Ag Today December 11, 2018

EPA chief calls for narrowing scope of Clean-Water Rule [Wall Street Journal]

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says a proposed rule change, to be released on Tuesday, gives states needed flexibility in managing their streams and wetlands, while reining in what he described as the overreach of the Obama administration….The change will appeal to some in the business world, and especially farming groups, who complained the Obama rule was so broad that it made it difficult to know when permits were needed. Restrictions regarding ditches and groundwater could easily end up restricting the way they use their land, said Don Parrish, director of regulatory relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.


Farm bill’s food stamp changes are largely symbolic despite GOP bid to tighten rules [McClatchy News Service]

Republicans fought for months to crack down on what they saw as abuse of the federal food aid program. But in the massive farm policy bill that was unveiled Monday night, the requirements for qualifying for aid remain largely untouched….Congress is expected to vote on the massive farm policy bill over the next two weeks, and conservatives are expected to object loudly to the dearth of changes in the SNAP program.


Feinstein pushes to extend controversial water law despite environmental concern [San Francisco Chronicle]

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining forces with House Republicans to try to extend a controversial law that provides more water for Central Valley farms, but with a sweetener for the environment: help with protecting California’s rivers and fish. The proposed extension of the WIIN Act, or Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, would keep millions of federal dollars flowing for new dams and reservoirs across the West….The push to renew the law comes as California water regulators are trying to improve conditions in the Delta, a vital passageway for salmon and a hub of state water supplies. On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board is scheduled to vote on limiting the water taken by cities and farms to ensure more water remains for the Delta and its declining wildlife.


Editorial: Some of California’s most stunning natural wonders are on the brink of oblivion [Los Angeles Times]

Brown’s tunnels would help the state keep up with the changing climate. Southern Californians need them — but they also need a thriving Delta and living rivers to feed it. They should support the Water Board’s plan to partially restore flows. And they should urge the incoming governor to battle the Trump administration on water, just as the current governor has done on the atmosphere.


IID OKs possible drought measures, but reserves right to vote last on 7-state deal [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

The Imperial Irrigation District, which holds some of the oldest and largest rights to Colorado River water, on Monday tentatively agreed to a one-time contribution of up to 250,000 acre-feet of surplus water if needed to stave off shortages in Lake Mead. But they tacked on several last-minute conditions aimed at easing farmers’ fears of permanently losing water, and to force federal and state officials to guarantee funding for clean-up of the Salton Sea…..In exchange for agreeing to the deal, the district would also be allowed to store another 100,000 acre-feet of water.


Sale, possible slaughter of California horses delayed while they get their day in court [San Luis Obispo Tribune]

The U.S. Forest Service has agreed to postpone the sale without limitation of hundreds of older wild horses — rounded up in Northern California earlier this fall — until after a hearing late next month. A sale without limitation would mean the horses could be purchased by foreign slaughterhouses to be turned into food. The order putting the sale on hold was filed Dec. 6….Forest Service spokesman Ken Sandusky declined to comment on the injunction, but said his agency would release a statement on Dec. 18.