Ag Today September 28, 2018

California governor vetoes 2 bills to help undocumented immigrants [Santa Maria Times]

California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed two bills Thursday seeking to expand the rights of immigrants living in the country illegally and protect them from deportation. One bill would have allowed anyone to serve on state boards and commissions regardless of their immigration status, while the other sought to block immigration authorities from making arrests inside courthouses. The move by Brown. a Democrat, avoids opening another front in California’s war with President Donald Trump. The governor said he saw no reason to change a state law requiring citizenship to serve on state and local boards, which oversee zoning laws, regulate professional licenses and perform a wide variety of other functions. “I believe existing law — which requires citizenship for these forms of public service — is the better path,” Brown wrote in his veto message.


Labor board confirms ouster of UFW from California’s biggest peach grower [Los Angeles Times]

Workers for the state’s largest peach grower have ousted the United Farm Workers union as their representative, the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board confirmed Thursday. The decision by the board to certify the tally at Fresno County’s Gerawan Farming is a devastating blow to the union founded by Cesar Chavez — a loss of about 3,000 potential members at a time when the UFW has only 8,672 of California’s nearly half-million farmworkers under collective bargaining contracts. It also was a sharp, though qualified, reversal by the three-member labor board, which had previously sided with the UFW in ruling that owner Dan Gerawan unduly influenced the campaign to de-certify the union. “I am speechless and beyond excited and happy because justice was finally done,” said Gerawan worker Silvia Lopez, who started up the effort to oust the UFW.


Congress uneasy as Trump moves to revise NAFTA without Canada [New York Times]

The Trump administration and Congress are on a collision course over the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement as the White House prepares to release text of a trade deal with Mexico that does not include Canada. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said on Thursday that while the administration still hopes to strike a deal with Canada, he is confident that lawmakers would greenlight a revised Nafta that includes only Mexico. “If for whatever reason we don’t reach an agreement with Canada, we’ll have an agreement with Mexico, a great agreement,” Mr. Mnuchin said at an event sponsored by the newspaper The Hill. “I’m confident that Congress will pass that.” Lawmakers, however, have expressed deep reservations about any deal that does not include Canada, suggesting it would not have the votes to pass.


U.S. farm sector braces for protracted trade fight [Wall Street Journal]

Leaders of the U.S. agricultural industry are girding for an extended trade battle with China, which is already taking a toll on U.S. farmers and food companies. Trade disputes with China, Mexico and other countries touched off by President Trump’s get-tough stance on trading partners, are altering global flows of foodstuffs like soybeans and pork, agribusiness executives said. Retaliatory tariffs are cutting into profits for the biggest agricultural companies and farmers alike, prompting the U.S. government to pay out billions of dollars to shore up farmers’ finances. The chief executive of the top U.S. pork producer said the Trump administration’s trade fight with China was needed to improve access to a major market for that meat. “It’s hurting the agricultural community, and it’s hurting us,” Ken Sullivan, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods, said at The Wall Street Journal Global Food Forum on Thursday. Smithfield was acquired in 2013 by Hong Kong-based WH Group Ltd., a deal that created the world’s largest pork company.


Monarch butterfly habitat bill signed into law [Santa Cruz Sentinel]

Monarch butterflies nearing extinction from the West Coast could find a lifeline in a new state program signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday. The Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Rescue Program will offer grants and technical assistance to willing farmers and landowners to protect and restore the bugs’ vanishing habitat. Without intervention, scientists predict monarchs will go extinct from the West Coast within 20 years. The program was put forward by Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, as Assembly Bill 2421. Stone said he came to the issue in part because of his district’s close connection to the orange-and-black butterflies that winter in coastal eucalyptus groves in Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz….Many farmers, according to Holst, have already shown interest, and the bill was backed by the California Farm Bureau.


Opinion: Farm-to-fork is paying off in Sacramento. Here’s how [Sacramento Bee]

While the Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Festival this weekend will attract huge crowds downtown, there is much more to this subject than just two days of events. Since the passage of our region’s Farm-to-Fork Capital resolution in 2012, community members and business leaders have championed the effort, improving the local economy, the health of our residents and long-term policy. The city and county passed ordinances in 2015 and 2017, respectively, to expand backyard farming, farm stands and urban agricultural education. As a result, Yisrael Family Farms, Root 64 in south Sacramento and other community farms are feeding customers and making a living. The small but mighty Oak Park Farmers Market – which reaches out to CalFresh customers, an important mission in a community with high rates of diet-related disease – has seen 15 percent annual growth.