October 13, 2020

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Air Board begins to deliver on zero-emission order
The Air Resources Board (ARB) held a workshop last week on its Mobile Source Strategy. This included one of the first discussions with staff on how ARB would implement the governor’s ban on gas and diesel vehicles.
Among the many concerns raised, incentives dollars are far from guaranteed for farmers and ranchers to upgrade tractors and equipment.
Cory Parmer, who manages the off-road diesel program, said incentives grants have been very successful with reducing emissions from ag. Without the funding, however, the board would have to reconsider the emissions mandates, he acknowledged. Staff also noted the executive order mentions the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate for off-road equipment applies “when feasible,” allowing for wiggle room.
“There may be significant places in ag where ZEVs are a good fit, and then other places where the cleanest diesel remains the best fit for now,” said Parmer.

USDA sets Oct. 30 signup deadline for disaster aid
Farmers now have a signup deadline for the USDA program designed to compensates for disaster losses in 2018 and 2019. Producers who suffered losses from natural disasters have until Oct. 30 to apply for payments the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus says USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce.
“The physical and financial loss experienced by farmers and ranchers impacted by natural disaster events in 2018 and 2019 was widespread and catastrophic,” said Fordyce. “If you have not yet submitted your application for assistance, please don’t miss your chance.”
But there’s more: Lawmakers also included funding in the program for crop quality loss that stems from natural disasters, but USDA has not yet set up the process for farmers to take advantage of the funds. FSA said on Friday that the agency is working on it, but that did not satisfy Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
“Better late than never, but when it comes to providing relief to Northeastern Montana farmers who have been waiting nearly a year for FSA to get its act together, this is unacceptable,” said Tester. “I shouldn’t have to hold FSA’s feet to the fire just to get them to follow the law and do right by folks in production ag, but you better believe I’m keeping the coals hot and ready so Montana farmers don’t get left out in the cold. Disaster relief needs to make it into the pockets of these producers immediately— no more delays.”
USDA works to speed farm payment processing
The new WHIP+ deadline at the end of the month is especially relevant as the USDA says it is laboring to speed up the processing of applications during the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced FSA to partially close down some offices.
USDA told Agri-Pulse it continues to explore options to improve processing times and said service center staff are working with producers in offices where conditions allow visitors. Some staff are only reachable by phone and online.
“While ensuring the health and safety of employees is important, we must find a way for these offices to open safely for the sake of our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” said Texas Representatives Jodey Arrington and Mike Conaway in a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. USDA acknowledged some disaster payment applications “are taking longer than our customers may be used to,” but stressed that all FSA offices are open for business.
Nestlé backs dairy’s ‘Net Zero Initiative’
The dairy industry has announced a commitment of up to $10 million from Nestlé as part of a new “Net Zero Initiative” to get dairy to carbon neutrality by 2050.
“Supporting and enabling farmers through the Net Zero Initiative has the potential to transform the dairy industry,” said Jim Wells, chief supply chain officer for Nestlé USA. “Scaling up climate-smart agricultural initiatives is key to Nestlé’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will help reduce the carbon footprint of many of our brands.”
In announcing the initiative, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, funded by the dairy checkoff, said 27 dairy companies representing 70% of the nation’s milk production have committed to measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions at their operations. 
“We know a lot more is possible – proven science and evidence from dairy’s existing best practices tells us we can get to net zero,” said Mike Haddad, chairman of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
He said it:
“The fact is, there’s been no significant water legislation passed that benefits the valley since Obama was in office.” — Kerman City Councilmember Espi Sandoval, in an op-ed endorsing Fresno Rep. TJ Cox for reelection for “bringing water to taps and the fields.”


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