Ag Today January 7, 2019

As trade talks begin, Trump sees China’s economic weakness as U.S. strength [New York Times]

President Trump is cheerleading his way past the economic warning signs that have rattled financial markets and unnerved economists, insisting that the United States has an advantage in a crucial first round of trade negotiations beginning on Monday in Beijing….Chinese officials appear set to offer a mix of concessions, including reducing some tariffs on American goods, as they try to defuse trade tensions ahead of a March 2 deadline, when tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports will increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.…Top administration officials are confident they are in a strong enough position to win significant changes, including an end to China’s practice of forcing American companies to hand over intellectual property and an agreement to buy more agricultural and energy products from the United States.


Safety exemptions for livestock haulers raise concerns for others on the road [Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting]

…Electronic logging devices, which are approved GPS tracking devices plugged into the truck’s engine, are meant to replace older paper logs in order to more accurately track driver’s on-duty hours, federal officials said….But McGilvray’s crash, which happened April 27, 2018, came while livestock haulers were still temporarily waived from complying with the new ELD law because of persistent lobbying efforts from the agricultural industry. In fact, federal agencies that track and enforce these laws, like the FMCSA, have been slow to implement the devices since the law came into effect. FMCSA has also expanded broad exemptions for drivers carrying agricultural commodities and is now considering changing several other standards that some safety advocates say would greatly reduce the effectiveness of hours of service rules.


Farmworkers brace for cuts to hours after new overtime law [KBAK-TV, Bakersfield]

A new California law intended to help farmworkers earn more overtime pay may be doing just the opposite. Many farmworkers around Kern County are worried their hours are going to be cut down because farmers won’t want to pay them to work overtime….California’s farmworkers were eligible for overtime pay after working 10 hours or more, and as of Jan. 1, they now earn overtime after 9-and-a-half hours, or after working 55 hours in a week.


State finds Monterey County kale, beets, strawberries exceeded pesticide limits [Salinas Californian]

Months after a court ordered a ban on chlorpyrifos sales, a pesticide linked with neurological deficits in children, California reported it found chlorpyrifos-contaminated fruits and vegetables for sale in California. Additionally, some Monterey County-grown produce the California Department of Pesticide Regulation tested in 2018 contained illegal amounts of other pesticide residue….The CDPR found 149 pieces of produce out of the 3,695 it tested contained illegal pesticide residue, amounting to four percent of produce tested.


Helicopter survey should aid groundwater planning [Chico Enterprise-Record]

…Starting in late November, a helicopter took off for several days from the Orland airport to fly a pattern over an area between Chico and Orland, and southeast into Butte Valley….It’s important because local water agencies have been charged by a recent state law with developing groundwater management plans that prevent adverse effects on water supply and water quality. Knowing where the groundwater is and how it moves below the surface would result in better plans.


Bay Area companies race to get the first cell-based ‘meat’ to market [San Francisco Chronicle]

A select group of Bay Area and international companies is vying to get the first cell-based meat to market: that is, a meat product created entirely with in-vitro cells derived from chicken, fish, beef or pork, rather than from slaughtered animals. Proponents say the technology promises to be a more sustainable, safe and humane way to feed the world’s booming population of meat eaters….Yet there are some barriers: Not a single country in the world has approved the technology yet. The science needs to develop to get production to scale, and perhaps most important, the public needs to be convinced of the idea.