Ag Today April 29, 2019

Trump looks for end to Japan farm tariffs ahead of two visits [Bloomberg]

President Donald Trump urged Japan to end tariffs on U.S. farm products when he met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who appears to have deflected the most damaging U.S. demands on trade weeks before the pair are likely to meet again during two upcoming Trump visits. Trump pushed for the end of the Japanese agricultural levy, while not directly mentioning past threats of sanctions on automobiles….“We’ll be discussing very strongly agriculture because as the prime minister knows Japan puts very massive tariffs on agriculture, our agriculture, for many years, going into Japan, and we want to get rid of those tariffs,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Abe on Friday.


Trump’s new NAFTA faces mounting resistance in democratic House [Wall Street Journal]

…As Congress returns from recess this week with a full plate of priorities, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and other prominent Democrats have signaled they won’t allow a vote on the administration’s new agreement with Canada and Mexico without certain changes. Democrats said they want to make it easier to enforce new rules designed to strengthen labor rights in Mexico, saying a lack of worker protections there is hurting wages and job prospects for U.S. workers. Trump administration officials said these concerns can be handled in follow-up legislation that would implement the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement, or USMCA.


Trump’s tariffs end or his trade deal dies [Wall Street Journal]

…I’ve represented Iowa in the Senate for nearly 40 years and have been a family farmer my entire life….A significant roadblock is the administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum and retaliatory Canadian and Mexican tariffs on U.S. products….If these tariffs aren’t lifted, USMCA is dead. There is no appetite in Congress to debate USMCA with these tariffs in place.


Partisan bickering over Puerto Rico aid strands farmers devastated by extreme weather [New York Times]

…Congress last passed a broad disaster relief package in February 2018, when lawmakers slipped nearly $90 billion into a wide-ranging spending agreement. In the year since, record-breaking natural disasters have ravaged the country: wildfires in California, hurricanes in Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas, and floods across Iowa, Nebraska and much of the rest of the Midwest. But efforts to wrangle a relief package through Congress — typically a seamless feat of bipartisanship — have repeatedly failed, not because senators do not want to help people like Mr. Cohen, some of whom cannot yet reach their land, but because President Trump does not want to give more money to Puerto Rico.


The raisin situation [New York Times]

…At 38, Harry Overly was decades younger than the tenured raisin man he replaced as the chief executive of Sun-Maid….As he tried to make changes in the raisin industry and at his own company, Mr. Overly said he faced intimidation, harassing phone calls and multiple death threats….It makes sense that Sun-Maid and its competitors in the raisin sector, all working and living in the same water-hungry valley, might not be the best of friends. But the American raisin industry, which is estimated to be worth about $500 million, is particularly fractious.


Opinion: Newsom offers a new approach to California’s water issues [Visalia Times-Delta]

By rejecting the twin tunnels proposal, Gov. Gavin Newsom has sent an important message that new thinking is required to address California’s complex water issues. The Delta Counties Coalition is committed to supporting a more thoughtful process….What is clear is that a conveyance-only plan is not a viable, sustainable solution for Northern and Southern California. The funds allocated for tunnels would be better spent on regional portfolio-based measures, including strengthening levees, restoring ecosystem habitat, increasing water use efficiency, developing local and regional water supplies, and providing additional surface and groundwater storage and recharge.