Ag Today September 13, 2019

Businesses escalate push for trade pact with Canada, Mexico [Wall Street Journal]

U.S. business groups are ramping up efforts to win passage of the Trump administration’s trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, even as House Democrats and other critics say the deal needs revisions before a vote. Dozens of farmers and other supporters rallied Thursday on the National Mall to advocate passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. That followed scores of events across the country last month aimed at showing support to lawmakers in their home districts during the congressional recess….Businesses and farmers hope a revised and ratified trade pact for North America will restore certainty to key trading relationships as President Trump is imposing broad tariffs on imports and questioning the benefits of trade with China and other longtime partners.


California protects itself from Trump’s rollback of Clean Water Act [San Francisco Chronicle]

The Trump administration rolled back a key provision of the Clean Water Act on Thursday, doing away with protections for many wetlands and streams across the country and making it easier for the nation’s farmers, builders and industry execs to develop their land. The repeal of the Waters of the United States rule, however, will not directly affect landowners and businesses in California. State regulators in April passed a sweeping wetlands policy that secured state oversight of California’s waterways regardless of changes at the federal level….Approved April 2, the state plan reaches even farther across the landscape than the 2015 federal rule, securing safeguards for additional waterways, including such bodies as playas, defined as wetlands that don’t necessarily have vegetation.


Local and federal officials negotiating unprecedented tree removal deal [Chico Enterprise-Record]

Local and state officials are scrambling for funding to help remove hazardous burned trees from the areas where people are starting to rebuild. The challenge is not new to California’s fire-prone communities. But the scale here is so large that it is butting up against the limits of what federal authorities are allowed to do after a disaster….Foresters estimate that the Camp Fire burned half a million to a million trees, turning many into public hazards. The rate of tree mortality could be at least 80 percent.


Why one bug is causing a stink for Stanislaus County farmers [KXTV-TV, Sacramento]

…Adding to problems like tariffs and trade negotiations, almond and peach farmers in Stanislaus County are now being asked to keep an eye out for a stink bug that’s been making its way to the agriculture scene. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug’s [BMSB] population is in the early stages, but it’s a problem researchers and officials are looking at because it’s been snacking on two of the county’s top crops….The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is a pest from eastern Asia that the EPA believes got here in the 1990s, after possibly stowing away on a shipping container….So far, the bug has been seen in Delhi, urban areas of Modesto, and even in Turlock, where it caused an entire row of almonds to drop from the trees before they were ready.


Agriculture supporters plot development at Wildcat Ranch [Sonora Union Democrat]

The agriculture program at Sonora High School and members of the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau are developing a master plan they say will facilitate the construction of a barn at the district-owned Wildcat Ranch and prepare for further development such as roads, bathrooms and instructional facilities….The evaluation of further developments at the 137-acre Wildcat Ranch,…comes after a protracted legal battle last year between the district and the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau. The farm bureau, a non-profit, successfully sued to block the $1 million sale of 112 acres to The Park Foundation, also a non-profit that sought to build a community park. “Moving forward, I think we have good potential to get stuff done at the ranch and make sure it’s a good learning potential for the students,” said Sasha Farkas, second vice president for the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau.


Meeting of wine-grape, cannabis growers upbeat with joint marketing looking possible [Santa Maria Times]

An overflow crowd of vineyard owners and cannabis growers as well as other agriculturists and county officials packed the Industrial Eats ballroom in Buellton for a panel discussion of a potential joint tourism marketing effort. Comments on Wednesday were generally upbeat and positive about the possibility, especially among the cannabis growers, but vintners said the two issues that must be overcome are cannabis odor and conflicts between the two industries with spraying pesticides and herbicides….Vintners seemed cautiously optimistic about collaborative marketing, while cannabis growers said the county’s two industries have a unique opportunity for joint promotion they should not pass up.