicago, that has a disproportionate impact on things like retail stores,” Rosen told the Washington Examiner.
The Food Industry Association’s vice president of industry relations, Doug Baker, said the pandemic “has transformed almost every aspect of the food retail industry” and that despite the supply chain issues and problems with getting food on shelves, the supply of food is still plentiful.
“A combination of several factors, from labor and transportation shortages to recent extreme weather events, continues to impact the movement of food through the supply chain,” Baker said in a statement. “These issues can be difficult for grocery stores to predict, as they’re often regional and inconsistent.”
While the omicron variant may be exacerbating the supply chain situation recently, the situation was far from good to begin with.
Another cause of shortages is the so-called “great resignation,” named as such because so many people are quitting their jobs, causing labor to be hard to come by for some businesses, particularly in lower-paying industry spaces where grocery stores and warehouses operate.
About 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November, up from 4.2 million the month before . The number of people quitting is the highest since the country began keeping records of the statistic about two decades ago and is equivalent to about 3% of the workforce. Read More > in the Washington Examiner
Gallup’s least ethical: TV reporters, Congress, lobbyists – There’s a not-so-hidden message in Gallup’s latest survey on the honesty and ethics of professions: America hates Washington, D.C.
At the bottom of its list of 22 professions sits the media-politics industry that dominates the city.
“Americans are most skeptical of the ethics of elected officials, particularly at the federal level, as well as the media,” the analysis dryly reads.
Professionals that should be viewed as having high standards are instead graded low in the survey, putting reporters, House and Senate members, and lobbyists at the bottom.
Of those three groups, newspaper reporters have the highest marks in average honesty and ethics at 39%. Car salespeople do better, with an average score of 49%.
But in the key column of “very high/high” ethics and honesty that Gallup focused on, newspaper reporters earned just 17%.
Still better compared to TV reporters (14%), members of Congress (9%), and lobbyists at the very bottom (5%).
At the top, as usual, were nurses, members of the military, and teachers. As with most polls, the politics of those questioned played a big role in how professions were viewed. Read More > in the Washington Examiner
Climate Industrial Complex Left Clueless as Fossil Fuels Proliferate – It has been a little more than a month since the United Nations climate meeting at Glasgow, yet global use of fossil fuels has increased rapidly.
As climate doomsayers met in November in Glasgow for the annual U.N. meeting, Asian political leaders promoted policies that sought to increase fossil fuel production — largely because of lessons learned from acute coal shortages in India and China earlier in the year.
The Indian government has opened more coal mines and has allocated new mines to private players through auctions. India’s coal minister has asked the government’s coal production arm, Coal India Limited, to meet an annual target of 1 billion tonnes by 2024.
Meanwhile, China is taking similar measures to ensure its coal supply. Coal production for November hit record highs as Beijing scrambled to ensure enough of the fuel to meet winter needs. October 2021 witnessed the highest monthly production since March 2015. Overall, the first 11 months of this year accounted for 3.67 billion tonnes of coal, which is 4.2% higher than 2020.
So, if anyone is thinking that fossil fuels are dead, they should think again. The 2.6 billion people in India and China will continue to use fossil fuels as their primary energy source until 2070. Even the most advanced European and Scandinavian countries are witnessing a revival of the fossil fuel sector.
It is as if the anti-fossil climate conference never happened this year. As if promises to end fossil fuels are nothing but vapors from the incense offered at the altar of climate drama — only to be consumed by an inescapable energy reality. Read More > at Real Clear Energy
U.S. Producer Prices Slipped From Record Peak in December – Prices that suppliers are charging businesses and other customers closed out 2021 near the highest level in over a decade, though December showed a slight cooling of producer inflation.
The Labor Department said Thursday that its producer-price index rose 0.2% in December from November, the slowest pace since November 2020 and down sharply from a revised 1.0% the prior month—a possible sign of easing inflationary pressures in the U.S. supply chain.
However, prices remain much higher than they were a year ago, climbing 9.7% on a 12-month basis, down just slightly from November’s revised 9.8% rise, the fastest since records began in 2010.
The producer-price numbers, which generally reflect supply conditions in the economy, suggest that uncomfortably high consumer inflation will persist in 2022, though the pace of price gains might begin to slow or gradually reverse. The consumer-price index hit a 39-year high of 7% in December, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.
Mahir Rasheed, U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said that though the slowdown in producer-price inflation was encouraging, he expects inflation to remain high throughout the U.S. supply chain in early 2022. He added that the effects of the Omicron variant could push them up further. Read More > in The Wall Street Journal
More than 1 million fewer students are in college. Here’s how that impacts the economy – More than 1 million fewer students are enrolled in college now than before the pandemic began. According to new data released Thursday, U.S. colleges and universities saw a drop of nearly 500,000 undergraduate students in the fall of 2021, continuing a historic decline that began the previous fall.
“It’s very frightening,” says Doug Shapiro, who leads the research center at the National Student Clearinghouse, where the new data comes from. “Far from filling the hole of [2020’s] enrollment declines, we are still digging it deeper.”
Compared with the fall of 2019, the last fall semester before the coronavirus pandemic, undergraduate enrollment has fallen a total of 6.6%. That represents the largest two-year decrease in more than 50 years, Shapiro says.
The nation’s community colleges are continuing to feel the bulk of the decline, with a 13% enrollment drop over the course of the pandemic. But the fall 2021 numbers show that bachelor’s degree-seeking students at four-year colleges are making up about half of the shrinkage in undergraduate students, a big shift from the fall of 2020, when the vast majority of the declines were among associate degree seekers. Read More > at NPR
U.S. craft breweries could raise beer prices due to supply chain issues, economist says – The next time you pop into your favorite brewery, there could be a price shift for that pint you’re about to order.
Despite the pandemic and all of its challenges, overall, it’s been a better-than-expected year for craft beer in Florida. Now, looking ahead, economists say they will face new hurdles that could lead to some tough decisions for independent brewers – including whether to increase prices to offset their increased costs.
An aluminum can shortage is another ripple effect of the pandemic as breweries had the capability to shift to to-go crawlers or cans, increasing the need for the product.
“Overnight, we started drinking a lot more beverage, not just beer, but beverages in package form,” Watson said. “We didn’t drink soda at the movie theater or beer at the bar. We drank those things in cans. So, we’re still seeing the effects of that on package markets.”…
As part of the snowball effect, a deficit of truck drivers that started building before the pandemic also remains a problem. The American Trucking Associations said in October that the U.S. was short an estimated 80,000 drivers, a historic high.
And shipping remains delayed, impacting everything from imported foods to packaging that is printed overseas…
“The malt and barley crops in 2021 were not very good in either the U.S. or Canada, so that might mean increased prices and decreased quality,” he said. “They’re going to have to communicate to the brewhouse. Breweries have to have yeast to deal with barley that has higher protein. It will just mean more work or challenges for them.”
According to NPR, barley is described as an “unforgiving crop… Read More > at FOX13 News