Ag Today July 25, 2019

Gov. Gavin Newsom signs $1 billion clean-water package for poor areas [San Francisco Chronicle]

California will dedicate more than a billion dollars over the next decade to help the estimated 1 million residents who do not have reliable access to clean drinking water. Gov. Gavin Newsom traveled to Sanger, near Fresno, on Wednesday to sign SB200, which establishes a fund for communities that are struggling to maintain their water systems….The pollution is largely concentrated in agricultural communities in the Central Valley and Salinas Valley. Water systems there are often contaminated by nitrates from pesticides, fertilizer runoff and dairy waste, as well as arsenic, which scientists believe is released into aquifers by overpumping.


Weed killer found in kids at higher levels than parents [KOVR-TV, Sacramento]

As the EPA decides whether to re-approve the weed-killing ingredient in Roundup for another 15 years, a new report finds 90% of the families tested have that chemical in their bodies, and most kids had much more than their parents. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH), a non-profit that is focused on protecting people from toxins, reached out to parents who have researched or reported on chemicals in kids in the past to ask if they wanted to  participate in the bio-monitoring study….CEH used an independent lab to test a dozen parent-child pairs who all reported consciously trying to avoid pesticide exposure. The lab found nine of the children had higher concentrations of the weed killer in their body than their parents.


USDA sets plans for $16 billion in new aid to farmers [Wall Street Journal]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing to deploy $16 billion in government funds to aid farmers hurt by the trade battle with China and wet weather that kept many from planting a crop this spring….The USDA will divide the $16 billion among soybean fields, hog barns, dairy farms, cranberry bogs and other agricultural operations….The new payments come on top of $300 million in trade promotion funds the USDA has awarded to farm groups to develop new export markets for agricultural goods from soybeans to raisins. The USDA estimates it will also purchase more than $1.3 billion worth of commodities such as pork and prunes affected by retaliatory tariffs for distribution to food banks, schools and other institutions serving low-income Americans.


What’s meat got to do with it? [New York Times]

In case you haven’t heard, they’re making meat out of plants….Meat people — that’s animal meat people, meaning ranchers and farmers and their lobbyists — say the competition is welcome. But, in 24 states this year, they have worked to worked to pass legislation to make it illegal for plant-based food to be called meat….Now, the alternative meat-makers are fighting back. This week, a group of plaintiffs that includes Tofurky filed a lawsuit in Arkansas. They argue that the state’s law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments and condescends to consumers who understand what is meant when “burger” is modified by the word “veggie.”


Opinion: Don’t let vegetarian environmentalists shame you for eating meat. Science is on your side. [USA TODAY]

Around the world, we’re being told to stop eating meat. Headlines, think tanks and activists all ask us to change our diet to combat climate change….After years of failed global attempts to cut carbon emissions meaningfully, some activists are propagating the idea that everyone on the planet should go vegetarian or even vegan….There’s an even more fundamental problem with the idea that we replace steak dinners with tomato steaks. The truth is we can’t stop temperature rises with our diets.


Opinion: Deliciousness is what matters most [Wall Street Journal]

In the modern world, you can tie yourself in knots deciding what to eat. Is this food ethical enough? Is it high in protein? Local? With so many competing voices shouting in your head, you could almost forget to check whether the darned thing tastes any good….For all of our modern food quandaries, delicious still wins. Sustainability matters, for sure, but what really speaks to us most about food remains the pleasure that it gives to us. It’s a shame that we spend so much of our lives denying this simple truth.