July 14, 2020
Wineries are shut down statewide…again
Gov. Newsom yesterday ordered a wave of new closures in several sectors, including dine-in restaurants and indoor tasting rooms at wineries, to stem the coronavirus spread.
Breweries and bars must shutter both indoor and outdoor operations. Dozens of counties are also required to immediately close shopping malls, gyms and other services and activities.
Several counties had already ordered wineries to close indoor tasting rooms. Wineries have been adapting to the new reality through socially distanced outdoor seating and requiring appointments for tastings. They have also expanded direct-to-consumer offerings and maintained customer relationships through virtual tastings.
Tulare County pesticide inspector Juan Rangel delivers masks for farmworkers at a farm in Exeter. CDFA has helped to deliver nearly 13 million masks to county agricultural commissioner offices for distribution in the farm community.
Almond shipments down 14%
In the latest report from Beacon Economics, California’s leading agricultural export, almonds, experienced a decline of more than 14% last month, compared to a year earlier. The report outlines several other export woes as the economic impact of the pandemic comes into focus.
Exports of the state’s agricultural and raw materials were down by nearly 20%. Specifically, shipments of agricultural products dropped by 6%. As the world deals with the fallout of the virus, industries will face other challenges as well.
“Unfortunately, a sharp cutback in inbound shipping means fewer shipping containers will be available for exporters, a development that will hamper California’s agricultural shippers this summer,” the report notes.
Keep in mind: A new USDA report is projecting the 2020 California almond crop to be up by 18% over 2019. That is due in part to “perfect weather during bloom,” according to Kern County almond grower Holly King.
“As a shelf-stable and nutritious food enjoyed by consumers around the world, we’ve weathered these disruptions in pretty good shape,” said Almond Board CEO Richard Waycott in a statement.
He added that domestic and export shipments are still up for the year so far, despite last month’s drop.
Trump sours on China, but not trade pact
Trump is still angry at China for its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and its clampdown on freedoms in Hong Kong, but that isn’t getting in the way of the “phase one” trade deal that is facilitating increases in agricultural trade, according to National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow.
“The president is not in a good mood about China, nor is anybody in the administration,” Kudlow told Fox Business in an interview Monday. “Having said all that, we are still engaging on the ‘phase one’ trade deal … China said they will implement their side of the deal.”
Recent evidence shows China is indeed increasing its imports of U.S. ag commodities. Last week, USDA announced Chinese contracts to buy 1.4 million metric tons of U.S. corn, 190,000 tons of hard red spring wheat and 130,000 tons of hard red winter wheat.
House sets action on lands, spending bills next week
The House will vote July 22 on the Senate-passed Great American Outdoors Act, which would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Act, Democratic leaders announced. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association opposes the bill but was unable to stop it from getting out of the Senate, and it should have no trouble passing the House.
The House will then take up a package of fiscal 2021 appropriations bills that includes funding for departments and agencies critical to agriculture: USDA, FDA, EPA and the Interior Department.
CFAP payments near $6 billion
USDA has now paid farmers just under $5.9 billion from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program roughly midway through the signup period. That’s up from $5.4 billion a week ago.
About $2.6 billion has gone to cattle producers, and $1.2 billion to dairy producers. Corn growers have accounted for just under $1.1 billion in payments.
Iowa farmers continue to lead the nation by a lot. Some $618 million have gone to the state so far. Nebraska is second with $430 million and Minnesota is third with $374 million. Four other states have topped $300 million: Wisconsin at $363 million; Texas ($304 million), South Dakota ($303 million), and California ($301 million).
Signup started May 26 and will continue through Aug. 28.
He said it:
“California leaders frequently speak and write of ‘climate resiliency,' which, as with water policy, is a fine idea in the abstract but begs for candor in the all-important details, like what the state’s climate policies mean for the resilience of businesses, like farms, that are increasingly less resilient to the harsh economic realities imposed by California’s thick and thorny regulatory regimes.” — Western Growers CEO Dave Puglia, in an op-ed on how “resilience” has replaced “water reliability” in state politics
Bill Tomson, Ben Nuelle and Steve Davies contributed to this report.
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