October 23, 2020

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CARB’s ambitious emissions strategy is ‘concerning
The Air Resources Board is racing to finalize a comprehensive air quality strategy by 2021. The Mobile Source Strategy addresses emissions from all vehicles—from trucks to tractors, harvesters, forklifts and truck refrigeration units. It also includes the governor’s executive order requiring all cars, trucks and off-road vehicles (like tractors) sold in California to be all-electric in 15 to 25 years.
In a recent comment letter, the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) called the goals unproven and “maybe not even possible.” The trade group argued the regulations upend current efforts to upgrade agricultural equipment in the San Joaquin Valley. The all-electric technology for many of these vehicles is also “at this point, not anywhere near cost-effective.”
WAPA summed up the cumulative impacts on agriculture as “causing significant economic harm to an industry” that cannot pass the costs on to the consumer due to “being subject to a world market price.”

Water contractors correct environmentalists on tunnel claims
The State Water Contractors (SWC) yesterday called a blog post by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) dishonest for claiming the Department of Water Resources (DWR) filed a lawsuit to gain a blank check for covering the cost of building a Delta tunnel.
NRDC claimed every Californian would be paying for the project through increased taxes or higher water rates. SWC argued that NRDC is using scare tactics about the pandemic and recession to “falsely claim” this.
SWC explained how DWR sought court approval in August for the plan, to head off future litigation that could stall the project for years. DWR’s publicly negotiated contract for the project “ensures only willing participants will pay for and receive the benefits of this project.”

Biden, Trump tangle on immigration, China
Joe Biden used the final presidential debate Thursday night to reiterate his pledge to submit an immigration reform bill to Congress within his first 100 days in office. In an unusual admission, he also said that failing to get a bill passed while he was vice president “was a mistake. It took too long to get it right.”
He said nothing about including reforms of the H-2A program for farmworkers, saying only that he would seek to provide a path to legal status for illegal immigrants who are now in the country.
Keep in mind: As a practical matter, it would be politically difficult to pass an immigration bill that legalizes undocumented Americans without addressing the needs of agriculture and other issues.
Most of the immigration exchange focused on the migrant children who are separated from their parents, and President Donald Trump didn’t lay out any second-term policy priorities. He instead hammered Biden for not getting legislation passed while he was vice president. “He had eight years to do what he said he was going to do,” Trump said.
On trade:  Biden and Trump also had a sharp exchange over China. Trump noted the $28 billion USDA has given farmers in trade assistance and insisted that the money had come from China. The money he’s talking about is revenue from tariffs paid by U.S. importers of Chinese goods.
Biden reiterated his pledge to get U.S. allies to put more pressure on China to end trade barriers.
USDA pressed on CFAP-2 and dairy cows
Fifteen senators led by the top Democrats on the Agriculture and Appropriations committees are appealing to USDA to make the beef from culled dairy cows eligible for payments under the second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
Under current rules, dairy producers are eligible for payments on their cows’ milk but not for cull cows, as was the case with the first round of CFAP. Cows that are no longer productive are typically sent to slaughter, with much of their meat going into ground beef.
“This change will affect the livestock industry and will be particularly harmful to dairy farmers who often operate at extremely tight margins,” the senators say in a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. “The decision is even more troubling considering that USDA clearly has sufficient resources to cover these losses.”
The senators say USDA could calculate different payment rates for cull dairy cows and beef cattle.
Keep in mind: No Republicans signed the letter, led by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking member on Ag, and Vermont’s Pat  Leahy, ranking on Appropriations,
Death rate in rural America versus urban is widening, study suggests
Mortality rates of working people living in rural areas compared to urban areas is widening, according to a recent study from Syracuse University.
The study — Trends in U.S. Working-Age non-Hispanic White Mortality: Rural-Urban and Within-Rural Differences — examined “all-cause” and “cause specific” trends in deaths among non-metro and metro working-age adults ages 25-64 years old from 1990-2018.
The report was written by Syracuse University sociology professor Shannon Monnat, who said the rural disadvantage is not limited to just one or two specific causes of death, but persists across multiple diseases and injury categories.
Read our full report at Agri-Pulse.com.
EPA wants to ease restriction on insecticide
EPA is proposing exceptions to requirements for expanded 25-foot vegetative filter strips when applying pyrethroid insecticides near water. The changes are contained in interim registration review decisions released Thursday for 13 pyrethroids.
Responding to concerns raised by the industry and USDA, the agency said application areas of 10 acres or less would qualify for 15-foot strips instead of proposed 25-foot strips. Western irrigated agriculture would be exempt if a sediment control basin is present.
The agency says small-scale operations “may be disproportionately impacted by an expanded 25-foot VFS requirement.”
By the way: EPA released an interim decision for the herbicide paraquat that prohibits aerial application except for cotton desiccation. The decision also limits the maximum application rate for alfalfa to one pound of active ingredient per acre and requires enclosed cabs if the area treated in a 24-hour period is more than 80 acres.
He said it:
“As a Black man, I look at your board, I look at your past board chairs, I look at the board makeup. I do not see folks that look like me. And that is truly disturbing in this time and age.” — Asm. Jim Cooper of Elk Grove, lambasting CARB for its lack of diversity. Cooper added that the agency's “one-size-fits-all” mandate on electric cars “discriminates against the very communities [CARB] claims to protect.”

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

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