Ag Today December 20, 2019

House passes North American trade pact with bipartisan support [Wall Street Journal]

The House of Representatives approved President Trump’s amended North American trade pact on Thursday in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, a rare instance of legislative cooperation in an era of intense political divisions. The House approved legislation to implement the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA, by a 385 to 41 vote, with 193 Democrats and 192 Republicans backing the pact. The Senate is expected to pass the legislation early next year, after which the president would sign it into law.


Almonds and pecans may be key to U.S.-China farm deal [Bloomberg News]

Almonds, cashews and pecans may be some of the easiest nuts to crack in order for China to fulfill its pledge to buy more U.S. agricultural products. China is likely to purchase about $2.5 billion worth of American nuts a year as part of its phase one trade deal with the U.S., according to influential agriculture consultant Shanghai JC Intelligence Co….While soybeans, grains and pork are widely expected to be part of the purchases, nuts may come as a surprise to those who are unaware of China’s love for the hard little snack. Almonds, pistachios and macadamia nuts are popular among Chinese people, who regard them as a health food.


E. coli outbreak linked to romaine grown in Salinas has sickened 138 people in 25 states [Salinas Californian]

Officials continue to warn against eating romaine grown in Salinas amid investigations into E. coli outbreaks that have sicked more than 130 people across half of the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and California partners have identified a common grower and have deployed an investigative team to several ranches used by the grower to determine precisely where the outbreak originated, according a statement from the FDA Thursday….The CDC reported 138 cases…The latest date one of these patients reported becoming ill was on Dec. 1.


Companies outside tech jump into AI research [Wall Street Journal]

Corporations in industries beyond technology—ranging from real estate to farm equipment—are setting up artificial-intelligence research centers in and around Silicon Valley, Toronto and other technology hot spots….Located in San Francisco’s SoMa district, John Deere Labs is playing a key role in shaping the company’s plans to support data-driven precision agriculture. Founded two years ago, the 12-person facility helped design the John Deere Operations Center, a cloud-based, machine-learning app used by farmers to analyze the data gathered by their Deere vehicles on some 150 million acres under cultivation.


Editorial: In a battle over Kings River water, Fresno should clearly win out over Kern County [Fresno Bee]

…This proposal contains all the elements of a classic California water war: A far-off entity wanting to take water from elsewhere in the state, while those closest to where the water actually originates cry foul….But there are new aspects to this classic battle that could wind up being game-changers. The bottom line is that the proposal by the Semitropic Water Storage District, which is headquartered in Wasco, should be denied by state officials as a bad idea for several reasons.


Opinion: California must stop agriculture from fouling our drinking water [CalMatters]

…Agriculture must use more sustainable practices to reduce the poisons in our groundwater….The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is beginning to work on a new set of requirements for agriculture on the Central Coast, to ensure that our rivers and our water quality are protected. Those of us who drink from that water urge board members to work hard to find practical, effective solutions that can ensure a healthy future for our children and our communities.