Ag Today May 14, 2019

In latest Roundup herbicide defeat for Bayer, jury awards California couple $2 billion [Wall Street Journal]

…The verdict by the Northern California jury is the third straight trial loss for Bayer over the safety of Roundup. Bayer is facing a revolt from shareholders over the Monsanto deal, which exposed Bayer to some 13,400 claims tying Roundup to cancer. Two previous trial losses have helped wipe more than 30% off Bayer’s share price. Last month, a majority of Bayer shareholders refused to endorse management’s actions in the past year, indicating that investors lack confidence in how the company is being run. The company now has until August to reevaluate its legal strategy and try to appease investors before the next scheduled trial. That trial will be the first to unfold outside the San Francisco Bay Area, often seen as an unfavorable setting for corporate defendants. It will be in St. Louis, the former headquarters of Monsanto and now home to Bayer’s global seed business. Bayer has appealed a $78.5 million verdict reached in August, the first Roundup case to go to trial. It has said it would appeal the second, a more than $80 million jury award decided in March.


The massive snowmelt is coming. Are we ready? [Bakersfield Californian]

There’s a lot of ice and snow in the mountains that feed water to the farms and cities of Kern County. Estimates vary, and can change as the water year progresses, but the Kern River basin, the rivers and streams that collect the water that flows into Isabella Lake and downstream toward Bakersfield, is estimated to be at 172 percent of normal, possibly more….”Historically, the peak melt will come sometime between May 26 and the first of June,” said John W. Ryan, hydrographic supervisor for the city of Bakersfield….Like most water watchers, Dana Munn, general manager of the Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, has been working on developing more room to store water in wet years like this one for use in dry years. He has worked to develop new recharge ponds to store an extra 10,000 acre feet of water per year. An acre foot of water is about enough to fill a football field one foot deep. “In a big water year, you tuck away that water anywhere you can,” he said. “You can’t build a big, expensive reservoir. The best way is underground.” Munn would like to double that newer space to 20,000 acre feet, but it takes money and a willing land seller and government approval.


Regulation headed for Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, Wood River [Klamath Falls Herald and News]

Oregon Water Resources Department is in the process of validating a call on Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, including the Wood River, filed by senior water right holders — the Klamath Tribes — on April 18. The call, which has been validated in some locations, but not yet others, will last through October and asks the state water agency to monitor and regulate stream flow in the stream reaches. A full list of stream reaches that are part of the call can be found online at “The Tribes and the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) believe that various Tribal water right claims for in-stream flows and elevation levels will require enforcement based on available gage and collected data, on our understanding of the system, and on the potential for activities that divert surface water for various purposes,” said Tribal Chairman Don Gentry said in the letter addressed to OWRD Watermaster Danette Watson….Watson said a call on water can come in the form of a phone call or printed letter from a water user to the state water agency. She said the Tribes usually send a letter. Water users that irrigate can call the watermaster’s office if they believe someone with a junior water right to theirs is irrigating with water that should be coming to them.


Trump sees China trade deal ‘When the time is right’ [Wall Street Journal]

President Trump signaled he was in no rush to reach a deal with China and pledged that the federal government would come to the financial aid of American farmers hurt by Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs as the trade fight between the two nations continues. “When the time is right we will make a deal with China,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter Tuesday. “My respect and friendship with President Xi [Jinping] is unlimited but, as I have told him many times before, this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn’t make any sense.”…On Friday, the U.S. imposed duties on $200 billion of Chinese imports as the latest round of talks hit an impasse. In response, China announced on Monday it would raise tariffs on roughly $60 billion worth of U.S. imports on June 1. The U.S. is also working on a new round of tariffs that would apply to about $300 billion of Chinese imports, though Mr. Trump has said he hasn’t decided yet whether he will impose them. In a series of early morning tweets discussing the trade standoff, Mr. Trump also leaned on the Federal Reserve over its interest-rate policies. Commenting on how China may try to use lower interest rates to bolster its economy, Mr. Trump said that if the Fed “ever did a ‘match,’ it would be game over, we win! In any event, China wants a deal!”


Crews knock down fire at the Blue Diamond factory after going to four alarms [Sacramento Bee]

Firefighters have “completely extinguished” a four-alarm fire Monday night on the second floor of the Blue Diamond almond factory in downtown Sacramento that injured three people, according to the Sacramento Fire Department. The department posted on social media around 11:45 p.m. that it had knocked down the blaze and was working with staff at the growers cooperative’s sprawling facilities to investigate the cause. Crews are expected to be on scene of the campus – which takes up more than 10 city blocks and has been the home of the cooperative for more than 100 years – throughout the night, according to fire spokesman Capt. Keith Wade.


Editorial: Politics stalls disaster relief [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

California and the West are headed into what could be another scorching wildfire season. Yet Congress and the White House can’t agree on paying for past natural disasters, let alone what lies ahead. The Senate should follow the House’s lead and promptly approve a disaster relief package. The House has acted twice — most recently approving a $19 billion aid package on Friday, but the Senate is taking its time. Negotiations reportedly will continue this week. Disaster relief typically is a bipartisan issue in Congress, but this year it fell victim to President Donald Trump and key Republicans’ insistence that the legislation include billions for America’s southern border but not for Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery. Democrats dug in on the other side of both issues. The House-passed bill includes money for disaster recovery from wildfires, flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes. It also would fund wildfire and other disaster remediation and related work.