Ag Today December 12, 2018

Fight over river flows heads to historic Water Board meeting in Sacramento [Modesto Bee]

As all eyes turn to the State Water Resources Control Board on Wednesday, the board won’t have complete settlement agreements with Modesto-area irrigation districts to consider at a crucial meeting. At most, the districts and negotiators with the state Natural Resources Agency will have the basic framework of an agreement that’s an alternative to a state plan for river flows that is fiercely opposed by water users and local agencies in Stanislaus County….If there is a framework for an agreement, the state board could approve a much-disputed update to its Bay-Delta water quality plan, which could serve as a baseline for considering detailed voluntary settlements with water districts after Gavin Newsom is sworn in as governor in January.


Trump rolls back wetlands protections. What it means for California farmers, developers [Sacramento Bee]

…In a victory for farmers and land developers throughout the West, the Trump administration announced a broad rollback of rules designed to protect wetlands and other small bodies of water….The impact on California, which has millions of acres of wetlands, vernal pools and other waterways subject to federal regulation, wasn’t clear….California’s farm groups hailed the decision. Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, said the existing regulations have “produced little beyond confusion and litigation, and has undermined farmers’ efforts to work cooperatively with government agencies to protect water and land.”


Editorial: Trump’s regulatory dredging [Wall Street Journal]

One reason business confidence remains high despite President Trump’s tariffs is because his Administration continues to prune regulation. Behold the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal Tuesday to redo Barack Obama’s Waters of the U.S. rule….While states could continue to regulate waters within their borders, businesses would have an easier time navigating the federal regulatory landscape. If Democratic states sue the EPA, as is their wont, the Supreme Court might welcome the opportunity to clarify the limits on regulatory power.


Senate votes overwhelmingly to renew farm programs [Associated Press]

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for a sweeping agriculture bill that will fund key farm safety net programs for the next five years without making significant changes to the food stamp program….The House is expected to pass the measure soon and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature….The legislation sets federal agricultural and food policy for five years and provides more than $400 billion in farm subsidies, conservation programs and food aid for the poor. It reauthorizes crop insurance and conservation programs and funds trade programs, bioenergy production and organic farming research. It also reduces the cost for struggling dairy producers to sign up for support programs and legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp, an initiative championed by McConnell.


Congress rebuffs Trump wildfire demands, leaves logging proposals out of farm bill [McClatchy News Service]

The Trump administration spent months very publicly lobbying Congress for more power to conduct logging projects on national forests, something President Donald Trump and leading cabinet officials argued would help combat the catastrophic wildfires that killed more than 80 people in California this fall. They failed. On Tuesday, lawmakers rolled out the final text of the 2018 farm bill, a compromise between House and Senate negotiators. It does not include any of the controversial “categorical exclusions” to environmental review laws for logging projects that the administration and House Republicans had sought.


Supervisors vote to withdraw from Kern Groundwater Authority [Bakersfield Californian]

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted to withdraw from the Kern Groundwater Authority at Tuesday’s meeting, altering water management in certain areas of the county….The withdrawal will take effect in 30 days, giving the county a short window of opportunity to negotiate with the KGA to potentially remain a part of the organization….If the county remains, it will maintain control of water management in certain parts of Kern County not currently covered by another water agency. If it withdraws, the county maintains other agencies will fill the void.