Ag Today April 1, 2019

Emails show FDA worry after romaine outbreaks [Associated Press]

After repeated food poisoning outbreaks tied to romaine lettuce, a U.S. food safety official shared his concerns in an internal email, saying the produce industry’s water testing “failed in an epic and tragic way.”…Though the FDA has publicly called on the leafy greens industry to step up safety, the emails offer a stark view of the agency’s longstanding frustrations with continued outbreaks. They also show how the agency leveraged the crisis to pressure for voluntary changes, even as it tries to figure out its own water testing rules.


Farmers look to adapt to climate change [Bakersfield Californian]

…Mention of climate change may still provoke skepticism in other sectors, but in California’s agriculture industry, the discussion is less about whether disruption is coming than it is about how farmers will adapt. A consensus appears to have emerged that extreme weather conditions — drought and flooding, hotter summers and milder winters — will increase competition for irrigation water such that some crops now produced in the Central Valley may no longer be economically feasible in the region….For all the alarm, industry leaders say the threats climate change presents are no worse than other challenges they must cope with: rising labor costs, groundwater pumping restrictions and regulations that cut off access to effective, if potentially harmful, pesticides.


As anti-fur sentiment grows, California’s oldest trappers are calling it quits [Los Angeles Times]

…A San Francisco ban on fur sales took effect in January, while two bills in the state Legislature seek to ban trapping for commercial purposes and outlaw the sale of fur products statewide….Opponents of the anti-fur bills include Noelle Cremers, a lobbyist for the California Farm Bureau Federation. She argues that their approval would carry significant economic consequences for the agriculture industry. “In a historical partnership, we have members who allow trappers on their property to manage wildlife,” she said, “which prevents the need to seek special depredation permits from wildlife authorities.”


AV farming legacy endangered [Antelope Valley Press]

…The Antelope Valley’s agricultural legacy is endangered. The blame can be attributed in part to California’s higher labor costs and a 2015 court settle­ment that set limits on ground water pumping for users across the Valley….Some longtime farmers left the Antelope Valley for other parts of the state. Some farmers left California for other states, and others retired….Some California farmers moved their operations to Mexico where the labor and water costs are significantly less….But agriculture in general in the Valley has been disappearing fast.


Democratic candidates woo farm belt voters by taking aim at agriculture firms [Wall Street Journal]

Democratic presidential candidates pitched voters in this farm-heavy state on their plans to stir up competition in the agriculture industry and stem the consolidation of corporate power in the U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, as well as former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, took aim at Bayer AG’s more than $60 billion purchase of Monsanto Co….Candidates are eager to win the support of Iowa’s farmers, a powerful constituency in the state that holds the first-in-the-nation primary caucuses in February. Many farmers interviewed said they were unhappy with the deal because they feared the combined firm would have greater control over the market, and some said they simply disliked Germany’s Bayer purchasing an American company.


Editorial: Jackpot junk science [Wall Street Journal]

The vagaries of American tort law were on display in San Francisco last week as six jurors decided that Bayer AG is liable for $80.3 million in damages for allegedly causing a Sonoma man’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The scientific consensus is that Bayer’s Roundup herbicide is safe, but the company is now open for looting as it faces lawsuits from some 11,200 similar plaintiffs….Bayer says it will appeal, but the German firm must wonder if it was worth buying Monsanto, which makes Roundup, and exposing itself to American jackpot justice.