Ag Today August 14, 2019

Joshua trees, monarch butterflies among species that may be impacted by Endangered Species Act change [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

Petitions seeking federal protections for the Joshua tree, the California spotted owl, the monarch butterfly, the Siskiyou Mountains Salamander, the San Joaquin Valley giant flower-loving fly and the Western bumble bee are among those that could be affected by changes announced by the Trump administration this week to “improve” implementation of the Endangered Species Act. At least 39 species of flora and fauna in the Golden State are among the 147 active petitions pending before the federal government, including the gray wolf and the Mojave desert tortoise. In some cases, the petitions ask the federal government to classify a species as endangered; in other instances, the petitioners are seeking to have critical habitats for threatened animals protected.


Tulare County, environmental groups settle lawsuit over cow toots [Visalia Times-Delta]

Tulare County has settled a lawsuit with three environmental groups that argued local regulators weren’t doing enough to cut pollution from industrial dairies and feedlots….In the settlement of the February 2018 lawsuit, county regulators agreed to work with dairies to cut methane emissions, including onsite renewable-energy generation and improved manure treatment that avoids the use of open manure lagoons….Joey Airoso, a dairy farmer whose family has operated in Tulare County for more than a century, says he is already working hard to reduce methane emissions on his dairies….The settlement could mean more regulations to follow — and more expenses, Airoso said.


Trump slows advance in China trade war. What’s it mean for California, Valley agriculture? [Fresno Bee]

In the escalating trade war between Chinese leaders and President Donald Trump, agriculture in California and the Valley stands to potentially be hit even harder than it has already by tariffs. Plus, a declaration was made earlier this month by the Chinese government that it was ceasing all purchases of American farm products….Trump had announced plans to impose duties starting Sept. 1 on about $300 billion in Chinese goods coming into the U.S. that aren’t already being taxed with tariffs, with the effect of making an even wider range of products from China more expensive for American consumers. The Associated Press reported Tuesday, however, the Trump administration will delay some of those tariffs and drop others altogether.


Almond growers anxious to see how harvest shakes out [Bakersfield Californian]

The annual shaking of the almond trees has begun as local growers start harvesting a crop that could be especially promising this year for Kern County. A recent federal estimate predicted California’s 2019 almond harvest could fall 3.5 percent short of last year’s total….But industry insiders continue to question the 2.3 billion-pound forecast, released in early July by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They see this year’s total reaching as high as 2.5 billion pounds. Whose forecast is more accurate could make a big difference in local agriculture revenues.


North Coast grape harvest kicks off in Napa Valley; picking to start in Sonoma County Thursday or Friday [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

The 2019 North Coast grape harvest kicked off Tuesday before the sun peaked over the Vaca Range, signaling the start of another season for the wine industry, which pours billions into the regional economy and draws tourists from around the globe….The region’s harvest started two days earlier than 2018, despite late May showers that soaked vineyards during peak bloom on grapevines. Although the rains damaged some grapes used to make malbec and grenache wines, the overall wine grape crop largely was spared, vintners said.


California’s largest legal weed farms face conflict In wine country [NPR]

The Santa Rita Hills, nestled in Santa Barbara County, are ideal for pinot noir, a notoriously finicky grape. That’s why Kathy Joseph came here to plant Fiddlestix Vineyard….In June, Joseph learned that the fungicide she has been spraying on her grapes for decades could be drifting onto the cannabis….So while the county investigates, she’s using a more expensive and far less effective spray on the grapevines that are nearest to the cannabis farm. “We may lose crop because we can’t protect it,” Joseph says. Joseph, and other Santa Barbara County residents in the southern city of Carpinteria, say the county has been excessively permissive toward cannabis.