October 2, 2019
State to hold public meetings on chlorpyrifos alternatives
The Department of Pesticide Regulation and CDFA will host three workshops in January to solicit public feedback on alternatives to chlorpyrifos.
Now that the state is cancelling the insecticide, the departments are required to lead a work group to identify, evaluate and recommend “safer, more sustainable” alternatives for farmers. DPR plans to finalize the work group’s recommendations in the spring.
The public listening sessions will take place in Fresno on January 14, in Sacramento on January 16 and in Ventura on January 21 at 1 p.m. Contact DPR (Alternatives@cdpr.ca.gov) for more details.
White House may yet propose farmworker reforms
The Trump administration’s first attempt at proposing immigration reform landed with a thud in the Republican-controlled Senate. But Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the White House is still planning to propose immigration legislation that could include major changes to the H-2A farmworker visa program.
Speaking to reporters at the World Dairy Expo on Tuesday, Perdue suggested the legislation could make H-2A workers available year-round – a high priority for dairy producers – and also lower wage rates.
“We’re hoping to have an opportunity to address not only the seasonability issue but also the adverse wage rate,” Perdue said. “Many people that can get legal H-2A workers now are priced out of the provisions,” he added, referring to the required wage rates.
Reality check: The chances of Congress passing immigration reform were always low, and the impeachment battle only makes the chances of enacting any major piece of legislation even more slim.
Keep in mind: In July, the Labor Department proposed a series of changes to the program, including an overhaul of the way the wage rates are calculated. But the American Farm Bureau Federation and other groups say the wage rate fix could drive up labor costs and create new wage disparities.
Be sure and read this week’s Agri-Pulse newsletter. We take looks at the farm economy (and what may or may not happen when the China trade war ends), the shortage of hemp processors, and some surprising beneficiaries of the U.S.-Japan deal.
US dairy eager for Indonesian market
The European Union is in the midst of a trade fight with Indonesia, and the winner could be U.S. dairy, according to a new report from the International Dairy Foods Association.
The EU hit Indonesian biodiesel with new tariffs ranging between 8% and 18%. Now, Indonesia plans to slap tariffs of 20% to 25% on European dairy products — and that’s all the U.S. will need to increase its already significant sales to the Southeast Asian nation, says IDFA. The U.S. exported $166 million worth of dairy products to Indonesia last year.
“With the EU priced out of the market due to the tariffs on imports, opportunities exist to expand (skim milk powder), whey, lactose and cheese exports to Indonesia," says Beth Hughes, IDFA’s senior director for international affairs.
No link found to dicamba damage, regs
It’s not clear how effective state dicamba regulations are in preventing damage from the herbicide to neighboring crops. USDA economists dug into the issue and say they couldn’t find an “easily identifiable geographic pattern” between the state usage restrictions and the amount of damaged soybean acreage in 2018.
The economists are using farmers’ responses to USDA’s Soybean Production Practices and Costs Report for 2018, according to the Economic Research Service. “Some states with relatively high rates of damage (such as Iowa and North Dakota) had state-level regulations, while others (such as Wisconsin) did not,” the ERS report found.
Among the findings: About 4% of soybean fields last year were damaged by dicamba, and not all acres planted with dicamba-tolerant soybeans are treated with the herbicide.
“In all 19 states studied, more acres were planted with dicamba-tolerant seed than were actually sprayed with dicamba,” ERS said. “For instance, in Mississippi, 79% of soybean acres were planted with dicamba-tolerant seeds, but only 54% of these acres were treated with dicamba.”
Bear in mind: ERS says farmers “may only use dicamba if glyphosate-tolerant weeds appear. In other cases, dicamba-tolerant seeds might be planted to prevent yield losses from unintended exposure to dicamba.”
The herbicide has continued to pose a problem this season. In Illinois, for example, about 600 complaints have been filed.
CDFA announces committee vacancies
CDFA is looking to fill seats on several committees that advise Secretary Karen Ross.
The Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee has three vacancies. the Livestock Identification Advisory Board has a position open for an individual from the dairy producer industry. The Shell Egg Advisory Committee has two spots open to advise the food safety and quality program. CDFA is also in need of several representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations to serve on the technical review committee for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which will be granting awards ranging up to $450,000 this year.
On that note: October is National Farm-to-School Month. CDFA’s Office of Farm-to-Fork is sharing the message with the 4,000 enthusiasts in its Farm-to-School network. The program is celebrating its 15th year of connecting schools to locally sourced foods, educating students on agriculture and supporting school gardens.
They said it:
“With such earnings, there must be a way to achieve a no-fail process for farmers to safely and efficiently use pesticides.” – Fresno Bee Editorial Board, advocating for industry to pay for tighter regulations to completely prevent spray drifts.
Steve Davies, Ben Nuelle and Bill Tomson contributed to this report.
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