Ag Today June 7, 2019

U.S. on track to impose tariffs on Mexico as migration talks resume [Reuters]

The Trump administration pushed ahead on Friday with a plan to slap a 5% tariff on imports from Mexico, as the two sides started a third day of talks to reach a deal to stem the flow of mostly Central American migrants into the United States….Mexico has prepared a list of possible retaliatory tariffs targeting U.S. products from agricultural and industrial states regarded as Trump’s electoral base, a tactic China has also used with an eye toward the president’s 2020 re-election bid. Such a move would leave the United States fighting trade wars with two of its three largest trading partners and further unnerve financial markets already nervous about a global economic slowdown.


Kamala Harris speaks out against NAFTA 2.0, new tariffs on Mexico as trade tensions rise [McClatchy News Service]

California Sen. Kamala Harris condemned President Donald Trump’s tariff threat against Mexico, calling it another “Trump trade tax” and warning it could cost her home state tens of thousands of jobs….In addition to driving up costs on goods imported from Mexico, the tariff increase will also hit many U.S. exporters if Mexico retaliates, as expected….That’s why many business groups in California — and around the country — are strongly in favor of NAFTA 2.0, or the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as Trump has renamed the deal….Harris, however, indicated she wasn’t considering supporting the trade deal.


Spark from hammer, metal stake caused Ranch fire in 2018, California’s largest wildfire [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

California’s largest wildfire was ignited by a scattered spark or hot metal fragment formed when a Potter Valley rancher used a metal hammer last summer to drive a large metal stake into a yellow jacket nest on a dry, grassy slope on his Highway 20 ranch, Cal Fire said Thursday. The result was the Ranch fire — a conflagration that consumed more than 641 square miles of landscape as it stormed into Lake County and the vast Mendocino National Forest, eventually reaching into Colusa and Glenn counties….State fire officials said the investigative findings in the Ranch disaster serve as reminder that even a small, everyday act can lead to disaster if conditions are ripe for fire.


To stop virus, California has euthanized more than 1.2 million birds. Is it reckless or necessary? [Los Angeles Times]

…For the past year, Southern California has been plagued by an outbreak of a highly contagious viral disease that can affect all species of birds but is most deadly to chickens….To stop the spread of the virus, more than 1.2 million birds, mainly chickens, have been euthanized in heavily affected areas, some of which weren’t showing symptoms or hadn’t been infected yet. And that’s the root of the outrage from a small but vocal group of backyard bird owners.


Warning of ‘Pig Zero’: One drugmaker’s push to sell more antibiotics [New York Times]

The rise of drug-resistant germs, caused by overuse of antibiotics, is one of the world’s most nettlesome health predicaments….The practices of livestock farmers, who for decades have used huge quantities of the drugs deemed important to humans, have long been viewed as one of the roots of the problem, but the role of the companies that make the drugs has received less scrutiny….While Elanco is developing antibiotic alternatives for animals, like vaccines and enzymes, the antibiotics promoted by the Pig Zero campaign are exactly the kinds that global public health officials are trying to curb. And Elanco is no outlier — its rivals are also urging aggressive use of their own antibiotic cocktails.


Organic farming has a plastic problem. One solution is controversial [NPR]

Plastic is under attack these days for the environmental problems it causes. But sustainability-minded shoppers might not be aware that many organic farmers — like their conventional farming neighbors — also rely on plastic. It’s spread over the ground as a form of mulch to suppress weeds, conserve water and aid plant growth….Many organic farmers would love to find an alternative to plastic, but they say there isn’t one at the moment. One conceivable solution, biodegradable plastic, isn’t allowed under organic rules in its current form,… though some think those rules should be changed. Others worry about the long-term effects of biodegradable plastic on soil health and the environment.