Ag Today September 18, 2019

Trump says China is buying U.S. farm products [Wall Street Journal]

President Trump said China has started to buy U.S. agricultural products, and signaled optimism that his administration will be able to sign a trade deal with China before the 2020 presidential election. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One en route to Mountain View, Calif., Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that a deal with China will “be the greatest deal ever made,” adding, “and China knows that.” Chinese negotiators were making plans to boost purchases of U.S. agricultural products, give U.S. companies greater access to China’s market and bolster intellectual-property protections, people familiar with their plans said last week….Last week, Mr. Trump moved to postpone until Oct. 15 a tariff increase on about $250 billion in imports that had been set to go into effect on Oct. 1. He called the delay a goodwill gesture as China marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Chinese trade officials are expected to be back in Washington this week to pave the way for a high-level meeting, in the hope of getting faltering trade negotiations back on track.


Trump’s farm subsidies: How much is our state getting? [Santa Maria Times]

When President Donald Trump’s administration announced a $12 billion aid package for farmers struggling under the financial strain of his trade dispute with China, the payments were capped. But many large farming operations have had no trouble finding legal ways around them, records provided to The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act show. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the first Market Facilitation Program (MFP) in July 2018 to help agricultural producers who may have suffered due to recent trade disruptions with China. USDA estimated Chinese retaliatory tariffs enacted last year caused roughly $11 billion in damages to U.S. farmers. The government provided up to $12 billion – mainly in the form of direct payments to farmers — to offset those impacts from October 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019.


Trump plans to revoke a key California environmental power; state officials vow to fight [Los Angeles Times]

President Trump is expected Wednesday to revoke a decades-old rule that empowers California to set tougher car emissions standards than those required by the federal government — putting the state and the administration on a path to years of fighting in court. The move, which has been in the works for much of the last three years, would overturn the foundation for California’s role as an environmental leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. By revoking a special waiver the state has relied on for years to set its own standards, the administration will be saying that no state can impose more ambitious pollution controls than those adopted by the federal government. The Environmental Protection Agency, which will formally make the announcement, had no official comment on the plan, which is expected to be announced while Trump is in California for a campaign fundraising trip. The administration’s plan to revoke the waiver is likely to set off years of legal battles that could eventually land at the U.S. Supreme Court. The move affects not only California, but also 13 other states and the District of Columbia that follow its emissions regulations.


Kern falls behind Fresno County in total crop value [Bakersfield Californian]

Kern has lost the title of being the nation’s top-grossing county for agricultural production, according to an annual report released Tuesday. The value of all crops produced in Kern last year surpassed 2017’s mark by 3 percent to reach just less than $7.47 billion — about $400 million less than that of Fresno County, whose total surged 12 percent in 2018 to $7.89 billion. Tulare County, another top producer, has not reported its 2018 total. The afternoon release of Kern’s 2018 crop report ends a two-year streak in which the county’s strength in table grapes, tree nuts and citrus earned it the distinction of being the country’s most productive farming county by total crop value….Kern County Farm Bureau President Catalino Martinez said in a written statement that the report is a testament to the diversity of crops produced in Kern. “To produce these type of gross dollar revenues, it takes the right land, water, labor and other various resources,” he stated. “Our agricultural community in Kern are hard workers and continue to innovate despite restraints.”


Dogs find citrus greening disease faster than humans [UPI]

Citrus growers in Florida, California and elsewhere have a new tool available to find devastating greening disease long before humans can spot it: dogs. The dogs can spot the disease on trees years before lab tests can, and animals can be much cheaper than repeated laboratory testing, experts say. “There’s still no technology that matches a dog’s sense of smell, which builds on millions of years of sensory development,” said Tim Gottwald, a U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher in Fort Pierce, Fla., who led the project to train and test the dogs. “They’re essentially interrogating the trees as they go up and down the row, and they don’t have to go back to the lab,” Gottwald said. He said he believes this is the first time dogs have been trained to detect the disease at such a high level of confidence that they can be deployed for commercial work.


Opinion: Newsom bucks his party on water [CalMatters]

It had to happen sooner or later. At some point, California’s “resistance” to President Donald Trump would move beyond flowery rhetoric, tweets and lawsuits and seriously affect Californians. It happened in the wee hours of Saturday, just before the Legislature adjourned for the year. Lawmakers approved Senate Bill 1, the self-described California Environmental, Public Health and Workers Defense Act of 2019, and Gov. Gavin Newsom immediately signaled that he would veto it. Carried by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, SB 1 would, if enacted, lodge in state law dozens of federal regulations that Trump’s administration had rolled back. The most important, at least politically, have to do with water. Critics of the measure said that, purposely or not, the bill would sabotage years of very delicate negotiations aimed at bringing an end to California’s political and legal battles over the precious liquid.