May 12, 2020

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Newsom: State delivers millions of masks to ag community
In his daily press briefing yesterday, Gov. Newsom said his administration was able to provide 4.2 million masks “to farmworkers and into our agricultural community” on Friday.
This was part of an allocation of 11 million surgical masks to essential industries throughout the state. Grocery stores were given 750,000 masks, he said.
The rest of the briefing focused on California’s plummeting budget. The administration is predicting a deficit of $54 billion this year. Newsom joined with leaders from Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado in requesting $1 trillion in federal relief for the Western states and local governments.

Scientists: Not implementing SGMA has costs, too
A group of researchers has been analyzing plans submitted for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and the potential impacts on agriculture. Researchers from UC Davis, UC Merced and the Public Policy Institute of California detailed their findings in a new study.
If a plan relies on just small reductions in the use of groundwater, it will have a smaller chance for overall success in coming into compliance with SGMA. Yet raising that chance for success from 50% to 100% could cost six times more in lost crop revenues, they explain.
The scientists note that an “important caveat” in their study is that it only accounts for revenue losses caused by reducing groundwater overdraft. They urge the plans to also consider the costs for not complying with SGMA. This could be “infrastructure damage related to land subsidence, capital costs of stranded wells, higher pumping costs, dry drinking water wells and harm to groundwater-dependent ecosystems.”


Ag groups, allies step up CARES 2 requests
House Democrats are focused this week on finishing their proposal for the next coronavirus relief bill, and farm groups and their allies in Congress are working to get priorities addressed in whatever Phase 4 package reaches the president’s desk.
House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., along with Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., and other senior Democrats on the panel say the package needs to include $250 billion for COVID-19 testing and prioritize workers in food processing and agriculture as well as first responders and health-care providers.
"Without testing in every community, we will face painful and expensive setbacks as we work to reopen our economy,” the lawmakers say.
Keep in mind: In an open letter to her Democratic colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging them to “think big” when it comes to what’s in the CARES 2 package. Noting the soaring unemployment rate, she said:
“These numbers require action that we have never had to take before. This is an historic challenge and therefore momentous opportunity for us to meet the needs of all Americans,” she said.
Return of the (other) CCC?
Over in the Senate, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden is proposing to re-create something like the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corp. to address environmental challenges and prevent forest fires.
Wyden’s 21st Century Conservation Corps for Our Health and Our Jobs Act would provide $9 billion for a land and conservation corps to restore public lands and watersheds. Another $3.5 billion for the U.S. Forest Service and $2 billion for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would pay for thinning and hazardous fuel reduction efforts in forests.
Senate committee puts focus on liability protection
The Senate Judiciary Committee will examine the issue of business liability and COVID-19 in a hearing today.
Businesses and farms have been pushing for a “liability shield” to protect them from COVID-related lawsuits, and the issue has become a sticking point between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Among those testifying is Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, who has said worker safety must come first.
Take note: UFCW reported Monday that at least 30 meatpacking workers have died of COVID-19 so far and that at least 30 plants have closed in the past two months.
COVID-19 causes acreage reporting problems
The COVID-19 pandemic has become challenging for acreage reporting at USDA Farm Service Agency offices, according to a memo to state and county agencies.
Since the agency is delivering programs over the telephone and through the mail, the agency has revised its policy for 2020 and 2021 acreage reporting, acceptance of organic certificates after the acreage reporting date, and producer signatures. Among other things, the department is waiving the late-filing procedures for 30 days after the acreage report date in the 2020 crop year.
WASDE to offer first glimpse of 2020/21 ending stocks
Grain traders are expecting 2019/20 ending stocks to rise but 2020/21 to be lower in the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report USDA is releasing today.
Allendale broker Nathan Cardwell tells Agri-Pulse traders are looking for “little bit of an increase” from April to May in corn, soybeans, and wheat for 2019/20 ending stocks, but a dip for 2020/21.  
This is the first time this year traders will get to see USDA’s estimates for next year’s crop.
According to a Reuters poll of average analyst estimates, analysts are expecting 2020/21 corn ending stocks at 3.38 billion bushels, soybeans at 430 million bushels and wheat at 814 million bushels.  
He said it:
“A bill has come due. It's not a question of punishing them, it's a question of holding China accountable, the Chinese Communist Party accountable.” – White House trade adviser and China hawk Peter Navarro in an interview on CNBC's Squawk Box.
President Trump has said recently he is considering hitting China with new tariffs and feels “differently” about the “phase one” trade deal.

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

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