Ag Today January 2, 2019

Farm workers in California now eligible for overtime [KSBY-TV, San Luis Obispo]

Starting January 1st, farm workers in California are now eligible to receive overtime pay after 9.5 hours of work. While many advocacy groups say this is long overdue, some in the agricultural community caution this could cause a rise in the costs of fruits and vegetables at the grocery store….C.A.U.S.E. or the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, argues this bill will help attract more work workers to the fields – something California farmers have been struggling with. Some in the ag industry see it differently.


‘It’s like we don’t exist’: California’s invisible rural housing crisis [Christian Science Monitor]

…The separate reports from the council and the Government Accountability Office identify maturing mortgages and early repayment of loans on USDA properties as the primary causes of the program’s troubles. The agency has seen its housing stock decrease by 29,000 low-income units in the past decade and has lacked funding to build new housing since 2011. The projected drop-off in affordable housing would hit hardest in the Midwest and Southeast, where two-thirds of the agency’s properties are located. At the same time, California could lose nearly 27,000 units, more than any other state. The country’s most populous state seldom receives mention in discussions of rural issues, and likewise, the plight of rural areas seldom receives mention in discussions of California’s affordable housing shortage. Yet advocates warn of the fallout in Winters and other small towns statewide if the USDA program unravels.


EU’s high trade surplus with the U.S. poses risk to 2018 tariff truce [Wall Street Journal]

The European Union narrowly avoided a bruising economic war with the U.S. in 2018 by vowing to rebalance trade. In 2019, the EU faces headwinds to fulfilling its promise and satisfying President Trump’s demands….Yet in a sign of looming turbulence, American farm groups told the Trump administration that agriculture should be included in any trade deal with the EU. European leaders have repeatedly rejected that idea and Mr. Juncker asked Mr. Trump to keep agriculture out of their July agreement if the EU and the U.S. wished to seal a pact.


Cold snap not expected to harm region’s Brussels sprouts, strawberries, citrus crops [Ventura County Star]

A cold, dry forecast is expected to carry Ventura County into the new year and elevate the potential for fire weather….The impending cold snap is typical for Ventura County during the winter months, according to Edgar Terry, president of Terry Farms in Santa Paula, which grows head lettuce, celery, Brussels sprouts and strawberries. He noted that it is important for farmers to take preventative measures and said his farm was running wind machines and moisturizing its crops to prepare for the cold weather….The primary weather concern in the region continues to be the lack of rain, according to Emily Ayala, co-owner of Friend’s Ranches in Ojai, which sells oranges, tangerines and other citrus to local farmers markets.


Couple fined after claiming to use more water than the Earth holds [Redding Record Searchlight]

A couple with rights to take water from a Trinity County creek has been fined $10,000 for overstating the amount of water they diverted, at one point claiming they used more water than is actually available on Earth. As part of an agreement with the State Water Resources Control Board, the couple has agreed to pay for misstating the amount of water they took from Price Creek, a tributary to the Trinity River….The Chacons told Water Board officials they had a “broad right without limitations on the amount of water used,” according to a Water Board complaint against the Chacons….However, riparian water rights allow property owners “reasonable and beneficial” use from a water source, not an unlimited supply, he said.