Ag Today January 25, 2019

Here’s how local governments are replacing California’s biggest utilities [Los Angeles Times]

…Local governments across the state have been forming these so-called community choice aggregators, or CCAs, to reduce rates and increase the use of climate-friendly energy sources such as wind and solar….There are now 19 community choice programs operating in California, 14 of which have launched in the last two years, according to the Center for Climate Protection, a nonprofit advocacy group….Although CCAs are an increasingly popular option, the rapid expansion of community choice has caused some renewable energy developers to worry about potential unintended consequences.


The end of fur trapping in California? Bill seeks to shut down a dwindling industry [Los Angeles Times]

A bill submitted to the state Legislature on Thursday seeks to close the book on a centuries-old livelihood and vestige of old California: commercial trapping of native mammals for their pelts. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced the Wildlife Protection Act of 2019 in response largely to the concerns of wildlife advocates, who say fur trapping is cruel and anachronistic….Gonzalez, however, said there were also financial reasons for shutting down the industry….The proposal argues that the roughly six dozen trappers still working in the state — down from more than 5,000 in the 1920s — cannot afford to pay the full cost of implementing and regulating their industry as required by law.


Study: Tariffs on metals will cost U.S. agriculture billions [UPI]

United States tariffs on steel and aluminum will cost the nation nearly $2 billion in agricultural exports each year — even if a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada is ratified, according to a study from Purdue University. Purdue economists said the trade deal would increase food exports to those countries by about $454 million annually. But if the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum — and the associated retaliatory tariffs on American agricultural products — remain in place, exports to those countries will decrease by $1.8 billion.


Opinion: New labor laws pose additional challenges [Imperial Valley Press]

…In addition to impacts on farms, the rules that have come out of Sacramento are hurting most the people they say they are trying to help: the farmworkers. To stay afloat, Imperial Valley farmers are left with difficult dilemmas: reduce acreage, move labor-intensive crops out of California or mechanization….Agriculture is an ever-evolving and innovative industry, and while we will continue to adapt our practices in order to continue, it’s important for the Legislature to be reminded of the unintended consequences their legislation has before we reach a point where the new laws and regulations make doing business in California no longer feasible.


Opinion: China opens the door to U.S. GMOs [Wall Street Journal]

Lost in the news of contentious U.S.-China trade disputes was a meaningful regulatory approval that will improve agriculture around the world. This month Chinese regulators approved the import of five genetically modified crops….This little-noticed agreement will have a big impact on the U.S. agriculture industry….New soil-management, crop-protection and seed-enhancement techniques—which promise to make plants more resistant to drought, disease and pests—sometimes take hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and decades to bring to market. The newly-open Chinese market will reward such innovation.


SLV Water District bans glyphosate — permanently [Scotts Valley Press Banner]

Last week, in the third meeting of the Board of Directors of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District since the “challenging slate” was elected as the board’s majority, the board voted 4-1 for a permanent ban on the use of glyphosate pesticides by the district, keeping a campaign promise that remained controversial right up to the board’s vote….The previous board of directors made the controversial decision in 2017 that the risk of invasive species completely overrunning native species in the sensitive Sand Hills habitat, particularly French and Portuguese Broom and acacia, warranted the limited, carefully prescribed use of the pesticide….Many district residents strongly disagreed, and maintained the use of glyphosate is a greater risk to people and the water supply than the invasive species in the sand hills, which should be controlled with other options including more labor intensive methods such as people pulling out the broom and acacia by hand.