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American Sugarbeet Growers Association meeting features economics, sugar demand, politics – AG Week

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SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The American Sugarbeet Growers Association’s annual meeting covered a lot of ground on Monday, Jan. 31, but many presentations came back to the common themes of politics, inflation, supply chain woes and sugar demand.

The meeting, being held in Scottsdale, began Jan. 30 with a golf tournament and several receptions, but a jam-packed Monday agenda included much of the meat of the event.

Jim Wiesemeyer, vice president of farm and trade policy at Informa Economics, kicked off the day with a wide-ranging talk that went from the current state of Washington (where the dysfunction is “even more than you think”), the 2022 midterm elections, 2024 presidential election predictions, crop prices (for corn and soybean growers: “If you’re not selling, why are you not selling?), inflation, geopolitics, trade (which he pronounced as boring under Biden), the upcoming farm bill, infrastructure (“Nobody can convince me that wasn’t good for the ag sector”), energy, conservation, WOTUS, food shortages (“It hasn’t hit Congress to the degree that it will”) and many more topics.

The next two speakers focused on the decrease in sugar consumption and what that means for the sugarbeet and sugar refining industries. Nicholas Fereday, executive director of Rabobank, and Courtney Gaine, president and CEO of The Sugar Association, both discussed that topic. Fereday had to join by Zoom due to weather issues delaying flights on the East Coast. He focused largely on the numbers behind the sugar decrease and the fact that most of the drop came in high fructose corn syrup consumption. Gaine talked about efforts to differentiate “real sugar” from other sweeteners. Watch for more in Agweek, AgweekTV and agweek.com on that subject.

Jose Orive, executive director of the International Sugar Organization, talked global sugar supplies as well as the supply chain problems that will impact the industry. The weather in Brazil is a big factor for the sugar industry, as it is in other commodities, and he also looked at the state of sugar production in other countries around the world. Even with lower sugar consumption per capita, population increases mean sugar consumption globally is growing, he said.

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Robert Johansson, director of economics and policy analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, gave a broad talk about economics, the farm economy, sugar outlook (consumption is increasing relative to production), how sugar prices stack up when inflation is factored in (the “nominal” price continues to rise while the “real” price when adjusted for inflation has fallen over time), and the state of inflation.

Duane Simpson, head of North American public affairs, science and sustainability for crop sciences at Bayer, talked about inflation and supply chain issues impacting farm chemicals. On the supply chain front, Simpson said Hurricane Ida shut down glyphosate production for Bayer in the U.S., and it took five weeks to get production back online. The company has diverted glyphosate worldwide to the U.S., but there is less available overall.

“It’s working its way out, but it’s not going to work its way out quickly,” he said. “In a tight supply market, every gallon matters.”

But the bulk of Simpson’s talk focused on Environmental Protection Agency regulation of crop chemistry, including glyphosate and dicamba. He said if the EPA is willing to work with Bayer, he expected “big changes” may be able to keep dicamba on the market for the 2022 growing season. If that doesn’t happen, he said 60 million acres will be looking for herbicide “that’s not there.”

He said Bayer supports the EPA’s plans to change the biological evaluation process to take some of the volatility that comes with litigation over chemicals out of the equation. He also discussed EPA’s decrease in scientists working on endangered species work from 650 a few years ago to about 500 now. It’s not normal for a pesticide company to lobby for increased funding for EPA regulators, he said.

“Here we are, asking Congress to put more money into EPA’s budget,” he said, explaining the agency can’t function as is. “When you get overwhelmed, you don’t do anything.”

Farmers and ag groups are the key to keeping regulations realistic, Simpson said. And he thinks advancements in the field will come more through technological advancements to delivery systems that more precisely deliver pesticides will be the way of the future. New chemistries will come along, he said, but the technology will be more important.

The meeting continues Feb. 1 with speakers on sugarbeet research, sugar policy, climate policy and supply chain, communicating to Congress. The day will end up with the President’s Luncheon.

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Politics Report: The People Asked for Time and Now They Get Time Because What They Really Wanted Was Time – Voice of San Diego

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Early Monday, our Lisa Halverstadt learned that the City Council was not going to vote on a proposed settlement over 101 Ash St. after all. Serves us right for expecting a climax in any long-running San Diego political affair. 

Maybe the settlement didn’t have the five votes it needed, maybe some new information materialized, or maybe the mayor’s explanation that they heard the public’s call that it needed more time to process the terms of the agreement was all there was too it. That last explanation would perhaps be the most exciting, since it would mark the first time in city history that a proceduralist consideration wasn’t just poorly disguised cover for some substantive difference of opinion. 

Nonetheless, former Mayor Kevin Faulconer jumped on KUSI Thursday to say he was happy that Mayor Todd Gloria had decided to delay the vote for a month until the public had ample time to fully absorb the particulars of a settlement that would have ended some city lawsuits, continue others, and lead to the acquisition of two massive pieces of downtown real estate for a City Hall redevelopment that hasn’t been planned and won’t be within the next month. The public would also then have enough time to grok the city attorney’s dissenting opinion on the settlement, or both legal and policy reasons. 

“I think you have to make sure that any proposed settlement is going to be a benefit to the city, a benefit to taxpayers and it’s not something that should be rushed,” he said. “I think we’ll hear a lot more about that in the coming months.” 

Clearly, now that we’ve made the difficult, brave decision not to rush the matter, ignoring the screaming hordes from the pro-rush caucus, we don’t need to be in any hurry to articulate whether the deal actually is a benefit to the city and taxpayers or not. The important thing is that now we have time.  

Brief CAP Opposition from the Cap’s Top Champion 

Back in Gloria’s first stint in the mayor’s office – in an interim position that didn’t really exist – Nicole Capretz led the charge within his administration for what became his landmark achievement during that time, even though it wasn’t passed until Faulconer was in office: the city’s Climate Action Plan. 

The city adopted a plan that said it would half its carbon footprint by 2035 by, among other things, transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy and getting half of people who live near transit to bike, walk or take transit to work by that same year. San Diego basked in national praise from the New York Times and elsewhere.  

This week, though, Capretz – who now runs a nonprofit group that pushes San Diego and other cities to do more within their climate plans – came out as an opponent of the updated version of the same Climate Action Plan that Gloria is now trying to pass. Even though the plan is ramping up its goals – the city would now by 2035 reach “net zero,” when the level of its greenhouse emissions are equal to the level absorbed by the environment (or new technology that removes carbon from the atmosphere) – Capretz and her group urged a “no” vote from a Council committee, because the city lacked a timeline and cost estimates for its commitments. They eventually got on board when city staff agreed to provide that by February. 

Still, it was interesting to hear Capretz, maybe the city’s top salesperson for the climate plan, acknowledge that proponents had made mistakes with the first plan by not setting clear cost and time requirements for each of the policies included in it. 

“We did not insist on an implementation plan for the first Climate Action Plan,” she told our MacKenzie Elmer. “We’re not going to make that mistake again.”  

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Murphy's Logic: Politics trumps public interest | CTV News – CTV News Atlantic

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The initial reluctance of governments, federal and provincial, to appoint a public inquiry into the N.S. mass shooting, was difficult to understand. It took the heartfelt pleas of the victims’ families and the fast rising tide of public opinion to make the politicians act.

And now we likely know why they were so reluctant.

Imperfect though it may be, the inquiry eventually appointed has now exposed the obscene political considerations that were already at play in the days that followed the horror of April 2020.

The evidence reveals that political leaders, who should have been overwhelmed only with grief and concern for the trauma and misery wrought by a madman, instead seemed to seize an overwhelming opportunity to advance their own partisan interests in toughening gun control.

There is reason to believe the PM or his people, certainly his Ministers, were attempting to dictate, manipulate or at least influence parts of the RCMP the narrative. That’s unacceptable, a brazen display of politics put ahead of public interest, moreover, it’s heartless.

The Commissioner of the RCMP should not have been making promises to her political masters about the release of information about the sort of weapons used by the shooter but more pointedly, the politicians shouldn’t have been asking for such promises about that or anything else.

The Mass Causality Commission has already exposed many shortcomings on the part of the RCMP.

The force’s politically charged relationship with the government is yet another fault, yet another reason to demand changes in the way the RCMP operates.

The arrogance laid bare by the Trudeau government’s apparent willingness to interfere, to capitalize on the timing of a tragedy for crass political advantage, also suggests it may also be time to change the government.

   

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About 675,000 signed up to vote in federal Conservative leadership race: party

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OTTAWA — About 675,000 members have signed up to vote for a new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada — a staggering number that the Tories believe sets an all-time record for any federal political party.

The party said it sent a preliminary voter list to candidates on Thursday. The final number is subject to change, as leadership hopefuls will now be able to challenge the validity of any of those sign-ups or push for names to be added to the list.

Candidates have until the end of Monday to issue these challenges, which the party stressed must be “substantiated.” They will be reviewed by the party’s chief returning officer, whose decisions can be appealed to a dispute resolution committee before the voter list is finalized later in July.

However, the party said some 6,500 non-compliant sales have already been cut according to the Conservatives’ internal rules and those of the Canada Elections Act. 

These include memberships that were purchased for different addresses but using the same credit card or those bought with prepaid cards or corporate accounts.

Ian Brodie, chair of the leadership election organizing committee, said Thursday there are now more members of the Conservative party than people in Hamilton, Ont.

“Canadians are responding to the leadership race in unprecedented numbers. We have crushed all records for prior political participation in Canada,” he said.

To compare, in 2020, when former leader Erin O’Toole was elected in the Conservatives’ last leadership race, the party boasted an eligible voting base of 270,000.

At the beginning of this year, the party said it had 161,000 active and current members nationally, although about 48,000 of those were scheduled to expire by the membership deadline in June.

It said the vast majority of members signed up online, although some registered by mail or phone.

A provincial breakdown of memberships was not provided on Thursday.

The party is also not releasing how many members each individual candidate signed up, despite the urging of Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre, who has claimed he sold nearly 312,000 memberships through his website.

Five other candidates are vying for the top job: Ontario Conservative MPs Scott Aitchison and Leslyn Lewis; former Quebec premier Jean Charest; Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton, Ont.; and Roman Baber, a former Independent member of the Ontario legislature.

The party also said the list had been cleaned up of duplicates, which it described as a normal part of any campaign. Anyone who signed up twice has simply been given a second year of membership.

Both Brown and Lewis had raised concerns about possible duplicates arising from an email sent by Poilievre’s campaign ahead of last month’s deadline to sell $15 memberships.

Brown and Lewis alleged members purchased new memberships after receiving what appeared to be an “official-looking warning” from Poilievre’s team that their status was incomplete.

A spokesman for Poilievre’s team has said the email in question went to people who, according to the campaign’s records, were not members.

The winner is to be announced in Ottawa on Sept. 10.

Brodie downplayed the revenue implications of selling so many memberships, saying that some of the money must be shared with riding associations.

Instead, he said the key takeaway is how candidates have mobilized supporters.

“I think what this shows is a level of engagement and enthusiasm for the race that will continue to pay dividends for us well past the end of the race, and I don’t see that diminishing on Sept. 11.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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