Ag Today, August 19, 2019

The latest casualty of Trump’s trade war with China? California wine [Los Angeles Times]

…Since April 2018, in response to U.S. tariffs, China has slapped retaliatory taxes on $110 billion in U.S. imports — products as varied as electronics and soybeans. For wine, taxes and tariffs now amount to a 93% surcharge on every U.S. bottle….“China was our fastest-growing export market,” said Honore Comfort, vice president for international marketing at the Wine Institute, a San Francisco trade group….But U.S. wine exports to China were down by 33% in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2017.


Surviving the next drought: It’s political in California’s Central Valley [Courthouse News Service]

…With the last drought in the rearview and the next one inevitable, the damaging run on groundwater has state water agencies and lawmakers mulling whether to spend hundreds of millions to patch up a federally owned canal. But critics say doing so would amount to a clear bailout for the state’s largest farmers….Since 1951, the gravity-fed Friant-Kern Canal has delivered San Joaquin River water from Fresno to water districts south to Bakersfield….During the last drought alone, some areas of land near the canal dropped up 2 feet.


Judge won’t reconsider ruling in Agua Caliente tribe’s water case [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

A U.S. District Court judge has denied a motion from the federal government to reconsider a ruling on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ lawsuit against two Coachella Valley water agencies….The tribe claims in its 2013 lawsuit that the Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District have infringed upon its rights by over-pumping groundwater from the Coachella Valley’s aquifer….The landmark case determined that the tribe has reserved rights to the aquifer below the Agua Caliente reservation’s land. However, other key parts of the case were dismissed in April by Bernal, who ruled that the tribe did not have a claim of harm because it has always had enough water — water that met all applicable water-quality standards.


Spraying antibiotics to fight citrus scourge doesn’t help, study finds [New York Times]

…The study, published last week in the journal Phytopathology, found that spraying the drug oxytetracycline on trees had no detectable impact on the bacterial disease know as citrus greening that slowly kills orange and grapefruit trees….Researchers carried out a parallel experiment by injecting the drug into the trees’ trunks, instead of spraying, and they found a notable decline in citrus greening bacteria. There’s only one problem: Injecting oxytetracycline into citrus trees is not approved by the E.P.A., and applying the drug via injection would be prohibitively expensive, growers and industry officials say. Another potential nit: Researchers found antibiotic residues in fruit that were more than three times higher than are permissible, a potential hurdle for injecting antibiotics into citrus trees.


Editorial: California must fight back as Trump guts Endangered Species Act [San Francisco Chronicle]

…The changes, which could take effect in 30 days, include provisions that dodge science, ignore climate change and undercut protections built into a law considered one of the strongest environmental measures on the books….California leaders are beginning to formulate a needed response….A more sweeping and possibly instantaneous response is SB1, a bill by state Sen. Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat and her chamber’s top leader. The measure making its way through the Legislature would keep federal environmental rules and other laws that were in place before Jan. 20, 2017, the day Trump took office.


Editorial: Endangered species overreach [Wall Street Journal]

…The goal of all this is to return to a rules-driven, scientific approach to species management. States like California are threatening to sue, but Interior will have a strong defense because its new rule adheres closely to the text of the statute. Greens long ago commandeered the species law via lawsuits and regulatory overreach to put more land under bureaucratic control….Many struggling species live on private land, and the cooperation of owners is crucial for recovery. Environmental laws and regulations should encourage stewardship, rather than penalize private partners.