Ag Today February 10, 2020

PG&E and other California utilities detail future plans for power shut-offs [Associated Press]

California utilities plan to continue shutting off power to customers during dry and windy conditions to prevent sparking deadly wildfires, but they aim to make outages more targeted to avoid widespread blackouts, according to plans filed Friday with the state. Plans by the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities said wildfire mitigation plans would build on efforts made last year to reduce the risk their equipment would cause deadly infernos….The thrust of the plans is to expand vegetation trimming that can cause a fire when it strikes electrical equipment and fortify power lines to make them less likely to throw sparks or become vulnerable to fire damage.


Bayer asks California court to reverse $86 million Roundup cancer verdict [Reuters]

Bayer AG has asked a California appeals court to overturn an $86 million verdict that found it was responsible for a couple’s cancer caused by its glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup. In a Friday night filing with the California First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, the company said the jury’s verdict could not be reconciled with either the law or sound science….Since July 2019, the company and lawyers for the plaintiffs are engaged in settlement talks under the leadership of mediator Ken Feinberg.


Editorial: How a pesticide’s decline shows California’s far-reaching impact [San Francisco Chronicle]

…The dangers and economics of the pesticide, chlorpyrifos, aren’t so easily separated. The company’s announcement happened to come the day sales of the pesticide were halted in California, where farmers were using more of the chemical than any other state’s when Gov. Gavin Newsom approved the ban last year. Although the chemical is still in wide use and manufacture by others, Corteva Agriscience’s decision to stop making it speaks to the impact of a responsible policy like California’s as well as the lack thereof nationally.


Women who farm are finally getting counted [Huffington Post]

…For over a century, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture failed to count women accurately….One number in particular stood out in the 2017 update, which was released last year: a 27% increase in the number of female farmers. That would be huge if it were true. But a closer look shows that not only has the number of women in farming likely remained at least stable since the 2012 census, it may even be lower than it was in the past….The increase is due to the fact that the USDA actually tried to count female farmers this time around, expanding its definition of “farmer” to capture women who have often been considered — or considered themselves to be — the wives and daughters of farmers, even if they do important work on the farm.


Vegan foods company in North Bay ordered by California to stop saying its ‘vegan butter’ is butter [Bay Area News Group]

A Petaluma vegan-foods company is suing California food regulators after being ordered to stop using the word “butter” on its packaging. Miyoko’s Kitchen, owned by self-described “Queen of Vegan Cheese” Miyoko Schinner, claimed in the suit that California is violating the constitutional right to free speech as it kowtows to producers of meat and dairy goods….Miyoko’s was told, in a letter from state regulators filed as evidence in the suit, to stop using the word “butter” on labeling for its “cultured vegan butter.” The company’s products are made from cultured cashew nuts,


Has Newsom settled water wars? [CalMatters]

…The framework is just that. Many details remain to be nailed down, and it also would need the approval of various state and federal agencies. But it’s progress. So why might Newsom succeed where others have failed? One factor is that farmers have seen their political clout wane in an increasingly blue state. They also face threats by the State Water Resources Control Board to order permanent cuts in agricultural water and the newly enacted regulation of groundwater that lessens their ability to tap underground aquifers during droughts. Newsom’s shrinkage of the twin Delta tunnels to a single tunnel also plays a role, along with progress on a large new reservoir, called Sites, on the west side of the Sacramento Valley.