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‚ÄĒ South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the latest presidential contender to roll out a rural policy plan. It includes protections for independent farm operators and laborers and a new visa program to bring immigrants to smaller communities with shrinking labor pools.
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‚ÄĒ Farms are ideal spots for harvesting solar energy, according to a new study that measured 17 different land types and found that croplands offer the most potential for soaking up the sun‚Äôs rays.
‚ÄĒ A pair of California counties filed a lawsuit against the new ‚Äúpublic charge‚ÄĚ rule, which allows federal officials to deny green cards or visas to immigrants deemed likely to rely on certain benefits like food stamps.
2020 DEMOCRATS KEEP THE SPOTLIGHT ON AG POLICY: Buttigieg on Tuesday unveiled his plan to boost the rural economy with billions of dollars in investments, high-speed internet access and protections for both farmers and agricultural laborers, writes POLITICO‚Äôs Arren Kimbel-Sannit. Like many of his fellow Democratic contenders, he rolled out the platform ahead of a campaign swing through Iowa.
But unlike some other 2020 Democrats, Buttigieg delves a bit deeper into farm labor issues. He‚Äôs calling for protections for farmworkers looking to organize (they‚Äôre not currently protected under the National Labor Relations Act) and setting up a ‚Äúcommunity renewal‚ÄĚ visa for skilled immigrants who commit to living in smaller communities for three years to become eligible for a green card.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has also proposed ensuring migrant workers are able to organize and shielding them from mass deportations, along with other protections. Buttigieg‚Äôs rollout comes after a trio of other primary candidates released rural policy plans last week.
WHY CROPLANDS ARE FERTILE GROUND FOR SOLAR FARMS: Here‚Äôs your word of the day: agrivoltaics, the practice of co-developing land for both agricultural and solar power production. U.S. croplands boast ample sunlight, low humidity and moderate winds and temperatures ‚ÄĒ perfect conditions for harvesting solar energy, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports that highlights the potential for agrivoltaic systems, Arren reports.
The findings raise a pair of potential implications: One possibility is that land-intensive solar uses will increasingly compete with agriculture for available acres. That competition has already manifested in conflicts between the two industries, and some states have adopted rules establishing boundaries on the use of valuable farmland for gathering solar energy.
On the other hand, crop growers could see financial benefits from developing agrivoltaic systems that could help power their farm operations. ‚ÄúI think the economics is going to incentivize it,‚ÄĚ said Chad Higgins, an associate professor at Oregon State University who co-authored the study.
How it works: Higgins said agrivoltaic systems are already being tested (mostly in research settings) on small plots of land where the topsoil is left intact and produce is grown in the shade of raised solar panels, leaving room to operate farm equipment. The caveat, of course, is that many crops won‚Äôt fare well in the shade.
THE ‚ÄėPUBLIC CHARGE‚Äô BACKLASH CONTINUES: Santa Clara County and the city and county of San Francisco on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the new regulation, which takes effect Oct. 15, arguing that the Trump administration didn‚Äôt provide enough justification for the rule change, writes POLITICO‚Äôs Ted Hesson.
‚ÄúThey have to have reasoned rulemaking,‚ÄĚ said Santa Clara Counsel James Williams. ‚ÄúThey don‚Äôt just get to make things up.‚ÄĚ
Under the final rule, officials would scrutinize whether green card or visa applicants are ‚Äúmore likely than not‚ÄĚ to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, housing assistance, Medicaid or other benefits.
TRUMP PULLS BACK ON NEW CHINA TARIFFS: U.S. duties on consumer goods like cell phones, laptops, game consoles, and certain shoes and clothes that are manufactured in China won‚Äôt take effect until Dec. 15, the Trump administration announced Tuesday. (The 10 percent tariffs were initially set to take effect in entirety on Sept. 1.)
The delayed items account for a huge share of the remaining $300 billion in Chinese products that the White House has targeted with the new tariffs. The move was aimed at avoiding a ‚ÄúTrump tax‚ÄĚ on consumer goods that could hit U.S. shoppers during the crucial holiday period, and the news sent financial markets surging higher, reports Pro Trade‚Äôs Doug Palmer.
Breathing room: The delay also gives Washington and Beijing a chance to reach an agreement. President Donald Trump‚Äôs chief trade negotiators spoke by phone with their Chinese counterparts for the first time since their meeting two weeks ago in Shanghai, according to Chinese state-run media.
The administration also postponed duties on frozen fillets of Alaskan pollock, sugar beets, pignolias, ‚Äúprepared or preserved frog meat‚ÄĚ and other plant and animal goods.
But, but, but: The list of Chinese goods that will still be hit with 10 percent duties on Sept. 1 is quite extensive and includes beef, pork and many other food and agricultural items.
TAKING ANOTHER LOOK AT PREVENTED PLANTING: As MA readers know, the number of acres farmers were unable to plant this year skyrocketed to record levels following the heavy rain and flooding across the Midwest earlier this year. Pro DataPoint‚Äôs Patterson Clark puts the numbers in context here. For example, while soybean acres are way down, farmers have planted about as many acres of corn as last year. Take a look:
‚ÄĒ The FDA plans to review industry compliance with menu labeling requirements that kicked in last year. The agency said Tuesday that it will assess whether businesses are posting calorie info for all standard menu items and on signs adjacent to displayed foods, our Helena Bottemiller Evich reports.
‚ÄĒ U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S. ‚Äúwill be a tough old haggle,‚ÄĚ and noted that making a deal with the EU will be most important, POLITICO Europe reports. The U.K. is set to leave the bloc by the end of October.
‚ÄĒ Georgia pecan and cotton farmers are feeling the pinch of Trump‚Äôs trade war with China, a year after ag producers in the state were battered by Hurricane Michael. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the story.
‚ÄĒ Tyson Foods has named Noelle O‚ÄôMara as president of its $9 billion prepared foods business, including the company‚Äôs Tyson, Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm brands. O‚ÄôMara was previously Tyson‚Äôs chief marketing officer. Here‚Äôs the announcement.
‚ÄĒ NPR takes a look at whether grass-fed beef has a smaller climate footprint than feedlot-finished meat. Check it out here.