Increased Chinese Tariffs Could put California Producers in a Tight Spot

There is Fear China Could Turn to Other Countries For Ag Products

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

The ongoing threat of Chinese tariffs on American agriculture has recently been the topic of conversation for agriculturalists. With China posing a possible 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans back in April, it seems this conversation is here to stay. The added tariff could drive Chinese buyers to choose other markets on many California commodities, including walnuts, tree fruit and beef.

Matt Lantz, vice president of global access for Bryant Christie Inc., deals with international trade, and these issues on a daily basis. Bryant Christie is an international affairs management firm that is based in Sacramento and Seattle, where they help U.S. commodity groups and agricultural companies with their international trade issues in order to export their products.

Lantz explained that this new threat is a major concern for California agriculture.

“China is an incredibly important market for California fruit and vegetable exploiters, and any tariff or increased inspection makes it more difficult to export,” he said.

Making matters worse, Lantz pointed out that buyers are going to turn to the countries without the tariff—which can be bad news for producers.

Joel Nelsen on Departure of UK from the EU

Joel Nelsen Comments on EU and Impact on Ag from Recent Washington D.C Trip

Yesterday, we were fortunate enough to meet up with Joel Nelsen of California Citrus Mutual at Fresno-Yosemite Airport. He filled us in about his recent trip to Washington, D.C.

Nelsen told us about the discussion he and his colleagues had with foreign trade leaders regarding imports into the United States, as well as how California Ag will be impacted by the United Kingdom exiting from the European Union.

Click below to check it out!

California FARMS Leadership Program Aims to Get Youth in Ag Business

Christine McMorrow Heads up FARMS Leadership Program

By Colby Tibbet, California Ag Today Reporter

California-based “Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability,” or FARMS Leadership Program, is a special Center for Land-Based Learning program that provides innovative, hands-on experiences to urban, suburban and rural youth at working farms, agri-businesses and universities.

“We currently serve students in 10 California counties, seven sites throughout the state, and because agriculture is becoming such a key issue in California and more people are becoming interested in farming practices, knowing where their food comes from, and how it’s grown,” said Christine McMorrow, FARMS Leadership Program Director.

McMorrow said, “Our primary goal is to get high school students out on farms and ranches, into Agri-businesses, learning about jobs in agriculture, especially jobs that go beyond production agriculture. Those jobs that involve science, technology, engineering, and math,” said McMorrow.

As industry partners are always looking for qualified people, McMorrow explained, “We want to help generate those qualified people, so we are getting students from ag backgrounds and students who are not from ag backgrounds and exposing them to the wide variety of careers available to them in agriculture.”

She said the best way to enable those students to know what all the different jobs in agriculture is to get them to where the work is happening.“We give them opportunities to do work on these farms and in these businesses. We also make sure they have plenty of opportunities to speak with people working there and find out how they became interested in agriculture and how they got to where they are today,” said McMorrow.

For more information the program, go to the FARMS website. If you represent an agricultural company that needs good qualified help, go to the Center for Land-based Learning website for contact information.

 

Legislation Update

The National Pork Producers Council reported today:

 

HOUSE POSTPONES ACTION ON AGRICULTURAL APPROPRIATIONS BILL

The House this week began considering the fiscal 2015 funding bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, but postponed a final vote on it so that Republicans can sort out their leadership issues in the wake of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s decision to step down from his post after losing his primary election for the Virginia 7th Congressional District seat. The legislation includes $20.9 billion in discretionary money, which is equal to the fiscal 2014 level, and $121.3 billion for mandatory spending for federal food programs. NPPC helped secure in the House Appropriations Committee-approved bill language that prohibits USDA from implementing certain burdensome provisions included in the 2008 Farm Bill related to the buying and selling of livestock under the Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Act. Additionally, Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, requested and was able to include funding for research on porcine endemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) funding to better understand the transmission of the disease. NPPC is thankful of Rep. Latham and Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., for the inclusion of these important funds.

 

LIVESTOCK HAULERS RECEIVE ONE-YEAR EXEMPTION FROM DOT ‘HOURS OF SERVICE’ RULE

The U.S. Department of Transportation last Friday granted truck drivers hauling livestock and poultry a one-year exemption from an hours-of-service rule that took effect last July 1. The regulation requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest break after eight hours of service. For drivers transporting livestock and poultry, the hours of service included loading and unloading animals. NPPC hailed the move as a victory for animal welfare, as summer temperatures can cause livestock health problems, particularly for pigs, which do not sweat. NPPC is also appreciative of Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx for recognizing the importance of the issue for livestock farmers and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for his efforts to secure the exemption. Click here to read the rule.

 

HOUSE COMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING AFTER COMMENT EXTENSION GRANTED

NPPC Chief Environmental Counsel Michael Formica drafted a petition signed by 72 other agricultural groups in support of an extension. Under EPA’s proposal, the agency would redefine the term “waters of the United States” to include intermittent and ephemeral streams, and expand jurisdiction into farm fields and farm drainage. This would significantly impact agricultural operations, requiring permits and giving activists and regulators authority to dictate farm production practices. Prior to issuing these extensions, NPPC hosted EPA representatives at the World Pork Expo to meet with the NPPC Board of Directors and learn firsthand about farming. EPA visited farms in North Central Iowa to better understand farmers’ concerns regarding the apparent impact of these proposals and the need to work together with farmers to clarify EPA’s intent and minimize the unintended impacts on farmers and ranchers who have worked their families land for generations.

 

SMALL BUSINESS EXPENSING LEGISLATION APPROVED

The House Thursday approved on a 277-144 vote H.R. 4457, the “America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014,” which would permanently extend the tax code’s small business expensing provision – Section 179 – at a level of $500,000. Since 2003, Congress increased the amount of investment that small businesses can expense from $25,000 to $500,000. Legislation expanding and/or extending the provision was enacted eight times, but the expensing limits were temporary, and, beginning in 2014, the amount reverted to $25,000. NPPC joined dozens of other agricultural and business organizations in urging House lawmakers to approve the tax legislation. In a June 9 letter to bill sponsors Reps. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, and Ron Kind, D-Wis., the groups said permanent extension of Section 179 would increase investment and jobs, reduce tax complexity and paperwork and alleviate uncertainty for business owners, farmers and ranchers.

 

SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAMS

The Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday held a hearing titled “A National Priority: The Importance of Child Nutrition Programs to our Nation’s Health, Much of the discussion focused on the military turning away recruits and discharging service members because of poor health (known as the “Too Fat to Fight” epidemic) as well as on how reduced school lunch programs help students perform better in school. Witnesses included U.S. Air Force (Ret.) General Richard Hawley; National Parent Teacher Association President Otha Thornton; Dr. Stephen R. Cook, associate professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center School of Medicine and Dentistry; and Francis Scott Key Middle School Principal Yolanda Stanislaus. Click here to read testimonies and watch the hearing. Congress is in the beginning stages of reauthorizing the national school lunch program, and NPPC continues to promote pork as a lean healthy protein that should continue to be included in school lunches.

 

HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS TRADE SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS AGRICULTURE TRADE HEARING

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Wednesday held a hearing titled “Advancing the U.S. Trade Agenda: Benefits of Expanding U.S. Agriculture Trade and Eliminating Barriers to U.S. Exports.” In his opening remarks, Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., voiced his concern that Japan was not being held to the standards that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation free trade agreement (FTA) of Pacific Rim countries, set out to meet. “If any countries insist on retaining tariffs, then we must complete the negotiations without them and allow them to rejoin when they can commit to full tariff elimination,” said Chairman Nunes. Japan continues to demand certain products, including pork, be excluded from tariff elimination. In addition to being the largest value market for U.S. pork exports ($1.89 billion in 2013), Japan is the fourth largest market for the rest of U.S. agriculture, which shipped $12.1 billion of food and agricultural products to the island nation in 2013. A final TPP agreement that does not eliminate all tariffs and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork products will negatively affect U.S. pork exports for the next 20 years, meaning billions of dollars less in U.S. pork sales and tens of thousands fewer U.S. jobs. For NPPC to support a final TPP agreement, Japan needs to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers on U.S. pork and pork products NPPC expressed its concerns to the subcommittee in written testimony. To read testimonies from the hearing, click here.

 

DR. GAMBLE PARTICIPATES IN CODEX WORKING GROUP

Dr. Ray Gamble, president ex officio of the International Commission on Trichinellosis, traveled to Tokyo, Japan, May 28-30 to participate in meetings as part of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene’s physical working group tasked with drafting a document on parasites in food. Dr. Gamble provided invaluable expertise to the US Delegation which was led by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Currently, some trade partners such as the European Union and South Africa impose unnecessary trichinae mitigation steps on the United States’ pork industry.  According to Dr. Gamble’s studies, there is virtually no risk for trichinae in the United States. A Codex document that creates counterproductive international standards on parasites would be burdensome on the U.S. pork industry. NPPC looks forward to working with FSIS as this document develops.

 

NPB’S LARSEN TRAVELS TO FINLAND

Steve Larsen, National Pork Board’s Director of Pork Safety, traveled to Kirkkonummi, Finland, June 4-6 to participate in an informal scientific colloquium of researchers/university academics, industry and government officials to hear how countries use Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) and their issues. The committee is planning to propose a new work item aimed at updating the Codex Alimentarius’s General Principles of Food Hygiene, more specifically its Annex on HACCP. The group of HAACP experts will draft a discussion paper on if there is a need to make revisions and will present their findings at the next CCFH meeting this November.

USDA Announces Programs to Conserve Sensitive Land, Help Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that farmers, ranchers and landowners committed to protecting and conserving environmentally sensitive land may now sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The Secretary also announced that retiring farmers enrolled in CRP could receive incentives to transfer a portion of their land to beginning, disadvantaged or veteran farmers through the Transition Incentives Program (TIP).Vilsack continued, “The average age of farmers and ranchers in the United States is 58 years, and twice as many are 65 or older compared to those 45 or younger. The cost of buying land is one of the biggest barriers to many interested in getting started in agriculture. The Transition Incentives Program is very useful as we work to help new farmers and ranchers get started.”

The Conservation Reserve Program provides incentives to producers who utilize conservation methods on environmentally-sensitive lands. For example, farmers are monetarily compensated for establishing long-term vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”) to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.

CRP consists of a “continuous” and “general” sign-up period. Continuous sign up for the voluntary program starts June 9. Under continuous sign-up authority, eligible land can be enrolled in CRP at any time with contracts of up to 10 to 15 years in duration. In lieu of a general sign-up this year, USDA will allow producers with general CRP contracts expiring this September to have the option of a one-year contract extension. USDA will also implement the 2014 Farm Bill’s requirement that producers enrolled through general sign-up for more than five years can exercise the option to opt-out of the program if certain other conditions are met. In addition, the new grassland provisions, which will allow producers to graze their enrolled land, will enable producers to do so with more flexibility.

The Transition Incentives Program provides two additional years of payments for retired farmers and ranchers who transition expiring CRP acres to socially disadvantaged, military veteran, or beginning producers who return the land to sustainable grazing or crop production. Sign up will also begin June 9. TIP funding was increased by more than 30 percent in the 2014 Farm Bill, providing up to $33 million through 2018.www.fsa.usda.gov.

Both the CRP and TIP were reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

Cultivating New Farmers and Ranchers- CDFA

Farm demographics continue to change in California. The average age of a farmer is 58 years old, relatively few heirs are willing to take over farms, and fewer people are interested in becoming farmers because of a variety of challenges. This dynamic is made more troublesome by the fact that food demand is expected to double worldwide by the year 2050. As a result, the opportunity and need for California farmers will be significant, and the cultivation of new farmers and ranchers is more important than ever.

 

Senators Applaud Designation of Central Valley as “Critical Conservation Area”

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) have praised Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s announcement that California’s Central Valley has been selected as one of eight critical conservation areas (CCA) under the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Senator Boxer posted that the designation comes after the Members urged him in a letter to designate the Valley a CCA.

Authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, the CCA program will provide businesses, non-profits, universities, and federal, state and local governments opportunities to partner with agricultural and conservation groups to invest in innovative water and soil conservation projects.

“The Central Valley is the breadbasket of the world, home to millions of Californians and a rich habitat for fish and wildlife. But drought and other environmental challenges threaten to devastate the region. Designating the Valley a critical conservation area will provide much-needed resources to supplement ongoing conservation efforts. This support will help preserve the Valley as a key source of food, safeguard its role as a driver of California’s economy and protect the area for Californians and wildlife alike,” Senator Feinstein said.

“I thank the Obama Administration for selecting the California Bay Delta and the Central Valley as a Critical Conservation Area,” Senator Boxer said. “This designation will support innovative projects to help our farmers during a time of historic drought, while also promoting soil and water conservation to ensure that the Central Valley remains vibrant and productive for decades to come.”

The designation of the Central Valley (the Bay-Delta Critical Conservation Area) as a CCA acknowledges the importance of the Valley in the nation’s food supply and the difficult challenges the region faces. It produces one-quarter of the nation’s food, representing $17 billion in annual economic revenue.

At over 450 miles in length and 60 miles at its widest point, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service reports it is the largest patch of Class I soil in the world, and enjoys a productive growing climate nearly all year. It’s the source of our country’s most nutritious crops, with more than 250 varieties of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and grains.

Noteworthy for its agricultural productivity, ecological diversity, and complexity, the Bay Delta is one of the largest and most complex water delivery systems in the nation. The Sacramento River and San Joaquin River meet in the Delta, which provides water to one of the most significant estuary ecosystems in the United States and provides drinking water to 25 million Californians.

The Central Valley is also home to more than 6.8 million Californians, as well as 55 species of fish and 750 species of plants and wildlife, including migratory bird populations.

The Valley currently faces significant hardship as a result of historic drought and other environmental stressors – making it all the more vital that resources be directed to the area that benefit watershed restoration, improve air quality and soil management, and create resiliency in our agricultural system.

 

July 17th Sustainable Organic Production Seminar in Chico!

A seminar for growers and crop consultants focusing on the sustainable organic production of field crops, vegetables and orchards will be held on Thursday, July 17, 2014, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm. The seminar is presented by NorCal Chapter California Association of Pest Control Advisers, California Association of Pest Control Advisers and Organic Fertilizer Association of California. The seminar is being underwritten by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, which is also hosting the event:

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, The Big Room, 1075 20th Street, Chico, CA.

Subjects include:

  • Regulations
  • Almond production
  • Soil health
  • Rice weed control
  • Soil amendments
  • Micronutrient use

The program includes a grower panel discussing:

  • fertility and pest management
  • organic production challenges
  • exhibits by firms providing products acceptable for certified organic production.

CEUs are offered for:

  • Certified Crop Advisers (6 hours)
  • Licensed Pest Control Advisers 6 hours)

For more information, contact Steven Beckley, (916) 539-4107, sbeckley@aol.com.

Want to be happier? Eat your Fruits and Vegetables!

(Sources: Silver Lining Psychology blog and cited original research sources, all linked in the text; Photo credit)

When you were a kid, did your parents urge you to eat your vegetables? Did they reason that eating vegetables was part of a nutritious diet that would help to make you big and strong? What they didn’t know at the time, was that a well-balanced vegetable-rich diet also contributes to people feeling happier and attaining  greater emotional wellbeing, and research supports this finding.

***

The Psychology Department at the University of Otago in New Zealand asked 281 young people in 2013 to complete a 21-day online food diary. Head researcher, Dr. Tamlin Conner, said, ‘On days when people ate more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally did.’

Further analysis demonstrated that young people would need to consume approximately seven to eight total servings (the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup) of fruits and vegetables per day to notice a meaningful positive change. Furthermore, eating fruits and vegetables predicted improvements in positive mood the next day, suggesting that healthy foods may improve mood. (Daily Mail Reporter)

***

In another study, in 2012, of 80,000 British adults found that high emotional wellbeing increased with the number of fruit and vegetables consumed daily. Like the previously-mentioned study, well-being peaked at approximately 7 portions per day.

***

A study of 5,731 Norwegian adults found that individuals who consumed a healthy diet were less likely to be depressed compared to those who ate a more typical Western diet filled with processed foods.

This study also found that a higher intake of processed and unhealthy foods is associated with increased incidence of anxiety.

***

In another study, these same researchers found in 2011 that a balanced and nutritious diet was associated with better mental health in a sample of 3040 Australian adolescents, compared to those who had a diet that was rich in processed foods.

***

The effects of nutrition on mental health may start in the womb, according to a study of the diets of Norwegian mothers during pregnancy and that of their children at various points during their first 5 years. Results showed that babies who were exposed to more unhealthy foods during pregnancy had more behavioral and emotional problems during early childhood.

***

Diet can also affect your cognitive abilities. Researchers provided twenty sedentary men a nutritionally balanced diet or a high-fat diet for seven days. Compared to the control group, the high-fat group showed decreased memory and attention.

***

The bottom line?  What you eat not only affects your body, it affects your mind.  Make the effort to eat a nutritionally-balanced diet that is filled with natural food sources and low on refined and processed foods.  Aim for 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Not only will it make you big and strong, it will also make you happier!

California Ag Today: California Walnut Growers Support its Board

CALIFORNIA WALNUT GROWERS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT CONTINUTATION OF MARKETING ORDER

Ninety-five percent of eligible California walnut growers who voted and ninety-three percent of the volume represented in the referendum favored continuing the Federal Marketing Order and the efforts of the California Walnut Board.  This is the first continuation referendum vote ever held by the industry.

“It’s rewarding to know that the work of the California Walnut Board is recognized by the growers and handlers we strive to serve,” said Dr. Jerome Siebert, Chairman of the California Walnut Board.  “When we come together as an industry, we are powerful at addressing challenges and generating far-reaching results for all California walnut producers.”

Voting in the referendum took place from April 1 through April 19, 2014 and those eligible to vote were growers engaged in the production of walnuts within the state during the period September 1, 2012 through August 31, 2013.  In order for the referendum to pass, at least two-thirds of eligible producers must vote in favor of continuance.  Since the order was amended in 2008, a vote is now required every six years.

“We’re grateful for the continued support of our growers, who see the value of working together to benefit the entire industry,” said Dennis A. Balint, Executive Director of the California Walnut Board. “There is more work ahead, but we’re starting from a good place and will continue to build on several decades of experience, relationships, research and success.”

The California walnut industry is made up of more than 4,000 growers and 100 handlers. The growers and handlers are represented by two entities, the California Walnut Board and the California Walnut Commission.

 

California Ag Today