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Ag Today June 15, 2018

Trump administration pushes changes to farmworker visa BY EMILY CADEI  June 15, 2018 12:01 AM, McClatchy DC WASHINGTON The Trump administration is moving ahead with an overhaul of the guest worker program that admits hundreds of thousands of temporary farm workers each year, easing access to agricultural labor even as even as its conservative allies push for a crackdown. Changing the H-2A visa system for temporary farm workers has been a top priority for Central Valley growers and others around the country, who have been struggling with a severe labor shortage. A 2017 California Farm Bureau Federation survey reported that more than half of...

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Ag Today June 14, 2018

Valley agriculture caught up in international trade fight By Dale Yurong Wednesday, June 13, 2018 06:43PM- ABC30 FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Canada's foreign minister said on Wednesday the country would retaliate with a "dollar for dollar" tariff in response to the 25% tariff on imported steel imposed by President Trump. Valley agriculture is caught right in the middle of this trade dispute involving allies such as Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. New tariffs would take effect in July. When it comes to California ag exports, Canada is the second significant buyer behind the EU. A 10% tariff or added tax on ketchup and tomato...

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Ag Today June 13, 2018

Farm Robots Need to Be Trusted to Tell Crops From Weeds By Ayanna Alexander, Bloomberg, June 13, 208 Robots will move along fields either spraying herbicides through a pen-like nozzle or pulling weeds as soon as 2019 after their makers perfect programming them to distinguish weeds from crops like tomatoes. Farmers appear to be warming to the idea, as challenges recruiting field workers are leading them to seek alternatives. Still, robot manufacturers acknowledge that they have to ensure their creations are discerning and won’t overspray or accidentally destroy crops with herbicides. They also must promote trust among potential customers who may be wary about...

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Ag Today, June 12, 2018

Ventura County farmers celebrate the launch of California's first water monitoring program Tyler Hersko, Ventura Published 5:39 p.m. PT June 11, 2018, VC Star Farmers and public officials celebrated the launch of a historic water monitoring program during a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday afternoon in Oxnard. Monday’s celebration, part of the multi-phase Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Water Market program, installed telemetry hardware on an agricultural well owned by Oxnard farmer Fred Van Wingerden. The technology will precisely monitor the amount of water used by the farm. Previously, farmers would self-report their water usage, which raised questions of accuracy. The program is the first of...

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Ag Today June 11, 2018

Senate unveils farm bill, leaves food stamps alone BY JULIET LINDERMAN Associated Press June 08, 2018 01:13 PM, Updated June 08, 2018 01:14 PM WASHINGTON The Senate Agriculture Committee on Friday released a bipartisan farm bill that makes mostly modest adjustments to existing programs and, unlike the House version of the bill, doesn't pick a fight over food stamps. The Senate bill, dubbed the "Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018," is budget-neutral and aims to renew subsidy, conservation, nutrition, rural development and commodity programs set to expire on Sept. 30. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill also includes a measure to legalize industrial hemp. In April,...

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Ag Today June 8, 2018

Judge Tells Feds to Be on Time With Review of Water Project June 7, 2018 MATTHEW RENDA, Courthouse News Service (CN) – A judge denied a request Thursday by a federal water management agency for more time to evaluate the environmental impacts of California’s water transfer program that allows some water rights holders to sell water to parched farms in the southern part of the state. U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence O’Neill ordered the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to come up with its full environmental analysis of a 10-year water transfer program by the end of June. The feds had asked for more time...

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Ag Today June 7, 2018

Federal judge in Spokane dismisses suit seeking to reinstate country-of-origin labels on imported meat Thomas Clouse, The Spokesman-Review, June 7, 2018 Where’s the beef from? For now, it remains a mystery. A federal judge in Spokane this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by domestic livestock producers to reinstate country-of-origin labeling on beef and pork products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture halted such labeling in 2016. U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson agreed with the producers in her Tuesday dismissal that the USDA decision has caused them financial harm. But she ultimately sided with the government, saying that the legal clock had run out...

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Ag Today June 6, 2018

Group of 10 senators challenge Trump over tariffs BY LISA MASCARO AND KEVIN FREKING Associated Press June 06, 2018 01:43 PM/Updated June 06, 2018 01:44 PM WASHINGTON A bipartisan group of 10 senators introduced longshot legislation Wednesday that would require Congress to sign off on tariffs imposed in the name of national security, defying President Donald Trump on a bedrock issue that once defined the GOP. Congressional Republicans are mostly at odds with what they view as Trump's protectionist instincts on trade. Despite much hand-wringing, prospects for any bill to challenge him remain uncertain. Many Republicans are hesitant to confront Trump in a legislative showdown that...

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Ag Today June 5, 2018

Koch-Financed Groups Launch Campaign to Halt U.S. Import Tariffs By Heidi Vogt, The Wall Street Journal June 4, 2018 7:39 p.m. ET WASHINGTON—Three organizations financed by conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are launching a multimillion-dollar campaign against President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imports. The groups said Monday that the multiyear initiative will include advertising, education of activists, lobbying, policy analysis and “grass roots mobilization.” The groups—Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity and The Libre Initiative—released a list of trade recommendations that focus on encouraging competitive markets and eliminating tariffs. The effort is an indication of the deep consternation among business groups—normally...

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Ag Today June 4, 2018

  Almonds growers show no signs of cracking By JOHN COX jcox@bakersfield.com Jun 3, 2018 Mike Mason's not the kind of guy you'd expect to have second thoughts about going all-in on almonds. The company he built in Wasco 24 years ago, Supreme Almonds of California, receives and packs nuts from 200 local and Northern California growers, then ships them to buyers in about 70 different countries, including the United States. Supreme also farms almonds, employing about 175 people in the combined operations. But a lot about the almond business nags at Mason lately: groundwater challenges, disruptive weather and criticism that the nut overtaxes the...

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