Ag Today October 11, 2018

Trump trade war delivers farm boom in Brazil, gloom in Iowa [Reuters]

The Bella Vita luxury condominium tower rises 20 stories over the boomtown of Luís Eduardo Magalhães in northeastern Brazil. Its private movie theater and helipad are symbols of how far this dusty farming community has come since it was founded just 18 years ago. Local soybean producers shell out upwards of a half-million U.S. dollars to live in the complex. Nearby farm equipment sellers, car dealerships and construction supply stores are bustling too. Meanwhile, nearly 5,000 miles to the north in Boone, Iowa, farmers are hunkering down. At a recent agriculture trade show here, Iowa corn and soybean grower Steve Sheppard reflected the cautious mood. “I’m not buying any machinery, I’m not spending any money,” Sheppard said. Two countries. Same business. Two very different fates. The reason: China. A growing trade war between the United States and China is re-ordering the global grains business. In response to Trump administration tariffs on Chinese goods, Beijing this year imposed levies on U.S. agricultural products. Among them was a 25 percent tariff on soybeans, the single most valuable U.S. farm export. U.S. growers sold $12 billion worth to China last year alone.


Wild horse roundup begins in Modoc despite Feinstein’s last-minute protest [Sacramento Bee]

A controversial roundup of 1,000 wild horses, some of which could wind up being sold for slaughter, began Wednesday in Modoc National Forest despite an eleventh-hour appeal from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The U.S. Forest Service, which is overseeing the roundup, said the horse population needs to be reduced to “sustain the natural ecological balance” of the forest’s Devils Garden Plateau Territory. About 3,900 horses currently roam the territory in a space designated for no more than 402, according to a Forest Service planning document, and area ranchers say the horse population is interfering with grazing activities….Ranchers, meanwhile, said the roundup is badly needed to control a horse population that has wrecked livestock grazing in the national forest. The horses “have eaten the grass to the point that there’s nothing growing,” said Ned Coe, a Modoc County rancher, county supervisor and California Farm Bureau Federation field representative. He said ranchers had to remove all their cattle from the area this year because of the outsized horse population. Asked about the protests, Coe said it’s “extremely inhumane to maintain … 10 times the maximum appropriate number of animals on the range. The horses are running out of feed and running out of water.”


Critical Klamath Project relief money passes Congress [Klamath Falls Herald and News]

Thursday, the U.S. enate voted 99-1 to pass the America’s Water and Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA), which includes provisions that are vital to Klamath Project water users. The bill (S. 3021) passed in the House of Representatives by unanimous vote on Sept. 13 and now will be sent to the President for his signature, according to a press release. The AWIA’s Klamath provisions authorize $10 million annually for programs that address water shortages for agriculture producers in the area. The Act also requires the Bureau of Reclamation to prepare a plan to bring irrigation power costs in the Basin in line with other areas of the Pacific Northwest, recognizing that Basin irrigators have witnessed a rise in power costs upwards of 2,000 percent and a decline in crop production efficiencies as a result of higher power rates. Finally, the AWIA would ensure that Klamath Project canals can be used to convey groundwater and other non-Project water to keep farmers in business without unnecessary delays and red tape.


California judge mulls new trial in $289M Roundup award [Associated Press]

A San Francisco judge said Wednesday she is considering tossing out the lion’s share of the $289 million judgment against agribusiness giant Monsanto and ordering a new trial over whether the company’s weed-killer caused a groundskeeper’s cancer. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos didn’t formally rule on any issues after a two-hour hearing to consider Monsanto’s demand to toss out the entire jury verdict in the first of thousands of similar cases across the country to go to trial….During the hearing, Bolanos also said she was troubled by the $33 million in “non-economic” pain-and-suffering damages the jury awarded. Johnson’s lawyer argued for $1 million a year for the next 33 years. But Monsanto’s lawyers argued that Johnson is expected to live for two more years — an argument that appeared to resonate with Bolanos who mulled out loud about fashioning an order reducing the entire verdict to under $9 million.


El Niño conditions growing increasingly likely this winter [Bay Area News Group]

The likelihood this winter of an El Niño — the weather pattern marked by warm Pacific Ocean waters that can affect California’s rainfall —  is increasing. The probability of El Niño conditions being present by December is now 70 to 75 percent, up from 50 percent five months ago, according to a new report Thursday from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But so far, this El Niño looks more like a lamb than a lion. Ocean surface temperatures off South America are only moderately warmer than historic averages — about 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer last week, compared with 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer or more during strong El Niños. That’s leading scientists to characterize this year’s event so far as a weak El Niño. In other words, don’t break out the umbrellas just yet. Historically in California, similarly weak El Niño years to this one have brought just as many below-average rainfall winters as above-average ones.


Proposition 7 attempts to make daylight saving time permanent [KMPH-TV, Fresno]

Are California voters ready to say good bye to spring forward and fall back? Proposition Seven would start the process so we never have to change our clocks. Prop 7 was put on the ballot by the legislature. It took San Jose Assemblyman Kansen Chuh three tries just to get it on the ballot. If it fails nothing changes. But if approved by voters, a timely process lies ahead. It needs to pass in both the state senate and assembly. A two-thirds vote is required in each house. The next step requires the state of California to get approval from the federal government. Current federal law does not allow states to adopt year round daylight saving time. It does allow states to opt out and remain on standard time all year.