Ag Today January 24, 2020

Trump administration unveils new Clean Water Act rules. California could see big impact [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

The Trump administration on Thursday revealed an overhaul of the Clean Water Act that could remove federal protections for waterways around the country, including as many as two-thirds of those in California….Wheeler cast the update as a rollback of insidious government overreach promulgated by the Obama administration in a 2015 rule….The Obama administration’s rule created confusion among farmers who had trouble identifying where federal jurisdiction began, said Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation,…”It redesignated stormwater runoff, farm ditches and isolated wetlands as navigable waters of the U.S.,” he explained. “That’s when farmers found themselves all of a sudden violating the Clean Water Act when they went to plow a field they hadn’t plowed for a few years.”


Up to 96,000 gallons of wine spills at Rodney Strong Vineyards, most leaks into Russian River [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

The Russian River flowed with a cherry red tint Wednesday after tens of thousands of gallons of fresh cabernet sauvignon wine poured into the largest tributary in Sonoma County. The wine — enough to fill more than 500,000 bottles — spilled from a Rodney Strong Vineyards’ storage tank at the Healdsburg winery, made its way into Reiman Creek running through the property and drained into the river….Local and state water quality and fish and wildlife officials are investigating to determine any negative effects to the river ecosystem and whether the winery violated water quality rules.


Trump expected to sign US-Mexico-Canada trade deal next week [CNN]

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement next Wednesday, according to a White House official and an administration official….Trump is likely to make this signature achievement a hallmark of his 2020 reelection pitch, particularly in swing states that will benefit from its provisions. For instance, the deal opens the Canadian dairy market to US farmers, something he’s likely to tout in Wisconsin. The USMCA, Trump said during his address to the American Farm Bureau Federation on Sunday, “will massively boost exports for farmers, ranchers, growers and agricultural producers.”


Hemp industry meeting attracts major players in local ag [Bakersfield Californian]

An inaugural “meet and grow” for Kern’s burgeoning hemp industry Thursday night drew a standing room-only audience that included representatives from some of the county’s most prominent farming families. At least 150 people — investors, lawyers, seed suppliers, soil-amendment vendors, growers — crowded into The Links at RiverLakes Ranch to make business connections and hear presentations geared toward increasing local production of the marijuana-looking plant behind the modern cure-all known as CBD. Discussions open and private ranged from tirades against strict federal guidelines to expectations that Kern’s statewide leadership in registered hemp acreage will lead to increased investment in a plant county officials see as a valuable crop-diversification opportunity.


Opinion: California law threatens sheep, goat grazing to prevent fires [San Jose Mercury News]

When it comes to preventing wildfires, local communities throughout California are rediscovering the value of grazing….But recent changes in California’s agriculture overtime rules brought about by Assembly Bill 1066 have had the unintended consequence of disproportionately increasing herder wages more than 50 percent….This will jeopardize the availability of herders and make targeted grazing uneconomical for many California communities looking for options to chemical treatments….The members of my association are asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to correct this untenable situation by aligning state regulations with the federal guidelines for herders.


Opinion: How AB 5 threatens the job security of California workers [Sacramento Bee]

…While union leaders cheered the legislation, working Californians are paying the price. Hundreds have already lost their jobs and thousands more are now at risk. So job one for California’s legislature as it convenes this month should be to repeal AB 5 and restore the freedom to work….At bottom, AB 5 is a product of a government that is out of step with the realities of the 21st century economy – an economy that values the flexibility, innovation, and creativity that American workers are known for. AB 5 restrains that entrepreneurial spirit and forces workers into the government’s outdated view of employment.