Ag Today April 9, 2019

Trump aide Stephen Miller ‘going to clean house’ as immigration policy hardens [Los Angeles Times]

Shortly before ousting Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump said he’ll take an even “tougher” tack on border policies that for more than two years, by his own measure, have failed to deter immigration. Some fear that may include a return of the reviled family separations that Trump was forced to back away from last year, as well as more firings. But experts cautioned that replacing high-level personnel may not be enough to salvage an immigration policy that isn’t working and has been reined in by the courts and Congress. In the latest example of the administration’s string of losses in court, late Monday a federal judge in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration policy forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico. Roughly 1,000 asylum seekers have been forced to remain in Mexico since the administration announced that policy early this year. The judge gave the administration until April 12 to seek a stay from the court of appeals.


US Congress approves Colorado River drought plan [Associated Press]

A plan to address a shrinking supply of water on a river that serves 40 million people in the U.S. West is headed to President Donald Trump. The U.S. House and Senate approved the Colorado River drought contingency plan on Monday. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming spent years negotiating the drought plan. They aim to keep two key reservoirs from falling so low they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower. Mexico has promised to store water in Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border if the U.S. legislation is approved by April 22. State water managers and federal officials have cited a prolonged drought, climate change and increasing demand for the river’s flows as reasons to cut back on water usage. The agreement runs through 2026. In the lower basin, Arizona and Nevada would keep water in Lake Mead when it falls to certain levels. The cuts eventually would loop in California if Lake Mead’s level drops far enough….The Imperial Irrigation District in California, which holds the largest entitlement to Colorado River water, and environmental groups had raised concern about draft language they took to mean federal laws like the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act would be disregarded.


U.S. readies $11 billion in tariffs on E.U. [New York Times]

The United States and the European Union are preparing to impose tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s products, the latest escalation in a 14-year fight over government aid given to Boeing and European rival Airbus. “The World Trade Organization finds that the European Union subsidies to Airbus has adversely impacted the United States, which will now put Tariffs on $11 Billion of E.U. products!” President Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday morning. “The E.U. has taken advantage of the U.S. on trade for many years. It will soon stop!” The United States Trade Representative said on Monday night that it was preparing a list of European products to tax as retaliation for European subsidies to Airbus, which the World Trade Organization ruled were illegal in May 2018. That prompted the European Union to announce that it was also readying a list of tariffs to counter American subsidies to Boeing. The moves come amid tense trade relations between the United States and Europe, which are engaged in tit-for-tat tariffs following Mr. Trump’s decision last year to tax European steel and aluminum. Mr. Trump has also threatened to impose tariffs on European cars and car parts if the European Union did not agree to better trade terms for American products. Europe has said it will impose its own duties on American goods if Mr. Trump follows through on that threat.


Bad news, good news for olive growers [Fresno Business Journal]

It’s been a rough several years for California table olive growers, who face a future full of change. Competition from cheap Spanish olives has cut into demand for domestically-grown olives, with farmers here enduring years of low prices for their olives for canning and bottling. Table olive growers in California — the nation’s primary olive-producing state — were finally seeing some light, as prices have risen slightly over the past four years and demand for domestic table olives rose after the federal government last summer imposed heavy tariffs on Spanish olives after determining dumping cheap olives here was an unfair trade practice. Spain’s government and the European Union are challenging that action….The good news for U.S. olive farmers didn’t last long, as last month Bell-Carter Foods, Inc. — one of only two large processors in the country of table or “ripe” olives — began notifying many of its growers their contracts with the Walnut Creek-based company wouldn’t be renewed. That action didn’t affect growers of olives used for olive oil. They generally have done better recently than table olive growers.


Value of US wine exports drops to lowest level since 2012 [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

The value of U.S. wine exports declined by 5 percent last year to its lowest level since 2012, in part because of President Trump’s trade war with China, the Wine Institute said Monday. American wineries sold $1.47 billion of wine to foreign retailers in 2018. The overall volume also dropped 1.2% to 41.7 million wine cases, according to the institute, the main trade group for California vintners. California wines comprised more than 90 percent of U.S. exports, with the premium bottles from Napa and Sonoma counties especially prized in international markets. The European Union remains the largest market for U.S. vintners with $469 million in sales last year, a 15% drop largely because of a strong dollar. It was followed by Canada with $448 million in sales, up 1%.


Editorial: Seeking border solutions within [Santa Maria Times]

President Trump visited our border with Mexico last week for more wall promotion and saber-rattling. It was essentially a photo-op event. Trump is correct about two aspects of his build-the-wall mantra — there is a human crisis at the border, and too many illegal drugs are coming into this country from points south and elsewhere. That is the route America’s No. 1 overdose killer — fentanyl — travels into the United States, and into the bodies of the millions of Americans now hooked on a dangerous substance. Fentanyl isn’t the only illegal invader. Tons of other drugs, including heroin, cocaine and marijuana, cross our border with Mexico every month, and no matter how much interdiction we do on this side of the border, the flow continues, virtually uninterrupted.