Ag Today September 26, 2018

Sun-Maid strike ends after 15 days, new contract effective immediately [Fresno Bee]

Two weeks after walking off the job, striking Sun-Maid workers approved a new contract on Tuesday and will be headed back to work….The contract reflects a nine percent increase in value from the previous three-year contract, according to Sun-Maid spokesman Erin Stevenson….The new contract includes “an increase in year-over-year, market competitive wages, monthly medical contributions throughout every year of the contract, and an increased pension contributions in the second and third year of the agreement,” Stevenson said in a news release.


Feinstein urges voluntary water agreements ahead of vote by State Water Board [Modesto Bee]

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and some state representatives in the Bay Area are calling for voluntary settlement agreements, rather than a State Water Board proposal, to bolster the salmon population in tributaries of the San Joaquin River. In a letter Friday to water board chairwoman Felicia Marcus, Feinstein said a voluntary settlement will achieve more in restoring fish in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers. The water board is slated for a Nov. 7 vote on a Bay-Delta water quality update, which would require 40 percent runoff from the watersheds to remain in the rivers to revive chinook salmon migrations through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Approval of the flow requirement is expected to trigger lawsuits by irrigation districts in Stanislaus and Merced counties and southern San Joaquin County.


NAFTA’s fate hinges on a four-letter word: Milk [New York Times]

…Canada’s longstanding policy of managing its dairy supply with production quotas and high levies on imports has become an intractable sticking point in negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, one that risks scuttling a 25-year-old pact that has stitched together the economies of Mexico, Canada and the United States. President Trump has seized on the practice as unfair and insisted that he is willing to jettison Canada by the end of the week if it does not drop its dairy tariffs of 270 percent. On Tuesday, the chief trade negotiator for the United States, Robert E. Lighthizer, said Canada was “not making concessions in areas we think are essential” including “issues of dairy.” But the melee over milk is puzzling to many trade experts. The United States supports its dairy farmers with a complex price support system that is economically similar to Canada’s system of supply management. And while American dairy farmers may want to sell more milk into Canada, trade observers say access to a relatively small sector of the agricultural economy is not worth jeopardizing a trade relationship that has become critical to industries across North America.


Napa’s Bremer case may have larger winery visitation implications [Napa Valley Register]

Napa County’s court case against Bremer Family Winery east of St. Helena has raised an issue that the county fears could roil its winery regulation waters. A Napa County Superior Court judge’s tentative ruling apparently agrees with the Bremers’ interpretation of their 39-year-old use permit. This interpretation could allow the winery to have by-appointment visitors in numbers far above what the county envisions. Implications go beyond Bremer Family Winery. “If the tentative ruling becomes final, it would potentially have significant and widespread impact on the county and its regulation of the wine industry and zoning in general,” a county court filing said.


Farmers say aid won’t cover tariff damage [Wall Street Journal]

The Trump administration has started compensating U.S. farmers for damage tariffs are doing to their business. Many farmers say the payments won’t make up for lost sales to China and other foreign markets they were counting on to buy the huge amounts of crops and meat being produced across the Farm Belt. Bumper corn and soybean harvests and record pork production have pushed down prices for agricultural commodities. U.S. farm income is expected to drop 13% this year to $66 billion, according to the Department of Agriculture, extending a yearslong slump in the agricultural economy.


Opinion: A fight over a unique Delta island [Stockton Record]

A Delta farming island crucial to sandhill cranes is so mismanaged that the levees may break, a lawsuit alleges. Ironically, the allegedly bad manager is The Nature Conservancy. A suit by the Wetlands Preservation Foundation seeks to stop TNC’s allegedly bad, even dangerous, farming practices to avert a potential catastrophe on Staten Island in San Joaquin County. “TNC has failed to live up to its proud environmental tradition,” says the suit, filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court….The group suing it, the Wetlands Preservation Foundation, is run by wealthy Stockton-area farmer Dino Cortopassi. This foundation stewards wetlands across the river from Staten on Brack Tract.