Ag Today January 29, 2019

PG&E files for bankruptcy. Electricity prices likely to rise for millions of Californians [Los Angeles Times]

PG&E Corp., California’s largest power company, filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday for the second time in two decades, starting an unpredictable process that could take years to resolve and is likely to result in higher energy prices for the millions of Californians who buy electricity from Pacific Gas & Electric….PG&E says a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which will allow the company to continue operating while it comes up with a plan to reorganize its debts, is the only way to deal with billions of dollars in potential liabilities from a series of deadly wildfires, many of which were sparked by the company’s infrastructure….Unlike most companies that seek bankruptcy protection, PG&E is a regulated monopoly that provides an essential public service. The California Public Utilities Commission would need to approve any reorganization plan that involves raising electricity rates.


Judge upholds protection for gray wolves in California [Associated Press]

A California judge on Monday upheld protection for gray wolves under the state’s Endangered Species Act, rejecting a legal challenge from ranchers and farmers who fear the predators will threaten their livestock. The judge in San Diego ruled that California was right to list the wolves as endangered in 2014. A lawsuit on behalf of the California Farm Bureau Federation and the California Cattlemen’s Association argued the listing was arbitrary because there are so few wolves in the state. The suit was filed to give ranchers “more flexibility in co-existing with wolves,” said Jim Houston, the farm bureau’s manager of legal and governmental affairs.


Lake Oroville 39 percent full; water allocations increased [Chico Enterprise-Record]

Water deliveries from Lake Oroville have been increased for 2019, but unlike most of California’s reservoirs the local lake is still far lower than usual, though it’s on the rise. The Department of Water Resources reported Friday that allocations to State Water Project users were being increased to 15 percent of contracted amounts, up from the 10 percent announced in December….The good new is that the snowpack in the mountains in above average. In DWR’s Northern Region — which fills Oroville, Shasta and Trinity lakes, snow levels are 115 percent of what’s normal for this time of year.


Farmer shortage changes agricultural landscape [KMIR-TV, Palm Springs]

A state-wide shortage of farm workers could mean the price of fruits and vegetables will rise, as some American growers said it is tough to find replacements for again employees, while others blame immigration laws for the current shortage….The farmer shortage is not unique to the Coachella Valley, Bryan Little, the Director of Employment for the California Farm Bureau Federation said it is impacting farms through the state, he puts it this way. He said, “If you need ten crews you have seven or eight if you need ten people on a crew, you have seven or eight.”


Big divides remain as U.S.-China trade talks resume [Wall Street Journal]

Cabinet-level delegations from the U.S. and China will resume trade negotiations here Wednesday, but early indications are that the two sides remain sharply divided, suggesting a hard slog ahead for a deal to be cut before a March 1 deadline. The Chinese delegation, dozens strong and led by Vice Premier Liu He, plans to offer a big increase in purchases of U.S. farm products and energy, along with modest reforms in industrial policies, said people in China who are closely following the talks. But Beijing will fight U.S. demands for deep structural changes in the Chinese economy, these people said.


Fast-Food investors urge cuts to water use and emissions [Wall Street Journal]

Investors managing more than $6.5 trillion in assets have asked fast-food multinationals to set tougher water use and greenhouse-gas emissions targets on their meat and dairy suppliers, environmental nonprofit organizations Ceres and the FAIRR Initiative said Monday. Eighty-three investors sent letters written jointly with the nonprofit organizations late last week, requesting six companies–Domino’s (DPZ), Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), McDonald’s (MCD), Restaurant Brands International (QSR), Wendy’s Co (WEN) and Yum Brands (YUM)–explain by March 2019 how they will cut water use, land use and greenhouse-gas emissions more aggressively, and to encourage their suppliers to disclose more data….The signatories of the letter recommend that the companies’ meat and dairy suppliers commit to emission targets in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, while lowering water usage based on a company’s needs.