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Ag Today June 25, 2019

Emergency projects aim to protect California’s most vulnerable areas from catastrophic wildfires [Sacramento Bee] After battling the most destructive wildfires in California’s history over the past two years, Cal Fire is rolling out emergency fuel reduction projects to help protect the state’s most vulnerable communities. The 35 projects span the state, from Siskiyou to San Diego counties….Not only are fuel reduction projects for community protection, but they are also for forest restoration, officials said….Officials said the catastrophic Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and obliterated the community of Paradise in Butte County in November 2018, prompted the current fire protection efforts. https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article231804663.html   Butte...

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Ag Today June 24, 2019

To reduce wildfires and save utilities, Newsom wants $10.5 billion from ratepayers [Los Angeles Times] Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking the California Legislature to extend an existing charge on utility customers’ bills in hopes of generating $10.5 billion for a new wildfire fund, one that power companies could use to pay for fire damage — but only if they meet the state’s safety standards….Under pressure from Wall Street analysts to take action, the governor disclosed a broad outline Friday that seeks to shore up utility finances amid rising costs for wildfires…But Newsom’s advisors said they were confident that a fund coupled...

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Ag Today June 21, 2019

Summer is rolling in with high temperatures and gusty winds as California braces for fire season [Los Angeles Times] Fire weather officially arrived in Northern California this week, signaling the beginning of what officials expect will be an exhausting year for firefighters across the state. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning beginning Thursday night for the Sacramento Valley and adjacent foothills warning of high fire danger from gusty winds and low humidity levels that are expected to linger though Saturday evening. Friday marks the first day of summer….This week’s red flag warning comes on the heels of the...

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Ag Today June 20, 2019

Survey sees biggest US honeybee winter die-off yet [Associated Press] Winter hit U.S. honeybees hard with the highest loss rate yet, an annual survey of beekeepers showed. The annual nationwide survey by the Bee Informed Partnership found 37.7% of honeybee colonies died this past winter, nearly 9 percentage points higher than the average winter loss….Beekeepers had been seeing fewer winter colony losses in recent years until now, said Maryland’s Dennis vanEngelsdorp, president of the bee partnership and co-author of Wednesday’s survey….This past winter’s steep drop seems heavily connected to the mites, vanEngelsdorp said. https://www.apnews.com/e1fd6336b6f74c0fb726865a7c1bce8e   Farmers say ‘SmartWater’ will wash away crime [Chico Enterprise-Record] Farmers...

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Ag Today June 19, 2019

U.S. farmers may need more aid if trade deals stall during election season: Lobby [Reuters] Farmers may need a third round of government aid next year if political in-fighting during the 2020 U.S. election cycle prevents the Trump administration from landing trade deals and reopening top export markets, the head of the largest U.S. farm lobby said on Tuesday. If the U.S. Congress cannot ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), then it and the Trump administration could find it difficult to finalize any trade deals with other large markets, including the European Union and Japan, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy...

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Ag Today June 18, 2019

U.S. trade rep says he hopes Congress can approve USMCA legislation 'very soon' [Reuters] The North American trade pact renegotiated under President Donald Trump is a “watershed development” for labor that will reduce incentives to outsource jobs, the U.S. Trade Representative said in prepared remarks to lawmakers on Tuesday. USTR Robert Lighthizer at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Finance committee continued his bid for lawmakers to prepare to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Democratic lawmakers, who took control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 election, have said that they want to see changes to the agreement. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade/u-s-trade-rep-says-he-hopes-congress-can-approve-usmca-legislation-very-soon-idUSKCN1TJ1VD   Trump, Xi to...

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Ag Today June 17, 2019

California needs a big pot of money for wildfires. But how big? And who pays? [Los Angeles Times] California leaders are calling for a giant pot of money to help electricity providers pay for wildfires, a critical move to head off another utility bankruptcy and prevent Wall Street from downgrading the state’s utilities again. But it could prove difficult to achieve in Sacramento this year. With a deadline to take action just weeks away, lawmakers and the governor haven’t settled controversial issues regarding the so-called wildfire fund: How much money does the state need and what portion of that will come...

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Ag Today June 14, 2019

What’s the California Legislature doing about wildfires? Not much yet [Sacramento Bee] When the Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people last year, California legislative leaders vowed to make wildfires their top priority when they returned to work in December 2018….But midway through 2019, California lacks a comprehensive plan to deal with the growing threat….A few dozen bills are under consideration, but few have been signed, as lawmakers seek to juggle the interests of ratepayers, utilities and insurance companies. Experts warn of major consequences if the state doesn’t act quickly to update wildfire liability standards, stabilize homeowner...

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Ag Today June 13, 2019

Trump’s wildfire plan eases environmental law to speed forest thinning in California [McClatchy News Service] The Trump administration is proposing new regulations it argues could help prevent wildfires — but could also open up more federal land to logging and mineral exploration. The U.S. Forest Service released proposed regulatory changes Wednesday that would exempt several new types of forest management projects from the typical review process under the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA. The changes are part of an ongoing push by the Trump administration to speed forest management projects — things like clearing brush, removing dead trees and thinning...

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Ag Today June 12, 2019

Mulvaney sees approval of USMCA trade deal likely [Wall Street Journal] The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement has “a better than two-thirds chance” of passing through Congress this year, President Trump’s acting chief of staff said Tuesday, adding its approval depends on support among House Democrats. Speaking at The Wall Street Journal CFO Network meeting, Mick Mulvaney said the successor deal to the North American Free Trade Agreement has many supporters in the House, and a likely majority in the full chamber, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) is unlikely to bring it to the floor without a clear majority of Democrats….Mrs. Pelosi...

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