February 14, 2020
Editor’s note: Monday is President’s Day, a federal holiday. The next Daybreak will go out on Tuesday.
State analysts reject Newsom’s climate fund, offer to cut water from bond
The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released its assessment yesterday of Gov. Newsom’s proposed climate budget. It found the administration did not justify the need for investing $1 billion into a low-interest loan program known as the Climate Catalyst Fund.
Newsom pitched the fund in his January budget draft as a way to support green tech, while also filling in funding gaps for incentives programs for dairy digesters, water efficiency and ag equipment upgrades, as well as composting projects and wood waste reuse.
Instead, the LAO proposed a pilot program to first see if a need for these projects existed. It recommended dairy digester projects instead access funding through carbon markets.
The proposed climate bond was also too ambitious for the LAO. It said water projects are further along with bond funding while the state has provided relatively little to address sea level rise. It refers to Prop. 1 with $7 billion and Prop. 68 with nearly $2 billion for water projects.
It suggested the Legislature design its own bond that allocates more for forest health, for example, and less for groundwater management, which local governments could pay for through fees on ratepayers.
DPR to reduce 1,3-D emissions by 60% in Shafter
During an Air Resources Board meeting in Shafter yesterday evening, Department of Pesticide Regulations Director Val Dolcini said pesticide exposure is a main concern for the community. He has been “personally involved” in working with CARB on reducing 1,3-D emissions as part of an AB 617 Community Emissions Reduction Plan.
Dolcini announced DPR would launch pilot projects aimed at reducing 1,3-D emissions by 60%. He noted that tarping all applications is not realistic, since it would be costly and cause massive plastic waste at this scale. He proposed 12 options in all, including deeper injections and a minimum amount of soil moisture content to act as a seal. Dolcini also said he is working with the county ag commissioner on developing a notification system.
Dolcini added that DPR’s Chlorpyrifos Alternatives Work Group and Newsom’s budget funding is creating “good momentum for more sustainable pest management practices” across the state.
CARB approved the plan and pledged to refine it every six months.
DPR Dir. Val Dolcini
DPR advisors debate meaning of IPM and role of state funding for alternatives
DPR presented to one of its advisory committees yesterday two research proposals seeking alternatives to the insecticide chlorpyrifos. Feedback from the committee will guide Val Dolcini’s decisions for the $1.8 million left in funding from what Newsom had allocated in the budget.
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The Pesticide Action Network’s Margaret Reeves criticized the proposals for not focusing enough on integrated pest management practices like crop rotation. Kendra Klein of Friends of the Earth agreed, adding it was “hugely problematic” both the studies would involve neonicotinoids.
UC IPM Program Director Jim Farrar clarified that the funding is for near-term substitutions and the long-term can be decided later.
Anne Katten of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation didn’t like that chlorpyrifos would be used as a control. David Lawson of the Western Plant Health Association explained that it was just one of several treatments required to provide a baseline. He later asked DPR staff to explain to the committee what IPM means and how DPR interprets it.
Klein argued that the committee was specifically tasked with reviewing IPM proposals and researchers should get funds elsewhere for chemical studies. DPR staff corrected that the money was for alternatives, not specifically IPM.
Terry Gage of the California Agricultural Aircraft Association pointed out that IPM does include the use of pesticides, biologicals and chemicals and the committee should be looking at products that are no longer available, as one study was proposing.
Dolcini will decide on funding for the proposals in March. The committee will consider up to seven more research proposals in May.
Possible snags on India trade talks
The top U.S. trade negotiator was supposed to arrive in India earlier this week, but as of Thursday evening he was still stateside, spurring speculation that preliminary negotiations on a trade agreement may not be going as well as was hoped, sources tell Agri-Pulse.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told reporters Thursday that he’s pessimistic about any agreements with India to lower the country’s tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. ag commodities, but farm groups are still hopeful ahead of President Donald Trump’s trip there later this month.
Steep tariffs bar U.S. tree nuts and dairy, while the country’s dysfunctional biotech approval process blocks distillers’ grains from the U.S.
Progress, but new herbicide years away
Bayer is reporting progress on a new herbicide that could provide farmers with an alternative to glyphosate and other products. But the company’s new herbicide molecule probably won’t be ready for commercialization until the end of the decade, says Bayer’s Jeremy Williams, head of plant biotechnology in the Crop Science Division.
Williams tells Agri-Pulse that the molecule has demonstrated “great control of grasses, including glyphosate-resistant grasses,” which have become increasingly common.
It’s too early to say which crops Bayer will be targeting with the molecule, but Williams said, “we’re going to look at all major row crops” and will seek regulatory approval in “all major markets” around the world.
Bayer will need to conduct toxicity and long-term environmental studies before submitting a product for registration, he said.
Trump’s farm bill cuts hit from the left
President Trump’s proposals to cut crop insurance and tighten farm payment limits are getting attacked from an unusual direction.
Democrats have often been the most supportive of reducing subsidies, especially to big farms, which is a major focus of the proposals. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is citing the farm bill cuts in criticizing the president’s FY2021 budget.
Cost, taste barriers for plant-based products
Only about 4% of Americans say they are vegetarians or vegans, but far more say they are willing to consider eating more plant-based foods, according to a new survey.
Some 55% of those surveyed say they are willing to eat plant-based meat alternatives, and 54% are willing to eat less red meat, according to the survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
But: Nearly 60% of those surveyed say plant-based foods cost too much and 44% say they don’t like the taste.
About 20% of Americans currently consume plant-based dairy alternatives at least two to five times a week. About one in 10 say they eat alternative meat products that often.
They said it:
“California officials should back off and find something more productive to do than censor cow hugs.” –Sacramento Bee Editorial Board, arguing CDFA should not restrict a vegan creamery from labeling products as milk and including cows on packaging.
Bill Tomson and Steve Davies contributed to this report.
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