Ag Today September 6, 2019

Four amicus briefs filed in case appeal of bellwether Roundup trial; Farmers question – ‘what is the law?’ [Northern California Record]

Four amicus briefs have been filed in the California Court of Appeals in the case of Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto raising “concerns about the methods used to determine medical causation and the award of punitive damages in the Johnson case, as well as the reliance of businesses and consumers on regulatory approvals,” said a media representative for Bayer….Both the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF), the largest farm organization in the state, and the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) filed separate briefs.…“Farmers and ranchers should be allowed to rely upon and use federal and state approved crop protection tools and not be subject to uncertainty and potential liability due to conflicting scientific reports put forth by non-regulatory bodies,” stated CFBF in its filed brief. “


The ‘Blob’ is back: New marine heat wave emerges off West Coast [Bay Area News Group]

A massive marine heat wave that caused record warming of ocean waters off the West Coast five years ago, sending salmon numbers crashing and malnourished sea lions washing up on beaches across California and other Pacific states, is back, scientists said Thursday….“It’s been increasingly prominent over the past couple of months,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA….Swain said that it’s too soon to know whether the pattern developing now increases the odds of a drought in California next year, as happened during 2014. But, he said, the warmer ocean temperatures do increase the chances of hotter weather for California this fall.


Retired public lands officials criticize Trump plan for move [Associated Press]

Former public lands managers heaped criticism Thursday on a Trump administration plan to move the headquarters of the nation’s largest land agency from Washington to the West. Thirty past high-ranking officials from the Bureau of Land Management said moving the bureau headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado, and dispersing managers across 11 Western states could hurt stewardship of public lands….The agency has about 10,000 employees, and most are already in field offices in the West. About 400 are in Washington, and the Interior Department said in July it planned to move about 300 of them to the West. The department said that would lead to better decisions and save money.


How high tech is transforming one of the oldest jobs: Farming [New York Times]

…From equipment automation to data collection and analysis, the digital evolution of agriculture is already a fact of life on farms across the United States….The drive to increase productivity is urgent in all phases of agriculture….Yet growing crops has historically been an uncertain enterprise, a livelihood that increasingly depends on forecasts of weather conditions, commodity prices and complex factors like maturity index and projected yield. Agriculture is seen as an industry ideally suited to large-scale data collection and analysis, and technology companies more closely associated with databases and computer hardware are seeing opportunities.


Opinion: It is unfair to Valley for state not to count hydroelectric power as renewable energy [Fresno Bee]

…Senate Bill 100, enacted in 2018, requires that California’s public utilities switch entirely to renewable energy by 2045. Until 2030, hydropower generated at dozens of existing large-scale facilities won’t count as renewable. Why would anyone remove safe, reliable and carbon-free power from the environmental scorecard? It’s simple economics….The only way to make solar and wind power more attractive than hydro is to arbitrarily put large-scale hydro off limits as “non-renewable.” That forces utility providers who own dams to replace their suddenly “non-renewable” hydro with mostly higher-priced solar and wind. That extra cost will be passed along to customers.


Editorial: Another payoff for ethanol [Wall Street Journal]

The damage from President Trump ’s trade war is compounding, and so are the political and policy complications. The President is pondering more sops to the ethanol lobby to placate farmers who are angry about his tariffs. Better to fix trade mistakes than to double the harm by genuflecting to Lord Corn….President Trump seems to think he can atone for his tariff mistakes with billions of dollars in farm handouts, but only a trade truce will start to mend the damage. At minimum he shouldn’t be fooled by another round of rent-seeking from one of the country’s most shameless farm interests.