Daily Harvest -- 4/3/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: Opinion – AFBF President Bob Stallman – Prairie Potholes Stuck in EPA’s WOTUS Spin
- While the Environmental Protection Agency continues to court America's farmers to support the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS), the messages of the agency's charm offensive could actually be telegraphing a regulatory nightmare for many farmers across wide swaths of prime farm and ranch country.
Agri-Pulse: California farmers continue to bear brunt of drought
- (Audio) California is facing new historic water restrictions in the face of the lowest snow pack on record and state Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross notes that, “farmers and ranchers in the state continue to bear the brunt of the two year drought.”
Financial Times: California’s hopes for water turn to dust
- After years of drought, the hot and dry city of Los Angeles is in the market to buy water. But in this parched climate even its record-setting offer of up to $70m is not enough to guarantee it can find a willing seller.
LA Times: Editorial – California's mandatory water cutbacks are a good move
- Residents of large urban areas have weathered California's current drought, well into its fourth year, without making many substantial changes. Los Angeles was shielded from the full impact by water stored in reservoirs. Many Sacramento residents still have no water meters.
ABC News: Deadly bird flu shows up in South Dakota, 4th Minnesota farm
- A bird flu strain that's deadly to poultry has shown up in a commercial turkey flock in South Dakota and a fourth turkey farm in Minnesota, state and federal agencies confirmed Thursday, bringing the total number of outbreaks in the Midwest to nine and leading to the deaths of 314,000 birds since early March.
University of Wisconsin-Madison News: Plowing prairies for grains – Biofuel crops replace grasslands nationwide
- Clearing grasslands to make way for biofuels may seem counterproductive, but University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers show in a study today (April 2, 2015) that crops, including the corn and soy commonly used for biofuels, expanded onto 7 million acres of new land in the U.S. over a recent four-year period, replacing millions of acres of grasslands.
Wall Street Journal: Can U.S. stop spread of superbugs?
- Imagine a world where medical procedures are derailed regularly because patients are resistant to antibiotics. And that day may be growing nearer—thanks, in part, to increasing use of these medicines for bulking up or preventing disease in food-producing livestock.
Tampa Bay Times: Duke Energy proposes large-scale solar power plants over next 10 years
- Duke Energy Florida announced plans Thursday to launch a major solar power effort that will produce electricity equivalent to that of a small power plant.
New York Times: Exxon CEO talks Arctic oil drilling, risks, lessons
- An Energy Department advisory council study adopted last week said the U.S. should start exploring for oil and gas in the Arctic soon in order to feed future demand, and that the industry is ready to safely exploit the Arctic's huge reserves, despite recent mishaps.
New York Times: Iran deal may be slow to affect oil sector
- The breakthrough in nuclear talks with Iran on Thursday has the potential to cause a seismic shift in global energy markets over the long term, but energy experts said any appreciable impact on an already glutted global oil market was highly doubtful for at least six months and probably more than a year.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: Food prices experience a slight dip in March
- Global food prices continued their downward path last month, dropping 1.5 percent from February figures according to data from the United Nations.
International Business Times: California drought means higher U.S. food prices on almonds, avocados and more
- Almonds, avocados, artichokes, alfalfa – these foods may be easy on your belt, but as California’s historic drought deepens, they’ll get tougher on your wallet. The driest span on the West Coast in at least half a millennium is likely to make a whole range of produce more expensive across the country.
NPR: Sodium sleuths – Do Southerners eat more salt than the rest of us?
- A new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that 70 percent of the pizzas, pastas and meat dishes (think frozen entrees) we purchase in chain grocery stores exceed the Food and Drug Administration's "healthy" labeling standards for salt. Americans also get a lot of sodium from soups, cold cuts and bread.
ABC News: Some maple sap this season headed from tree tap to beer tap
- The amount of syrup destined for pint glasses from this spring's maple run is a relative trickle, but maple beers offer something for the growing numbers of local food lovers and craft beers aficionados.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Wall Street Journal: Chinese food giant explores deals in U.S.
- In a few short years, Cofco has spent a couple billion dollars quietly buying up Australian cane fields, French vineyards and soybean pastures in Brazil, helping it become one of the world’s largest food companies. Now, Cofco is exploring deals in the world’s biggest exporter of agricultural commodities: the U.S.
Politico: Trade bill timeline could push Senate to act
- Senate aides have circulated a tentative date of mid-April for advancing “fast-track” trade legislation in the recognition that Sens. Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden have to move quickly to finalize a deal on the bill or risk losing their chance to get it passed by the end of the spring session.
LA Times: Trade deficit plunges 16.9% in February
- The U.S. trade deficit plunged in February as both imports and exports sank, driven by a since-settled trade dispute and a global economic slowdown that has cut into oil prices and caused the dollar to rise in value.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Agri-Pulse: Western governors file report on sage grouse conservation efforts
- The Western Governors' Association released a report today highlighting the voluntary efforts in 11 states to conserve the habitat of sage-grouse as part of an effort to avoid a federal listing of the bird under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Agri-Pulse: Senators ask EPA to engage growers in any bee health actions
- A group of 12 senators, mostly Republicans, sent a letter this week to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy asking her to explain the steps the agency is taking to protect pollinator health, and to consult producers along the way.
Bloomberg: California facing extreme heat waves and rising seas
- A day after California imposed mandatory water restrictions to battle a four-year drought, a new study on global warming suggests the worst is yet to come.
Des Moines Register: Water Works votes to sue 3 Iowa counties over nitrates
- Des Moines Water Works will file a federal suit against three rural counties in northwest Iowa, an action that could trigger far-reaching effects on how states approach water quality regulation.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Fresh Fruit Portal: U.S. – Union negotiations off the table for Sakuma Brothers Farms
- The movement against Sakuma Brothers Farms, which has brought its buyer Driscoll’s into the picture as well, revolves around a push for recognition of the union Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) as representative of Sakuma farmworkers.
Troy Record: Dairy eyes robotic technology to reduce farm labor costs
- An area farm’s long-term business plan calls for robotic milking machines, not necessarily because owners like such technology. But with the price they get for milk on the decline, they simply can’t afford rising labor costs that eat into already thin profit margins.
Washington Times: Mayor, attorney general create task force to aid immigrants
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are announcing the creation of a task force to combat immigration services fraud.
Southern Maryland News: Family, future fuel region’s farmers’ desire to do things the right way
- Talking about agricultural preservation efforts in Southern Maryland can feel like diving into alphabet soup. But for local farmers, agricultural preservation runs much deeper than the bureaucracy involved in sustaining the land — it’s about leaving a mark for future generations.
New York Times: Iran agrees to detailed nuclear outline, first step toward a wider deal
- Iran and the United States, along with five other world powers, announced on Thursday a surprisingly specific and comprehensive understanding on limiting Tehran’s nuclear program for the next 15 years, though they left several specific issues to a final agreement in June.
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