November 14, 2019
Companies question whether DPR is really “expediting” alternative pesticides
In cancelling the insecticide chlorpyrifos in May, the Newsom administration said it would expedite registrations for alternative pesticide products. Yet products already under expedited review at the Department of Pesticide Regulation have languished in the process. Some of those products are also being considered as partial alternatives to chlorpyrifos.
Kevin Caffrey, a BASF technical service representative, told Agri-Pulse: “We’ve had some products in the pipeline that we’ve been using for a year in Arizona that are slowly coming through DPR.” One of those, BASF's Sefina insecticide, could replace chlorpyrifos in some situations.
A 2017 lawsuit by the Pesticide Action Network has led DPR to take a new direction with its review processes. The department now includes more public comment periods, more legal reviews and additional screening, said Caffrey, adding he has yet to see a single ingredient complete the new process.
Pam Marrone, who heads the biopesticide company Marrone Bio and sits on DPR’s Alternatives Work Group, has said DPR can take two years longer than U.S. EPA to review an ingredient.
Greg Hurner, a political consultant for the California Truckers Guild
Legal argument against AB 5 centers on Constitution
In its lawsuit filed Tuesday against the State of California, the California Trucking Association (CTA) argues that both AB 5 and the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision violate the Constitution by limiting interstate commerce. CTA is seeking an injunction to stop the law from going into effect on Jan. 1 while the case is pending.
“AB 5 threatens the livelihood of more than 70,000 independent truckers,” CTA CEO Shawn Yadon said. “The bill wrongfully restricts their ability to provide services as owner-operators and, therefore, runs afoul of federal law.”
Greg Hurner, a consultant for the California Truckers Guild, told Agri-Pulse the lawsuit “is an effort to protect mostly minority drivers that invested their life savings into buying their own truck.” The industry is asking the court “to invalidate a poorly crafted bill,” he said, because the labor organizations sponsoring the bill have “been unwilling to respond to the legislative solutions we offered.”
The author of AB 5, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, said in a statement, “Big trucking conglomerates sued under Dynamex. So it makes sense they would sue about AB 5. We expected as much.”
California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson called the bill “absolutely devastating and unsympathetic,” during a speech last week at the California Association of Pest Control Advisers conference. Gonzalez never “took into account what the right to enter into an independent contract means to an underprivileged class,” he said, referencing lines from the Bill of Rights.
Keep in mind: Many of the PCAs Johansson was speaking to are also classified as independent contractors and could be reclassified as employees under the AB 5 law.
U.S. maintains lowest food costs
A new analysis by economists at the American Farm Bureau Federation shows how good U.S. consumers have it when it comes to what they pay for food. Americans spent just 4.8% of disposable income on food at home, compared to 7.7% for all high-income countries on average. (Those figures don’t count the cost of food purchased at restaurants or other establishments.)
Take note: Germany, Poland and Hungary have all seen food costs come down over the last decade, and the Brits are paying less in recent years, too. Poles spent about 11% of their income on food in 2008. Today they’re spending less than 6%.
Elsewhere: In Mexico, an upper-middle-income country, consumers spend 9.2% of disposable income on food at home, nearly twice as much as Americans.
In poorer countries, of course, food takes up a much higher share of income. In African countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Asian countries such as Myanmar and Bangladesh in Asia, people spend more than 50% of their income on food.
Japan lawmakers seen voting on US trade pact next week
Japan’s parliament is tentatively scheduled to begin voting next week on a trade pact with the U.S., according to local press reports. The lower house is expected to take up the pact Wednesday and the other half of Japan’s Diet – the House of Councilors, or upper house – is then expected to begin consideration of the trade deal Thursday, according to a report from Nippon.com.
The Japan Times reports that the Diet originally hoped to hold votes this week, but complications arose after opposition lawmakers demanded minutes of summit meetings between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump be released. Both houses are expected to approve the pact, allowing for implementation on Jan. 1, a stated goal of the Trump administration.
Trump and Abe announced in September that the two countries had reached an agreement on the first phase of a trade pact that promises to be a major boon for U.S. ag commodities like beef, pork and wheat.
Japan agreed under the deal to cut or eliminate tariffs on $7.2 billion worth of U.S. ag commodities and install new quotas to further boost imports of U.S. farm goods.
Keep in mind: Some U.S. commodities – like rice – that would have gotten increased access to Japan under the Trans-Pacific Partnership will not benefit under the bilateral deal. But U.S. and Japanese negotiators are already working on subsequent pacts to follow up on the first phase, and U.S. lawmakers plan to take a closer look at the status of those talks next week.
The House Ways and Means trade subcommittee will meet next Wednesday for a hearing focusing on the prospects for a second-phase agreement that would cover U.S.-Japan trade “in a comprehensive manner.”
Vilsack praises rural attention from 2020 Dems
Former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says he appreciates the focus Democratic presidential contenders have placed on rural America.
Speaking Wednesday at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s annual convention in Kansas City, Vilsack said by developing specific plans for farm country, candidates can better understand the issues facing rural residents.
“I don’t think you want parties that ignore folks in rural places, I don’t think you want parties who take folks for granted in rural places,” the former Obama administration official said. “I don’t think you can lump (rural America) into all of America; I think there are unique challenges that need to be addressed in a unique way. And I think these plans that folks have put out are doing that.”
The plans vary from candidate to candidate, but generally emphasize climate resilience, rural broadband, and protecting the family farm.
He said it:
“There is no other state in the United States of America that is as diverse and has as much revenue as the state of California, and it gets lost on its citizens who believe it shows up as magic fairy dust.” - Ken Eriksen of IHS Markit, speaking about California agriculture yesterday at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention in Kansas City.
Philip Brasher, Steve Davies, Spencer Chase, Ben Nuelle and Bill Tomson contributed to this report.
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