Ag Today February 15, 2019

In Roundup case, the science will go on trial first [Wall Street Journal]

In a San Francisco courtroom this month, a jury will be asked to weigh a complicated question: Did Roundup weedkiller cause a man’s cancer?…But unlike in a prior trial brought against the herbicide’s maker, Bayer AG, the jurors won’t simultaneously hear allegations that the company hid dangers about its product from the public. Instead, they’ll take part in an unusual split trial focused first on the science, and then, only if they find the plaintiff’s claims valid, on the question of negligence….The approach is the latest attempt by courts to resolve a long-running debate over how to ensure the fairest decisions in cases concerning complicated science.


Sites Reservoir is Sacramento Valley’s water project. But L.A. is taking a huge role [Sacramento Bee]

As water projects go, Sites Reservoir has always been the Sacramento Valley’s baby – a multibillion-dollar reservoir conceived by Valley farmers, carved out of a ghost town an hour north of the Capitol….Over the past two years, scared off by the anticipated costs of storing water there, Valley agricultural irrigation districts have steadily reduced their ownership shares of Sites, giving way to water agencies from Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley….The shift in ownership raises awkward questions about the $5.2 billion reservoir’s future and how it will serve Valley water supply needs….Durst and other backers insist Valley interests remain firmly in control of Sites’ destiny, however.


Storm rolls through Ventura County as farmers welcome steady rains [Ventura County Star]

Thursday’s storms may have dampened some of Ventura County’s roads, but the area’s farmers are in high spirits. The recent rainy weather has been a boon for farmers such as Craig Underwood, owner of Underwood Ranches in Camarillo and Underwood Family Farms in Somis and Moorpark. “Rain is a huge plus because it is finally refilling our aquifers and lakes,” Underwood said by text message….Although rainy and cold weather can disrupt some farming operations, it’s been business as usual for farmers in the county, and the rain has been largely positive for growers, according to Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner Ed Williams.


Bullet train went from peak California innovation to the project from hell [Los Angeles Times]

…Finishing the Central Valley portion of the line first has long been the plan. The question left unanswered after Newsom’s speech is how aggressively Sacramento will pursue connecting the line to the Bay Area and to Los Angeles, said Rebecca Saltzman, the vice president of the Bay Area Rapid Transit board of directors….The rail authority also waded into a morass trying to acquire the land it needed in the Central Valley. The agency originally estimated it would cost $332 million to buy up properties to build the route. But cutting through orchards, vineyards and dairies with vast and sophisticated irrigation and trellis systems proved profoundly more complicated than was expected. The land acquisition is now budgeted at $1.5 billion and tied up in endless litigation.


Chinese, U.S. trade negotiators inch toward a broad agreement [Wall Street Journal]

China and the U.S. inched toward a broad agreement aimed at defusing their market-rattling trade tensions, with top negotiators agreeing to further talks next week in Washington after a weeklong session here. In the latest round, senior officials from both sides made some progress in sketching out the agreement, which would be in the form of a memorandum of understanding, according to people briefed on the talks. They described it as a bare-bones pact that both sides said could serve as the framework for a deal that President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later finalize at a summit.


Deere, hit on both sides of trade war, posts weak 1Q earns [Associated Press]

Deere, a manufacturer that faces threats on both ends of a trade war, cited rising costs and anxious farmers, in reporting a profit shortfall for the first quarter Friday, Feb. 15, 2019….But ongoing trade tensions have damaged U.S. farmers to a degree that they are pulling back on investing in heavy equipment….Farms already hurting because of slumping commodity prices have begun failing at an advanced rate….“Our results were hurt by higher costs for raw materials and logistics as well by customer concerns over tariffs and trade policies,” said Deere Chairman and CEO Samuel Allen.