Ag Today November 14, 2018

Trump and Brown stir up rhetoric on wildfires but overlook pressing problems [Los Angeles Times]

President Trump took to Twitter to blame bad forest management. Gov. Jerry Brown pointed to climate change. Their arguments about the cause of disastrous wildfires roaring across the state have turned a California catastrophe into the latest political cudgel in the ongoing slugfest between Washington and Sacramento….The Trump-Brown exchange ignores what many experts consider core reasons for fire’s escalating toll: Humans keep sparking them, and Californians keep building in high-fire zones prone to the fierce winds that inevitably drive the state’s most calamitous blazes.


Lake, Mendocino grape growers push for federal aid to help with smoke-taint damage [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

Grape growers from Lake and Mendocino counties are lobbying for federal disaster aid as a result of smoke damage to their crop from the Mendocino Complex fires this summer….Local and state winegrape industry officials on Sunday sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, asking him to push to include the industry in disaster-aid legislation that may move through Congress soon….The local growers are asking Congress to extend a program that covered some industry losses from the 2017 California wildfires into this year’s fires, and allow that relief to go into 2020 to provide a safeguard for problems that may be discovered during bottling or in the marketing of the wine.


Study: Absent major changes, new groundwater rules will cost Kern 24,000 jobs [KBAK-TV, Bakersfield]

Absent major changes to farming practices and an increase in water supply, Kern County’s farming juggernaut will have to shrink considerably to meet aggressive new targets for conservation. A study commissioned by the Kern Groundwater Authority suggests tremendous job losses are a possibility as water district managers and farmers work toward compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act….So now, water district managers and farmers across the county are working at a furious pace to re-imagine the industry. Nothing is off the table.


Gene-edited food is coming, but will shoppers buy? [Associated Press]

…By early next year, the first foods from plants or animals that had their DNA “edited” are expected to begin selling. It’s a different technology than today’s controversial “genetically modified” foods, more like faster breeding that promises to boost nutrition, spur crop growth, and make farm animals hardier and fruits and vegetables last longer. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has declared gene editing one of the breakthroughs needed to improve food production so the world can feed billions more people amid a changing climate. Yet governments are wrestling with how to regulate this powerful new tool. And after years of confusion and rancor, will shoppers accept gene-edited foods or view them as GMOs in disguise?


Trump right and wrong on ‘French’ wine tariffs [Associated Press]

U.S. President Donald Trump is partly right but far from completely correct when he says that France’s “big tariffs” make it hard for American vintners to sell their wines to the French. Wrong because customs duties on imported wines are applied not by France but by the European Union. Right because American tariffs are “globally” less than what Europe charges, the French customs authority says….Trump went after France on several fronts in tweets Tuesday, including blasting tariffs on its emblematic wine.


Santa Barbara County farmworker housing ordinance goes back to staff once again [Santa Maria Times]

An ordinance designed to streamline the process of building farmworker housing was sent back to the staff once again for what one staff member called “spaghetti changes” the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors worked out during the meeting Tuesday in Santa Maria. Changes the board wanted made Tuesday will undo some of the changes supervisors requested the last time they considered the ordinance amendments Oct. 9. But some of the discussion also focused on more philosophical issues that grew out of the staff analysis of potential thresholds for requiring a conditional use permit for agricultural employee housing based on applications for H-2A workers — nonimmigrant workers brought in to temporarily fill a labor shortage — from 2016 to 2018.