Ag Today September 15, 2020

Donald Trump blames ‘matchstick’ trees and dead leaves for California wildfires [Sacramento Bee]

President Donald Trump, touching down under smoky skies at McClellan Park for a briefing on the California wildfires, blamed uncleared dead trees and leaves for flames that have burned more than 3 million acres and killed 24 in the state. The Republican president met with California Gov. Gavin Newsom at the business park, which is also the home to hangars for CalFire aircraft. … In a round-table briefing shortly afterward, the Democratic governor told the president that forest management is unquestionably a piece of the problem, but noted that 57 percent of the forests in California are on federally controlled land.


In Jamul, two hemp farms lost in Valley Fire [San Diego Union-Tribune]

… Though those are only two farms out of many scattered throughout rural areas in San Diego County, a variety of factors make hemp farms particularly susceptible to California’s fire season, which becomes more intense with each passing year. … In addition to being a young industry, there are other hemp-specific challenges when considering wildfires. Hemp plants, like all varieties of cannabis plants, are particularly susceptible to smoke taint. … Durckel says that hemp farmers can find assistance through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and, in some cases, the Small Business Administration (SBA). She also refers growers to The Farm Bureau.


Editorial: California’s Wildfire Power Eclipse [Wall Street Journal]

… The fires again underscore the need for active forest management, as they also expose the weaknesses of green-only energy policies. On the forests, we’ve often written about the need for controlled burns and other methods to limit the buildup of dead trees and brush that are the fuel for wildfires. … Meanwhile, in California the smoke and ash have created a solar-power eclipse that is raising the risk of more electric-power blackouts. … Many large solar plants are in rural areas that are also at high-risk for wildfires. On Thursday the smoky haze caused statewide solar generation to fall by a third.


Opinion: Manage forests for timber, not tinder [Southern California News Group]

… These scorched acres and upset lives send an obvious message: We need to manage our forests better. Our federal forests have become a hazard, exposing neighbors and nearby communities to excessive risk of fire. One way to increase forest resilience to wildfire is by thinning and using the removed timber. … It would be overly simplistic to say that cutting trees will solve the wildfire problem. But carefully designed harvesting practices can reduce fire risk and intensity in many forest types throughout the West.


World Ag Expo another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic [Visalia Times Delta]

The 2021 World Ag Expo scheduled for February has been canceled in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the first cancellation in the 52-year history of the agricultural trade show that takes place annually at Tulare’s International Agri-Center. … The decision to cancel the expo was made earlier than the initial November deadline to give exhibitors, attendees, volunteers, concessionaires, contractors, and local businesses time to adjust their Tulare farm show plans. The cancellation will also hurt nonprofit organizations that raise money at food and drink booths at the Expo, Sinift said.


A week before Trump’s order protecting meat plants, industry sent draft language to feds [USA Today]

Even as thousands of their employees fell ill with COVID-19, meatpacking executives pressured federal regulators to help keep their plants open, according to a trove of emails obtained by USA TODAY. The emails show how a major meatpacking trade group, the North American Meat Institute, provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a draft version of an executive order that would allow plants to remain open. A week later, President Donald Trump signed an order with similar language, which caused confusion over whether local health authorities could close plants due to COVID-19 outbreaks.


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