Ag Today April 10, 2019

Personnel doubled to tackle growing outbreak of chicken-killing Newcastle disease [Orange County Register]

Federal and state officials are doubling the number personnel working to eradicate the virulent Newcastle disease killing Southern California chickens, thanks in large measure to $45 million in emergency funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture….Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation, applauded the stepped-up efforts but said more help may be needed to eliminate the disease, which is highly contagious among poultry.


See how the Interior Department has tried to stifle ethical doubts raised about its acting chief [Los Angeles Times]

When it comes to acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s involvement in plans to loosen environmental restrictions on water flows for Central Valley farmers, a few things are clear and many more are murky. What’s clear is that Bernhardt, who became deputy Interior secretary in 2017, was involved in decisions connected with those efforts. It’s also clear that the department’s actions would yield major benefits for the giant Westlands Water District, a client of Bernhardt’s during his years as a lawyer for agricultural interests in California. The murkiness comes from the Interior Department’s efforts to defend Bernhardt against accusations that he has violated government ethics rules, lobbying regulations, and his own ethics commitments.


Dairy safety net program expected in June [Associated Press]

An insurance program to help hard-pressed dairy farmers is expected to be ready for enrollment in June, the U.S. Farm Service Agency says, but farmers say it won’t tackle the underlying challenges they face….The improved insurance program in the 2018 farm bill — called Dairy Margin Coverage — expands the coverage levels for farmers. They pay premiums and receive payments when the gap between milk prices and feed prices reach a certain level. The program was delayed by the 35-day partial government shutdown. Payments will be retroactive to January.


Napa County passes controversial tree and water ordinance, so what’s next? [Napa Valley Register]

Napa County has passed its controversial Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance and now various environmental and agricultural groups are pondering their next steps….The Board voted to increase tree preservation requirements and mitigation ratios for cut-down trees. It created setbacks for wetlands, municipal reservoirs and ephemeral streams. It exempted fire management done under Cal Fire guidelines….Napa County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Klobas said before the meeting that his group wants stronger conservation regulations to be supported by science and data that he has yet to see. He expressed concern that the county is moving ahead with “a political solution in search of a problem.”


Recharge a possible local groundwater solution [Lodi News-Sentinel]

On Friday morning, stakeholders in local water issues got an overview of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and its implications at the Lockeford Plant Materials Center. Farmers, water managers, high school students and others turned out for the crash course in local groundwater, hosted by the Lower Mokelumne River Watershed Stewardship Steering Committee….So along with other restoration programs, the nonprofit Sustainable Conservation is working with farmers and agencies around the Central Valley to try and fill in that gap left by nature. Right now, they’re seeing how groundwater recharge projects might be used on private land, including a farm owner south of Fresno, a vineyard just off the Mokelumne River near Lodi, UC Davis, CSU Fresno, the Department of Water Resources and several others.


Riverside removes 2 trees to protect 1 — the parent navel orange tree [Riverside Press-Enterprise]

Officials feared that two neighboring trees could have spread citrus greening disease. Riverside city workers ripped out a Marsh grapefruit tree and a 1940’s navel orange tree Friday, April 5, to protect the tree next to them — the parent navel orange tree. While the two removed trees didn’t have significant historical value, according to the city, the parent navel orange at the corner of Arlington and Magnolia avenues gave birth to the Inland Empire’s citrus empire and most of the navel oranges alive today. The removal is the latest effort to protect the tree from Huanglongbing.