Ag Today April 4, 2019

Why Harder, other valley reps are asking EPA for close review of delta water plan [Modesto Bee]

Political leaders from the valley are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to closely scrutinize new water quality standards proposed for the San Joaquin-Sacramento delta. A two-page document submitted by the State Water Board to EPA sparked a bipartisan reaction this week from communities with major interests in delta water….State Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, raised concerns that thousands of pages of reports and testimony on the Bay-Delta water quality plan were condensed in a two-page letter asking for a federal sign-off on new salinity standards for the delta….Gray suggested that activist water board staff were attempting an end run around the settlement negotiations.


Plan unveiled to cut Borrego Springs water consumption by 75 percent [San Diego Union-Tribune]

For years, the desert town of Borrego Springs has been living on borrowed time, drawing more water from the ground than its rains replace….All of Borrego Springs will need to bite the proverbial bullet, but none more so than the farmers….The Groundwater Sustainability Plan states, quite simply, that most of those citrus farms will eventually have to be fallowed. The land they sit on, some of it heavily irrigated since the 1950s, will return to desert. How that will be accomplished, while being fair to farmers, remains to be seen.


Opinion: A California tax to clean up toxic drinking water has lawmakers jumpy [Los Angeles Times]

The governor says the tiny tax is needed to raise enough money to clean up toxic drinking water throughout California, particularly in low-income farmworker communities of the San Joaquin Valley….“The gas tax made the rest of the Legislature understandably jumpy,” says Anja Raudabaugh, chief executive of Western United Dairymen. These dairy owners support the water tax, even though milk producers would ante up $5 million annually under the governor’s plan….To secure agriculture support, Newsom has included a “safe harbor” provision in his legislation. It says that if dairies and growers operate under water board rules and pay into the cleansing fund, they’ll be spared cease-and-desist orders.


Rivas’ Farmworker Housing Act hopes to streamline process to build farmworker housing [Salinas Californian]

An act introduced in the California Assembly Tuesday may help streamline the process to build farmworker housing in Monterey County, something growers and farmworker advocates alike say is sorely needed. However, industry advocates say some parts of the bill actually disincentivize growers from building the much-needed housing….”We definitely need farmworker housing and we’ve been promoting that with a number of different agencies. We appreciate the assemblymember’s efforts on this,” said Norm Groot, Executive Director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau. “Our concern with the way he’s written the act is if someone develops housing on their own private property, they have to turn it over to a third entity for management,” Groot said.”


Farmers fear deadly citrus disease is already in county [Ventura County Star]

…Since infected trees do not become symptomatic for several years, some local farmers fear time is running out before the disease begins to appear in local orchards. If that’s the case, the consequences could be dire for Ventura County’s agricultural industry, according to Emily Ayala, co-owner of Friend’s Ranches in Ojai, which sells oranges, tangerines and other citrus through local farmers markets….The Farm Bureau of Ventura County created the ACP-HLB Task Force several years ago to educate the public about the threat. Despite the danger the disease poses to citrus farmers, most of the suppression tactics related to the psyllid are voluntary, according to Farm Bureau of Ventura County CEO John Krist, who also co-founded the task force.


Gallo paying $1.7 billion for 30 wine and spirits brands from Constellation Brands, including Clos du Bois, Mark West [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

In one of the biggest wine industry acquisitions in U.S. history, Constellation Brands Inc. announced a $1.7 billion deal Wednesday to sell more than 30 low-price wine and spirits brands along with six wineries to E. & J. Gallo Winery, including the Clos du Bois winery in Geyserville and notable brands with local ties Mark West and Ravenswood. The deal comes as Constellation Brands sheds its portfolio of wines priced at or less than $11 a bottle to focus on premium wines and spirits, beer and cannabis. Meanwhile, Modesto-based Gallo, already the nation’s largest wine company, concentrates on growing and diversifying its portfolio amid a slowdown in the $70.5 billion wine market.