Ag Today, November 4, 2021

Supply chain delays disrupt California agriculture exports [The Associated Press]

Amid an historic drought posing threats to future harvests, California farmers now say they have no way to export the crops they do have because of a kink in the global supply chain that has left container ships lined up off the Southern California coast with nowhere to deliver their goods. Problems with the supply chain have retailers worried their shelves — and their customers’ online shopping carts — will be empty during the crucial holiday shopping season, prompting emergency actions from state and federal leaders to clear up the logjam. But the backlog of ships entering U.S. waters also means there are fewer making the trek back across the Pacific Ocean, leaving the farmers in one of the nation’s most important agriculture regions with nowhere to send their products. “We’re at the mercy of foreign shipping companies,” said Roger Isom, president and CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association and the Western Agricultural Processors Association. “We’re in a game, somebody changed the rules on us and we have no way to correct it.” California is the nation’s only supplier of tree nuts — almonds, walnuts and pistachios. Most of them are sold to other countries, totaling more than $8.1 billion in exports in 2019, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. But last month, Isom said more than 80% of scheduled shipments were canceled. Processors have resorted to paying much more to ship their products to other ports, sending pistachios and walnuts by train to Texas and Maryland and flying bales of cotton to Peru.


Wheat Prices Jump, Signaling More Food Inflation [Wall Street Journal]

A poor harvest of spring wheat and concern over the winter crop have pushed prices for the grain to their highest levels in years and signal more food inflation ahead. Drought across the Northern Hemisphere is the main culprit. Strong demand around the world, snarled supply lines and rising costs of farm inputs, like fertilizer and fuel, are contributing. Futures prices for hard-red spring wheat, which grows over summer on the northern Plains and is favored by bakers and pizza makers, this week hit their highest price on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange since the 2008 planting season. At $10.44 a bushel, spring wheat costs roughly twice what it did the past two autumns. The U.S. Agriculture Department says that domestic wheat stockpiles are down 18% from a year ago and at the lowest level since 2007. On-farm inventories have fallen to their lowest level in more than 50 years, which means much of this year’s crop has already been delivered to market. Production this year is expected to fall 10% below last year despite an uptick in the number of acres planted with wheat.


Here are the top crops in each California county [San Francisco Chronicle]

As a result of California’s varying environmental conditions, the top crops on farms vary widely across the state. The Chronicle examined the top crop category by production value for each county to understand which crops predominate in each region. Almonds are one of California’s signature crops with statewide production valued at $5.6 billion in 2020, according to data from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. They are the top-valued crop in nine different counties, including in Kern County, where almond production was valued at nearly $1.6 billion. Cattle was top-valued commodity in nine other counties, including Contra Costa in the Bay Area. This category includes various types of cattle, such as steers and heifers.


Valley judge rejects Wonderful Company’s attempt to stop rival’s expansion. Here’s why [Fresno Bee]

A Tulare County judge has rejected an attempt by the Wonderful Company to stop rival Touchstone Pistachio Company from expanding its plant in Terra Bella. The Wonderful Company, one of the giants in the nut industry, and its affiliate Wonderful Citrus, filed legal action against the county last July challenging the validity and issuance of building permits for the project at ARO Pistachios, a Touchstone company. Touchstone is owned and operated by members of the Assemi family, who may be better known for their philanthropy and home building. It’s also not the first time the Assemis have tangled with Wonderful’s billionaire owner, Stewart Resnick. The two farming heavyweights are currently in litigation over millions of dollars in pistachio profits. The Assemi family claims they were owed money before they had stopped supplying their nuts to Wonderful to create their own company: Touchstone. Last year, Wonderful officials alleged Fresno County bypassed the state’s environmental review process and illegally issued construction permits for a massive pistachio processing plant being built by the Assemi family on the west side of Fresno County in Cantua Creek. The county and the Assemi family agreed to a settlement over the issue.

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‘Time has come’ for U.S. farms to cut methane emissions-Agriculture Secretary [Reuters]

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Wednesday “the time has come” for American farmers to slash their greenhouse gas emissions by taking advantage of newly announced incentives designed to fight climate change. Vilsack’s Agriculture Department this week unveiled a raft of incentive-based programs for farmers to reduce emissions of potent greenhouse gas methane, including loans and grants for building or improving manure digesters, or transitioning to lower-emission manure management practices like composting. The programs were part of the White House’s broader methane plan announced Tuesday to coincide with the global climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Agriculture contributes 9.6% to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA, and about 36% of methane emissions, mostly from livestock.


As climate talks put focus on water crisis, the Colorado River provides a stark example [Los Angeles Times]

As world leaders meet in Scotland this week to discuss efforts to address the climate crisis, experts are urging greater focus on adapting to fundamental shifts in the planet’s water supplies — and they’re pointing to the Colorado River as a prime example. The river, a vital water source for about 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, has continued to shrink and send reservoirs declining toward critically low levels after years of extremely dry conditions compounded by hotter temperatures. To water resiliency advocates who are attending the United Nations conference, the river’s plight stands out as one of the world’s starkest cases of a major water source that is being ravaged by the altered climate, where efforts to adapt haven’t been nearly enough. John Matthews, executive director and co-founder of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, said the water shortage on the Colorado River reflects fundamental problems in how Hoover Dam and other infrastructure projects were designed for a climate that no longer exists, and how water supplies continue to be divided under a rigid and antiquated system.