Ag Today February 19, 2020

California Farm Bureau Federation will fight ‘split-roll’ ballot measure [Politico]

The state’s largest agricultural organization will oppose a proposed “split-roll” ballot measure that would increase commercial property taxes, saying it will cost farmers and consumers billions by mandating costly reassessments for California barns, wineries and processing plants. Jamie Johansson, president of the 34,000-member California Farm Bureau Federation, said in an interview that it was highly unusual for his organization to oppose a ballot measure at this early stage, “but our board of directors is very concerned about the impact this initiative would have on rural California.”…The proposed initiative would untether commercial property from Proposition 13’s limits on tax increases.


Trump delivers on pledge for wealthy California farmers [Associated Press]

Hoisting the spoils of victories in California’s hard-fought water wars, President Donald Trump is directing more of the state’s precious water to wealthy farmers and other agriculture interests when he visits their Republican Central Valley stronghold Wednesday. Changes by the Trump administration are altering how federal authorities decide who gets water, and how much, in California, the U.S. state with the biggest population and economy and most lucrative farm output….The Trump administration, Republican lawmakers, and farm and water agencies say the changes will allow for more flexibility in water deliveries….Environmental groups say the changes will speed the disappearance of endangered winter-run salmon and other native fish,


Interior Secretary Bernhardt unveils plan to stream more water to the Valley [KMPH-TV, Fresno]

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt may have taken some of President Trump’s thunder from his planned visit to Bakersfield Wednesday. Tuesday the Secretary unveiled his new plan in Tulare that increases water movement to central California based on sound science. Secretary Bernhardt shared his plan with farmers at a water forum hosted by Tulare Congressman Devin Nunes….Farmers asked Secretary Bernhardt whether Governor Newsom might file a lawsuit to delay his plan. His advice to the Governor, read it first.


Effort to protect Shasta County plant grows into one more Shasta Dam controversy [Redding Record Searchlight]

An attempt to list as an endangered species a plant found only in Shasta County could put it in the middle of a controversy over raising the height of Shasta Dam. The California Fish and Game Commission is expected to vote Friday on whether to accept a petition to list the Shasta snow-wreath as an endangered species under state law. The snow-wreath grows only in Shasta County, and according to the petition, up to 79% of the plant’s population — a number disputed by a Redding biologist who has studied the plant — would be threatened by raising the height of the dam.


Sierra snowpack withering in California’s dry winter. New satellite image shows the bad news [Sacramento Bee]

The image is disturbing and leaves little doubt about California’s growing predicament: The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is a sad whisper of it was a year ago, a withering testament to the lack of precipitation in the state’s increasingly dry winter. The National Weather Service tweeted satellite images of the Sierra on Tuesday, showing the stark difference between this year and the above-average snowfall from 2019. The mountain snowpack — a crucial element in the state’s annual water supply — is 53 percent of normal for this time of year, according to the Department of Water Resources.


Central Coast immigrant ag workers hope Senate approves bipartisan bill providing path to citizenship [KCOY TV, Santa Maria]

Immigrant rights supporters are hoping a bipartisan legislation will be approved by the Senate this year. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would help undocumented farm workers adjust their status. The proposal aims to address labor shortage in the agriculture industry….During a forum about the bill on Tuesday, Congressman Salud Carbajal, who sponsored it, said he was optimistic the bipartisan legislation would be approved by the Senate this year.