November 25, 2020
Agri-Pulse Daybreak will return on Monday, Nov. 30. The Agri-Pulse team wishes you an enjoyable and very safe holiday.
Judge rejects state bumblebee protections
A state judge has ruled that California cannot list four native bumblebee species under protections for endangered fish, according to the California Farm Bureau, a lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
The legal action blocks a 2019 decision by the Fish and Game Commission charging the Department of Fish and Wildlife with pursuing a review process for the protections. The judge said the commission exceeded its authority in that decision.
"If the bumblebees were listed, it would have required several changes to how farming practices occur in California, from grazing to the use of pesticides and herbicides," said the Farm Bureau’s Sunshine Saldivar. "Ultimately, we were happy with the court's decision."
Sunshine Saldivar, associate counsel, California Farm Bureau
NASA, CDFA point satellite at farms to see climate impacts
State agencies announced a new agreement with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Tuesday to apply new satellite data to modeling potential climate impacts to natural and working lands.
The satellite, launched Saturday, will provide useful remote-sensing information to better understand critical issues like drought, flooding, sea-level rise and “climate-exacerbated food security.”
CDFA Secretary Karen Ross called it “a huge step forward” to be able to run real-time monitoring of carbon stocks and to “understand what’s happening with groundwater and our surface waters.”
CDFA proposes organic cannabis standards
CDFA has released proposed regulations for a statewide certification program establishing comparable-to-organic cannabis standards.
The program, known as OCal, will ensure cannabis products bearing the official seal have been
certified to consistent, uniform standards comparable to the National Organic Program.
Biden building climate ‘policy-making structure’
President-elect Joe Biden says he’ll announce a White House climate policy coordinator and a “policy-making structure” to go with the new office. The climate czar “will lead efforts here in the U.S. to combat the climate crisis and mobilize action to meet this existential threat,” Biden said.
He went on to empathize how serious a priority the issue for him.
Take note: Biden doesn’t just plan to re-enter the Paris climate agreement. Biden also intends to pressure other countries to agree on more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to John Kerry, recently announced as Biden’s new climate envoy.
“At the global meeting at Glasgow one year from now all nations must raise ambition together or we will all fail together,” the former secretary of state said at a news conference Tuesday. The Paris agreement set a goal of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, and that’s the target that has generally guided major corporations in setting their climate commitments.
By the way: During an interview with NBC News, Biden reiterated his pledge to send a bill to Congress to legalize the 11 million undocumented immigrants. But with Congress closely divided, it will likely be as difficult as ever to get such a measure through Congress, even if the bill addresses other immigration issues, including reforms of the H-2A program for foreign farmworkers.
Caption: President Donald Trump pardons Corn as National Turkey Federation Chairman Ron Kardel and his wife, Susie, look on. The Kardels raised Corn and Cob at their farm in Iowa.
This year’s presidential turkeys, Corn and Cob, are retiring to their home state of Iowa
After the annual presidential pardoning ceremony at the White House Tuesday. Technically, only Corn got pardoned, but President Donald Trump says the birds “will retire under the care of skilled veterinarians at Iowa State University, a tremendous university in Ames.
“Once there, people of all ages will be able to visit them and learn about poultry science, veterinary medicine, and the noble American tradition of farming,” the president went on.
Industry leader: Low carbon standard would need Congress
Biomass-based diesel has become a poster child for California’s low carbon fuel standard, but it would be tough to get Congress to implement a similar program nationwide. Fuels such as biodiesel that are low in carbon intensity can qualify for credits under the California system.
“With a closely divided Congress, I’m not sure a national LCFS would gather the bipartisan support to be enacted,” National Biodiesel Board’s Kurt Kovarik tells Agri-Pulse. Kovarik says NBB’s lawyers don’t think EPA has the statutory authority to convert the Renewable Fuel Standard into a national LCFS.
Kovarik says if the Biden administration is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it should use the RFS to displace more petroleum diesel.
By the way: Biomass-based diesel, which includes soy-based biodiesel, has been the largest generator of low carbon fuel credits under California’s LCFS. In 2019, biomass-based diesel generated 45% of all compliance credits, Kovarik says.
This week’s Agri-Pulse newsletter reports on fears that annual biofuel usage targets will be delayed into next year. We also report on the prospects for vaccinating food and ag workers against COVID-19 and look at how Biden may handle trade policy with Cuba.
US to hit phosphate fertilizer imports with tariffs
The U.S. will begin imposing countervailing duties on phosphate fertilizer from Morocco and Russia after an investigation showed the countries were subsidizing exports, according to the Commerce Department.
The decision comes despite pressure from eight GOP farm state senators, who pleaded with Commerce not to impose the tariffs out of concern they will increase input costs for American farmers.
“U.S. farmers depend on affordable phosphate fertilizers to produce a variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, sorghum, sugar beets, and fruits and vegetables,” Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran and other Republicans told the Commerce Department and U.S. International Trade Commission in an Aug. 3 letter.
The U.S. imported about $730 million worth of phosphate fertilizer from Morocco and $300 million from Russia in 2019, according to Commerce.
She said it:
“Kudos to you, for working under great stress and unusual weather circumstances, fire circumstances and COVID circumstances.” — Sec. Karen Ross, in a Thanksgiving message to everyone involved in production agriculture.
Ben Nuelle, Bill Tomson and Steve Davies contributed to this report.
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