Ag Today January 16, 2020

Senate oks North American trade deal to replace NAFTA, giving Trump a much-needed win [NPR ]

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a revised North American trade pact in a rare bipartisan vote Thursday that hands President Trump a victory on a key campaign promise just as lawmakers are preparing his impeachment trial. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, passed by a vote of 89-10, with all but a handful of Democrats and one Republican senator supporting it….With a renegotiated trade pact with Mexico and Canada and the signing on Wednesday of an initial trade deal with China aimed at winding down a long and bitter trade war, Trump can claim to have fulfilled his pledge to get tough on trade and eliminate “bad deals” made by his predecessors.


China’s ‘market condition’ caveat on U.S. ag purchases adds to trade deal doubts [Reuters]

China’s pledge to buy U.S. farm goods based on “market conditions” during the Phase 1 trade deal signing ceremony on Wednesday added to doubts among farmers and commodity traders over Beijing’s lingering tariffs on U.S. exports….President Donald Trump’s insistence on a big commitment to buy farm products was a major sticking point in talks leading up to the signing, people briefed on the negotiations said, as China wanted the freedom to buy based on demand….The agreement did not reduce tariffs on major U.S. agricultural exports to China, though Trump said tariffs would come off in a Phase 2 agreement.


Opinion: Why the deal with China amounts to more than a hill of soybeans [New York Times]

It would be reasonable to look at the new trade agreement between the United States and China and say: All that … for this?…But if you put aside some of the grandest presidential promises, you can see some ways in which the deal does represent progress toward achieving a more stable relationship between the world’s two largest economies….Above all, the deal shows that these two powerful antagonists can achieve the basic steps of deal making, building trust as negotiating partners, respecting bright lines on each side, and allowing each other ambiguity. There is no guarantee the progress will be permanent; it could, as in previous months, be cast aside with a few presidential tweets. But it’s progress nonetheless.


California moves toward single water tunnel under delta [San Francisco Chronicle]

California is moving forward with its biggest water project in decades, a single tunnel beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that will help move Northern California water south to cities and farms, state water officials said Wednesday….Any re-engineering of the state’s coveted flows is certain to face hurdles, and big water suppliers that will have to pay for the project have worried about cost….The California Department of Water Resources issued a “notice of preparation” Wednesday that it was beginning the environmental review of the project. That kicks off a two-month-long period for public comment on the plan,


CDC: Salinas-linked E. coli outbreak over, now safe to eat romaine [Salinas Californian]

Let us eat lettuce from the “Salad Bowl of the World” again, the Centers for Disease Control announced Wednesday.  The outbreak of E. coli tied to romaine lettuce from the Salinas area appears to be over, the agency reported. “(The) CDC is no longer advising that people avoid romaine lettuce from the Salinas Valley growing region in California,” the agency said in a press statement….The Food and Drug Administration is still investigating the source of the contamination.


Opinion: Ag at Large: Ag and politics a strange pair [Hanford Sentinel]

…A number of California agricultural organizations and associations are front and center in regard to issues, candidates and other personnel….Politicians in Sacramento and Washington, DC are unceasingly aware of the presence and the preferences of the California Farm Bureau Federation. Its presence in an impressive building in Sacramento and its on-the-scene activities, personal contact with legislators, longstanding acquaintance with all agricultural issues and its commanding membership which includes a large majority of the state’s farmers makes it a strong and vocal influence for all issues of farming and ranching.