Ag Today December 28, 2018

Demanding wall money, Trump threatens to close Mexico border [Reuters]

President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to close the U.S. southern border if Congress does not agree to provide $5 billion in taxpayer funds for his border wall, widening a dispute that has already closed portions of the federal government. With “non-essential” operations at numerous agencies shut down for lack of funding and Congress adjourned until next week, Trump was in the White House firing off angry tweets….“Either we build (finish) the Wall or we close the Border,” he added.


From California budget to water, Brown leaves lasting mark [Associated Press]

California Gov. Jerry Brown leaves office Jan. 7 after a record four terms as the state’s chief executive. After serving from 1975 to 1983, he was re-elected by voters in 2010….After leading California through one of its worst droughts, Brown this year signed a law requiring local governments to adopt year-round water conservation standards that critics deem government overreach. He championed a 2014 ballot measure authorizing billions for water storage and other projects, and signed groundwater management laws. But his ambitious plan to spend $17 billion on two giant tunnels to modernize how California transports water from the north to south won’t be completed before Brown leaves office, or possibly ever. It would be an extension of the State Water Project that his father, former Gov. Pat Brown, began during the 1950s and 60s.


Morgan Hill mushroom grower sued over alleged toxic waste dumping [San Francisco Chronicle]

Monterey Mushrooms Inc. grows mushrooms in several states and is headquartered in Watsonville. Investigators with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found that over six years, the grower’s Morgan Hill facility pumped waste contaminated with hazardous levels of ammonia into Fisher Creek, which flows into Coyote Creek, according to the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office. Runoff from compost piles on the property made its way into Fisher Creek tributaries, according to the lawsuit. “Generally, process water goes into a process water holding pond and gets evaporated,” said Denise Raabe, a deputy district attorney. “By getting rid of it, though, dumping it into the creeks, they’re not having to construct another pond.” Over two days in 2017, the company allegedly pumped nearly 700,000 gallons of wastewater into Fisher Creek. Officials said the ammonia was created by the horse stable hay and poultry manure used in the mushroom-growing process. The company said in a statement Thursday that it was “shocked” at the filing and confirmed it had been speaking with the district attorney’s office about the impact of local flooding from heavy storms in late 2016 and early 2017.


Pilot program aimed at encouraging farmers to alter growing styles [Star Tribune, Minneapolis]

On 1,100 acres of farmland near Austin, Minn., 47-year-old Tom Cotter has embraced no-till planting and cover crops that keep carbon stored in his soil and out of the atmosphere. Cotter changed his farming methods for financial reasons, not just to fight climate change, and stuck with them long enough to see them pay off. Cotter sees a new pilot program in the 2018 federal farm bill that pays farmers to experiment with the same growing style as a chance for others to enjoy the economic and environmental benefits he has….Farming techniques that fight climate change by increasing carbon stored in soil do not work everywhere, explained Tim Smith, a professor of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota. But where they do work, soil quality and productivity improves. They also reduce the need for fertilizers that contribute to carbon in the atmosphere.


China eases pig transport ban to ensure supplies amid African swine fever [Reuters]

China has loosened the rules on the transportation of breeder pigs and piglets in provinces that are affected by the African swine fever, the agriculture ministry said on Thursday. The move, which came after Beijing reported more than 90 cases of the highly contagious disease since August, was put in place to ensure pig production and pork supplies, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on its website. Breeder pigs and piglets from counties without outbreaks of the disease will be allowed to be transported to other provinces, the ministry said. Breeder pigs and piglets from infected counties will be allowed to be moved within the infected province, it added.