February 7, 2020
Corteva will cease manufacturing of chlorpyrifos
Corteva Agriscience, the lead registrant for chlorpyrifos, said declining sales prompted its decision yesterday to stop producing the insecticide by the end of this year.
Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles, who is representing groups suing to get chlorpyrifos banned by linking it to brain damage in children, says the Corteva decision “shows how chlorpyrifos is failing from a business perspective alone.”
Keep in mind: Growers outside of California can still buy chlorpyrifos products from other registered companies. Corteva vows to continue working on re-registration.
“Corteva’s commitment to stand behind this product will help ensure that farmers and other professionals continue to have access,” said Chris Novak, president and CEO of CropLife America.
In California, the Department of Pesticide Regulation officially ceased chlorpyrifos sales yesterday. By 2021, growers will no longer be allowed to use or even possess chlorpyrifos.
Read the full report on the Corteva decision at Agri-Pulse.com.
State and federal agencies want to make composting easier
It turns out USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky traveled to Santa Barbara County for more than a regional economic forum yesterday. At the event, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service joined U.S EPA, CDFA, CalEPA and a dozen other agencies in launching a joint compost work group to ease adoption of the conservation practice.
The group will address permitting hurdles, clarify regulations and create incentives for on-farm composting. The aim is to decrease nutrient loading, reduce burning and improve soil health.
CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld (who spearheaded the chlorpyrifos ban last year) said he looks forward to “supporting our state’s farmers and ranchers in adopting carbon farming practices.”
New details on voluntary agreements have congressmembers hopeful
Four Democratic representatives from the Central Valley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein are the latest to applaud the Newsom administration’s framework goals for voluntary agreements.
In a joint statement, they said a compromise over Delta water flows will better support habitat restoration while “providing certainty to California agriculture and other water users.” Like many others closely watching the process, they are eager for more details and recognize much work remains.
To recap: Newsom announced Tuesday he wanted to double the Delta’s salmon population in 15 years while dedicating 60,000 acres to restoration. The effort entails building a funding pot of $5 billion to pay for the environmental improvements.
Other responses have been similar to the congressmembers’: Water contractors, the Metropolitan Water District and the California Farm Water Coalition were optimistic this is a step in the right direction, but recognize it is early in the process. Conservation groups remained skeptical, however, with Defenders of Wildlife saying the “deal is built on quicksand instead of credible science.”
Noelle Cremers at the California Farm Bureau annual meeting
Some requirements eased for pollution reporting
The Air Resources Board (CARB) yesterday held the first of a series of workshops about amendments to new reporting requirements for pollutants and toxic air contaminants.
Remember: CARB approved the requirements in 2018. At that time, the California Farm Bureau’s Noelle Cremers said she did not anticipate the bill proposing this regulation, AB 617, would make pollution reporting a requirement for farms across the state. Staff at the workshop yesterday, however, clarified that the regulation is adding onto previous measures that have broader scopes.
The changes: Cremers and the coalition of ag groups she represented did get many of the amendments they had asked for last summer. CARB had considered significantly lowering the threshold for criteria emissions, which would have required many more farms and dairies to monitor and report on emissions. That new threshold was not adopted.
CARB also created a more abbreviated system for ag businesses and is syncing its work with local air districts to prevent “double jeopardy” in its penalties for not reporting.
China to cut some ag tariffs
China will be cutting its tariffs next week on a long list of U.S. ag commodities, but only by 2.5% to 5%. The gesture is generally not expected to substantially increase opportunities for U.S. exporters.
China will only be dropping its duty on U.S. soybeans by 2.5%, bringing the punitive tariff rate to 27.5%
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Punitive Chinese tariffs on fruits, vegetables and tree nuts remain especially high despite a new trade deal reached with the U.S. in December. Walnuts, for example, will still have a 70% tariff even after China enacts a 5% cut on Feb. 14.
“Tariff reduction is always a good thing for our specialty crop growers, but we are not certain exactly how much relief 5% will give to a number of our commodities we export to China,” says Sara Neagu-Reed, associate director for federal policy at the California Farm Bureau Federation.
USDA to hemp growers: We hear you on testing
USDA officials are getting an earful from state governments and the hemp industry about the THC testing requirements in the department’s interim rule. Growers are concerned among other things about whether there are enough eligible labs for farmers to test their crops during the required 15-day window before harvest.
Bruce Summers, administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service, told reporters Thursday that the agency has heard the concerns “loud and clear.” But he said there will be no changes in the testing rules until after the 2020 harvest.
The agency is currently going through 4,600 comments that it received on an interim final rule issued last fall to regulate hemp production. Summers stressed that USDA has no legal authority to delay the Oct. 31 deadline for states and producers to be in compliance with 2018 farm bill requirements.
Why it matters: At least 30 states have told the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture they will have to revise their own laws in order to comply.
Looking ahead: AMS will take another round of comments after the 2020 growing season.
On that note: CDFA is looking to fill 13 seats on its Industrial Hemp Advisory Board. The board advises on hemp seed law and regulations, enforcement, annual budgets and the setting of an assessment rate.
USMCA moving through Canadian process
A lobbyist for the Canadian beef industry says the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement could clear that country’s parliament by the end of March.
He expects the bill to pass by margins similar to the 90% majorities that the U.S. implementing legislation got.
Correction: Billions, not millions. Yesterday, we quoted DPR Dir. Val Dolcini as saying bees add a value of about $220 million a year. Dolcini, however, was describing more than just California and meant the global agricultural economy. He said billions. We regret the error.
He said it:
“Staff, you are the paragon of fitness. You’ve had the endurance to go to all the air districts… and you have demonstrated your flexibility and nimbleness. You’re real masters of yoga as well.” – John Eisenhunt, agricultural board member for the Air Resources Board, commenting in the 2018 CARB meeting on how well staff had responded to stakeholder concerns.
Bill Tomson, Steve Davies and Spencer Chase (in San Antonio) contributed to this report.
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