Ag Today December 24, 2019

Bay Area spillover: Farmworker housing crisis has people sleeping in dining rooms [San Jose Mercury News]

…The chronic shortage of safe, affordable farmworker housing has grown even more acute, workers and advocates say, as tentacles of the Bay Area housing crisis have reached into the region….But even as farmers and worker advocates agree on the problem, they have fought bitterly over a new law, effective Jan. 1, that makes it easier to build worker housing on surplus land….But farmers –including a coalition of farm bureaus, family winemakers, fruit growers and others — say it will make the crisis worse. They are particularly upset over a provision that bars some state funds from being used to build dormitories for seasonal immigrant workers on H-2A visas.


Opinion: Ali Noorani: Sensible bipartisan immigration reform makes progress – a true Christmas miracle [Fox News]

…President Trump once said that “our farmers deserve a government that serves their interests and empowers them to do the hard work that they love.” Passing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would do both. The bill makes our communities and our country safer, by enabling law enforcement officers to turn their focus solely toward bad actors – not workers supporting American farmers. And it provides for much stronger employee verification in the agricultural sector, which will lead to a stable, reliable and legal agricultural workforce.


Editorial: Newsom can’t have it both ways on California water [Los Angeles Times]

…In his first year in office, Newsom’s direction on California water has been murky….In other words, the large water agencies that supply agriculture and urban areas want Trump’s water and environmental policies to be Newsom’s water and environmental policies. Newsom has to decide whether he’s working for Californians — all of us who have a stake in our water and seek enough to quench our own thirst while keeping our fragile natural environment intact — or strictly for the agriculture industry. Or for Trump.


Sites Project Authority hiring executive director [Marysville Appeal-Democrat]

The Sites Project Authority is hoping to make substantial progress on the off-stream water storage project proposed for Colusa and Glenn counties in the new year and will look to hire a new leader at the beginning of 2020 to help with the next phase. Project leaders conducted a comprehensive organizational assessment in 2019 and determined there was a need for an executive director to help complete Phase 2 of the project, which will include navigating the state’s complex regulatory landscape, securing project permits and finances, and completing the environmental review process….Nearly 30 agencies across the state have provided financial backing for the reservoir to help get it to this point, in hopes of benefiting from the project once it’s built. The state has also tentatively committed $816 million in Proposition 1 funding in exchange for a portion of the available water it would provide.


Napa County supervisors to govern groundwater agency [Napa Valley Register]

Napa County’s groundwater czar will be the county Board of Supervisors, though some wanted a body with diverse representation from local water users. The state in November ordered the county to form a groundwater sustainability agency to oversee the Napa Valley subbasin….How much the Napa County agency makes its potential powers felt remains to be seen. But supervisors have made it clear they see no local groundwater emergency.


Asian Giant Hornet Invasion Threatens Honey Bees in Pacific Northwest [New York Times]

As if honey bees didn’t have enough to contend with, from pesticides to bacterial pathogens, another nemesis has emerged in the Pacific Northwest, one capable of freaking out humans, too. It’s called the Asian giant hornet…As the names indicate, the hornets are indigenous to Asia, but some appeared for the first time this month in Washington State, where agricultural officials have issued a pest alert and warned that the hornets pose a threat to honeybees….May Berenbaum, the head of the entomology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said on Monday that the hornets can wipe out an entire beehive.