Ag Today November 10, 2020
EU puts tariffs on US but hopes for change with Biden [Associated Press]
The European Union said Monday it would impose tariffs on up to $4 billion worth of U.S. goods and services over illegal aid for plane maker Boeing — but expressed hope that trade ties would improve once President Donald Trump leaves office. European trade ministers agreed on the move a few weeks after international arbitrators gave the EU the green light for such punitive action. The World Trade Organization had deemed illegal some U.S. support for Boeing — which is a bitter rival to Europe's Airbus — and...
Ag Today November 9, 2020
California Democrat Jim Costa in running to lead House Agriculture Committee [Sacramento Bee]
Fresno’s Rep. Jim Costa has thrown his hat in the ring to be the head of the House Agriculture Committee in the next Congress, a position with huge influence over federal policies affecting farmers and food supply in the U.S. The committee’s former chair, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, was ousted in his 2020 election and therefore will not serve in the next Congress. But Democrats will still control the House, so the position of chair is up for grabs. “Chairman Peterson is a friend and mentor and he...
Ag Today November 6, 2020
Washington Supreme Court: Farmworkers to get overtime pay [Associated Press]
A divided Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday the state’s dairy workers are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week, a decision expected to apply to the rest of the agriculture industry....The majority said the Washington state Constitution grants workers in dangerous industries a fundamental right to health and safety protections, including overtime, which is intended to discourage employers from forcing employees to work excessive hours. The ruling applied directly only to the dairy industry, but its reasoning covers all of the 200,000-plus farmworkers in the...
Ag Today November 5, 2020
Feds give green light to Friant-Kern Canal repairs [San Joaquin Valley Sun]
The Friant-Kern Canal has received the approval from the federal government to fix a sag in the canal. The Bureau of Reclamation gave its approval Tuesday – signing a Record of Decision giving environmental clearance for the project – following action from the Trump administration to invest about $5 million to study and begin pre-construction work on the canal. “Since day one, the Trump administration directed Reclamation to modernize infrastructure to ensure water reliability for California’s farms and communities,” said Reclamation commissioner Brenda Murman in a statement. “I am...
Ag Today November 4, 2020
Effort to revamp California property taxes may fall short [Associated Press]
...No votes on Proposition 15 were ahead by about 2.5 percentage points with 11 million votes counted. It could take days or even a week or more to count enough remaining votes to determine a winner....Supporters say the “split-roll” system will go a long way toward fixing inequities that shield wealthy corporations, depriving property tax proceeds for schools and local governments. Opponents call it a massive tax increase that will cripple businesses in a pandemic-wracked economy.…They include the California Assessors’ Association, which would be tasked with reassessing properties, the California...
Ag Today November 3, 2020
Rising farm exports to China lift agribusiness, farmers [Wall Street Journal]
Rising agricultural exports to China are helping revive the fortunes of some agribusiness companies and farmers, after the coronavirus pandemic upended the U.S. farm sector. China’s effort to boost pork production, and buy more U.S. grain and meat following this year’s U.S.-China trade agreement, are driving a surge of U.S. farm goods across the Pacific in recent months, according to government estimates. Growing demand around the world for food staples like vegetable oil and starch are keeping U.S. agriculture companies’ processing plants humming, industry executives said. “China has come roaring...
Ag Today November 2, 2020
Nutria — they’re big, buck-toothed and chew up California wetlands. Now feds add money to fight them [San Francisco Chronicle]
...The large rodent is chewing up rivers and wetlands and threatening to mow down farmland and infrastructure, and the state is struggling to contain it. The animal’s dizzying rate of reproduction doesn’t help: A single female has been known to give rise to 100 offspring in a year. Relief may be on the way. On Friday, President Trump signed a bipartisan bill that offers a financial boost for California’s fledgling effort to stop the invasion. And the assistance couldn’t have come...
Ag Today October 30, 2020
Gray wolf losing endangered species protection, latest Trump move to weaken environmental laws [San Francisco Chronicle]
…The widely expected announcement, made by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, attests to the rising numbers of the storied predator, but it’s also setting off widespread concern that the animal is not ready for the change and that wolf populations could perish in parts of the West, including California....The California Farm Bureau Federation and the California Cattlemen’s Association have been particularly outspoken about problems with wolves and the need to drop protections. Their anxiety echoes concerns that have flared in past efforts to support top predators...
Ag Today October 29, 2020
Judge orders Trump administration to reinstate farmworker wage survey [Courthouse News Service]
Likely preventing pay cuts to the thousands of U.S. farmworkers toiling through the pandemic, a federal judge on Wednesday squashed the Trump administration’s bid to halt a longstanding survey that determines the minimum wage for immigrant farmworkers. Siding with the nation’s largest farmworker union, U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd agreed the Trump administration hastily postponed the Farm Labor Survey without a clear replacement. Drozd ruled the survey is essential to setting a fair pay rate and ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue with the next planned survey...
Ag Today October 28, 2020
Cheese makers reel as pandemic sows market chaos [Wall Street Journal]
The U.S. cheese industry is reeling from seven months of chaos as the coronavirus pandemic causes upheaval in prices and demand. Prices for cheeses from mozzarella to cheddar hit near-record highs this month, but cheese makers are on edge after sharp swings in demand have thrown their production plans into disarray. Those soaring prices have also scrambled planning for buyers from pizza chains to grocery stores, prompting restaurants to limit purchases to avoid getting stuck with expensive inventories if the pandemic slashes business again....Nationwide restaurant closures at the beginning of...