Ag Today May 15, 2019

Trade battle looks set to roil container shipping [Wall Street Journal]

The escalating U.S.-China tariff tensions could curtail growth in trans-Pacific seaborne trade this year if no settlement is reached, and container ships that carry consumer goods likely will be directly affected. Jonathan Roach, a container analyst at London-based shipbroker Braemar ACM, expects demand growth in the sector to be reduced to around 2% this year from 4.5% in 2018, hitting the finances of carriers that are still trying to recover from a steep downturn. “The increase in tariffs from 10% to 25% on Chinese products to the U.S. could severely reduce current and future growth on the trans-Pacific trade and immediately create significant overcapacity of ships in the water,” Mr. Roach said. The higher levies the Trump administration plans to impose on Chinese products starting June 1 include finished electronics, furniture and a host of other retail goods that move on the world’s big container vessels. Other parts of the shipping industry such as dry-bulk carriers and tanker operators will be hit less as China will continue to import products like grain and crude oil from countries other than the U.S. Mr. Roach said if the U.S.-China dispute continues over the long term, container operators may curtail purchases of the ultralarge boxships that have taken over major trade lanes.


Local growers downplay trade war [Marysville Appeal-Democrat]

While trade tensions between the United States and China continue escalating, local growers don’t seem too concerned as of yet. “We haven’t sold a walnut to China, India or Turkey without a tariff for more than about 20 years,” said Mat Conant, local walnut grower and Sutter County supervisor. “It changes from year to year and it has affected us in the past and will probably continue to do so this year as well.” Conant said he understands the need for negotiating for a better deal and makes adjustments to his operation to stay profitable. “I understand what Trump is trying to do because it does impact growers and also other commodities, like steel, aluminum, rubber and potentially everything else that’s traded,” he said. “We put tariffs on their products and then they put tariffs on our products and that goes back and forth.”


Spillway concerns? DWR, Sheriff Kory Honea say no [Chico Enterprise-Record]

The California Department of Water Resources released a Lake Oroville community update on Monday afternoon amid rumors of ongoing safety concerns regarding the Oroville Dam’s main spillway. These rumors have been circulated mostly on Facebook, according to DWR Public Information Officer Elizabeth Whitmore. “At this time, the community update should answer all questions regarding any safety issues with the main spillway, as well as concerns growing over the upcoming rain storm,” Whitmore said. The approaching storm is expected to drop at least 1.5 inches of rain on the valley floor, according to the National Weather Service. Currently the elevation of the water in Lake Oroville stands at 889 feet elevation — 11 feet below the top — while outflows to the Feather River are 9,500 cubic feet per second, according to the state’s data exchange center.


‘Significant damage’ from Sacramento Blue Diamond plant fire. Will almond prices skyrocket? [Sacramento Bee]

Officials at Blue Diamond Growers were still assessing the damage done to the cooperative’s Sacramento manufacturing facility after a four-alarm blaze there late Monday that sent two workers to a local hospital. In a brief statement Tuesday, Blue Diamond said it is investigating what ignited the blaze and is “focused on learning more about the incident and providing support to our employees.” No estimates on the extent of the damage or dollar loss were available Tuesday, but “the most likely origin is on the second floor” where different types of equipment are housed, said Sacramento Fire Department Capt. Keith Wade. He noted “significant damage” to the floor as well as smoke damage on both the second and third floors of the five-story structure….Blue Diamond officials Tuesday said it was too early to speculate on the fire’s impact on a critically important California industry. Officials at the Almond Board of California, which represents more than 6,500 growers across the state, deferred to the co-op.


Opinion: Newsom crafting smart water portfolio for California [San Jose Mercury News]

As the dust settles from the whirlwind transition of the California governor’s office, it’s a relief to see that the new statehouse has squashed the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta tunnels water project. Conservation, fishing, and community groups welcomed the Newsom administration’s May 2 announcement that it will abandon Gov. Jerry Brown’s misguided twin tunnels plan and seek instead to refocus the state’s water priorities. For over a decade, the California Department of Water Resources incessantly promoted the deceptively named WaterFix project as a response to two of the Legislature’s stated goals for the Delta: 1) to improve the reliability of water supplies, and 2) to protect and restore the health of the struggling Delta ecosystem and its six endangered fish species. Yet behind the curtain, project proponents – principally Brown and Southern California water wholesalers – viewed the tunnels as a way to maintain and increase unsustainable water exports from the Delta.


Editorial: The Cadiz project to drain the desert is a bad idea [Los Angeles Times]

There’s a tiny green patch of Mojave Desert, past Barstow but before Needles, north of Joshua Tree National Park and south of the Mojave National Preserve, where groundwater pumped from an aquifer under the arid landscape irrigates several hundred acres of crops. Rainfall that seeps from the adjacent mountains is sporadic, but sufficient to replenish what is taken from the ground while still leaving enough for the natural springs that sustain the bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and other threatened species that live in the environmentally fragile region. But the private landowner, Cadiz Inc., is interested in more than growing a few lemons among the creosote and cactus. It wants to vastly increase the scale of pumping in order to pipe about 16 billion gallons of water a year to homes in distant Orange and Los Angeles counties. Cadiz has commissioned reports that, it says, show that natural processes would replenish the water at close to the rate at which it would be extracted. The U.S. Geological Survey studied the land and the water and, in 2002, found otherwise. Its scientists concluded that the proposed pumping would far exceed the rate of natural refill.