Ag Today November 21, 2019

Farmworker bill gains favor with House committee but Republican concerns remain [Yakima Herald-Republic]

The House Judiciary Committee voiced support for an immigration bill that aims to solve critical agricultural workforce issues despite several Republican concerns during a markup that lasted several hours Wednesday. The decision to advance the bill, called the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, will be official after a recorded vote scheduled for Thursday morning….The bill is the product of several months of negotiations between a group of several House members, including Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Republican who represents Central Washington, agricultural employers and farmworker advocates. The negotiation aimed to craft legislation that would garner bipartisan support.


China Invited U.S. trade negotiators for more talks [Wall Street Journal]

China’s chief trade negotiator has invited his American counterparts for a new round of face-to-face talks, according to people briefed on the matter, as both sides are struggling to strike a limited deal to help de-escalate tensions between the world’s two largest economies….Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday that the two sides have been keeping in close touch. Chinese officials hope the in-person negotiations can take place before next Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., but the U.S. side hasn’t committed to a date.


Petaluma ranchers beefing about slaughterhouse access [Petaluma Argus-Courier]

…Marin Sun Farms, which owns the slaughterhouse on Petaluma Boulevard North — the only USDA-certified meat processing plant in the Bay Area — has informed ranchers that, starting in January, it will no longer process animals for private labels such as Progressive Pastures….Marin Sun Farms’ move is a departure from the company’s original goal of providing a value-added service for local ranchers when the company took over the slaughterhouse from the beleaguered Rancho Feeding Corp. in 2014….The root of the problem is a lack of local harvesting facilities, agriculture officials say. The Sonoma County Farm Bureau has been leading a discussion with area ranchers to come up with alternatives to using the Marin Sun Farms slaughterhouse.


Locals brace for Proposition 12, a controversial farm animal welfare law set to take effect in 2020 [New Times San Luis Obispo]

…That could all change in less than two months. A voter-approved law that would set more stringent space minimums for some farm animals is slated to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020….Now a federal lawsuit questioning Proposition 12’s constitutionality could threaten its implementation altogether. Either way, farmers and ranchers on the Central Coast aren’t expecting to feel much of an impact.


Local growers coming back to farmers markets [Chico Enterprise-Record]

After the Camp Fire, there was initial concern about how local growers would be affected by damaging effects on local soil and crops. The Chico and Oroville Certified Farmers Market immediately saw a drop in vendors, and although some were eventually able to return, at least 12 are still not part of the market. However, according to Butte County’s Agricultural Commissioner Louie B. Mendoza, most of the effects on this year’s harvest season are on the vendors waiting to return to their homes, not on the soil or crops.


A wet year causes farm woes far beyond the floodplains [New York Times]

The damage from the destructive spring flooding in the Midwest has been followed in parts of the country by a miserable autumn that is making a bad farming year worse, with effects that could be felt into next spring….It was the wettest year on record for the lower 48 states, with the kind of extreme rainfall events that are increasingly associated with climate change. And then fall came in with unseasonably heavy rains and snow….According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, farm subsidies from sources like trade assistance, disaster assistance and federally subsidized crop insurance made up 40 percent of farm income in 2019, $33 billion out of an expected $88 billion total.