Ag Today September 11, 2019

California weighs ‘Trump insurance’ to keep environmental laws [Bloomberg]

As the Trump administration’s fight with California over environmental policies escalates, the state’s Democratic leaders are readying a direct shot against any new regulatory rollbacks from the president. Sacramento legislators are poised to vote this week on a bill that would require state agencies to preserve federal standards on the environment, public health and worker safety that were in place on Jan. 19, 2017 — the day before Donald Trump took office….The California measure, if passed over the objections of local groups such as water districts that don’t want a lock on regulations, could be a template for other states, particularly those with similar politics.


Opinion: Caballero on SB1: Environmentalists can’t have it both ways [Modesto Bee]

…Earlier this year, the Senate voted on and passed SB 307, which states water supply projects in sensitive desert areas must consider new science by having those projects reviewed by the State Lands Commission, even if a project has previously passed environmental reviews and appeals. Environmental NGOs that lobbied for SB 307 were steadfast that without the consideration of new science, extreme harm would come to desert wildlife. Yet, in SB1, these same groups resist amendments that would similarly allow for the consideration of new science in determining the best way to manage multiple beneficial users vying for California’s limited water supply.


Forest thinning projects won’t stop the worst wildfires. So why is California spending millions on them? [Los Angeles Times]

Four months after the town of Paradise was incinerated in the most destructive wildfire in California history, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation, ordering agencies to thin trees and clear shrubs near some of the state’s most fire-threatened communities….But the state’s recent fire chronicles are riddled with examples of how such fuel break projects don’t guard against the wind-driven infernos that have laid waste to communities the length of California….Chopping down trees and shrubs is “an easy approach because people think ‘Oh, the thing we can change is vegetation’ … and people want the problem to be fixed,” research scientist Alexandra Syphard said. “But unfortunately, it’s more complex than that.”


Most cannabis growers near watersheds still don’t have permits [Eureka Times-Standard]

The vast majority of existing cannabis grows near various watersheds in Humboldt County are still not fully permitted, according to official data. More than 1,400 people are stuck somewhere in the permit application process for grow sites near local watersheds….Prompted by idle progress, county officials have shifted focus toward helping small growers reach compliance, reserving code enforcement for only severe violations of local cannabis policies, Planning and Building director John Ford said Tuesday….The board voted unanimously Tuesday to keep caps in place on the number of permits allowed at each of the local watersheds.


China exempts some U.S. goods from retaliatory tariffs as fresh talks loom [REUTERS]

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday welcomed China’s decision to exempt some U.S. anti-cancer drugs and other goods from its tariffs, days ahead of a planned meeting aimed at defusing a trade war between the world’s two largest economies….China on Wednesday announced its first batch of tariff exemptions for 16 types of U.S. products, including some anti-cancer drugs and lubricants, as well as animal feed ingredients whey and fish meal, according to a Ministry of Finance statement on its website….Some analysts view Beijing’s move as a friendly gesture but don’t see it as a signal that both sides are readying a deal….Indeed, the exempted list pales in comparison to over 5,000 types of U.S. products that are already subject to China’s additional tariffs.


Fresno County farms set $7.9 billion record for crop value. Here’s what topped the list [Fresno Bee]

Farmers and ranchers in Fresno County produced a record value of almost $7.9 billion in agricultural crops and commodities in 2018….Almonds were the top crop in the county at almost $1.2 billion in value, while grapes – wine and table grapes as well as raisins – were second at just over $1.1 billion….Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen hailed the report as evidence of how “our local farmers and ranchers displayed their resolve and resiliency in the tough economic and regulatory environment of California.” Among those challenges, Jacobsen said, were below-average supplies of surface water for farmers last year.