Ag Today January 22, 2019

Blue Card’ bill would give agricultural workers pathway to citizenship [Salinas Californian]

Rep. Jimmy Panetta and Sen. Dianne Feinstein have co-sponsored a bill that would allow agricultural workers an eventual pathway to citizenship as well as provide the agricultural industry with a more stable workforce….According to Monterey County Farm Bureau Executive Director Norm Groot, the temporary agriculture worker program has been an issue for more than a decade in the Salinas Valley….The California Farm Bureau Federation, a nonprofit that works to protect family farms and ranches, commended the ‘Blue Card’ bill Thursday in a press release. According to CFBF President Jamie Johansson, the bill addresses a critical component of immigration reform.


California, Central Coast see continued increase in H-2A worker numbers [Santa Maria Times]

Farmers and ranchers across California and on the Central Coast employed a record number of temporary agricultural workers last year, according to a review of H-2A worker certification data published by the U.S. Department of Labor. Over a one-year period ending Sept. 30, 2018, California’s agricultural sector was approved for 18,908 temporary guest worker jobs, a 24.1-percent increase over the same period ending September 2017….The state now ranks fifth in the nation for hiring H-2A workers — trailing behind Georgia, Florida, Washington and North Carolina — and accounts for 7.8 percent of all guest worker jobs authorized by the federal government.–a/article_32ed69dc-ecbd-5c91-86d5-6b287f11f9f4.html#tracking-source=home-top-story-1


House passes bill that aids Lake, Mendocino county grape growers [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

…The U.S. House on Jan. 16 passed legislation that would allow North Coast grape growers to tap emergency funding to compensate them for losses incurred because of smoke taint in 2018. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, offered an amendment to the overall legislation that would allow growers in Lake and Mendocino counties to be eligible for federal funding….According to a survey by the Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County growers lost at least $37.1 million from smoke-tainted grapes from the 2018 crop.


Strange bedfellows: Harder praises Trump, Denham for work to keep water for farmers [Modesto Bee]

When it comes to water, the lifeblood of the Central Valley, Democrats don’t have all the answers. So says freshman Representative Josh Harder, suddenly one of the most powerful Democrats in these parts. “Water is not a Republican or a Democratic issue,” Harder said Friday,…“We need to make sure we’re all working together to advance the agenda of the Central Valley,” continued Harder, 32, of Turlock. “I was very encouraged to see some of the measures the Trump administration put forward on water.”


Editorial: Newsom must set new course on California water issues [Bay Area News Group]

Since taking office Jan. 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom has not indicated how he intends to approach one of the state’s most pressing issues: water….Newsom should signal that it’s a new day in California water politics by embracing a more-sustainable water policy that emphasizes conservation and creation of vast supplies of renewable water. The first step should be to announce the twin-tunnels effort is dead. Whom the governor appoints to the state’s major water policy agencies will offer a strong indication of whether he is heading in that direction.