Ag Today December 27, 2019

Farmers, UFW on board for ag labor immigration bill [Fresno Business Journal]

For years, politicians and business leaders have wanted reforms to U.S. immigration laws, but the growing rift between political parties has long stalled those efforts. That may change soon, at least on a small scale. Despite the particularly heated dispute now going on between Democrats and Republicans over efforts to impeach President Donald Trump, last week Congress passed an immigration bill that stops short of revamping major portions of our immigration laws but rather offers changes focused on the law as it applies to one narrow group — farm workers.


California water cutbacks could take large area of farmland out of production [NPR]

California is increasing regulations on groundwater. For many farmers in the state, it is a step too far. The law’s critics say it could lead to a loss of half a million acres of farmland in California’s Central Valley. As Kerry Klein of member station KVPR in Fresno reports, some farmers are so worried, they’re quitting.


The F.A.A. wants to start tracking drones’ locations [New York Times]

The Federal Aviation Administration proposed wide-sweeping regulations on Thursday that would require that all but the tiniest drones incorporate technology that would enable them to be tracked at all times while flying in United States airspace….As drone operators, manufacturers and others involved in the rapidly expanding drone industry began sifting through the 319-page proposal on Thursday afternoon, responses varied wildly. While some applauded the F.A.A. for finally creating a system to rapidly identify owners of rogue — potentially deadly — drones, others declared that this was going to drastically hinder drone efficiency and cost effectiveness.


Rank-and-file workers get bigger raises [Wall Street Journal]

Wages for rank-and-file workers are rising at the quickest pace in more than a decade, even faster than for bosses, a sign that the labor market has tightened sufficiently to convey bigger increases to lower-paid employees. Gains for those workers have accelerated much of this year, a time when the unemployment rate fell to a half-century low. A short supply of workers, increased poaching and minimum-wage increases have helped those nearer to the bottom of the pay scale.


Food tech could stop rot: No more brown bananas or squishy avocados? [Los Angeles Times]

…As much as 40% of food — and nearly half of produce — produced annually in the U.S. goes uneaten, according to government estimates….The average American family throws away 25% of groceries purchased, costing a family of four an estimated $1,600 annually, ReFed says….Technology that extends shelf life has been around for a long time, but there has recently been a “huge uptick” in innovations that expand the options, helping to drive the $185 million in venture capital invested in combating food waste last year, Coari said….Goleta, Calif.-based Apeel Sciences, which has created an all-natural coating that gives produce a spoilage-resistant skin, last year landed a $70-million funding round that included Andreessen Horowitz, a prominent venture capital firm that has backed some of the biggest tech companies.