Ag Today September 7, 2018

NAFTA deal unlikely this week; talks to resume Friday [San Francisco Chronicle]

A NAFTA deal doesn’t look likely this week. Talks between the U.S. and Canada have seemed upbeat, but are not expected to lead to a deal this week, a Canadian government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The pace of meetings between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has slowed since last week, as both countries look to be squaring off. The Trump administration gave notice Aug. 31 of intent to sign a deal that could include Canada. Freeland has said there’s progress, but that no deal is done until it’s done. The officials will not be able to work through the weekend into the new week because Lighthizer is scheduled to meet his European counterpart in Brussels Monday.


U.S. wages growing at fastest rate in 9 years as unemployment stays at 3.9 percent [Washington Post]

Hiring picked up in August and so did worker pay — registering the fastest wage growth since 2009 in an encouraging sign that wages may finally be moving higher after years of sluggish gains. August was the 95th straight month the U.S. economy added jobs, with a robust 201,000 job gains, the Labor Department reported Friday, while wages for U.S. workers grew at 2.9 percent in the past year. The national unemployment rate remained at 3.9 percent, one of the lowest levels in half a century. The higher pay is a sign that businesses are having to compete hard for workers. Many business leaders have complained they cannot find the workers they need, especially for skilled jobs like welders or computers coders. Economists had expected that companies would start to raise wages significantly to attract — and keep — the talent they want. But pay had been creeping up slowly for much of the recovery. That appears to be changing now that there are more job openings than unemployed Americans.


Harvest is on, but Napa Valley grapegrowers already looking to next year [Napa Valley Register]

With harvest bringing the grapegrowing season to an end in Napa Valley, the crux of the winemaking process has shifted now to the winery, as grapes come in daily and are crushed in the first steps toward the finished wines of 2018. But even as activity slows in the vineyards once the year’s fruit has been plucked, growers are already laying the groundwork for the 2019 vintage of Napa wines. “It’s amazing how much we’re already thinking about 2019 before we’ve even got the crop in,” grapegrower Caleb Mosley said. “But you have to. If you don’t, you’re already behind schedule.” That preparation today includes tasks like post-harvest irrigation to soothe stressed out vines, preparing new vines to grow in the next season and tackling any growth issues ahead of the next year.


China finds African swine fever on four farms in single day [Reuters]

China reported four cases of African swine fever on Thursday alone, bringing the number of outbreaks to 13 since the virus was discovered in the country just over a month ago. The agriculture ministry said it had identified the disease on three small farms in Jiamusi in Heilongjiang province in China’s northeast and the cities of Wuhu and Xuancheng in the eastern province of Anhui. The largest of the three farms had 203 pigs, while the smallest had only 30 pigs. Earlier on Thursday the ministry had reported a case in the city of Chuzhou in Anhui, on a farm which had over 800 pigs. The disease killed 22 of them, while another 62 were infected. The new outbreaks bring the number discovered since Sunday to eight, stirring worry about the increasing speed of infection around the country.


Proposed Mondavi family winery generates controversy in Angwin [Napa Valley Register]

A new winery proposed by the famed Mondavi family for the mountain area of Angwin is garnering both praise and criticism, with its fate yet to be decided. Marc and Janice Mondavi propose building the 50,000-gallon-a-year Aloft winery at 430 Cold Springs Road. It would be a family venture with their daughters Angelina, Alycia, Riana and Giovanna. The Napa County Planning Commission on Wednesday postponed a hearing on Aloft to digest all of the comments and to give the Mondavis time to respond. The county has yet to set a date for the next hearing. “This is a family whose name is synonymous with wine and the Napa Valley,” consultant Donna Oldford said on behalf of the Mondavis.


Opinion: Stop the Delta debacle before property owners get gouged [Bay Area News Group]

Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration will try for a third time to secure a political mega-deal that would commit millions of California property owners to pay for the $19.9 billion  Delta twin-tunnels water grab. Without approval of voters or the Legislature. It’s an atrocious abuse of the political system that must be stopped. Blocking the effort would save property owners thousands of dollars over the next 20-40 years and help preserve the health of the Delta for the next generation and beyond. The story began a little over four weeks ago when the state Department of Water Resources convinced the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to schedule a hearing that would enable backers of the Delta tunnels to extend state water contracts for another 50 years. The maneuver would allow the Brown administration to lock in water contracts to pay for the project before the governor leaves office in January. Something he is desperate to do. Doubly so, since his likely successor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, doesn’t share his verve for the project.