Ag Today May 10, 2019

Trump’s tariff hike on Chinese goods takes effect as the two sides keep talking [Los Angeles Times]

Sharply raising the stakes in the trade battle with China, the Trump administration moved ahead with plans to significantly hike tariffs on imports from that country — even as U.S. and Chinese negotiators continue to talk in Washington in hopes of reaching a deal. As of Friday, tariffs on $200 billion in products from China — including electronics, medical devices, seafood, clothing and handbags — will go up from the current 10% to 25%. The new tariff move was expected to be met with retaliatory measures from China. The onset of new duties ends a cease-fire agreed to by President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping six months ago after a series of tit-for-tat tariff actions. And it increases the odds of a full-on trade war between the two largest economies that would have ripple effects around the world.


China, defiant but careful, promises aggressive response to tariffs [New York Times]

When the United States ratcheted up trade tensions with Beijing on Friday, the news was greeted with weariness and foreboding among the people in China who will pay the immediate price: owners of factories big and small. Brook Chen runs a plant in Shanghai that makes suitcases for brands including Samsonite. More than four-fifths of his orders come from the United States. The trade war, now nearly a year old, has already squeezed Mr. Chen’s bottom line. American customers insisted that he lower his prices so they wouldn’t have to raise theirs. When he contemplates moving production out of China — to Southeast Asia, for instance — he worries about losing access to China’s vast supply chain and capable work force.


California’s high-speed rail project and the feds are no longer on speaking terms [Los Angeles Times]

The California bullet train project, for much of the past decade, enjoyed no more important partner than the U.S. Department of Transportation. DOT was supplying the state with billions of dollars in grants, showering the project with political affection and later making repeated amendments to its funding deals to help the state weather construction delays. But today, federal agencies and the state high-speed rail authority are like a couple filing for an unseemly divorce and alleging mutual mistreatment of their child — a partly built bullet train from Merced to Bakersfield. The two sides aren’t even speaking, foreshadowing further setbacks for an already troubled rail endeavor….The federal government notified the state in February of its intent to terminate a $929-million grant that has yet to be transferred and may seek to get back a $2.5-billion rail grant that has already been spent.


Here’s what’s new in California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state budget [Bay Area News Group]

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday his revised state budget plan prioritizes shoring up California’s reserve funds, paying down pension debt and devoting new spending on housing, health care, early childhood and higher education. The revised budget has grown since Newsom’s initial January plan from $144 billion to $147 billion in the general fund that covers most public services and a total of $213.5 billion, up from $209 billion in January. That’s because short-term revenues are more than $3 billion higher than anticipated in January. But Newsom said most of the increased revenues are constitutionally obligated to reserves, debt repayment and schools, so January’s record $21.5 billion budget surplus remains relatively unchanged. And the long-term outlook is not so rosy, with the governor assuming slower economic growth will shave $1.6 billion off revenues in 2022-23 compared to the January forecast.


Point Reyes ranch, elk management plan release set for July [Marin Independent Journal]

The Point Reyes National Seashore is set to unveil its draft environmental review in July showing how it will manage historic ranches and tule elk herds in the park. The most controversial options being considered are ending ranching altogether in the park or culling some of the elk to reduce their conflicts with ranches. Once the review is released, the public will be given 45 days to provide feedback, according Melanie Gunn, the national seashore’s outreach coordinator. After his controversial bill to preserve the ranches and give more elk management tools to park staff died in the Senate last year, Congressman Jared Huffman said he’s prepared to reintroduce the legislation depending on what the park comes up with….The National Park Service leases 28,000 acres to dairy and beef ranches in the seashore and neighboring Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These leases need to be renewed every five years, which ranchers say makes long-term financial planning difficult.


Ship owners seek to slow services to meet emissions limits [Wall Street Journal]

Looming new environmental regulations are triggering sharp divisions in the shipping industry between vessel operators investing billions of dollars to reduce emissions and others who want to stave off the financial impact by simply slowing down ships. More than 100 ship owners, including some big Greek and German charter businesses, have signed a letter to the International Maritime Organization, an arm of the United Nations that works as the global marine regulator, calling for slower sailing speeds to cut greenhouse gas emissions. If adopted, the measure could ripple across international supply chains, with products taking more time to be delivered and cargo owners paying more for transport costs because of the longer sailings….The idea behind “slow-steaming” is to push back the hefty costs that would come from turning to expensive new fuel and equipment to meet environmental targets, and from investing in a new generation of ships that would use hydrogen, batteries or biofuels for propulsion.