Ag Today December 3, 2018

Huge Delta water deal backed by Dianne Feinstein, Jerry Brown, Kevin McCarthy [Sacramento Bee]

California’s most senior Democrat and most powerful Republican in Washington are teaming up to extend a federal law designed to deliver more Northern California water south, despite the objections of some of the state’s environmentalists. While controversial, the language in their proposal could help settle the contentious negotiations currently underway in Sacramento on Delta water flows — the lifeblood of California agriculture as well as endangered salmon and smelt. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the House majority leader, are leading the push to fold an extension of expiring provisions in the 2016 Water Infrastructure for Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into the year-end spending bill that Congress must pass this month. And on Friday, they won the endorsement of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.


IID wins ruling on drought contingency plan [Imperial Valley Press]

Judge L. Brooks Anderholt has denied an injunction filed by a local farmer that would have stopped the Imperial Irrigation District from taking part in a plan to prevent shortages on the drought-plagued Colorado River. Anderholt issued his decision Thursday afternoon denying farmer Mike Abatti’s request for an injunction that would have effectively forbade IID from voting on a drought contingency plan based on a previous ruling by Anderholt that favored Abatti over IID and its equitable distribution plan. Abatti contended that earlier ruling precluded the district from entering into any new contracts that have to do with water (such as a drought contingency plan) because water rights are tied to the land and are a property right of the agricultural user, according to the filing submitted to the court on his behalf by attorney Cheryl Orr.


Santa Barbara County growers express concerns over aspects of next Ag Order [Santa Maria Times]

More than 50 area farmers turned out Friday morning to learn about the process of developing the next Agricultural Order and how they can have an impact on what requirements are eventually recommended for adoption….Formally known as a Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Irrigated Lands, the Agricultural Order sets limits for nutrients, pesticides, herbicides and sediment allowed to flow from irrigated crop lands into surface and groundwater….Some of the farmers at Friday’s meeting expressed concern over specific aspects of the next Ag Order, including how limiting the amount of nitrogen they could apply would have an impact on their productivity and whether it will improve groundwater quality.


Trump calls truce in China trade war a big success, but little is known about the deal [New York Times]

President Trump on Monday portrayed his Saturday meeting with President Xi Jinping of China as an unabashed success, insisting that American farmers and automakers will quickly see benefits from a trade truce that has yet to produce any concrete commitments. Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi agreed during the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires to pause the trade war between the world’s two largest economies for 90 days and work to resolve several areas of tension, including the trade gap between what America imports from China and what China buys from the United States….Despite Mr. Trump’s optimism about the cease-fire, his advisers were more cautious about the path ahead, which analysts say could be protracted and arduous given the longstanding differences between the two countries and the political risks for their leaders.


Tainted lettuce: Should Congress bring back produce screening program? [Bay Area News Group]

…While federal authorities continue trying to determine the source of the contamination, food-safety advocates, including Stratta’s lawyer, are suggesting Congress revive a program that screened produce in stores for pathogens but was eliminated in a 2012 budget cut after industry criticism. “If it came back it would be such a good thing for food safety,” Jory Lange, a Houston lawyer representing Stratta who specializes in food safety cases, said of the USDA’s Microbiological Data Program….The latest outbreak is the third involving lettuce-borne E. coli in the past year, and has certainly gotten the attention of an agriculture industry eager to find better ways of preventing contaminated produce from reaching consumers. But industry advocates aren’t convinced the scuttled program is the answer.


California is managing its forests — but is the president managing its federal lands? [NBC News]

…Almost everyone who works in and around the state’s forests agrees that more needs to be done to limit runaway “superfires” that kill humans and leave entire ecosystems in ruins. But disagreements abound, including among environmentalists, about what’s most important:…Public officials from the state capitol in Sacramento to Washington, D.C., are pushing policies intended to reverse the old ways — reducing an over-abundance of trees and other fuel and placing tighter controls on human development in fire danger zones….But experts say it will take decades to restore health and balance to forests in California and the West.