Ag Today January 29, 2020

Trump signs trade deal with Canada and Mexico [New York Times]

President Trump signed the revised North American Free Trade Agreement into law on Wednesday, fulfilling a key campaign promise and bringing more than two years of tumultuous negotiations over the continent’s trade rules to a close. The trade deal, now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, updates the quarter-century-old NAFTA, with stronger protections for workers and the digital economy, expanded markets for American farmers and new rules to encourage auto manufacturing in North America….While his deals with China and other countries like Japan and South Korea are smaller than traditional trade agreements, Mr. Trump will be able to claim that he has renegotiated trade terms with countries responsible for more than half of American trade. The president wasted little time in touting the new North American trade deal, calling it a “colossal victory” for farmers and factory workers and the “largest, fairest, most balanced and modern trade agreement ever achieved.”


AB5: Diverse crowd marches on California Capitol to overturn ‘gig economy’ law [Bay Area News Group]

There were truck drivers demonstrating next to dancers, and singers standing in solidarity with court transcribers….The “Rally To Repeal AB5” event, sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Sacramento) and Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), was aimed at rallying support for AB1928, which would overturn the “gig economy” law sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom….If there was one common theme in the speeches, it was this — none of the people impacted by AB5 wanted the government’s help in the first place.


New EIR for Field & Pond approved, but controversy continues [Davis Enterprise]

Controversy over a rural event center and bed-and-breakfast five miles northwest of Winters is unlikely to end any time soon. The Yolo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday certified a new court-ordered environmental impact report prepared for the Field & Pond event center and bed-and-breakfast, but also asked staff to delve into other issues raised by opponents of the center and to return to the board with more information and analysis at a later date….Opponents — the Farmland Protection Alliance, the Yolo County Farm Bureau and the conservation group Tuleyome — filed suit alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act, the Williamson Act and Yolo County zoning code, as well as failures to address impacts associated with a range of environmental issues, including traffic, agriculture and endangered species.


Agua Caliente files new lawsuit against Coachella Valley water districts [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a second lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District and Desert Water Agency over groundwater. The first lawsuit filed by the tribe against the districts over rights to groundwater access has been pending since 2013, however courts have already agreed with the tribe’s contention that it has a reserved right to groundwater from the aquifer below reservation. In the new complaint filed on Jan. 24, the tribe asserts that it and its members should not have to pay a “replenishment assessment charge” for groundwater production on land owned by the tribe and individual tribal members….Only big water users — like the Coachella Valley Water District and companies with farms, nurseries and golf courses — are charged the fee.


As international visitors head to Tulare, World Ag Expo has coronavirus contingency plans [Visalia Times-Delta]

Tulare County health officials are gearing up to battle coronavirus as the World Ag Expo expects to draw massive crowds from across the globe — including China — in less than two weeks. Officials with the annual expo confirmed that so far 20 attendees and seven vendors are expected from China this year. It’s unclear if any are from Wuhan, the megacity in the Hubei province where the outbreak is believed to have originated….Attendees at this year’s expo can expect more handwashing stations and informational signage, Haught said. Regional hotels will also be told what to look for and how to respond to possible cases as guests from around the world flock to the Valley in early February. Most of the heavy lifting will be done by the embassies and airports who are actively screening travelers for coronavirus exposure, Haught said.


Opinion: The Army Corps of Engineers has become a rogue agency [The Hill]

In World War II, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers played a proud role in the Allied victory over totalitarian aggression in Europe and the Pacific theater by building bridges, clearing beaches and harbors, and creating the conditions for military units to hit fast and hit hard….Today the Corps of Engineers is less likely to be facing down tyranny than practicing it, in the form of abusive regulatory enforcement that punishes farmers and other property owners who seek to make productive use of their land. After decades of bureaucratic mission creep, the Corps has mutated into a rogue agency ― and it’s time for Congress to rein it in.