Ag Today November 13, 2019

Sour grapes: Trade war puts cork in US wine sales to China [Associated Press]

Caught in the crossfire of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, U.S. vineyards are struggling to sell Syrah in Shanghai and Chardonnay in Shenzhen. They risk losing their foothold in one of the world’s fastest-growing wine markets….Since June, China has been imposing 93% tariffs and taxes on American wine, up from 48% before the hostilities began, according to the Wine Institute,…Overall, U.S. wine exports to China fell 25% in 2018, measured by volume, according to the Wine Institute. Calculated by dollars, the picture is just as ugly:


Tariffs on China Imports Emerge as Hurdle to Trade Deal [Wall Street Journal]

Tariffs are emerging as the main stumbling block in efforts by the U.S. and China to come to a limited trade deal, a month after the two countries called a truce in their trade war. The logjam centers on whether the U.S. has agreed to remove existing tariffs in the so-called “phase one” deal that the two countries have been working toward—or whether the U.S. would only cancel tariffs set to take effect Dec. 15, according to people familiar with the talks….President Trump said Tuesday that a “significant phase-one trade deal with China could happen, could happen soon.” But he added that he is prepared to increase pressure on China if the two sides can’t reach an agreement.


Ventura County avocado, lemon growers blame power shut-offs for many of their losses [Ventura County Star]

The Maria Fire took a toll on Ventura County’s avocado and lemon crops, but some growers say it’s worse than it had to be, thanks to Southern California Edison’s power shut-offs. Since their irrigation systems rely on electric pumps and their power was cut off, farmers say they couldn’t keep flames at bay by dousing their trees and soil….Although growers can’t even be sure yet how much damage the Maria Fire caused because some of the trees don’t show damage immediately, some are sure they could have saved more trees if the power had been on….“The loss of avocado and citrus trees would be by far less than what it is now if Southern California Edison didn’t turn off the power,” said John Krist, chief executive officer of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County.


California’s new gig economy law challenged in court by truck drivers [Sacramento Bee]

The California Trucking Association on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new state new that will force businesses to treat more workers as employees entitled to benefits like overtime pay and sick leave….The association argues the law will deny many truckers the ability to work as independent drivers in California who can profit from their own vehicles while setting their own schedules. The bill threatens more than 70,000 truckers’ ability to make a living and violates federal law, the association’s CEO Shawn Yadon said in a written statement.


Table grape market improves for local growers, but not enough [Bakersfield Californian]

From a farmer’s perspective, Kern County’s top-grossing crop is performing better this year than it did last year. But that’s the end of the good news as far as local table grape growers are concerned. Prices for California table grapes remain significantly below their average from the last several years, people in the business say. Meanwhile, labor costs remain relatively high and international tariffs continue to weigh on the industry’s competitiveness overseas, making 2019 only a little less painful so far than 2018.


Not your Popeye’s spinach: New strains are turning red [Bay Area News Group]

Once America’s favorite green, spinach was dethroned by a nasty illness outbreak, then the sudden ascension of Millennials’ favorite status symbol: kale. But its fortunes could change, thanks to a new magenta-hued makeover. The world’s first true red spinach has been unveiled by a scientist at the government’s Agricultural Research Service located in the “the Salad Bowl of the World.” Sadly, “USDA Red” won’t be ready in time for the holidays….But the news is stirring excitement in the long-staid spinach world.