Ag Today April 2, 2021

Sierra snowpack at 59% but ‘next few weeks will be critical’ for California water officials [Sacramento Bee]

California water officials on Thursday reported the statewide snowpack is just 59% of average for this time of year as the state continues to experience one of the driest years on record. … He said the next few weeks will be critical to watch to see how much of that snowmelt will actually enter the state’s reservoirs. … “With below-than-average precipitation statewide, California’s reservoirs continue to show the impacts due to dry conditions,” de Guzman told a group of reporters gathered at Phillips Station Thursday. “Statewide, California’s largest reservoirs are only storing about half of their total capacity.”


California Dreaming: Farmers, scientists sustainably getting by with less water [KFSN TV, Fresno]

… California’s Central Valley is no stranger to drought, and because of that, farmers and scientists are joining forces to figure out how to get by with less. … Once the water makes its way through the power plant and down over 700 miles of Central Valley canals, farmers need to know how to do more with less. Fresno State’s Center for Irrigation Technology is doing just that. … “Irrigation matters to everybody who eats in California. That’s why sustainable production practices are important because this is how we’re going to continue to feed ourselves and the rest of the world,” Hillyer said.


Once climate change deniers, the agriculture industry positions itself as part of the solution [USA Today/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting]

For decades, the U.S. agriculture industry had staunchly opposed measures to limit climate change. Lobbying groups, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, expressed skepticism that humans caused it. … But the industry in recent years has altered its stance on the issue. Riding a wave of shifting public opinion about the reality of climate change, it is staking out a new position as part of the climate solution. One of the most visible signs of this about-face happened late last year when the Farm Bureau partnered with dozens of other groups, from agriculture organizations to environmental advocates, to announce a new initiative: the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance.


Sen. Alex Padilla’s bill to protect farmworkers exposed to dangerous heat conditions [Al Día]

… Sen. Alex Padilla, California’s first Latino Senator, is introducing legislation with fellow members of Congress to combat heat-related stress. The Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, if passed, will protect the safety and health of workers exposed to dangerous heat conditions in the workplace, namely the AG workers who work in extreme heat like the Imperial and Central Valleys. … California, Minnesota and Washington, as well as the U.S. military have adopted their own heat stress standards, but the rest of the country is unaccounted for.


Napa’s wine industry seeks legislative aid for labor, fire concerns [Napa Valley Register]

Napa Valley’s wine industry is asking the government at all levels to help it recover from economic and labor issues exacerbated by the chaos of 2020. … Perhaps the most imminent action sought by the wine industry is dealing with the risk of wildfire, according to Rex Stults, vice president of Industry Relations for the Napa Valley Vintners. … The Napa County Farm Bureau is also hoping to see wildfire mitigation prioritized at the local level, according to CEO Ryan Klobas … Klobas said there are two pieces of legislation at the state and federal levels that could benefit labor and wildfire issues this year.


Study: US pesticide use falls but harms pollinators more [Associated Press]

American farmers are using smaller amounts of better targeted pesticides, but these are harming pollinators, aquatic insects and some plants far more than decades ago, a new study finds. Toxicity levels have more than doubled since 2005 for important species, including honeybees, mayflies and buttercup flowers, as the country switched to a new generation of pesticides. But dangerous chemical levels in birds and mammals have plummeted at the same time, according to a paper in Thursday’s journal Science.


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