Ag Today November 14, 2019

U.S.-China Trade Talks Hit Snag Over Farm Purchases [Wall Street Journal]

Trade talks between the U.S. and China have hit a snag over farm purchases, as officials seek to lock down the limited trade deal President Trump outlined last month. Mr. Trump has said that China has agreed to buy up to $50 billion of soybeans, pork and other agricultural products from the U.S. annually. But China is leery of putting a numerical commitment in the text of an agreement, according to people familiar with the matter….The dispute over farm purchases is one of several issues that have delayed completion of the limited trade accord announced by Mr. Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Oct. 11.


A Milk Giant Goes Broke as Americans Reject Old Staples [New York Times]

…Saddled with debt and struggling to adjust to changing consumer habits, Dean Foods filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, signaling another grim chapter in the recent struggles of the dairy industry. The company, whose portfolio of brands includes TruMoo and Lehigh Valley, said it was in talks to sell itself to Dairy Farmers of America, a marketing cooperative that sells milk from thousands of farms. Across the food and beverage industry, the challenges facing Dean Foods are becoming increasingly familiar. In recent years, consumers have moved away from brands, and even entire categories of food, once seen as household staples. The decline of the milk industry has emerged as a particularly stark example of how these changing tastes are challenging major companies whose products once crowded store shelves.


Creek Deemed Dirty [Pacific Sun]

The board charged with overseeing the water quality in much of the San Francisco Bay Area unanimously approved a plan requiring local businesses, residents and government agencies to reduce the amount of fecal bacteria they put into the Petaluma River watershed, including San Antonio Creek….In tests conducted between 2015 and 2018, water board scientists found bacteria tied to humans, horses, cows and dogs throughout the Petaluma River and its tributaries….In comment letters, several North Bay groups, including the North Bay Realtors Association and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, pushed in the other direction, asking the board to extend the amount of time the board allows various groups to comply with new rules.


It’s Wine vs. Weed in the Valley [Santa Barbara Independent]

In old western movies, it was the farmers and ranchers who were forever fighting over the wide-open spaces. In the Santa Ynez Valley, however, they’ve been supplanted by the cannabis growers versus the wine industry. Or so it would seem from last week’s deliberations in front of the County Planning Commission. That’s where three approved cannabis operations — all slated for Highway 246 just outside Buellton — had been taken to the Planning Commission on appeal, two by vintner Blair Pence, an especially outspoken critic of cannabis operations. Although all three operations were received differently by the commissioners, all had their wings clipped significantly.


Editorial: Farming, jobs and changes [Santa Maria Times]

…Growers are in a tough spot when it comes to hiring. The belief that illegal foreign workers take jobs away from U.S. citizens vanishes when those jobs are in the fields. With the federal crackdown on illegal immigration, local growers have a difficult choice to make — break the law, or go broke. What would you do?…All of which circles back to the very real need for our elected leaders — the president and members of Congress — to find a way to work together on policies that bring the underground economy to the surface, while better accommodating the needs of America’s farmers to remain economically and financially viable. That means immigration policy reform, from the ground up. It sounds so simple on paper, but a politically divided America makes such policy reform unlikely.


‘Golden Rice’ Review: Against the Grain [Wall Street Journal]

…Golden rice is the world’s first genetically modified crop intended to benefit the consumer rather than the farmer. The biggest obstacle to putting such environmentally friendly, affordable and nutritious food on the world’s table is no longer scientific but political. As golden rice becomes available, the next step should be to educate legislators and the public about its benefits and the reasons that millions of children had to die waiting for it. Mr. Regis’s book, which explains the complex science of golden rice in a manner that lay readers can understand, will be an important contribution to that effort.