Ag Today September 21, 2018

Valadao, Costa, other Valley leaders rally in support of California water ballot prop [Fresno Bee]

A coalition of local leaders gathered Thursday at the Friant-Kern Canal near Millerton Lake to formally launch the Yes on Prop 3 campaign in support of a state water bond they say would bring billions of dollars in much-needed relief to the central San Joaquin Valley….Proposition 3 would authorize $8.9 billion in general obligation bonds for various infrastructure repair and maintenance programs, wastewater treatment upgrades, safe drinking water improvements and environmental conservancy efforts such as fishery improvements and groundwater replenishment. The coalition praised specifically a section that would use $750 million to repair the Friant-Kern and Madera canals.


Envoy: US, Canada working 24/7 on revamped NAFTA deal [Associated Press]

U.S. and Canadian negotiators are working around the clock on a deal to keep Canada in a North American trade bloc ahead of a Sept. 30 U.S. deadline. “Our officials are in pretty much constant contact,” Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland told reporters after meetings Thursday with her counterpart, U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer. “It would not be an exaggeration to say they are working 24/7.”…The countries are under pressure to reach a deal by the end of the month, when Lighthizer must make public a copy of the full text of the agreement with Mexico. Until then, he has time to bring Canada back into the regional trading bloc.


Monsanto asks judge to throw out $289M award in cancer suit [Associated Press]

Agribusiness company Monsanto has asked a San Francisco judge to throw out a jury’s $289 million award to a former school groundskeeper who said the company’s Roundup weed killer left him dying of cancer. DeWayne Johnson failed to prove that Roundup or similar herbicides caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and presented no evidence that Monsanto executives were malicious in marketing Roundup, attorneys for Monsanto said in court documents filed late Tuesday….“While we are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family, glyphosate is not responsible for his illness, and the verdict in this case should be reversed or set aside,” Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto in June, said in a statement.


Will striking Sun-Maid workers return to work anytime soon? Protest on its 11th day [Fresno Bee]

As the pace of raisin harvest picks up, workers at Sun-Maid are completing their 11th day of a strike over pay and benefits and no sign of a resolution anytime soon. Sun-Maid president Harry Overly said in a recent statement that over the last few months the Kingsburg-based company has tried to negotiate collaboratively with the union, but has been unsuccessful….About 500 workers began striking on Sept. 10 after the company, the world’s largest raisin and dried fruit processor, did not budge on its proposal to have employees contribute to their health care plan. Previously the company paid 100 percent of employees’ health benefit plans. Workers were also upset over what they said was a meager wage increase.


Rice harvest looking good this year [Chico Enterprise-Record]

Rice harvest is getting underway in the Sacramento Valley, and the crop looks good this year. Unlike last year, weather conditions were favorable in 2018….However rice acreage is down in Butte County, according to Mark Kimmelshue, CEO and general manager of Associated Rice Marketing Cooperative (ARMCO). About 25,000 acres in the county were left fallow this year due to water sales and transfers, he said, but some of those acres might not have been planted last year either.


California olive oil producers experience shortage due to ‘borderline catastrophic’ harvest [San Francisco Chronicle]

Thanks to some unusual weather in the first three months of 2018, olive harvests are down by about 25 percent, according to the California Olive Oil Council, which represents 90 percent of olive oil production in California….Olives trees are alternate bearing, so while it’s not unusual to have lighter crops every other year. In 2018, some olive growers saw zero budbreak — the mark of the beginning of growing season during which buds first appear on the trees, leading to flowers and eventually, fruit….Both Martin and Tomajan believe that unusual weather earlier this year, starting with a rare heat spell in February, is to blame.