Ag Today July 12, 2019
Utility customers will pay $10.5 billion for California wildfire costs under bill sent to Newsom [Los Angeles Times]
Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign legislation Friday to overhaul how the state pays for utility wildfire damage — a complex bill the governor championed and moved swiftly through the California Legislature this week at Wall Street’s urging. The bill’s passage was a political victory for the governor, but some questioned whether California leaders were just making a down payment for wildfire costs that will skyrocket if more isn’t done to prevent ever-larger blazes….Utility customers will be required to pay $10.5 billion...
Ag Today July 11, 2019
VP Mike Pence: Passing NAFTA 2.0 will help Central Valley farmers [Visalia Times-Delta]
Amid hay bales and country music at a farm outside Lemoore Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence sought to rally farmers and others in the agriculture industry to support President Donald Trump's revisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement…."Now it's time to Congress to do its job and pass USMCA this year," Pence said. "California farmers, let your voice be heard."…California ag industry leaders have pushed for passage of USMCA, noting that China — whose retaliatory tariffs have hit California citrus and other ag sectors particularly hard —...
Ag Today July 10, 2019
Never mind those earthquakes: Atmospheric rivers could put Sacramento 30 feet under water [Sacramento Bee]
A research team led by Sasha Gershunov at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego published a new study on atmospheric rivers in Nature Scientific Reports this week that places atmospheric rivers under scrutiny as the driving cause behind California’s increasingly extreme, infrequent bouts of precipitation….According to a team led by scientist Dale Cox at the U.S. Geological Survey, California is due for another megaflood….Indeed, these rivers in the sky are becoming wetter and stronger….Gershunov said that atmospheric rivers are gradually overtaking storms as the...
Ag Today July 9, 2019
California Senate approve clean drinking water fund [Associated Press]
The California Senate on Monday sent legislation to Gov Gavin Newsom's desk that will spend $130 million a year over the next decade to improve drinking water for about a million people….Senators approved the measure 38-1. Newsom had proposed a tax on most residential water bills to address the problem….Instead, on Monday the state Senate approved a bill that would authorize spending up to $130 million each year on the state's distressed water districts, with most of it coming from a fund aimed at fighting climate change.
Controversial wildfire liability bill advances in...
Ag Today July 8, 2019
Wanting to ease utility wildfire costs, Newsom faces biggest test yet with lawmakers [Los Angeles Times]
There’s been no shortage of criticism for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to help California’s largest utilities stave off bankruptcy from costs associated with wildfires: No focus on prevention efforts. More difficulty proving utility negligence. Too much of the financial burden falling on millions of utility customers. The governor, six months into his first year in office, faces a crucial test this week as he attempts to convince the California Legislature to ratify a multibillion-dollar utility wildfire fund before lawmakers leave Sacramento for a one-month recess….Newsom’s...
Ag Today July 5, 2019
U.S. and 15 others slam EU regulation of farm products at WTO [Reuters]
The United States and 15 other countries launched a broadside of criticism at the European Union on Thursday, saying its “hazard-based” approach to regulating pesticides and other “critical tools” used by farmers was damaging livelihoods worldwide. Their statement, submitted to the World Trade Organization, said the EU’s approach created great uncertainty and diverged from science-based risk assessments, creating disruption that threatened to escalate significantly in coming years….They said farmers needed to be able to access the “full range of safe tools and technologies” in order to meet the...
Ag Today July 3, 2019
A push to equalize labor laws for child farmworkers, who are often immigrants [Center for Public Integrity]
At a time when immigrants are in the national spotlight, a California congresswoman has reintroduced a bill to strengthen federal protections for children hired to work in agriculture, an industry that relies heavily on migrants from Latin America. The bill tightens labor standards for child farmworkers, whose protections under federal law fall short of those protecting minors working in other industries. While federal law prohibits minors from working in non-farm industries until they’re 14, for example, children as young as 12 can be hired...
Ag Today July 2, 2019
Big farms find easy ways around trade aid limits [Associated Press]
When President Donald Trump’s administration announced a $12 billion aid package for farmers struggling under the financial strain of his trade dispute with China, the payments were capped. But many large farming operations had no trouble finding legal ways around them, records provided to The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act show….Recipients defended the payouts, saying they didn’t cover their losses from the trade war and they were legally entitled to them. Department of Agriculture rules let farms file claims for multiple family members or other partners who...
Ag Today July 1, 2019
Trump official joins Democrats to hear California farmers’ problems [San Francisco Chronicle]
In a rare show of bipartisanship, Democratic and Republican congressmen lined up Friday with Sonny Perdue, President Trump’s agriculture secretary, to hear the concerns of Central Valley farmers and ranchers….But there are increasing problems, starting with the effect Trump’s immigration crackdown is having on farms that depend on workers from Mexico, including many who are in the U.S. illegally….Joe Del Bosque of Firebaugh (Fresno County) said he had about 100 workers in the fields Friday, picking sweet corn and melons….Perdue said Trump “knows the importance of foreign-born workers to...
Ag Today June 28, 2019
No U.S.-EU trade deal without agriculture: U.S. official [Reuters]
The United States will not reach a trade agreement with the European Union if agriculture is not included, a senior U.S. Agriculture Department official told reporters on Thursday. Ted McKinney, undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, said he was highlighting common ground between the two sides during meetings with lawmakers, government officials and private industry in Brussels, Rome and Geneva. Europe, a top U.S. trading partner, has offered to start negotiations with the United States about removing import duties on industrial goods, but those talks have not begun in earnest as...