Ag Today August 12, 2019

U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act [New York Times]

The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction….Republicans have long sought to narrow the scope of the law, saying that it burdens landowners, hampers industry and hinders economic growth. They also make the case that the law is not reasonable because species are rarely removed from the list….One of the most controversial changes removes longstanding language that prohibits the consideration of economic factors when deciding whether a species should be protected….


What’s on school menus this fall? Trade mitigation [Associated Press]

…This fall, some U.S. school cafeterias are expecting shipments of free food, one little known consequence of President Donald Trump’s trade disputes. The products are coming from the Department of Agriculture, which is giving away the $1.2 billion in foods it’s buying to help farmers hurt by trade negotiations….According to the USDA, most food purchased as part of trade-relief efforts is going to programs that help the needy. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, for instance, says it’s getting roughly twice as much government food as normal, including rarely donated items like pistachios.


Groundwater trading program, first of its kind for Central Valley, is being designed [KGET TV, Bakersfield]

In a first for Kern County and the Central Valley, a groundwater trading program is being designed to help local growers meet new regulations under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act — which kicks in next year. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District is working with the Environmental Defense Fund to develop a web-based platform growers can use to sell or buy units of groundwater….As groundwater use is restricted, growers may decided to fallow cropland and instead sell their groundwater allocations to other growers.


Wells Dug Deeper as Groundwater Recedes [Santa Barbara Independent]

Groundwater levels are falling, and wells are drying up. Areas across the United States, including Santa Barbara County, are drilling deeper for fresh water than ever before, according to data from a recent UCSB study led by Assistant Professors Debra Perrone and Scott Jasechko….Jasechko said they “were surprised how widespread deeper drilling is.” After four years of data collection, they analyzed more than 12 million wells across the country and found that 79 percent showed a deepening trend between 1950 and 2015.


Following destructive wildfires, Shasta County considers ‘defensible space’ ordinance [Redding Record Searchlight]

…The Shasta County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider an ordinance that would require all residents who live outside city limits to keep a 100-foot “defensible space” around all structures and roadways….County Supervisor Leonard Moty said there are other ordinances requiring defensible space, but the one before the board Tuesday specifically includes requiring neighbors to cut back brush growing near an adjacent property owner’s road or structure….Property owners who don’t create defensible space or violate the ordinance could have their property deemed a public nuisance….It would not apply to lands set aside for timber production or on most farming operations, the ordinance says.


Opinion: America’s most productive agricultural region is also one of its most diverse [Bakersfield Californian]

California’s San Joaquin Valley is often dismissed as small and rural. To the contrary, it’s a massive area of farms, ranches, small towns and growing cities, emblematic of the American West as a blend of Old West values and New West technology. It’s also historically distinctive as one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the United States….From many rural and small-town people I heard how the valley gets a bum rap. Or no rap at all. A common refrain arose: “It’s like we don’t exist. We’re invisible.” If we are to understand America as it really is, the San Joaquin Valley and all its people must become visible.