Ag Today August 30, 2019

U.S. companies say trade war is hitting China operations [Wall Street Journal]

More U.S. businesses and farmers say they are suffering amid the prolonged U.S.-China trade war, as they brace for the fallout from a new round of tariffs set to take effect Sunday. The latest U.S. tariffs—taxes on Chinese goods coming into the country—will hit a range of consumer-goods categories for the first time, raising costs for retailers and consumers. Best Buy Co. , for example, was among the latest to warn of the impact the tariffs and trade tensions will have on its business of retailing imported electronics. Its shares dropped 8% on Thursday after it cut its revenue forecast for the year….Shares in the broader U.S. market rose on comments from Chinese officials suggesting the two sides would soon restart stalled talks to find a negotiated settlement to U.S. concerns, which beyond a large U.S. trade deficit include intellectual-property theft and Chinese government subsidies to state-owned corporations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 326.15 points, or 1.3%, at 26362.25. A spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry said the U.S. needed to create the necessary conditions for trade negotiations to proceed, noting that the countries remain in communication over possible talks in September.


Commentary: What do fires in the Amazon have to do with California? More than you might think [Sacramento Bee]

“Coming soon to a rainforest near you: Apocalypse Now – Amazônia,” reads the meme. The picture is of Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro – the so called “Tropical Trump” – and his Environment Minister, Ricardo Salles. Those who have seen the footage of fires raging in the rainforest understand that this is no joke. Fortunately, California is likely better positioned to help stop the apocalypse than anyplace else. The scope of the fires in the Amazon, caused by clearing and burning the forest for illegal land grabbing, as well as cattle pasture and soy, are revealed in NASA satellite images showing rivers of smoke pouring across the continent. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reports 77 percent more fires this year over last. Though California is thousands of miles away from the Amazon, what happens there can have real consequences in the Golden State. For example, research suggests California’s rainfall is affected by the Amazon rainforest. As the rainforest disappears, precipitation in the Sierra Nevada is projected to decline by up to 20 percent, and snowpack by up to 50 percent. Without reducing deforestation in the Amazon, we’re likely to trigger a tipping point that will make rainfall ever less reliable.


It rained so much in California, this year’s lemons are gigantic [Los Angeles Times]

When it rains, it pours oversized lemons. Southern California got so much rain last fall and winter that the lemons grown in the region have became gigantic — but that’s bad news for Limoneira Co., one of the top producers. Bigger lemons are less profitable because they more often get turned into juice rather than heading to grocery stores to be sold as fresh fruit….California’s summer 2018 heat wave resulted in a smaller avocado harvest this fiscal year, which also hurt the company’s revenue, Limoneira said. Limoneira expects an operating loss of $500,000 to $3 million, compared with previous expectations of operating income of $7.5 million to $12.5 million.


Florida orange farmers face new blow with Dorian at doorstep [Bloomberg]

…The storm is now expected to make landfall near Jupiter, Florida, as a Category 4, packing winds reaching 140 miles per hour at a time when citrus growers are still recovering from Hurricane Irma. Two years ago, that storm helped drop the number of oranges produced by the state to its lowest levels since 1945, causing billions of dollars in losses. Dorian may batter at least a quarter of Florida’s main growing areas, said Drew Lerner, president of World Weather Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas. The knee-jerk reaction: Orange-juice futures surged to a 12-week high on concern groves in Florida will face damage similar to the devastation caused by Irma. The price, down 0.1% at 10:55 a.m. Friday in New York, is still on track for its biggest weekly rally in almost two years since Irma’s devastation….The state was showing potential for as many a 80 million boxes in 2019-20, according to Royce. Growers need every fruit they can get because prices paid per box will be lower this year, he said, as Florida’s farmers compete with Brazil’s bumper crop.


Opinion: The frauding of America’s farmers [New York Times]

Donald Trump is unpopular, but he retains the loyalty of some important groups. Among the most loyal are America’s farmers, who are a tiny minority of the population but exert disproportionate political influence because of our electoral system, which gives 3.2 million Iowans as many senators as almost 40 million Californians. According to one recent poll, 71 percent of farmers approve of Trump’s performance — which is down somewhat from previous polling, but remains far above the national average. Yet farmers are hurting financially. Investors are worried about a possible recession for the economy as a whole, but the farm recession is already here, with falling incomes, rising delinquency rates and surging bankruptcies. And the farm economy’s troubles stem directly from Trump’s policies. This apparent contradiction — Trump is inflicting the greatest harm on the people who supported him most — isn’t an accident. Farmers’ past support for Trump was predictable: The demography and culture of (white) rural America make it fertile ground for politicians promising to restore traditional society, and especially traditional racial hierarchy. But farmers’ financial distress should also have been predictable: While rural America may dislike and distrust cosmopolitan elites, the U.S. farm economy is hugely dependent on global markets, and it has inevitably been a major victim of the Trumpian trade war.


Opinion: Shady immigration services are preying on L.A. County migrant workers [Los Angeles Times]

The Trump administration’s new immigration policies — along with a host of recent draconian enforcement actions — are producing an all-too-predictable and unfortunate consequence: a dramatic increase in the number of victims of immigration services fraud. Complaints about unscrupulous immigration services providers in Los Angeles County jumped almost 90% in 2018, to about 275 cases, according to the county’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs….The trend toward predatory immigration services providers is likely more prevalent in California than in any other state. California is home to about 3 million immigrants who have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas, according to the Migration Policy Institute, and account for about 8% of the state’s population.