April 27, 2020

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Newsom nominates ag leaders to task force
Gov. Gavin Newsom has now added two leaders from the California agricultural community to his 80-member economic recovery task force. Newsom’s original list had included a farmworkers union, grocers, restaurants, a winery and a frozen Mexican food company.
Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino has now joined the advisory group alongside Don Cameron, who is the general manager of Teranova Ranch and president of the State Board of Food and Ag.  
Remember: Both Bill Lyons and Lenny Mendonca, two advisors to Newsom on Central Valley ag and economic issues, are now gone.
Mendonca stepped down from his post as chief economic and business adviser just a week before Newsom announced the task force. Mendonca, who grew up in a Turlock dairy family, was at the center of the governor’s rural economic development initiatives.  
Likewise, Lyons stepped down as the governor’s ag liaison just a week before Newsom announced his lawsuit against the Trump administration over the biological opinions.
Keep in mind: Industry leaders have raised concerns over Newsom’s decision to have Tom Steyer co-chair the task force. Steyer, who has long advocated for climate issues, has signaled he would like the task force to focus on a green economy.
He told The Los Angeles Times last week: “There’s greenhouse gas generation through manufacturing, through agriculture — really in all the rest of the economy. And those are things where the opportunity for innovation exists, and we have to look and see what’s possible.”

Don Cameron
Listing mountain lions as endangered could raise restrictions on rat poisons
The California Fish and Game Commission has approved state endangered species protections for mountain lions as the Department of Pesticide Regulations has been reevaluating second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, or SGARs.
SGARs were to blame for several of the high-profile deaths among the now-protected subgroups of mountain lions. SGARs are sometimes used as rat poison around food processing facilities.
Keep in mind: Last year, Assemblymember Richard Bloom pulled his bill that would have banned SGARs statewide, after a number of industry groups, particularly pharmaceutical companies, came out in opposition. Despite his promise, Bloom has not revived the measure this year.
Instead, two other bills address the issue. Asm. Blanca Rubio is proposing additional training for pest control operators who use SGARs. Republican Sen. Patricia Bates, meanwhile, has a bill that would prohibit the sale of one specific anticoagulant at the center of mountain lion deaths to anyone not licensed to apply the product.

Senate GOP whip

Lawmakers launch push for $50B in additional farm aid
A bipartisan group of House members, many of them members of the Ag Committee, are proposing to put $50 billion into the next coronavirus relief bill for payments to farmers
That’s a staggering request, more than double what was included in the CARES Act, and is obviously meant to be a starting point in negotiations. But it reflects the feeling in parts of agriculture that the $19 billion aid package USDA is developing won’t be enough, even with the additional $14 billion that will become available in July.
Sources tell Agri-Pulse there doesn’t appear to be a similar proposal in the works in the Senate. However, Senate GOP Whip John Thune of South Dakota tells Agri-Pulse lawmakers may consider additional funding. 
Asked if the next coronavirus aid bill would have more for agriculture, Thune said this: “My guess is that there will be requests, and probably if there is another phase of this there is probably going to have to be some additional money put into the pipeline to deal with it.”
Watch the full interview with Thune here
House lawmakers push for historic rural broadband funding in future COVID relief
A bipartisan group of 76 House lawmakers is urging congressional leadership to prioritize large-scale federal investments for rural high-speed internet projects in upcoming COVID-19 packages.
“The economic mobility and access to the modern economy of Americans should not be determined by their zip code,” says a letter led by Democratic Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Republican Rodney Davis of Illinois.
USTR promises July 1 start for USMCA
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Friday sent official notice to Congress that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will be ready for implementation on July 1. This is the final step in the long process that will ensure that most agricultural tariffs between the three countries remain at zero.
Keep in mind: The timing is controversial, as the U.S., Mexican and Canadian automobile sectors continue to ask for implementation to be postponed as car companies deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the full story at Agri-Pulse.com.
She said it:
“(William Bourdeau’s) attempt at fear mongering over food security and capitalization of the COVID-19 crisis and peoples’ concerns about the safety and wellbeing of their families is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts.” – Cora Kammeyer, a research associate at the Pacific Institute, a water conservation organization in Oakland.
Kammeyer was referring to Bourdeau’s opinion piece in CalMatters arguing water policies are inhibiting food production. Bourdeau is executive vice president of Harris Farms and on the board of directors for the Westlands Water District.

Steve Davies, Ben Nuelle and Bill Tomson contributed to this report.

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