Ag Today May 20, 2019

Almond, walnut, rice farmers face problems with persistent rain [Chico Enterprise-Record]

…As the end of May nears, Butte County’s main agricultural drivers — almonds, walnuts and rice — will likely face some setbacks as more showers cause more precautions taken by farmers for the county’s multi-million dollar industry crops. “All this precipitation is causing major headaches for farmers here in Butte county,” said Colleen Cecil, executive director for Butte County’s Farm Bureau….Clark Becker is the owner and operator for CE Becker and Sons, a custom rice farming company in Gridley….“At this moment we don’t know when we can finish planting,” Becker said. “If we get another two inches of rain, some fields located in the south part of the county simply won’t get planted.


Fruit and nut farmers in California plead for Trump tariff relief: ‘It snowballed’ [Sacramento Bee]

California lawmakers want the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide some relief to more farm industries that are affected by the Trump administration’s trade war with China, especially ones that employ thousands of people in the Central Valley. They are asking USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to make more specialty crops, such as grapes and walnuts, eligible for a trade relief program that gives some farmers direct payments to offset a loss of their income. It’s designed to help them cope with retaliatory tariffs China has declared on certain U.S. products over the past two years.


Trump’s ‘great patriot’ farmers follow him into a trade war [New York Times]

…While the prolonged fight has been devastating to an already-struggling agriculture industry, there’s little indication Trump is paying a political price. But there’s a big potential upside if he can get a better deal — and little downside if he continues to get credit for trying for the farmers caught in the middle….Many farmers are lifelong Republicans who like other things Trump has done, such as reining in the EPA and tackling illegal immigration, and believe he’s better for their interests than most Democrats even on his worst day.


Editorial: A metals tariff reprieve [Wall Street Journal]

…The good news is that the countries agreed to lift the tit-for-tat tariffs that the U.S. imposed last year on the dubious grounds that steel and aluminum from our close northern ally is a threat to national security. Canada and Mexico in turn will lift their retaliatory tariffs that have been hurting the U.S. Farm Belt, among other American exporters….The agreement removes a major obstacle to consideration of President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal that would replace Nafta. Republican Senators had made lifting the steel and aluminum tariffs a condition of even considering support for the new Nafta deal,…


Trump threatens to cut millions from fire departments in California after deadly wildfires [McClatchy News Service]

Officials in California are crying foul over a Trump administration plan to slash firefighting assistance payments to the state, which could amount to millions of dollars in lost income for fire departments. The U.S. Forest Service, in turn, is accusing the local fire departments in the state of over-billing the federal government as part of a federal-state partnership, the California Fire Assistance Agreement (CFAA), that was inked in 2015 and expires in 2020. The disagreement between state and federal fire officials now threatens to upend negotiations to extend that agreement, which state Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Marshall said is essential to combat not just wildfires, but other natural disasters in California.


Citrus farmers facing deadly bacteria turn to antibiotics, alarming health officials [New York Times]

…Since 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency has allowed Florida citrus farmers to use the drugs, streptomycin and oxytetracycline, on an emergency basis, but the agency is now significantly expanding their permitted use across 764,000 acres in California, Texas and other citrus-producing states. The agency approved the expanded use  despite strenuous objections from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which warn that the heavy use of antimicrobial drugs in agriculture could spur germs to mutate so they become resistant to the drugs, threatening the lives of millions of people.