Ag Today October 5, 2018

Trump’s NAFTA deal solves a small issue for California dairy farmers, but this major problem remains [Sacramento Bee]

…But AcMoody said the good news is more than offset by the ongoing effects of devastating tariffs on American-made cheese that Mexico imposed in June — to retaliate for steel and aluminum tariffs added by the Trump administration. The cheese tariffs range from 20 to 25 percent….“We’ve seen California farmers, ranchers and agricultural marketers lose sales because of the retaliatory tariffs from Canada, Mexico and in particular from China,” said the Farm Bureau’s Johansson. “Until those tariffs come off, farmers won’t see the full benefit of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement.”


Opinion: Devin Nunes isn’t the only dairy farmer souring on California [Bloomberg]

…Earlier this week came the news, for example, that the family of Tulare County’s most famous dairy farmer, U.S. Representative Devin Nunes, had quietly moved its operations to northwestern Iowa a decade ago….But while traveling through Iowa and South Dakota last month, I heard enough about the recruiting and arrival of California dairy farmers beset by drought and other hassles to know that it is of agricultural and economic significance. It is also of technological significance, given that new and improved ways of ventilating dairy barns have been among the biggest drivers of the move.


California water woes: Ballot measure aims at solutions, but at a steep cost [San Francisco Chronicle]

…The initiative, Proposition 3, comes as a historic drought has exposed the vulnerabilities of California’s water infrastructure and it has become apparent that hotter, drier times ahead will test the adequacy of state supplies….While the numerous projects that would benefit from bond dollars are the measure’s chief selling point, they’re also the concern of critics who see the initiative as a boondoggle….Still, dozens of farming organizations, environmental groups and social justice advocates have joined with water agencies to support the bond.


Wet weather presents problems for Lodi’s grape growers [KXTV, Sacramento]

Grape grower Brad Goering is keeping a close eye on his Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in Clements, California. The long-time grower had to shut down harvest of his vineyard overnight, thanks to heavy rain that made it too muddy to get his harvester in the vineyard….But, one variety that is having an adverse affect is Lodi’s famous Old Vine Zinfandel. Because machines aren’t able to harvest them, they must be hand picked. However, higher labor costs are forcing growers, like Goering, to consider taking them out of his vineyard altogether.


Hundreds of wild horses in California set for round up, possible slaughter [San Luis Obispo Tribune]

In a remote corner of California, the U.S. Forest Service is set to round up a thousand wild horses and acknowledges that many of them could be sold to distant slaughterhouses. The first “horse gather” in Modoc National Forest, in northeast California, in more than a dozen years has alarmed activists….The roundup is set to begin Oct. 9 and last through the month, and will target 1,000 horses from a herd in the Devils Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory inside the national forest. The purpose is to reduce a population that is well outside of Forest Service management levels, according to a Forest Service statement.


Viruses spread by insects to crops sound scary. The military calls it food security. [New York Times]

Within the Defense Department, one agency’s recent project sounds futuristic: millions of insects carrying viruses descend upon crops and then genetically modify them to withstand droughts, floods and foreign attacks, ensuring a permanently secure food supply. But in a warning published Thursday in the journal Science, a group of independent scientists and lawyers objected to the research, which has not yet moved out of the lab. They argue that the endeavor is not so different from designing biological weapons — banned under international law since 1975 — that could swarm and destroy acres of crops.