Ag Today January 13, 2020

As White House plans U.S.-China Phase 1 ceremony, still no final deal text [Reuters]

The Trump administration has invited at least 200 people to a Jan. 15 ceremony to witness the signing of the Phase 1 trade deal between the United States and China, but the two nations have not yet finalized what, exactly, will be signed, White House officials said on Friday….Top officials from Beijing and U.S. lawmakers from states affected by the 18-month trade war are expected to attend the signing in the White House’s East Room, between President Donald Trump and China’s vice premier Liu He, according to several sources….U.S. officials said here in December that Beijing has pledged to buy $200 billion more from the United States over the next two years as part of the deal, including some $40 billion a year in agricultural products.


Trade war with china took toll on U.S., but not big one [Wall Street Journal]

…Much of the U.S. economy is largely unscathed by two turbulent years of trade war with China, economic indicators show….The U.S. and China are preparing to sign a first-stage trade accord on Wednesday, easing trade tensions and making the tariffs worth it, in the administration’s view….American farmers took the brunt of the damage, as China largely halted purchases of major U.S. exports like soybeans. Annual U.S. farm exports to China plunged from nearly $25 billion in recent years to below $7 billion at its low point in the 12 months through April 2019.


The delta’s sinking islands [San Francisco Chronicle]

A fight over the management of a diked island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is shining a light on a growing conundrum for California water managers, farmers and environmentalists over the best way to restore natural habitat on cropland created more than a century ago by draining marshes. The courtroom battle over 9,000-acre Staten Island is the latest conflict in the delta over farming, wetlands and the aging levees that, besides preventing flooding, preserve a way of life on the man-made islands. The suit, filed in 2018 by a group called the Wetlands Preservation Foundation, accuses the California Department of Water Resources and the Nature Conservancy of failing to adequately protect wildlife or employ sustainable agricultural practices on the property, one of the largest of 57 reclaimed islands and tracts in the delta.


Why Gloria Ferrer, other local wineries are moving to grow more of their own grapes [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

Amid the glut of wine grapes in the region, Sonoma Valley vintners have been notified by Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards that their growing contracts will not be renewed because the renowned sparkling winery plans to refocus on its own estate vineyard….The move is similar to efforts other area wineries are taking, as they pare grape inventory following the record 2018 North Coast harvest and then the oversupply evident during last year’s harvest when tons of grapes remained on vines unsold….The implications of the actions by Gloria Ferrer and other winemakers, however, have caused ripple effects as grape farmers adjust and decide how to remain viable in a wine market with fewer buyers for their fruit.


High anxiety: Proposed US hemp rules worry industry [Associated Press]

Hemp growers and entrepreneurs who were joyous a year ago after U.S. lawmakers reclassified the plant as a legal agricultural crop now are worried their businesses could be crippled if federal policymakers move ahead with draft regulations….Growers are concerned the government wants to use a heavy hand that could result in many crops failing required tests and being destroyed….Most of the anxiety involves how the federal government plans to test for THC, the high-inducing compound found in marijuana and hemp, both cannabis plants.


Hemp limits for large swath of Ventura County headed to supervisors [Ventura County Star]

The outdoor planting of hemp on almost a third of the roughly 3,800 acres registered for production in Ventura County would be barred for at least 45 days under a proposal headed for action Tuesday….Farmers have embraced the newly legalized crop as a fresh source of profits in their risk-laden business. But angry homeowners have besieged supervisors’ offices with complaints about the smell….Will Terry, president of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, said Friday that he did not believe a ban was necessary.