Ag Today January 2, 2020

Federal judge temporarily exempts truck drivers from California gig worker law [Reuters]

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a California labor law meant to take effect from Jan. 1 from impacting over 70,000 independent truckers by granting a ‘temporary restraining order.’ U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez in San Diego granted on Tuesday a five-page order sought by trade group California Trucking Association while he considers imposing a permanent injunction, the hearing for which is set for Jan. 13….The Assembly Bill 5 or AB5 was set to go into effect on Wednesday but it faces multiple legal challenges.


California eases way for land clearing to prevent wildfires [Associated Press]

California regulators said Tuesday that they have streamlined the state’s permit process to make it faster to approve tree-thinning projects designed to slow massive wildfires that have devastated communities in recent years. The state Board of Forestry and Fire Protection approved a vegetation management program based on more than a decade of analysis of the potential environmental damage from removing different types of fuel, ranging from alpine trees to chaparral. That will allow new projects to use the preapproved environmental analyses rather than starting fresh each time to meet the requirements of the California’s strict environmental laws.


Opinion: Facing the new abnormal [North Bay Business Journal]

…People might not realize that grazed pastures and vineyards saved countless structures and reduced loss during the several fires that have burned through our county. Farmed and managed lands reduce fuel loads, provide fire breaks, barriers, and defensible space, and collectively, help to safeguard Sonoma County. Farmers want to help share this information and better prepare our lands should another fire plague our area.


Proposed ordinance would promote and protect agriculture [Valley Roadrunner]

A proposed county ordinance that would implement California’s AB 551 is seen as benefiting local agriculture by recognizing its benefits, according to the San Diego County Farm Bureau. The County of San Diego recently made the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZ) Draft Ordinance available for public review….UAIZ is intended to promote small-scale urban agriculture by providing a financial incentive for property owners of unimproved, underutilized, and vacant properties in census designated urban areas to use their properties for agricultural uses.


Citrus greening disease attacks Corona trees, putting city in quarantine area [Riverside Press-Enterprise]

The discovery of a dozen diseased fruit trees in Corona has fanned fears that citrus greening disease may soon ravage commercial orchards in Riverside County….Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, has exacted enormous damage on Florida’s citrus industry in recent years and is considered a formidable threat to California’s industry….In December, the state found 12 infected trees on 11 properties in a west Corona neighborhood south of the 91 Freeway, in an area between Green River Road, Palisades Drive and Serfas Club Drive, Lyle said. Each tree has been removed, he added.


Legal complexity fogs Point Reyes ranching debate [Marin Independent Journal]

How long Congress intended cattle and dairy ranching to continue within the Point Reyes National Seashore has been a frequent topic of debate as the park works to determine its management future. Some opponents say Congress only intended the ranchers to stay either 25 years or the remainder of the owners’ lives, whichever is shorter, and that the ranches have essentially overstayed their welcome. Others say Congress had always intended ranching to continue within the park. The history is far more complex and dynamic.