October 9, 2019
Central Valley congressmen meeting with dairy leaders today
Democratic Reps. Jim Costa, T.J. Cox and Josh Harder will be visiting Hilmar Cheese Company in the city of Hilmar today to tour the facility and meet with dairy industry leaders.
The congressmen will discuss trade negotiations, labor, immigration and sustainability with executives from California Dairies, Kraft Heinz, Land O’Lakes and Valley Milk, among several other companies. The primary focus of that discussion will be on passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement.
In a written statement, CEO Michael Dykes of the International Dairy Foods Association said the lawmakers “understand and appreciate that to continue positive growth, we must work together to support passage of crucial trade agreements” like USMCA.
Last week, Cox and Costa were in Madera taking part in an agricultural panel discussion on immigration policy, which included California Farm Bureau board member Donny Rollin.
Costa, who was raised on a dairy farm in Fresno, felt “right at home” milking cows on a dairy tour that day. He later tweeted: “Our farmers and dairymen need a strong, steady & reliable workforce.”
Remember: USDA ranks California as the top dairy state, accounting for 19% of the nation’s milk production.
On that note: Another Central Valley representative, Republican Doug LaMalfa will hold a roundtable luncheon with ag groups on Friday at noon at the office of the Cotton Ginners and Growers Association in Fresno. The California and Fresno County Farm Bureaus and the Western Agricultural Processors Association will also participate. LaMalfa is a fourth-generation rice farmer.
After 126 years, state’s oldest dairy closes
Giacomazzi Dairy near Hanford will be auctioned off on October 25. Fourth-generation owner Dino Giacomazzi told The Business Journal the “past 10 years have been difficult for dairying.” He cites falling dairy prices and four years in the red as the company’s reason for shuttering its doors.
The operation currently runs 900 dairy cows. It will now be pivoting to the 900 acres of almond trees that are beginning to reach maturity. The Journal notes that USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue visited the dairy in 2018. Last week at the World Dairy Expo, Perdue told reporters that small dairies may not survive because "in America, the big get bigger and the small go out."
House Dems not satisfied with Mexico pledges
A delegation of House Democrats led by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal is back from Mexico, and the lawmakers are still looking for further proof that the country will live up to its promises on labor reform.
Mexico’s dedication to supporting the creation of new unions that aren’t constructs of corporations or the government is still one of the biggest reservations lawmakers have when it comes to supporting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Neal and the others met with Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador and others to go over the country’s budget and funding to implement the labor reforms.
Neal said he was “eager to see Mexico demonstrate its commitment to implementing the changes necessary to realize its own vision for reform and meet the demanding labor and enforcement standards that will be required by the renegotiated NAFTA.”
Meanwhile: GOP lawmakers continue to press House Democrats to move quicker on USMCA ratification.
“We were heartened to hear (Speaker of the House Nancy) Pelosi and other leading House Democrats recently say that impeachment politics won’t get in the way of legislative action,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, wrote in an editorial for USA Today.
“We hope that’s true, but their actions will speak louder than words … The clock is ticking, and Americans are waiting for Congress to pass USMCA so they can reap the benefits of an agreement well-negotiated by the president.”
New complications ahead of China talks
Just ahead of the new round of trade negotiations with China, the State Department is imposing new visa restrictions on Chinese leaders believed to be responsible for the mistreatment of ethnic Muslim minorities. In announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that China “must end its draconian surveillance and repression, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease its coercion of Chinese Muslims abroad.”
Pompeo’s action follows measures announced by the Commerce Department on Monday.
The trade talks are set to take place Thursday and Friday in D.C.
Rail fee transparency plan praised
The fertilizer industry is praising a Surface Transportation Board proposal that would require railroad companies to provide a minimum amount of information on their invoices regarding service charges.
The fees, known by the terms demurrage and accessorial, have increased significantly since the rail industry implemented precision scheduling, said Chris Jahn, president of The Fertilizer Institute.
“These charges are completely unfair and unreasonable when shippers are unable to avoid them due to new rail carrier operating procedures, poor rail service, bunching of cars, or other factors,” he said.
Demurrage charges compensate rail carriers for expenses incurred when rail cars are detained beyond a specified period of time and discourages undue car delays. STB said in its proposed rule. Accessorial charges are supposed to cover freight services beyond normal pickup and delivery such as inside delivery, waiting time, fuel surcharges and storage.
Looking for bison meat? There’s an app
A new app called “Buysome Bison” will allow shoppers to feed their appetite for bison meat more easily. The app was created by the National Bison Association using a grant from USDA’s Farmers’ Market program. It allows users to find local bison producers that offer meat sales on-farm or at farmers' markets.
The app also will provide information on farms that offer vacation opportunities, wedding venues or tours.
He said it:
“Silver bullets tend to sink in water.” – UC Davis water expert Jay Lund, sharing his favorite water quotes in a recent roundup on his center's blog.
Bill Tomson, Steve Davies and Ben Nuelle contributed to this report.
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