Ag Today March 26, 2019

How California is defying Trump’s environmental rollbacks [Los Angeles Times]

…As the Trump administration continues its assault on environmental regulation, state officials are throwing up legal barriers to some high-stakes attacks. They are preparing to strengthen safeguards for waterways that are about to lose federal protections in a major rollback of the Clean Water Act. They are refusing to issue permits the federal government needs to build a controversial dam project that would drown portions of a Northern California river renowned for its wild trout fishery. And they can use state water quality standards to limit Washington’s ability to boost irrigation supplies for Central Valley agriculture by relaxing federal safeguards for endangered fish.


Interior nominee intervened to block report on endangered species [New York Times]

After years of effort, scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service had a moment of celebration as they wrapped up a comprehensive analysis of the threat that three widely used pesticides present to hundreds of endangered species, like the kit fox and the seaside sparrow….Their analysis found that two of the pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos, were so toxic that they “jeopardize the continued existence” of more than 1,200 endangered birds, fish and other animals and plants, a conclusion that could lead to tighter restrictions on use of the chemicals. But just before the team planned to make its findings public in November 2017, something unexpected happened: Top political appointees of the Interior Department, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, blocked the release and set in motion a new process intended to apply a much narrower standard to determine the risks from the pesticides.


Opinion: Why California should ban widely used chemical ingredient [San Jose Mercury News]

State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, is proposing Senate Bill 458 to ban a widely-used chemical ingredient that has been scientifically proven to damage child brain development….But Sen. Durazo is facing extraordinarily well-funded special interest opposition….What the opposition doesn’t mention is that Raid bug killer contained chlorpyrifos, but now it doesn’t.  And it still works.  When the maker of Raid, S. C. Johnson and Son was confronted with the scientific evidence about the brain damaging impact of chlorpyrifos, they simply removed it.  Are the pesticide companies telling us they can’t?


New NAFTA pitting California exporters against labor, with Democrats in the middle [McClatchy News Service]

Battered by foreign tariffs for the past year, California farmers now see a ray of hope for their operations in the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement….Labor groups are telling lawmakers that ratifying the deal in its current form will hurt workers in California and beyond….Stuck in the middle: California Democrats in Congress, particularly those from the Central Valley, where the agriculture industry looms large. Not surprisingly, most Democrats have thus far refused to take a position on the deal, which the Trump administration inked with Canada and Mexico last fall.


Republicans plot assault on Trump’s tariff agenda [McClatchy News Service]

Republican senators plan to move quickly this week to limit President Donald Trump’s ability to impose tariffs on cars, steel and farm products as they aim to minimize the damage these policies could do to their 2020 election prospects. The battle over Trump’s tariffs — affecting workers and farmers in Kansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and Kentucky, where voters have been sympathetic to the president — reflects one of the few disputes between Republican lawmakers and a White House that has repeatedly been able to limit political damage on everything from Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the border to his willingness to back the recent partial government shutdown. Trade, particularly the war over tariffs, is a very different matter.


California voters could be asked to impose an estate tax, replacing the one Trump loosened [Los Angeles Times]

California voters would consider a state-mandated tax on the assets of wealthy residents, one that could generate as much as $1 billion a year for low-income families, under legislation introduced in the state Legislature on Tuesday. The bill would ask voters next year to impose an estate tax of a size equal to what was loosened in 2017 by President Trump and Republicans in Congress as part of a broad tax overhaul law….SB 378 envisions a California tax that applies to estates larger than $3.5 million for an individual, where the federal tax applied between 2009 and 2011. The tax break grew in 2011 and was expanded dramatically through action in 2017 by Trump. To avoid any instance of double taxation by the state and federal government, SB 378 stipulates the California version would phase out once the value of a deceased resident’s estate hits the federal threshold.