Ag Today February 12, 2020

Not-so rainy season: Bone-dry February to stay that way, possibly boosting fire danger [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

…In a drier than usual rainy season, February in the North Bay has been downright arid. There’s been zero rain this month, and none is expected for at least several weeks….A lack of rain in these typically wet months increases the chances of an earlier start to wildfire season. But fires aren’t the only concern. Ranchers need winter rainfall to revitalize the pastures that feed and fatten their livestock.


North Bay wineries taking insurers to court over denied smoke taint claims [Napa Valley Register]

North Bay wineries have found themselves up against the aftershocks of several turbulent harvests pockmarked by wildfires, this time in the form of smoke taint. Smoke taint, a phenomenon in which grapes absorb smoke and release it into wine, effectively ruining the product, is at the heart of a series of lawsuits filed by wineries against their respective insurance companies. These insurers, the lawsuits allege, have wrongfully denied wineries’ smoke taint damage claims – in some cases repeatedly.


Water bill designed to help bring clean water to Central Valley gets Republican opposition [Visalia Times-Delta]

A bill that could help disadvantaged Central Valley towns including ones in Tulare County provide safe and affordable drinking water is facing opposition by Republican critics, including GOP representatives from California. In December 2019, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) unveiled a $100 million proposal to make improvements in small towns suffering from contaminated drinking water….The Committee on Natural Resources is expected to pass the bill on Wednesday, the first big step in a legislative process that Cox hopes to see end with the bill being signed into law. But fellow California Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Sacramento) and a member of Committee on Natural Resources said in opposition to the proposal that it duplicated the existing Safe Drinking Water Act and created more unnecessary bureaucracy.


GOP dairyman’s family farm held responsible for California farmworker’s amputation [Fresno Bee]

Former Rep. David Valadao’s family dairy is asking a California appeals court to reconsider part of a recent jury verdict that held the farm mostly responsible for a 2016 accident that severed an employee’s hand. His dairy’s worker’s compensation insurance carrier had been trying to limit its potential financial losses from an incident in which employee Carlos Martinez Ocampo’s arm was caught in an auger and cut off below the right elbow….Valadao was not involved in the farm’s day-to-day operations at the time of the accident.


Unleaded, diesel or… Cow poop? New fuel source promises lower emissions for Valley big rigs [Visalia Times-Delta]

Tulare County is No. 1 in dairy. That makes it top-ranked for something else, too: cow poop. Methane from that stinky, abundant resource is increasingly finding a new role in fueling dairy production, as its emissions are captured, processed and converted to renewable natural gas. Western Milling, a company that produces and supplies agricultural products, is switching 30 of its about 100 trucks to “Cow Natural Gas” —  a move discussed Tuesday at the World Ag Expo in Tulare along with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, SoCalGas and Cummins Westport Inc.


Yuba County looking to extend industrial hemp moratorium [Marysville Appeal-Democrat]

Yuba County officials are moving forward with the process to extend the county’s moratorium on industrial hemp cultivation as the state works to line up its guidelines with the federal government on how to regulate the agricultural commodity….Supervisor Andy Vasquez said counties that have allowed for industrial hemp have experienced numerous problems with trying to regulate the commodity. He said the state keeps changing its rules, guidelines and testing standards.