Ag Today February 28, 2020

Gov. Newsom’s dad helped protect California mountain lions. Now his son faces the fallout [Sacramento Bee]

Thirty years ago, California voters approved a ballot initiative championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s father, William Newsom, that banned mountain lion hunting in the state. The initiative was approved in part because it secured protections for ranchers to shoot mountain lions that kill or maim their livestock. Now, the father’s crusade is a thorn in the son’s paw….The initiative contains language that says the state’s wildlife regulators can’t “adopt any regulation that conflicts with or supersedes” with certain provisions in Proposition 117. The ranching associations argue listing the cougars as endangered or threatened would violate the ballot initiative. “There is pretty clearly statutory direction on what the commission is and isn’t allowed to do for mountain lions,” Noelle Cremers of the California Farm Bureau Federation told the commission last week.


Drought fears rise in California [Wall Street Journal]

California’s mountain snowpack is about half its normal level, raising fears that the state could return to drought after a string of mostly abundant wet years….The reduced snowpack follows a roughly six-week stretch that has been one of the driest periods on record in California….The good news for Californians is that reservoirs remain mostly full around the state, while the snowpack—as meager as it is—has retained most of its water content without melting off early, Mr. de Guzman said.


‘Lost communities’: thousands of wells in rural California may run dry [The Guardian]

…The Garcias, like 95% of residents in California’s Central Valley, rely on groundwater for home use. But that resource is growing increasingly scarce, as prolonged drought and a drier climate, coupled with a vast and thirsty agriculture industry, have drained the valley’s underground stores….Sgma was meant to limit industrial use of groundwater while protecting the rights and resources of rural residents who depend on shallow wells. But as the new agencies tasked with managing the water drafted their plans, residents were largely left out.


Opinion: It’s time for state leaders to take over contentious groundwater debate in California [Fresno Bee]

…While a noble thought, our state government leaders should lean into this substantial challenge and provide much-needed leadership to gather all interested and concerned parties. The five-year buffer period has been marred by shouting matches between the groups, rather than cooperative dialogue to work together. And a path forward to sustainable water management for California remains as disjointed as it’s ever been. Local control has degraded to parochial control.


US considers more water recycling _ including from oilfields [Associated Press]

The Trump administration moved Thursday on a water-recycling push it says could get good use out of more of the wastewater that industries, cities and farms spew out, including the billions of barrels of watery waste generated by oil and gas fields each year….Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler were on hand for the launch of what they called an action plan for water reuse nationwide. President Donald Trump — who has pushed to make work easier for oil and gas developers and direct more water to farmers — triggered the effort in a 2018 memo.


One possible coronavirus side effect — cheaper almonds for U.S. shoppers [MarketWatch]

The spread of the novel coronavirus across China has slowed shipments into Chinese ports — and that could soon make products like almond milk cheaper for U.S. consumers, experts told MarketWatch. As the second-biggest buyer of California almonds, China purchased more than 100 million pounds last year. With fewer workers in China available to retrieve shipments from the select number of ports that are still open, almond growers in the U.S. may soon have an almond surplus on their hands, which could lead to lower retail prices for U.S. shoppers, two experts told MarketWatch.