In December 2016, I wrote:
Thought 3: I am not sure that water policy will be the dominant force on CA agriculture this year. Immigration and labor could be big. But I’m looking hard at trade. Trump seems to be going out of his way to offend China and India, who are large markets for tree nuts. If Trump provokes a trade war, or a real war, with China, I’m thinking that this post of mine will seem prescient. Almond orchards are all the same asset; holdings in tree nuts are not a diversified portfolio. If there’s an overseas market bust, there will be an unbelievable surplus of harvested almonds, with more new orchards coming into bearing years. Although the instream flow proposals are being touted as a terrible pressure on northern San Joaquin Valley economies, after a China/India trade bust, it may be that land prices collapse and easiest ways to get flows back in the river are to simply buy up abandoned almond orchards.
And today we get Indian tariffs on almonds. This comes a month after the Chinese tariffs on almonds. We should not be surprised if land prices for almond orchards collapse. We should be considering how that land can be used next (rewilding) and who will bear the costs of cleaning up abandoned orchards.
It was always clear that Trump destroys everything he touches. Californian growers may be blinding themselves to that, but the destruction he causes will come for them anyway. He was never on ag’s side; he is a New York developer. To the extent that agricultural voters chose him, they were choosing this. If we escape the Trump presidency without a nuclear war, for the rest of my life, I will always boggle that he caused more damage to Nunes/almond growers/Valadao than my advocacy ever could.
UPDATE 6/28/18: Naw. Valley Republicans are in thrall to Trump. I never worry that the current version of Republicans will take sensible preventative measures that would avert a disaster for their constituents.