Ag Today September 11, 2018

Forest-thinning measures likely dead in Congress, despite Trump, California Republicans [McClatchy News Service]

…Multiple sources on Capitol Hill and from advocacy groups affirmed that lawmakers are likely to drop most of the controversial forestry measures from the Farm Bill, the multi-year agriculture and land use law that members of Congress are trying to finalize this month….Environmentalists, ecologists and forestry experts have raised particular concern about a proposal to log areas after fires have come through, which they argue would not help reduce the risk of future fires. House and Senate negotiators are now trying to reconcile the two pieces of legislation by Sept. 30, when the existing law expires. And that time crunch has a lot to do with the dwindling prospects for the forestry provisions.


Citrus disease could kill California industry if Congress slows research, growers warn [McClatchy News Service]

A disease called citrus greening has devastated Florida’s citrus industry since its discovery in 2005. Agriculture officials are hoping they can stop it before California suffers the same fate. Congress is poised to continue spending $25 million a year into finding a way to stop it. But the money will not come without second thoughts. Lawmakers are debating a variety of aspects of the farm bill, and some have quietly suggested that the citrus research money could be shifted into a general agricultural research category.


Perdue plugs ag worker visa bill [Politico]

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wants Congress to pass an immigration bill overhauling the H-2A agricultural guest-worker program, even though major agriculture groups in the West oppose the measure, the USDA chief said Monday at a gathering of state ag officials. The legislation from House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) would change the existing program (and rebrand it as H-2C) by expanding it to include both seasonal and year-round labor needs….“There is some dispute about it from our Western brethren over whether it addresses all the issues,” the secretary acknowledged at a conference hosted by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. But he thinks it’s about the best ag could get at this point to remedy its persistent labor shortage.


Move to stop water grab [Manteca Bulletin]

Northern San Joaquin Valley farmers — frustrated with their input being completely ignored in a state plan to commandeer water from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers in a bid to boost endangered Chinook salmon by 1,103 fish — are lauding a push by 14 congressmen to pull the plug on what has been characterized as a massive state water grab….Given the Bureau of Reclamation is a key player on the various watersheds involved, Congressman Jeff Denham – with the backing of 13 other California congressmen – announced last week that he has sent a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to make sure that his House-passed amendment to stop the plan is included in the next spending bill that is signed into law….Denham has been using his clout in Washington, D.C., to ensure that those with the power to affect such decisions are aware of what is happening in the heart of California’s vital San Joaquin Valley.


Tariffs glower over almond harvest [Chico Enterprise-Record]

Harvest is underway for what’s expected to be a record almond crop statewide at 2.45 billion pounds. The only question is, who’s going to buy it? Almonds have gotten entangled in President Donald Trump’s trade wars, with three of the major overseas markets for the California nuts placing stiff tariffs on their import….“What marketers are seeing is people backing away from the new crop,” said Butte County Farm Bureau Executive Director Colleen Cecil. “Last year’s crop is already sold but this crop we’re worried about. They’re going to find a cheaper product and once they do that we’ve lost that market.”


Canada’s Freeland to hold NAFTA talks on Tuesday as time runs short [Reuters]

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will meet U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington on Tuesday for another round of talks to renew the NAFTA trade pact, an official said on Monday, as time runs short to seal a deal….U.S. officials say time is running out to agree on a text on which the current Congress can vote. Canadian officials say they are working on the assumption they have until the end of September….Officials say the main sticking points are Canada’s dairy quota regime, Ottawa’s desire to keep a dispute-resolution mechanism, and Canadian media laws that favour(921.23 billion pounds) domestically produced content.