July 29, 2020
Newsom finalizes Water Portfolio, with lowered expectations
The administration yesterday issued the final draft of its blueprint for equipping California to cope with the impacts of climate extremes, from droughts to declining fish populations and groundwater depletion.
The Water Resilience Portfolio lists more than 140 policy actions for state resource agencies. Many cover existing priorities, such as establishing voluntary agreements over Delta flows, developing a new plan for the State Water Project and accelerating permits for groundwater recharge projects.
“Evaluating our water management system for improved resilience is an essential first step in our quest for long-range sustainability and reliability,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.
Keep in mind: The portfolio had been set to coincide with a $12-billion “climate budget” the administration proposed in January, before the pandemic left the state with a $54-billion deficit. The report acknowledges the situation and that “the pace of progress on the actions in the portfolio will depend upon the resources available.”
Judge rejects petition to stop dairy QIP
A state judge has denied a petition by dairy groups to immediately halt CDFA’s dairy Quota Incentive Program (QIP).
Judge Timothy Aspinwall presided over two days of hearings on the petition last month and delivered his decision yesterday, denying a request for a referendum vote on suspending the milk pooling plan.
Aspinwall ruled the petition is “legally defective and should not be advanced to a referendum.”
DPR bans pesticide from residential use
Consumers will no longer find pesticides containing the ingredient carbaryl on store shelves, beginning Saturday.
The Department of Pesticide Regulation this week announced new restrictions for residential consumers of the products, which go by the brand name Sevin. The regulatory decision is in response to illnesses due to misuse at home, particularly for children younger than five. Only certified pest control professionals will be able to use the pesticide.
Keep in mind: Carbaryl is widely used in agriculture as bait, which is exempted from the regulation.
Proposals for Dem platform got ‘junked’
Critics of conventional agriculture sought to get the Democratic Party’s platform to add some broad new language on animal feeding operations as well as a ban on an array of pesticides, including Roundup.
But the list of recommendations backed by Friends of the Earth and other groups didn’t get to its intended reader: Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is a member of the platform committee.
Contacted by Agri-Pulse on Tuesday, Vilsack said the recommendations landed in his email program’s junk-mail folder, which he doesn’t check. But he also defended the ag language that wound up in the platform, saying it’s intended to see farmers as partners in addressing climate change and other environmental concerns.
Lawsuit seeks to block GMO disclosure rules
A new lawsuit filed by the Center for Food Safety and other advocacy groups is aimed at derailing the new bioengineered food disclosure rules before companies are required to be in compliance. The lawsuit specifically targets the use of QR codes to convey information about genetically engineered ingredients.
Allowing companies to rely on QR codes discriminates against at least 20% of the population, mainly the poor, elderly, rural, and minorities, with lower percentages of smartphone ownership, or who live in areas where grocery stores don’t have sufficient bandwidth, the plaintiffs say.
Keep in mind: The Senate Ag Committee leaders who wrote the 2016 law on which the regulations are based clearly intended to allow the use of QR codes.
The lawsuit also says food companies should be allowed to use “genetically engineered“ (GE) or “genetically modified.” Banning those terms and replacing them “with a term nobody has ever heard of is misleading and will create massive confusion in the marketplace,” said Mark Squire, co-founder of plaintiff Good Earth Natural Foods.
SNAP in play as talks heat up
Agreement on a new coronavirus relief package could be several weeks away, but a key GOP senator is signaling some give on one major sticking point in the negotiations.
Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, who’s set to become the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee next year, indicated the GOP would be willing to consider a temporary increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. “That’s something we definitely have to look at,” Boozman told Agri-Pulse.
He suggested the SNAP increase would be a trade-off for reducing the $600-a-week bonus unemployment benefit that is set to expire on Friday. Republicans argue the benefit is making it harder for businesses to rehire workers. They’ve proposed cutting it to $200 a week.
He said it:
“After this crisis, we simply cannot go back to business as usual. Instead we must create a better future where we phase out big factory farms and instead put our faith and support behind independent family farmers and robust local food systems.” — Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaking at the Consumer Federation of America’s annual food policy conference, which is being conducted online this year.
Booker introduced legislation Tuesday that would force meat and poultry processors to slow line speeds during the pandemic.
Ben Nuelle, Bill Tomson and Steve Davies contributed to this report.
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