November 16, 2020
U.S. Supreme Court to hear California grower’s case
A California farmer is challenging a law allowing union organizers to step onto a farm to talk with workers outside of work hours, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In supporting the grower, the California Farm Bureau argues the law should be struck down. The Supreme Court will debate the issue of “right of access” early next year.
Global food trade struggles, but success in some developing countries
Reduced consumer incomes around the world and supply chain difficulties during the pandemic have taken a toll on ag and food exporters in developing countries. Overall, trade has remained “remarkably resilient” and some suppliers have prospered, according to a new publication from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Two success stories are bananas and avocados. Trade has flourished despite the difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read our full story at Agri-Pulse.com.
Lame duck heats up as House returns
There are expressions of optimism on both sides of Capitol Hill that lawmakers could reach a deal during the lame duck session on a government-wide spending bill for fiscal 2021.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters on Friday that she and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., have assured each other that they want to reach an agreement on an FY21 omnibus.
The continuing resolution that has been funding the government since the budget year began Oct. 1 expires Dec. 11.
For more on Congress’ lame duck agenda, read our Washington Week Ahead.
Don’t miss: The second installment in our series on agricultural sustainability and climate legislation, posting this afternoon at Agri-Pulse.com. In Part 2, Steve Davies looks at one of the most critical issues surrounding plans to pay farmers for cutting carbon emissions – how to quantify the impact of climate-friendly practices.
The Energy Department is funding research advocates hope will benefit farmers relatively soon, by making it possible for growers to make money from low carbon fuel standards.
Also: Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who chairs House Ag’s conservation subcommittee, talks on this week’s Agri-Pulse Open Mic interview about farmers and climate policy. Setting up carbon markets could ensure “the good practices” farmers and forest owners “are employing on their land can in fact be financially beneficial to them,” she said.
USTR targets Mexican strawberries, peppers
The U.S. is now threatening to add strawberries and bell peppers to the mounting trade tensions between the U.S. and Mexico. U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer, spurred on by the Florida Farm Bureau and the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to begin monitoring the trade and accumulating the data that could lead to retaliatory measures.
Lighthizer already asked the ITC to investigate Mexican blueberry exports to the U.S. after his agency conducted two days of hearings with Southern farmers, who complained that imports continued to flood the U.S. at unfair prices, pushing many U.S. farmers out of business.
China trade pact takes big step forward
China and 14 other nations signed off Sunday on the formation of the world’s largest trade deal, agreeing to slash tariffs and other restrictions over the next 20 years. The deal is widely seen as a victory for China and its goals to increase its influence globally.
China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Burma and Malaysia are all members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP.
Some of those nations are also members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a rival trade pact that was first initiated by the U.S., but only enacted after the U.S. decided to pull out in 2017.
Hemp gets first export promotion aid
The hemp industry for the first time will receive USDA funding to promote its product abroad: The National Industrial Hemp Council has been awarded $200,000 from the Market Access Program. NIHC’s efforts will focus on Europe and China.
“The global industrial hemp and products market was estimated at $11.1 billion in retail sales in 2019,” NIHC said. “With an annual growth rate of 52 percent, driven by continued strength in textiles, food and industrial uses and hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), the global market is forecast to be worth $89 billion by 2025.”
Although NIHC is getting the money, Kevin Latner, the group’s senior vice president for trade and marketing, says other members of the industry should be providing input to NIHC on use of the funds.
He said it:
“We should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner.” — Gov. Gavin Newsom, after facing scrutiny for attending a birthday party last week at an elite Napa Valley restaurant, when more people gathered in one place than he and the state consider safe.
Bill Tomson, Ben Nuelle and, Steve Davies contributed to this report.
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