Ag Today December 6, 2019

China to waive tariffs on some U.S. soybeans, pork in goodwill gesture [Reuters]

In a positive gesture, China said on Friday that it will waive import tariffs for some soybeans and pork shipments from the United States, as the two sides try to thrash out a broader agreement to defuse their protracted trade war….The waiver comes amid negotiations between the United States and China to conclude a ‘phase one’ or interim deal to de-escalate a 17-month trade war that has roiled financial markets, disrupted supply chains and weighed on global economic growth. A deal had initially been expected last month, but the two sides are said to be still seeking agreement on major issues such as which tariffs to roll back and the size of U.S. farm purchases China is willing to make.


Editorial: Trump trade tantrum on currency valuations will net American farmers chump change [USA TODAY]

…Let’s get this straight: Trump’s plan to help American farmers is to punish South American metals companies….Trump’s new tariffs would put more pressure on their economies and potentially push down their currencies further, which, in turn, would make their agriculture exports more attractive….The larger point is this: If the president has a grand strategy or endgame on trade, it’s not visible to the naked eye….Farmers would rather have robust sales than Washington handouts. And, so far, red tape and long waits have meant little aid is getting to them.


California urged to rethink 40 years of ‘piecemeal’ freshwater protections [Courthouse News Service]

…With an ever-increasing demand for water and the threat of larger droughts looming, a report released Thursday by the Public Policy Institute of California recommends the state stop prioritizing individual species recovery plans and adopt holistic management methods that improve entire freshwater ecosystems….Rather than relying on state and federal species protections, experts at the nonpartisan think tank favor an alternative strategy called ecosystem-based management….Successful ecosystem plans would do things like establish new “water budgets” for watersheds, rejuvenate floodplains and wetlands, improve water quality and manage invasive species. The researchers claim the plans would incorporate new science and reduce the need for new endangered species listings that can be costly to implement.


California North Coast wine grape growers should recognize shift in winery demand, broker says [North Bay Business Journal]

While the storm clouds of recession may be looming two to three years out for the overall U.S. economy, the wine business in the North Coast and elsewhere in California should be taking action now as consumer sales slow and the supply of grapes and wine in tanks increases, according to experts at an industry conference in Santa Rosa on Thursday….On the supply side, the 2019 wine grape harvest is estimated to be 520,000 tons in four counties of the North Coast and 4.1 million to 4.15 million statewide, according to Glenn Proctor, partner of bulk-wine and grape brokerage Ciatti Co….“I’m surprised at how fast we hit the wall,” Proctor said….This has led to some growers in California pulling out wine grape vines to convert the land to other crops or letting the land lie fallow.


Kings County economic forecast: A green wave on the farm, city streets [Fresno Business Journal]

Last year The Business Journal highlighted the economic growth in Kings County with its low unemployment rate, increases in sales and property tax revenue, and job growth. Expectations for a more prosperous 2019 rang true….The biggest highlight for the agricultural community in Kings County this year was the amount of surface water available. With a wet winter last year, and ground water available all summer, Dusty Ference, executive director of the Kings County Farm Bureau, said growing conditions were optimal….Farmers in the area are paying close attention to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed by former Gov. Jerry Brown, which aims to ensure better local and regional management of groundwater use.


Editorial: There’s blood in your guacamole [Los Angeles Times]

…Violent drug cartels that terrorize innocent Mexicans have extended their reach over legal crops such as avocados….Must murder and extortion be the price of New Year’s morning avocado toast or fresh Super Bowl guacamole?…There is no consequence-free choice. Responsible consumption requires knowing the true costs (social and environmental, as well as economic) of the food we eat. It also requires responsible citizenship, so that savvy consumers can press their representatives to ensure that trade agreements don’t promote cartel violence and environmental degradation.