Ag Today April 25, 2019

Perdue trying to help farms get foreign workers in Kushner immigration effort [McClatchy News Service]

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is wading into legal immigration efforts led by Jared Kushner by dispatching a former farm lobbyist to work with the agribusiness community on how to meet their need for foreign workers without compromising the ideals of the administration….Perdue has sent one of his senior aides, Kristi Boswell, a former lobbyist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, to work with Kushner’s immigration team. Earlier this month, Boswell encouraged California Farm Bureau Federation officials advocating on Capitol Hill and at the White House to speak out on needed improvements for a more flexible and streamlined program for farmers and ranchers known as H-2A.


Harder unveils bill funding Valley water projects, including reservoir near Patterson [Modesto Bee]

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, thinks there is a better way to find water solutions for California’s Central Valley and to stop squandering water in wet years that’s needed in dry years….The bill would invest federal dollars in additional water storage projects such as Sites Reservoir near Colusa in the Sacramento Valley, expansion of San Luis Reservoir and a dam creating a reservoir in Del Puerto Canyon west of Patterson. According to information provided, the bill would fund feasibility studies for the storage projects. Part of the $100 million for increased storage would fund projects to recharge groundwater aquifers and store water underground. The water bill also includes $100 million for recycling and reclamation efforts and would create a monetary prize for developing sustainable water technology.


Dead fish wash up near $6.3 million passageway designed to protect them. Why didn’t it work? [Sacramento Bee]

Dozens of fish carcasses — 13 of them Chinook salmon protected by the Endangered Species Act — rotted in the sun Tuesday a couple hundred yards from a new $6.3 million structure that state officials built specifically to keep that grisly scenario from happening….The fish passage was intended to keep fish from becoming stranded along the weir and in the bypass once the flood waters receded back into the Sacramento River’s main channel. An automated gate was supposed to open once water levels got high enough to overflow into the bypass, allowing fish to swim back into the Sacramento River. But in February, state officials who manage the facility noticed it wasn’t working right.


More Monterey County schools to get heads up when pesticides are being sprayed nearby [Salinas Californian]

Seven North Monterey County schools will now receive advanced notice when pesticides are going to be sprayed on crops near schools. The move is part of the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s 3-year-old pilot project aiming to better inform residents on fumigant use. Jim Bogart, president of the Grower-Shipper Association, said communities’ access to information on pesticides is crucial. “If (people) don’t know or understand what’s going on, they fear the worst,” he said. “Anything that can alleviate that confusion or any misinformation is really, really good.”


California lawmaker wants to buy organic for school meals [Capital Public Radio, Sacramento]

…Under the bill, which would launch a California Organic-to-School pilot program, school districts could apply to the California Department of Food and Agriculture for an additional 15 cents per breakfast or lunch meal to buy organic produce, dairy, meat and eggs from California growers….Nationally, school districts have a budget of roughly $1.25 to spend on each free and reduced breakfast or lunch, including labor costs, according to an estimate by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which sponsored the bill….Right now, the majority of school districts don’t spend their budget on organic food because it usually costs more than products from out-of-state and conventional growers, according to Evan Wiig, communications director for the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.


What’s behind a new climate surcharge coming to your restaurant bill in California [San Francisco Chronicle]

…The initiative, announced Wednesday, is called Restore California Renewable Restaurants, and it will allow restaurants statewide the option of charging diners an additional 1%. They money would go toward California’s Healthy Soil Program, which helps farmers transition to methods that put carbon back in the soil. It’s a partnership between the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Air Resources Board and the Perennial Farming Initiative, a San Francisco nonprofit.