Ag Today November 16, 2020

Supreme Court agrees to hear California grower’s challenge to state farm labor law [Los Angeles Times]

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a property rights challenge to a 45-year-old California labor law that allows union organizers to go on farmland to speak with workers at the start of their day or during a lunch break. Several growers backed by the California Farm Bureau contend the law should be struck down as unconstitutional because it amounts to the government taking private property. Lawyers for the Pacific Legal Foundation, who filed the appeal, called it a “union trespass law.”…At issue in the high court now is a regulation issued shortly afterward on “the right of access by union organizers to the premises of an agricultural employer for the purpose of meeting and talking with employees and soliciting their support.” The state’s lawyers said that this right was “limited and conditioned” and that “organizers may enter the property only for one hour before the start of work, one hour after the completion of work, and one hour during employees’ lunch break.”


U.S. exporters coming up empty in scramble for outbound containers [Wall Street Journal]

A surge in Asian imports bound for U.S. retailers stocking up for the holidays is leading to an acute shortage of shipping capacity for U.S. exporters, with agricultural producers now struggling to find the containers they need to send their products to overseas buyers. Container shipping companies seeking to keep pace with the strong demand for goods from China are rushing to unpack and return to Asia the containers, industry officials say. That leaves fewer boxes available for American exporters to stuff with soybeans, lumber, cotton and other products. “Right now we are grappling with a true emergency—carriers refusing bookings for trans-Pacific agricultural exports and canceling those already booked,” said Peter Friedmann, executive director at the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, a trade body representing U.S. farmers. “We are getting locked out of foreign markets.”


What a Biden Administration could mean for Klamath water [Klamath Falls Herald and News]

When the Associated Press called the presidential race for Joe Biden, stakeholders in local water issues started preparing for a federal shakeup. The last three administrations have been considerably active in Klamath Basin issues regardless of political party. Negotiations for a basin-wide agreement began under the Bush Administration and continued under the Obama Administration until faltering in the House of Representatives — though each president’s approach has varied. Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, said Biden’s experience in the Obama Administration could prove an asset, if he brings a similar approach to the top job…. “If it’s similar to what the Obama Administration did, I think you might see an effort to get people to come together and work on a fix that has benefits up and down the river and in both states.”


Opinion: Delta Conveyance Project will soak Californians [Inland Valley Daily Bulletin]

The Census Bureau says California has the highest poverty rate in the nation when the cost of living is taken into account. One of the factors considered in their calculation is the cost of utilities. The cost is especially high in California….Back in April, Gov. Gavin Newsom prohibited utilities from cutting off water for non-payment, but the debt continues to add up. So the State Water Board is seeking to find out how dire the situation has become and how much taxpayers may have to pay to keep critical utilities from going under. The results of the study are expected be released in January….In May 2019, the Department of Water Resources rescinded all approvals for WaterFix, a $15 billion-ish project that envisioned two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to get around pumping restrictions imposed to protect still-declining fish species. That cleared the way for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new plan, a single, smaller tunnel through the Delta. It’s now called the Delta Conveyance Project, and it’s coming for your money. The Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority is already spending money on planning and engineering work, and the environmental review process has begun. But there is no finished, approved plan, and no one knows what the project will cost.


Editorial: Biden’s climate policies will be a boon for California’s environment [San Francisco Chronicle]

No more chatter about sweeping forest floors to stem wildfires. Instead, there’s a push for cleaner tailpipes and more electric vehicles. Offshore drilling will have zero chance, and salmon should swim in more water. These are all the tantalizing thoughts that a coming Biden administration brings up for California’s environment….Also, the giant Central Valley water conveyance system of federal pumps and aqueducts will probably get further reviews to lower deliveries to farms and Southern California cities. Instead the aim will be to sustain flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to improve conditions for fish and wildlife.


Pistachio industry looks to reposition product amid supply boom [Bakersfield Californian]

…California’s pistachio industry has launched campaigns promoting the nut as not just a tasty snack but also a super-nutritious protein just as suitable in entrees as sprinkled over a cupcake or mixed into ice cream. The latest example of this push is a series of culinary webinars by celebrity chefs. Their online cooking demonstrations, including one this week by Los Angeles restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, are aimed at increasing consumption in foreign and domestic markets. “We haven’t promoted them as a culinary nut because of supply. Well, here’s supply,” said Judy Hirigoyen, vice president of Global Marketing at the American Pistachio Group trade group.


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