Ag Today November 20, 2019

Stalled U.S.-China trade talks raise threat of another impasse [Wall Street Journal]

Trade talks between the U.S. and China are in danger of hitting an impasse, threatening to derail the Trump administration’s plan for a limited “phase-one” pact this year, according to former administration officials and others following the talks. Both sides remain divided over core issues—including Beijing’s demand for removing tariffs and the U.S.’s insistence on China buying farm products—nearly six weeks after an “agreement in principle” was announced by the White House on Oct. 11.


Steps to reduce the risk of wildfires in California [Wall Street Journal]

California’s devastating 2019 wildfires have slowly been brought under control. But they could be just a taste of what’s to come, and not just in California, if forecasts for increasing heat and dryness continue, and as homes and other new construction continue their spread into formerly undeveloped areas….Is there any way for policy makers to prevent the next wildfire crisis? We asked three experts how the state and federal governments could address the problem:


To hemp or not to hemp? Fresno expo geared to fledgling industry [Fresno Business Journal]

If you believe the full legalization of hemp this year is something that might interest just a few Valley farmers and investors, the people who attended the California Hemp Expo Nov. 5 probably would disagree. So many showed up for the all-day event held partly in the large lobby of the DoubleTree Hilton Fresno Convention Center that the line of people checking in or buying their $70 tickets nearly went out the hotel’s front door….Indeed, several people at the expo noted that hemp crops could generate more revenue than most other commercial crops in the state, including almonds, while being resistant to the effects of drought.


Idris Elba could keep an invasive California stink bug in check. You read that right. [McClatchy News Service]

Scientists have given a familiar name to a newly discovered species of parasitic wasp they say could be instrumental in keeping an invasive stink bug population in check. Say hello to Idris elba….The insect may share a name with a movie star, but it could have a blockbuster impact all on its own….Researchers say that Idris elba has been found to lay its eggs inside the eggs of an invasive stink bug, found in California, called the bagrada bug.


Inside the bloody cartel war for Mexico’s multibillion-dollar avocado industry [Los Angeles Times]

…Mexico’s multibillion-dollar avocado industry, headquartered in Michoacan state, has become a prime target for cartels, which have been seizing farms and clearing protected woodlands to plant their own groves of what locals call “green gold.” More than a dozen criminal groups are battling for control of the avocado trade in and around the city of Uruapan, preying on wealthy orchard owners, the laborers who pick the fruit and the drivers who truck it north to the United States. “The threat is constant and from all sides,” said Jose Maria Ayala Montero, who works for a trade association that formed its own vigilante army to protect growers.


Indoor farming looks like it could be the answer to feeding a hot and hungry planet. It’s not that easy. [Washington Post]

Food and agriculture innovation have sucked up remarkable amounts of investor capital in recent years and could become a $700 billion market by 2030, according to a Union Bank of Switzerland report. Millions are being invested globally in indoor urban farms because of their promise to produce more food with less impact, with two dozen large-scale projects launching in Dubai, Israel, the Netherlands and other countries. Still, the next big thing may be stymied in the United States by high start-up costs, high urban rents and lack of a safety net in a food system that is highly dependent on subsidies and bailouts for a few commodity crops.