Ag Today November 19, 2018

Trump, touring fire ruins in California, repeats disputed claim on forest management [New York Times]

President Trump walked through the ashes of the Northern California town of Paradise on Saturday, promising to help the state recover but repeating his disputed view that forest management was to blame for the fire, the most destructive in California’s history. The president, expressing shock at the scale of the devastation and praising the efforts of emergency workers, offered much more conciliatory words than he had used a week earlier when he accused state officials of mismanaging California’s forests and threatened to withhold financial assistance….Mr. Trump repeated his view on Saturday that forest management — the partial clearing and cleaning of brush from forests — was partly to blame for the string of immense and deadly wildfires in recent years.


Facing deadlier fires, California tries something new: More logging [Wall Street Journal]

Obscured amid the chaos of California’s latest wildfire outbreak is a striking sign of change that may help curtail future devastating infernos. After decades of butting heads, some environmentalists and logging supporters have largely come to agreement that forests need to be logged to be saved….In 2017, California joined with the U.S. Forest Service and other groups in creating the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative, which aims to thin millions of trees from about 2.4 million acres of forest—believed to be the largest such state-federal project in the country.


A $12 billion program to help farmers stung by Trump’s trade war has aided few [New York Times]

America’s farmers have been shut out of foreign markets, hit with retaliatory tariffs and lost lucrative contracts in the face of President Trump’s trade war. But a $12 billion bailout program Mr. Trump created to “make it up” to farmers has done little to cushion the blow, with red tape and long waiting periods resulting in few payouts so far. According to the Department of Agriculture, just $838 million has been paid out to farmers since the first $6 billion pot of money was made available in September….The program’s limitations are beginning to test farmers’ patience.


Dairy group warns farmers to be on the lookout for animal rights activists [Fresno Bee]

…Modesto-based Western United Dairymen in its recent newsletter said it has received information that “days of action” may be happening in December. It also provided dairy operators with a list of do’s and don’ts on how to deal with activists….Among the organization’s suggestions: post no-trespassing signs, reduce unnecessary right of way access, designate a point person to call law enforcement if there is suspicious activity, tell trespassers they are on private property and record the activists, since they will likely be recording you. Don’t be combative, use force, or try and shoot down their drone. Also, don’t engage the activists on social media.


Opinion: Outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown tries to forge big water deal [CALmatters]

…The State Water Resources Control Board, appointed by the governor, threatens to shift huge amounts of water from farmers into stronger flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to protect wildlife habitat….Just as the board was poised to vote this month, it delayed action at the request of Brown and his successor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom….Brown’s lame-duck status may work to his advantage. The pending decree gives him overt leverage with farm interests, as does an implicit threat that a more liberal Newsom might be less willing to deal.


Opinion: Sunday Forum: California agriculture is facing a crisis [Bakersfield Californian]

United States Agriculture, along with most U.S. citizens, is beginning to come to terms with the fact that our climate is indeed changing: The world is getting warmer….A carbon tax designed to reduce fossil fuel exploration and consumption in the U.S. has elicited significant opposition from many businesses, including agribusiness….Insufficient chilling from the warm winter of 2014-2015 devastated Kern County’s 2015 cherry and pistachio crops, giving a glimpse of what could happen in the future to crops that depend on cold or even average winters for normal flower development. Overall, California has far more to lose from global warming than other states.