Ag Today January 16, 2019

U.S. lettuce industry, wary of E. coli, wants FDA back on the job [Washington Post]

…The multiple romaine lettuce disasters have exposed the complexity of the food system, in which a head of lettuce goes through so many facilities and is potentially mixed with so much other leafy produce that it can be impossible to trace the origin of a salad. The outbreaks remain mysterious….That’s a source of consternation for the $2 billion leafy greens industry, which desperately wants to avoid a repeat of what happened last year and is counting on the FDA for help. But because of the federal shutdown, the agency has barely been in the game.


At confirmation hearing, Trump’s EPA pick vows to advance a deregulatory agenda [Washington Post]

Andrew Wheeler, a former fossil fuel industry lobbyist whom President Trump nominated earlier this month to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, told a key Senate panel Wednesday that he would continue the administration’s aggressive reversal of environmental rules…An agency veteran who also worked in the Senate before becoming a lobbyist, Wheeler is more low-key than his predecessor Scott Pruitt, who was forced to resign in July amid federal ethics inquiries….Wheeler has made clear — both through his words and actions — that he would pursue many of the regulatory rollbacks Pruitt put in motion and carry out Trump’s promises of a more efficient, less powerful EPA.


Opinion: Newsom’s picks for environmental protection and water chiefs will reveal his priorities [San Francisco Chronicle]

…Gavin Newsom’s initial, senior environmental appointments suggest that he is wisely following in Brown’s footsteps. Californians can only hope his water leadership team turns out to be equally strong….One of Newsom’s key tests confronts him immediately: State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus’ term expires this week. Newsom should reappoint Marcus to another term as chair of the water board…Another critical decision for the new governor is whom to appoint as director of the state Department of Water Resources.


IID directors defend their advisory board moves [Imperial Valley Press]

Recently three members of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors let go of their political appointees to a district committee that left the chairman of said committee charging the move “further drove a wedge between Imperial Valley farmers and the IID board.” All three directors — Erik Ortega, Norma Sierra Galindo and Alex Cardenas — said last week they don’t believe the move drives a wedge between the farming community and the IID board; rather, each had their own different reason for reappointing the positions to the district’s Water Conservation Advisory Board and that it was not a move meant to send a message. Still, it was difficult for the move not to seem coordinated considering the way it was carried out.


New pen may allow sale of horses for slaughter [Associated Press]

The U.S. Forest Service has built a new corral for wild horses in Northern California, which could allow it to bypass federal restrictions and sell the animals for slaughter. The agency acknowledged in court filings in a potentially precedent-setting legal battle that it built the pen for mustangs gathered in the fall on national forest land along the California-Nevada border because of restrictions on such sales at other federal holding facilities. The agency denies claims by horse advocates it has made up its mind to sell the more than 250 horses for slaughter.


Napa premium wine industry challenged to appeal to millennials [Napa Valley Register]

In what may be its most pressing peril, today’s wine industry is heading for a dilemma of demographics with the potential to disrupt sales and derail growth, possibly for years. That’s according to a new report that looks at the “indulgence gap” – a rift between the spending of older, wealthier wine drinkers and that of younger, more frugal consumers. Released Wednesday, Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) State of the Wine Industry Report, a yearly look at the ins and outs of wine industry affairs, offers this and other takes on the industry trends taking hold in Napa and wine grape growing regions beyond.