Ag Today October 2, 2018

Trump’s NAFTA revision pries open Canada’s dairy market [Los Angeles Times]

Dairy farms in Trump country won back a multimillion-dollar trade niche with Canada under a revised agreement with the United States’ northern neighbor. Wisconsin and upstate New York will be able to resume exporting milk products used mostly in cheese and yogurt production under terms of the revised trade agreement announced Monday….The win for one niche of dairy exports, however, was not extended to all others — Canada will retain its ability to limit imports of dairy products under a supply-control system it has used to protect domestic producers.


Editorial: A new NAFTA relief [Wall Street Journal]

…The new deal’s main virtue is that it stows one of Donald Trump’s main protectionist wrecking balls, even if the new Nafta is worse for trade and economic growth than the status quo….Canada’s inclusion is especially crucial, and the last-minute compromise a step forward….Whether this can pass Congress will have to await a careful reading of the fine print. Passage this year might be possible if Mr. Trump is willing to give up the trade-promotion-authority protection of a simple majority vote in the Senate. More likely the vote will have to come next year when Democrats might control Congress.


Supreme Court rejects mandatory labor contract case [Los Angeles Times]

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a petition by a California fruit grower to weigh the constitutionality of a state law that allows a mediator to impose an agricultural labor contract on deadlocked parties. The court’s refusal to hear the case ends a long-running fight with the state’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board by Dan Gerawan, a Reedley, Calif., grower who was forced in 2013 to accept a contract covering about 3,000 of his workers after collective bargaining with the United Farm Workers had reached an impasse. The action by the nation’s highest court comes less than a week after the Agricultural Labor Relations Board validated a 2015 election by Gerawan workers ousting UFW, which made the contract moot.


Rain won’t disrupt Sonoma County grape harvest [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

Sonoma County growers are nearing the halfway point of the 2018 grape harvest as light rainfall over the weekend has not so far disrupted picking….Rain can become a problem during the annual county grape harvest when it lingers and grapes aren’t allowed enough time to dry, which could lead to fruit rot, said Rhonda Smith, viticulture farm advisor for the UC Cooperative extension in Sonoma County….Some grape varieties — such as chardonnay and pinot noir — are more susceptible to rot because they have thinner skins and typically are packed more closely in their clusters. Those varieties are now at the tail end of the harvest.


Robots head for the fields [Wall Street Journal]

…Technologists think automation eventually could help producers pick specialty crops like berries, apples, peaches and snacking tomatoes, just as high-tech combines from companies such as Deere & Co. already are helping farmers of commodity crops harvest grains….But unlike in manufacturing, where artificial intelligence and computer vision power factory arms that move car parts or handle food in predetermined ways, agricultural fields pose a challenge for machines….Several startups are working on next-generation picking machines that can move autonomously and handle delicate items, but all are years away from commercialization.


Opinion: Of course some well permits should require impact studies, others not so much [Modesto Bee]

…The need to perform an environmental impact report for a new well is entirely dependent on the geology and hydrology of the basin, the amount of water being pumped and how fast it can be replenished. Aquifers closer to rivers, generally, are replenished more rapidly….In the Valley, where flood irrigation and river infiltration replace pumped groundwater, it should be obvious no Environmental Impact Report or California Environmental Quality Act report is needed (except in unusual cases). But in the foothills, groundwater recharge is slight, perhaps 1 or 2 inches a year….Environmental impact reports before drilling should have been required long ago.