Ag Today September 26, 2019

Trump announces a trade pact with Japan [New York Times]

The United States and Japan signed a limited trade deal on Wednesday that will open Japanese markets to American farm goods and secure a win for an administration that has struggled to complete trade pacts with China, Canada, Mexico and other countries. The deal, announced as President Trump met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on the sidelines of a meeting of world leaders in New York, will reduce Japanese barriers to American beef, pork, wheat, cheese, almonds, wine and other products, while cutting American tariffs on Japanese turbines, machine tools, bicycles, green tea, flowers and other goods. The two countries have also reached an agreement on digital trade that they hope will serve as a model for negotiations with other countries. At a news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said Japan would open its markets to $7 billion of American agricultural goods, calling the pact a “huge victory for America’s farmers, ranchers and growers.”…The Japan deal may help quiet criticism from American farmers who have complained of lost markets as a result of Mr. Trump’s trade war with China and his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multicountry trade deal that would have reduced trading barriers with Japan.


California sues Trump administration over rollback of Endangered Species Act [Los Angeles Times]

California and 16 other states on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s weakening of the Endangered Species Act, a landmark law that has ensured the survival of the California condor, the grizzly bear and other animals close to extinction. The lawsuit is California’s latest in a blitz of legal challenges to the president’s policies. Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra has sued the Trump administration more than 60 times over its agenda of dismantling Obama-era environmental and public health regulations. Though most of those cases haven’t been decided, judges have so far sided with California and environmental groups in cases concerning air pollution, pesticides and the royalties that the government receives from companies that extract oil, gas and coal from public land. In a statement, Becerra said the administration’s rollback of the Endangered Species Act could have major repercussions for California, which has more than 300 species listed as endangered or threatened — more than any other mainland state.


EPA to California: You’re also ‘failing’ to meet water pollution standards [Los Angeles Times]

The Trump administration notified California officials on Thursday that it is “failing” to meet federal water-quality standards, attributing this in part to homelessness. An oversight letter addressed to Gov. Gavin Newsom alleges that San Francisco, Los Angeles and the state “do not appear to be acting with urgency to mitigate the risks to human health and the environment that may result from the homelessness crisis.” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler warned that the agency is “concerned” about the state’s handling of public water systems….The letter, which gives Newsom 30 days to respond, marks the latest escalation in the Trump administration’s political feud with California, particularly when it comes to the environment and homelessness….The warning comes days after the Environmental Protection Agency threatened to cut federal transportation funding from California as punishment for not submitting timely air pollution-control plans,…


How the Central Valley became the ‘Appalachia of the West.’ Now, new threats loom for economy [Sacramento Bee]

Pockmarked with drab storefronts, modest skyscrapers and vacant lots, the downtown core of the San Joaquin Valley’s largest city offers little to inspire confidence in its future. Except for the stylish brick-and-glass headquarters of Bitwise Industries, where a block-long mural advertises Bitwise as the “mothership of technological education, collaboration and innovation in Fresno.” Bitwise is Fresno’s rock star, a promising young software company that wants to build nothing less than a full-fledged tech industry in the heart of the chronically-depressed Valley. “We can do extraordinary things in Fresno,” said co-founder Jake Soberal, a native who returned to his hometown after earning his law degree in Southern California. “There isn’t any reason why we can’t transform the economy in a decade.” It might take longer than that. Throughout its history, the San Joaquin Valley — the vast middle of California, home to 4.3 million residents and the greatest agricultural bounty on earth — has defied quick or easy fixes.


Power back on in Sonoma, Napa counties after PG&E shut-off [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

When the power went out at Safari West early Wednesday morning, staff fired up four diesel generators to keep the 400-acre wildlife preserve open for its visiting guests. Near the entrance to the preserve, thick, black electric cables ran between a large, faded orange generator to Safari West’s main offices and guest reception area. The generator was the only visible sign that Pacific Gas & Electric had shut off power to 1,400 customers in Sonoma and Napa counties — a preventative move triggered by the potential risk of wildfire….The temporary power shut-off was part of a PG&E’s wildfire prevention initiative aimed at deenergizing power lines during extreme weather conditions — high temperatures, low humidity and high winds. Wednesday’s shut-off — which affected more than 700 residents in Sonoma County — was PG&E’s first public safety power shut-off in the county.


Butte County’s 2018 crop report shows $65 million, 10 percent decline in production [Chico Enterprise-Record]

Butte County’s 2018 crop report was released on Tuesday, and it shows a 10 percent decline in overall production. Butte County’s gross value for agricultural production in 2018 was $631,798,727, according to the report. This represents a decline of nearly $65 million from the previous 2017 Butte County Crop report, which resulted in $696,563,214 for Butte County. As usual rice, almonds, walnuts and prunes led the way for 2018 crop values. Rice was the No. 1 crop valued at just over $161 million. Almonds came in second at $155.5 million, which bested walnuts by $1 million, which came in at $154.5 million. Prunes were a distant fourth, netting just over $31 million.