Ag Today January 10, 2020

California has protections against Trump rollback of environmental rules [San Francisco Chronicle]

The Trump administration’s sweeping plan to ease environmental review of highways, power plants and other big projects may be less consequential in California, where state law puts checks on new development….California has its own requirements for new projects….CEQA, however, doesn’t cover projects on federal land. If Trump’s rollbacks take effect, state law would still govern most highway, port and pipeline work, which inevitably crosses state and private lands, but it wouldn’t regulate such projects as timber production and mineral extraction on holdings of the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service or Bureau of Land Management, legal experts say.


Gov. Newsom to propose more spending on wildfire efforts in new California budget [Los Angeles Times]

Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for the state to invest more money next year to prevent and prepare for disasters after wildfires and earthquakes again wreaked havoc on California in 2019. Much of the governor’s proposal focuses on efforts to reduce and respond to wildfires, including funding 677 new CalFire positions over five years and allocating $90 million for new technology and a forecast center to better predict, track and battle blazes. The plan also calls for the continuation of a $200-million annual investment approved by lawmakers to reduce the kinds of vegetation that fuel wildfires, and more than $100 million to fund the Legislature’s pilot program to harden homes in fire-prone areas.


Local ag experts face budget constraints [Chico Enterprise-Record]

Butte and Glenn counties have been going with fewer local experts who can provide agricultural research and advice following budget constraints at the University of California….The experts are funded through the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources division. The state budget for the program has been flat or decreasing over the past two decades….Recruitment has just started again for six state-wide positions after a months-long delay, according to an Ag Alert article, but they are not in Butte, Glenn or Tehama counties.


The rape crisis among California’s farm workers [Capitol Weekly]

Of all the state’s residents, California’s 265,000 female farm workers are among the most vulnerable when it comes to sexual assault and rape. Farm worker survivors of sexual assault and those who are there to help them, California’s rape crisis centers, face many obstacles: Survivors’ lack of English proficiency, immigration status, nature of employment, fear of employer retaliation, and distrust of authorities….There are no statistics for the number of farm workers who have been sexually assaulted or raped, or how many cases have been reported to law enforcement.


Hopes for spike in U.S. farm exports to China dim ahead of trade deal signing [Reuters]

Days before a U.S.-China trade deal is due to be signed, large Chinese purchases of Brazilian soybeans and a pair of unexpected policy moves by Beijing have dimmed U.S. hopes that China would double its imports of American farm products this year. U.S. President Donald Trump has touted the prospect of China buying $40 billion in U.S. farm products in 2020 as a pillar of the “Phase 1” agreement aimed at defusing the bitter trade war that erupted between the world’s two largest economies in 2018….No details about the targeted $40 billion shopping list have been published, and China has not confirmed any purchase commitment.


Camarillo City Council passes hemp cultivation ban with 3-2 vote [Ventura County Star]

Camarillo became the latest city in Ventura County to ban industrial hemp cultivation after passing an ordinance 3-2 during a public hearing Wednesday night….The Ventura County Board of Supervisors is also considering several steps on regulating hemp cultivation and is expected to address the subject on Tuesday….Rob Roy, a lawyer who represents the Ventura County Agricultural Association, said the council’s actions on hemp contradicted its advocacy of the local agriculture industry.