Ag Today May 23, 2019

More California fruit and nut growers will get help with Trump tariffs in new farm aid deal [McClatchy News Service]

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that grapes, tree nuts and cranberries will be added to the list of crops that are eligible for direct payments from the federal government to compensate for losses in the trade war with China. The new farm aid package, which will distribute $16 billion to farmers, up from the $12 billion given in aid last year, will distribute the assistance in three payments, with the first in July or August, according to the USDA….Farm aid is meant to help the growers who have been affected by retaliatory tariffs implemented by China against U.S. agricultural products.


Trump’s tariffs send shock waves through Spain’s olive groves [Bloomberg Businessweek]

The American fighter jets roaring above Joaquín García as he strolls among the 8,000 trees on his family farm in southern Spain are a reminder of the battle the U.S. administration is waging against his cash crop….That relationship is being put to the test after Trump slapped a 35% tariff on black Spanish table olives following complaints by American growers that Madrid unfairly subsidizes its industry….Spanish farmers say the assistance they receive from Madrid and the European Union is legal. They’ve accused their American competitors of opportunistically seizing on the presence of a protectionist president to undermine Spain, which has about one-quarter of the global market for table olives.


Most grass-fed beef labeled ‘product of U.S.A.’ is imported [Bloomberg]

If you’ve eaten grass-fed beef in America over the past few years, chances are the cows weren’t raised in the U.S., even if the package has “Product of U.S.A.” printed on it….If you’re a U.S. consumer, you could be forgiven for being surprised. That’s because in 2015, the U.S. government repealed short-lived rules mandating “country of origin” labeling. It required non-processed beef and pork that was sold in retail to say where it was born, raised and slaughtered. Under current policy, meat products can come in from other countries and—after being “processed”( which could mean simply cutting a large piece into smaller ones inside a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected plant)—receive a “Product of U.S.A.” stamp.


Land O’Lakes leader isn’t scared of meatless food explosion [Wall Street Journal]

Beth Ford, chief executive of Land O’Lakes Inc., one of the largest dairy producers in the U.S., has never tried the meatless Impossible Burger but is open to it. Inventions like the chef-endorsed plant-based burgers are part of a solution to stubborn problems in the nation’s food system—not a threat to the meat and dairy industries, she said at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival on Wednesday….Ms. Ford also said that as a dairy-cooperative executive, she isn’t worried about technological innovation inside of food science labs. What makes hard the lives of many farmers and families across rural America, according to her, is the lack of lower-tech resources like broadband internet and medical care.


Weather woes up north could boost Ventura County strawberry prices [Ventura County Star]

While a wet May has caused problems for strawberry growers in some parts of the state, local producers of Ventura County’s top crop haven’t been hurt by the rain and could actually see better prices as a result….But rain-blemished fruit won’t be a problem in local fields, in part because Ventura County hasn’t gotten nearly as much rain as berry-producing areas to the north. John Krist, CEO of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, said rather than a wet spring, producers here were hurt by the rain in February and March, “which really delayed our season because it was so wet and cool.” However, “we still have lots of good-quality fruit in the fields,” he said.


Pest-Control Companies Pull Out of Carpinteria Cannabis Deal [Santa Barbara Independent]

The Oxnard pest-control companies that spray avocados in the Carpinteria Valley have pulled out of a proposed agreement with cannabis greenhouse operators, saying they can’t risk contaminating the marijuana crop….But the standoff has upended business as usual for Carpinteria avocado growers. They say they will be forced to revert to an organic pesticide they last used 25 years ago, one that is on the state’s “green list” as compatible with cannabis but is not very effective on avocados. If there is an insect infestation in the orchards this spring, they say, they could wind up next year with scarred fruit that resembles Russet potatoes and sells for half the market price.