October 27, 2020
Water Board sees Ag Order as a heavy lift
The Central Coast Water Board has held two more indepth meetings to review the many details and concerns of the proposed Ag Order 4.0. Several board members acknowledged the burdens placed on farmers by limiting the amount of nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops and requiring native vegetation along waterways.
“These are not going to be easy targets to achieve,” said board Chair Jean-Pierre Wolff. He added later that the board should not be doing research and development for the order “on the back of agriculture.” Wolff noted that CDFA advisors and UC Cooperative Extension specialists will play crucial scientific and educational roles in helping the industry learn how to comply with the requirements.
Other board members argued that the 30-year timeframe for balancing nitrates in the groundwater is too slow and the rising crisis with contaminated drinking water in the region should be addressed immediately. Staff said this would further raise compliance costs for growers.
OEHHA to consider pesticides for Prop. 65 listing
CalEPA’s environmental health office, known as OEHHA, may require products containing chlorpyrifos and methyl bromide to carry cancer warning labels under Prop. 65. An OEHHA committee will discuss the chemicals at its November meeting.
The Newsom administration is banning use of all but the granular form of chlorpyrifos by the end of the year. U.S. EPA began phasing out the use of the methyl bromide in 2017. A decade earlier, the California attorney general sued USDA over the fumigant’s harmful effects on the ozone layer.
Keep in mind: Attorneys for farmworkers last week filed the first of what they threaten to be dozens of lawsuits over chlorpyrifos exposure, and a Prop. 65 warning would likely play a role in those arguments. Attorneys have often cited the state’s listing of glyphosate under Prop. 65 in many successful lawsuits against the manufacturer. Attorney General Xavier Becerra is also challenging a recent federal court decision that bars the Prop. 65 warning for glyphosate-based herbicides.
On that note: OEHHA has been considering a Prop. 65 warning for acrylamide as well. The chemical forms in some carbohydrate-rich foods during frying, roasting and baking. The Western Agricultural Processors Association argued in its comment letter that the decision is based on lawsuit settlements, with little to no data to support the level of acrylamide proposed for the listing.
CFAP-2 payments clear $7B, pass halfway point
USDA has now paid out well over half the amount of money expected to be distributed in the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, and more than 60% of the money is going to producers of three commodities – corn, cattle and soybeans, according to the latest weekly report.
USDA has made $2.2 billion in CFAP-2 payments on corn, about 29% of the total. Cattle producers have received about 22%, or $1.7 billion. The group of commodities that includes fruits and vegetables has so far accounted for just over 10% of the payments.
Nearly every crop or animal product is now eligible for CFAP-2, including hemp, whose producers have received $387,000 so far.
USDA has estimated CFAP-2 payments will eventually total $13.2 billion. So far USDA has made more than $7.6 billion in payments.
WTO gives final green light to EU to hit US with new tariffs
The World Trade Organization has given the final green light to the European Union to hit the U.S. with tariffs on about $4 billion worth of goods – including farm commodities such as frozen concentrated orange juice, walnuts and grapes – in retaliation for unfair subsidies to Boeing.
The U.S. once again argued in Geneva against the ruling, saying Washington state has already ended the subsidies that are core to the EU complaint.
While we’re at it: The U.S. has officially asked for an appeal to a Sept. 15 ruling against U.S. tariffs on China to punish the country for stealing intellectual property and technology.
China successfully argued that the U.S. was guilty of circumventing the WTO complaint process when it hit China with tariffs on $234 billion worth of its goods. The U.S. argued China would have never signed the “phase one” trade pact if the U.S. had not been so aggressive with tariffs.
By appealing the WTO ruling, the U.S. has essentially torpedoed the Chinese case because the WTO appeal court is not functioning. That is a direct result of the U.S. blocking the appointment of appellate court judges.
Farm groups joining EPA chief for dicamba announcement
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will announce the agency’s decision on dicamba this afternoon in rural Georgia, accompanied by American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, National Cotton Council Chairman Kent Fountain and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black.
A source outside the agency said the announcement would be about dicamba but could not offer details on the decision.
But given the list of attendees, which also includes three Georgia congressmen, odds are Wheeler will announce EPA is approving dicamba formulations Xtendimax, Engenia and FeXapan for continued over-the-top use on cotton and soybeans.
By the way: EPA has proposed registering pesticide products containing a new active ingredient from Bayer CropScience called tetraniliprole, which the agency said is designed for use on a variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, tobacco, citrus and both pome and stone fruits.
“Tetraniliprole will be the first registered diamide Insecticide offering control of corn rootworm larvae in corn through soil application, and control of flea beetles in corn and potatoes,” EPA said.
“It would also be the first diamide offering control of wireworms in potatoes and similar crops, and control of cutworms in tobacco via soil application.”
She said it:
“COVID has disrupted a lot of things in life this year, but it doesn’t have to disrupt your important opportunity to vote.” — CDFA Secretary Karen Ross
Steve Davies, Bill Tomson and Ben Nuelle contributed to this report.
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