Ag Today April 30, 2021

California Senate proposes to spend $3.4 billion on drought [Associated Press]

Mired in yet another drought that threatens drinking water, endangered species of fish and the state’s massive agriculture industry, Democrats in the California Senate on Thursday detailed a $3.4 billion proposal designed to gird the state for a new crisis on the heels of a deadly and disruptive pandemic. … The money would bolster projects and programs the state is already doing, setting them up for the dry, hot months ahead. “We’ve been working with them to identify noncontroversial early action projects that will assist now — not six months from now, not a year or two or three years from now,” said Danny Merkley, director of water resources for the California Farm Bureau.


Extreme drought grows to more than half of California [KXTV, Sacramento]

… In latest report release on Thursday, the highest level of drought, which is labeled as Exceptional, remained at 5%, but the second highest level of drought grew by 3%. Extreme drought now covers 53% of California and now includes the Bay Area. … Direct impacts often impact agriculture first with grazing areas and time reduced, and stock ponds drying up. Longer durations of drought will see dwindling water supply for agriculture and efforts to conserve for all users.


Newsom’s $1B wildfire plan favors Sierra Nevada logging over homeowners [San Diego Union-Tribune]

… With a tinder-dry summer on the horizon, Gov. Gavin Newsom has released an unprecedented $1 billion blueprint for wildfire prevention, inking a deal with legislators in early April to fast-track more than half of the money. The governor’s plan calls for clearing vegetation on half a million acres a year, up from the current annual pace of about 80,000 acres. … However, a growing chorus of wildfire experts and environmental groups say Newsom’s plan shortchanges homeowners like the Granats — prioritizing logging and other projects ill-suited to stop the type of wind-driven blazes that have repeatedly devastated communities across the state.


Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is back. Will Fresno-area farmworkers take it? [Fresno Bee]

Federal health officials lifted the pause on the vaccine April 23 and California has begun administering the vaccine again, with a warning label that the blood-clotting disorder is rare. But many community advocates now worry the 11-day pause may have stymied their effort to vaccinate California’s rural farmworker communities. Medical experts and community advocates had been hopeful the Johnson & Johnson shot would help them vaccinate farmworker communities more efficiently.


Court tells EPA to limit or ban pesticide that Trump administration kept on market [San Francisco Chronicle]

A federal appeals court ordered the government Thursday to severely limit or ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that was kept on the market by the Trump administration despite evidence that it can cause brain damage in children. … When its ruling becomes final, the court said, the agency must either ban all agricultural use of chlorpyrifos within 60 days or set a new, lower level of permitted use, based on evidence that it would cause no harm at that level. California has already banned all uses of the pesticide, an action by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration in 2019.


Alameda County delays vote on large Livermore solar project [Bay Area News Group]

A second large solar panel project in unincorporated Livermore is on hold after Alameda County supervisors delayed voting on the proposal. … The four appeals were filed by Save North Livermore Valley, Friends of Livermore, Friends of Open Space and Vineyards, and John and Jackie Bowels. The appeals mainly argue that the project violates the Williamson Act and Measure D, as well as Alameda County rules that implement the act. Measure D is a voter-approved 2000 measure to protect agriculture, open space and wildlife in eastern Alameda County.


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