Ag Today May 7, 2019

In Trump vs. California, the state is winning nearly all its environmental cases [Los Angeles Times]

…Federal judges have sided with California and environmental groups in cases concerning air pollution, pesticides and the royalties that the government receives from companies that extract oil, gas and coal from public land….By California’s count, it has prevailed so far in 12 of the environmental regulatory suits it filed or joined….The administration’s early losses stem from a variety of problems, including moving too quickly to change regulations, ignoring procedural rules and failing to present evidence to support its position, according to California officials and legal experts.


Napa County explores tensions between state housing mandates, ag preserve [Napa Valley Register]

Napa County Planning Commissioners are pondering what the state’s drive to spur more housing development might mean for rural wine country farmland. The county in 2018 issued 31 building permits for new housing units in the unincorporated areas outside of city boundaries. That low number is because county policies funnel subdivisions and apartments into cities to protect agriculture and open space. Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom wants 3.5 million more housing units built in California by 2025. Potential, new state housing laws and mandated housing numbers could affect both cities and rural areas.


As cow milk loses popularity, big dairy and plant-based milk makers team up [Bloomberg]

…Although farmers loudly voice their complaints about alt-dairy products, conventional processors are starting to churn them out alongside traditional milk, aiming to cash in on their fast-growing popularity in the United States….Americans are drinking 40% less milk than in 1975, and prices have suffered a rout….Meanwhile, the plant alternatives are hot. Sales of alt-milks were up 8% in the year through Jan. 26, hitting $1.7 billion, according to data from Nielsen.


Sun World sells grape-growing operation, moves fruit-breeding headquarters out of Kern [Bakersfield Californian]

A local company known for breeding table grapes announced Monday it has sold its Kern County farming operation as part of a move to focus more closely on developing new varieties of fruit for clients around the world. The privately held company, Sun World International LLC, also announced it will move its headquarters from Bakersfield to Palm Desert, where it will carry on under the name Sun World Innovations….The buyer of the acreage, Famous Vineyards, was created by investors specifically to buy Sun World’s farming operation. Dibble said Famous Vineyards’ vineyards will be managed by Sun Pacific, which is headquartered in Pasadena but has offices in the southern Central Valley.


Editorial: Trump’s China Brinksmanship [Wall Street Journal]

President Trump roiled financial markets Monday with his threats to impose a new round of tariffs on China as trade talks hit an impasse. We’re about to find out if tariff brinksmanship pays off in a productive deal or ends in mutual escalation that will hurt both countries….There’s no denying that his border taxes on Chinese goods have prodded Beijing to negotiate, though tariffs have also imposed costs on U.S. consumers and producers, especially in agriculture. The tariffs will be destructive unless they lead to a deal that causes China to cease its predatory behavior.


Opinion: Thieves are hitting California farmers hard. This crime bill will help solve problem [Visalia Times Delta]

…My bill, Senate Bill 224, would create a new category of crime — grand theft of agricultural property — and help law enforcement agencies track these crimes to prevent further thefts. SB 224 would provide that fines collected for this crime are put into agricultural- and rural-based crime prevention programs….Two Senate committees approved SB 224 without opposition and the bill will soon face a vote on the Senate Floor. I call on all lawmakers who benefit from the food farmers put on the table to also give them a seat at the table.