Ag Today June 20, 2019

Survey sees biggest US honeybee winter die-off yet [Associated Press]

Winter hit U.S. honeybees hard with the highest loss rate yet, an annual survey of beekeepers showed. The annual nationwide survey by the Bee Informed Partnership found 37.7% of honeybee colonies died this past winter, nearly 9 percentage points higher than the average winter loss….Beekeepers had been seeing fewer winter colony losses in recent years until now, said Maryland’s Dennis vanEngelsdorp, president of the bee partnership and co-author of Wednesday’s survey….This past winter’s steep drop seems heavily connected to the mites, vanEngelsdorp said.


Farmers say ‘SmartWater’ will wash away crime [Chico Enterprise-Record]

Farmers are fighting back in Butte County with new innovative SmartWater CSI technology that will leave thieves caught — wet handed….SmartWater is a forensic coding solution that provides an owner a way to identify his property without the thief knowing whats marked and whats’s not….According to SmartWater CSI officials, the funding for the liquid technology wouldn’t be possible without the help of the Butte County Farm Bureau and Chico Farm and Orchard. Darren Rice, Butte County Farm Bureau President and local Chico almond grower said he was thrilled to introduce the slippery science into Butte County.


Trump 5G push could hamper forecasting of deadly California storms [Los Angeles Times]

As atmospheric rivers dumped record volumes of rain on California this spring, emergency responders used the federal government’s satellites to warn people about where the storms were likely to hit hardest. Many government scientists say such warnings may become a thing of the past if the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission pushes forward with plans to auction off radio frequency bands adjacent to one that weather forecasters use….The science agencies aren’t suggesting the FCC stop pursuing 5G in the 24-GHz band. Instead, they disagree with the communications agency about how loud those signals can be.


On ethanol, big corn beats big oil [Wall Street Journal]

American farmers are a force to be reckoned with. Fresh from a trip to Iowa, President Trump has sent Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to the drawing board, according to The Wall Street Journal. They are meant to come up with a plan that could make further changes to ethanol policies that would benefit farmers….Despite a change in the fuel mix and concerns about ethanol’s environmental cost, challenging U.S. farmers’ share of what is sold at the pump is a political third rail.


Opinion: Voluntary agreements involving Modesto and Turlock water agencies at risk [Modesto Bee]

…Following marathon-like negotiations between federal and state policy makers, water agencies and other stakeholders, agreement on how to more effectively manage our water is finally within reach. Proposed legislation — Senate Bill 1, by Toni Atkins, D-San Diego — puts that victory at risk….If passed in its current form, SB 1 will cause the collapse of the voluntary approach. It will threaten water supply reliability for millions of Californians, jeopardize the environmental health of the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds, and even prevent the Newsom administration from using the best available science to improve conditions for at-risk fish species.


Opinion: Science saves an old chestnut [Wall Street Journal]

A blight-tolerant American chestnut tree is the latest example of what the science community has begun to call a GRO—a genetically rescued organism. In the past century approximately four billion chestnut trees have been lost in the U.S. due to blight that spread when the Cryphonectria parasitica fungus arrived with chestnut trees imported from Asia. A once-dominant hardwood species is now rare….The big challenge for GROs is outdated regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. President Trump signed an executive order Jan. 11 promising to “make regulatory determinations based on risks associated with the product and its intended end use.” Biotechnology holds great promise given a regulatory environment as nimble as science itself.