Ag Today September 6, 2018

As NAFTA talks resume, U.S. and Canada aren’t budging on key priorities [New York Times]

Talks between the United States and Canada to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement resumed on Wednesday, but a quick resolution seemed unlikely amid tension between President Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. Describing the Nafta talks as “intense,” Mr. Trump accused Canada on Wednesday of “taking advantage” of the United States and said that it did not need Canada to remain in the agreement….Mr. Trump has continued to insist on a deal that benefits American farmers and businesses and has repeatedly pointed to the trade imbalance between the two countries as evidence that Canada is “unfair” to the United States.


Trump poised to tax an additional $200B in Chinese imports [Associated Press]

The Trump administration may be about to slap tariffs of up to 25 percent on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods, escalating a confrontation between the world’s two biggest economies and likely squeezing U.S. companies that import everything from handbags to bicycle tires. The administration could decide to begin taxing the imports — equal to nearly 40 percent of all the goods China sold the United States last year — after a public comment period ends Thursday. China said it is ready to impose retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods if that happens.


Farm Bill may void Marin pesticide use rules, group says [Marin Independent Journal]

Local restrictions and rules on pesticide use — including several in Marin County — are at risk of being thrown out by the 2018 Farm Bill being reviewed by Congress, according to an environmental nonprofit organization. Melanie Benesh, the legislative attorney for the nonprofit research and advocacy organization Environmental Working Group, said the House version of the Farm Bill would not only prohibit local government agencies from adopting their own pesticide use and sales restrictions, but also preempt any existing pesticide use policies….While there is some debate and uncertainty among local government officials about how extensively the Farm Bill would affect their policies, Benesh said the larger issue is local agencies would lose the discretion on how to best protect their residents, especially children, from the harmful effects of pesticides.


Environmental group sues to stop oilfield wastewater dumping at unlined pits in western Kern [Bakersfield Californian]

A lawsuit filed Wednesday by an Arizona-based environmental activist group seeks to halt the disposal of oilfield wastewater at a series of unlined pits near Buttonwillow. The Center for Biological Diversity’s suit in Kern County Superior Court asserts the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board voted April 5 to allow the dumping to continue indefinitely despite a staff report concluding the practice contaminates local groundwater and makes it unsuitable for agricultural and municipal use….Dumping of oilfield wastewater — particularly the salty “produced water” that comes up from the ground along with oil — has gone on in Kern County for decades, sometimes at facilities unknown to regulators.


Grasslands benefit from grazing [Half Moon Bay Review]

Longtime Coastside ranchers recently signed new leases to continue cattle grazing in several Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District preserves….Conservation grazing also helps community members by significantly reducing fuel loads — any flammable materials that can be devoured by an encroaching fire. “It helps with public safety,” Sifuentes-Winter said.


Editorial: Important to preserve Point Reyes ranches [Marin Independent Journal]

Rep. Jared Huffman’s legislation to show Congress’ support for preserving the ranches that have been part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, before its inception and today, sends an important message….Many of the ranches in the park have been in existence since the 1860s and their legacy as part of the park has been a recognition of their importance to Marin’s agricultural economy, which depends on maintaining a fragile balance to keep local farming and ranching sustainable. Huffman’s bill seeks to maintain the delicate balance that helped create Point Reyes National Seashore in 1962. Certainly, steps can be taken to improve that balance, but Huffman deserves credit for taking action to preserve a historical symbiotic relationship that has worked for 56 years.