August 20, 2020
Fairs sheltering fire evacuees
State emergency offices have activated fairgrounds in Solano, Napa, Nevada, Monterey, Los Angeles and Plumas Counties to serve as evacuation centers for people and livestock from the wildfires.
Horses, goats, chickens, sheep and donkeys are among the animals being sheltered. According to a CDFA statement, “They will be cared for as long as necessary, and every effort will be made to reunite them with their owners.”
The UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team, comprised of voluntary faculty and staff, is helping with animal rescue and medical treatment. School of Veterinary Medicine Dean Michael Lairmore has been reaching out to the public for donations to support the team's work.
Keep in mind: Gov. Newsom said during a press conference yesterday the state is battling 23 major fires. These are known as “complex” fires because they involve several smaller fires combining into one. The state is fighting more than 300 active fires in total.
On that note: In an op-ed yesterday for the Sacramento Bee, Senator Richard Pan of Sacramento urged the federal government to deliver emergency stimulus funding to rescue CalExpo, one of the state’s largest fairs, from closing permanently. As an independent state agency, the fair does not qualify for federal relief loans.
Pan points out that CalExpo has played a critical role in state emergencies, from housing the homeless to providing COVID-19 testing and being a staging area for battling wildfires.
LNU Lightning Complex Fire in Napa (Crockett-Carquinez Fire Department)
Controversial plastics recycling bill returns
One of the more closely watched bills of 2019 was Assembly Bill 1080, which aimed to reduce plastic packaging. Last-minute changes in the final hours of session left this bill at the wayside.
Now the Senate has pulled it from the inactive file, and the bill will likely have a floor debate before the end of session next week.
AB 1080 would mandate a 75% reduction in single-use plastics by 2030 through recycling, composting and alternative sourcing.
A new amendment exempts agricultural producers under the mandate, reflecting the work of ag lobbyists throughout the year. The bill also calls for outreach to farmers, trade groups and other stakeholders to explore ways to reduce these plastics.
Keep in mind: The Senate counterpart to the bill, SB 54, remains inactive.
Remember: A ballot initiative calling for similar measures that was proposed for the November election has failed to gain the signatures needed to be put up for a vote.
AB 1080 author Asm. Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego
Harris accepts nomination, thanks farmers
Kamala Harris capped off Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night by accepting the party’s nomination for vice president, introducing herself to the country, and then making a case for Joe Biden.
“Right now we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons,” the California senator said. “Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose.”
Harris praised everyone - from doctors, teachers, truck drivers and farmers - who she said had put “their own safety on the line to help us get through this pandemic.”
Take note: The convention’s third day also featured pre-recorded testimonials by business people, including Iowa farmer Dan Ryner, who said they had been hurt by President Trump’s policies. Ryner said the trade war with China had been “horrible” for producers. When Trump “thinks about business I don’t think he thinks about farmers. … He has no clue about this stuff.”
Cover crop survey finds benefits from 'planting green'
More than 90% of fruit, vegetable and nut producers said they use cover crops to improve soil structure and health, according to a survey conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center.
CTIC released its latest cover crop report Wednesday, covering the 2019 crop year. Of about 1,200 producers across the country, about 19% of respondents were horticulture producers.
Asked to check any of five answers to the question “What are your primary reasons for using cover crops?” 94% cited improvement in soil structure or soil health; 81% cited “improving weed management”; 71% said reducing soil erosion; and 64% said improving water infiltration.
“More than half of the horticulture crop producers attributed an increase in profitability to their cover crops,” the report said. “Of 184 farmers who answered the question, 34.8% (64) reported a moderate increase in net profit — defined in the question as an increase of 5% or more — and 23.4% (43) reported a minor increase of 2 to 4% in net profit.”
Hemp Council urges FDA to just relax
Existing studies support the safety of CBD for human consumption in “appropriate” amounts in foods and dietary supplements, the National Industrial Hemp Council told the Food and Drug Administration in a letter Wednesday.
The group provided its input on FDA’s development of an enforcement discretion policy for CBD products in the marketplace. FDA maintains that it is illegal to see food and dietary supplements containing CBD.
The group also said FDA should continue to allow the sale of cosmetics containing CBD and suggested FDA clarify laboratory and testing requirements; standardize national manufacturing and labeling requirements for product transparency; and define key terms, such as “broad spectrum: and “hemp extract.”
Taiwan offers expanding market for fruit and vegetables
The COVID-19 pandemic hit retail hard in Taiwan, but in-store sales have recovered and U.S. fruit and vegetable sales there continue to play an expanding role for consumers, according to a new analysis from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
U.S. fruits and vegetables are growing in popularity in Costco, 7-Eleven, Carrefour and other major retailers. Taiwan imported $660 million worth of fresh fruit in 2019 – a 9% increase from 2018 – and 37% of the total came from the U.S.
Taiwan’s tree nut imports are also growing. The country imported $185 million worth of tree nuts last year, 54% of which came from the U.S.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black tells Agri-Pulse that a delegation of pecan farmers just returned Taiwan, where they attended a trade convention that resulted in new sales contacts.
Georgia’s pecan and blueberry farmers plead for protection from Mexico
Protect Georgia’s pecan and blueberry farmers. That will be one of the requests made by Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black today. He is testifying at a U.S. Trade Representative hearing about reining in the expansion of Mexican specialty crop exports.
Mexican farmers continue to increase the size of their pecan and blueberry production as the country sells more of the nuts and fruit to buyers in the U.S.
That’s doing real damage to U.S. producers, who can’t compete on a price basis, says Black. He bristles at “the notion that there’s substandard product that’s coming in at bargain basement prices in competition with a premium (Georgia) product.”
LNU Lightning Complex Fire in Napa (Lairmore)
He said it:
“Evacuations of all creatures great and small active in the face of devastation of the LNU Lightning Complex fires, as we prepare to assist.”—UC Davis Dean Michael Lairmore in a tweet yesterday.
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