Ag Today October 3, 2018

U.S. lawmakers, at impasse on new Farm Bill, mull extension of old one [Reuters]

U.S. lawmakers are considering a short-term extension of the Farm Bill as talks over a new bill stalled, two Republican senators said on Tuesday, a move that would leave a critical heartland issue in limbo ahead of November congressional elections. The bill provides funding for an array of key programs, including crop subsidies and rural development. The latest one, passed in 2014, expired formally on Sept. 30 after talks over its replacement broke down. “Unfortunately, we are in a situation where it is stalled,” Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst said in a phone interview. “They are now talking about a short-term extension that would push this beyond the mid-term elections.” A Congressional deadlock over the new bill would not likely go down well among Midwest farmers, who helped President Donald Trump come to power but are bearing the brunt of his trade wars, which have closed key export markets. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley also said the 2014 bill would likely be extended.


The California wine industry is a big winner in Trump’s new trade deal with Canada and Mexico [CNBC]

The California wine industry was handed a big win with the revised NAFTA deal reached with Canada. It will bring wider access in a country that previously was accused of “discriminatory” trade practices. It follows the Trump administration in May requesting the help of the World Trade Organization to resolve a wine dispute with Canada over grocery-store shelf access. A WTO dispute panel was set up this summer to rule on the matter. Canada is the largest single country market for U.S. wine, with retail sales of about $1.1 billion last year. About 90 percent of the American wine exported comes from California vineyards. American wine industry executives said U.S. trade negotiations with Canada produced meaningful progress in eliminating some protectionist policies, particularly in the province of British Columbia. The new trade pact announced late Sunday, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, means the Canadian federal government agreed to resolve the grocery store access issue in B.C. with the help of provincial leaders and settle the WTO case brought by Washington.


US dairy experts cast doubts that Canada trade deal will end a deep slump [USA TODAY]

U.S. dairy farmers remain hopeful a new trade deal with Canada could help lift them out of a deep slump, but some are casting doubt it will make much of a difference in an American market flooded with milk. The deal, announced Monday by President Donald Trump, is “more of the same,” except it hurts Canadian farmers, said Jim Goodman, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and president of the National Family Farm Coalition. “Canadian family farms will go out of business, and Canadian dairy farmers will see their incomes fall due to increased U.S. imports. And while the slightly expanded market will offer small benefits to some U.S. farmers, it does nothing to reduce the overproduction at the heart of our dairy crisis,” Goodman said. The new deal is called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Under the terms, still being finalized, Canada would open more of its dairy market to trade and has agreed to drop its quota and pricing system for “Class 7” milk powders  — a move that could help the struggling American dairy industry as it seeks export markets. But it opens only about 3.6 percent of Canada’s market for dairy, poultry and eggs to the U.S., and that’s not much for American farmers.


Six technologies that could shake the food world [Wall Street Journal]

A machine that prints chicken nuggets. Fake shrimp made out of algae. Edible coverings that keep fruit fresh. These inventions—and many more—are part of a technological revolution that is poised to shake up the way we eat. The food industry has been taking heat from consumers and critics who are demanding healthier ingredients, transparency about where their meals come from and better treatment of animals. There is also a growing awareness of the harmful effect that food production can have on the environment. Now big food companies and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of advances in robotics and data science to meet those challenges—and the trend will likely continue as technology improves, and natural ingredients become easier to cultivate.


U.S.’s first robotic farm opens in the Bay Area [San Francisco Chronicle]

Angus doesn’t look like your normal farmer. He’s more of a giant, docile rectangle, built to lift 800-pound containers filled with water and seedlings and wheel them over to his partner robot, which looks like a giant arm with twin cameras set next to its gripping fingers. It has taken a San Carlos company named Iron Ox three years to build these two core pieces of technology. As of Wednesday, they’re officially at work at the country’s first robotic farm. Founders Brandon Alexander and Jon Binney met at the influential Silicon Valley robotics lab Willow Garage and quit their jobs in 2015 to dive into the farming world. “Let’s not build robots until we talk to a bunch of farmers,” Alexander said the pair decided. They road tripped all over California, asking farmers what their biggest point of concern was. The answer was clear: labor scarcity.


Rent control, gas tax repeal backers losing the $ battle + Farm Bureau opposes Prop. 12 [Sacramento Bee]

Ballot measure proponents are pouring millions of dollars into their campaigns as the November election heats up. Proposition 6, which calls for repealing a $5 billion-a-year gas tax increase approved last year to repair California’s roads, and Proposition 10, which allows cities and counties to enact much more comprehensive rent control laws, are appearing to be the most costly fights, according to campaign reports that track spending through Sept. 22….The California Farm Bureau announced its formal opposition to Proposition 12 and support for Proposition 3 on Tuesday. Proposition 12 directs farms on how to raise certain animals, while Proposition 3 calls for $8.9 billion to fund water-related projects.