Ag Today January 8, 2018

As government shutdown persists, Americans feel the bite [New York Times]

The impact of a partial government shutdown began to ripple across the economy as it stretched into Day 17, with mortgage applications delayed, public companies unable to get approval to raise capital and thousands of Secret Service agents expected to show up for work without pay….The standoff is beginning to inflict pain on Americans, whose lives are affected, in one way or another, by the federal government….Farmers who planned to apply for subsidies to help mitigate the effect of Mr. Trump’s trade war must wait to get paid until the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency offices reopen.


U.S.-China trade talks to continue for third day: U.S. officials [Reuters]

The United States and China will continue trade talks in Beijing for an unscheduled third day, a member of the U.S. delegation said on Tuesday, as the world’s two largest economies looked to resolve their bitter trade dispute….Earlier on Tuesday, China approved five genetically modified (GM) crops for import, a move seen as a “goodwill gesture” by some in the U.S. agriculture industry that could boost China’s overseas grains purchases and ease pressure from the United States to open its markets to more farm goods. The timely approval of GM crops had been an early Trump administration demand in trade talks dating back to 2017.


What would happen if PG&E sold its gas business or filed for bankruptcy? [Los Angeles Times]

California’s largest power company faces an existential crisis as it confronts the looming possibility of tens of billions of dollars in wildfire liability. Shares of PG&E Corp. — which owns Pacific Gas & Electric Co. — sank 22.3% to $18.95 on Monday after reports that the utility could face at least $30 billion in liability related to fires and has considered filing for bankruptcy protection or unloading its natural gas operations. The consequences of bankruptcy or an asset sale could ripple far beyond the utility’s shareholders, some experts say, affecting 16 million Californians who depend on PG&E for energy and potentially threatening the state’s ability to meet its climate-change goals.


Fiber optics: Wool lovers battle animal-rights crowd over sheep shearing [Wall Street Journal]

…Wool proponents say they have been unfairly lumped in with crocodile hunters and mink farmers by overzealous do-gooders who fundamentally misunderstand what goes into sheep farming, not to mention the superior properties of wool. To the dismay of wool proponents who tout their eco-friendly credentials, they have landed on the wrong side of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals….Wool producers and enthusiasts have gone on the offensive to defend their favorite fiber, and they have stitched together a few wins.


Supreme Court rejects latest challenge to California foie gras ban [KGO TV, San Francisco]

Animal rights activists are celebrating a win involving the sale of foie gras, a controversial delicacy made by force-feeding ducks and geese. The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the latest challenge to California’s ban on foie gras, a restriction spawned by ABC7 News I-Team reports….The high court’s decision will allow the foie gras ban to go into immediate effect, prohibiting it from being sold in the Golden State, said the Animal Legal Defense Fund.


Editorial: Heads up, foie gras gourmands, the pate party is over — as it should be [Los Angeles Times]

…So, to recap, opponents of the ban have litigated twice, lost in the 9th Circuit twice, and been rejected by the Supreme Court twice. Now, the state ban on foie gras will go back into effect as soon as the 9th Circuit issues a mandate ordering that. It would be great if this additional legal loss in the Supreme Court convinced farmers and merchants and restaurateurs to finally face facts: It’s unacceptable to torture ducks and geese for a sliver of foie gras pate.