Ag Today January 23, 2019

January storms added 580 billion gallons of water to California reservoirs [Bay Area News Group]

…Over the three weeks from Jan. 1 until this Tuesday, 47 key reservoirs that state water officials closely monitor added 580 billion gallons of water — as much as roughly 9 million people use in a year, according to an analysis by this newspaper….Nearly all of the major reservoirs around California are now at or above their historical averages, swelled by runoff that continues to pour in from brimming creeks, rivers and rising water tables. Meanwhile, the statewide Sierra Nevada snow pack, which provides about one-third of California’s water, on Tuesday was at 114 percent of normal, up from just 69 percent on Jan. 1.


Department of Agriculture to reopen all farm agency offices [Reuters]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday it will reopen all Farm Service Agency offices on Thursday to offer services to farmers and ranchers during the partial government shutdown. Some Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices had been providing limited services since Jan. 17, but the move means all of the agency’s offices will be open and will provide more services….In addition, the deadline for farmers to apply for relief against tariffs has been extended to Feb. 14 from Jan. 15, the USDA said in a statement.


Organic price premiums dip as demand grows, choices multiply [Associated Press]

U.S. shoppers are still paying more for organic food, but the price premium is falling as organic options multiply. Last year, organic food and beverages cost an average of 24 cents more per unit than conventional food, or about 7.5 percent more, according to Nielsen. That was down from a 27 cent, or 9 percent, premium in 2014….There are many shifting factors behind the prices for organic foods. Premiums for milk and eggs tend to be much higher, for example, because the government has very specific rules for what “organic” means….Organic and conventional vegetables are grown in similar ways, so the price difference tends to be lower.


CVWD eyes $40 million bond to pay for pipe; Growers say the district should tap hefty reserves instead [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

Coachella Valley Water District board members on Tuesday debated issuing a $40 million bond to pay for an extension of the Oasis pipeline to bring imported water to about 40 farmers and others in the irrigation district, who would pay the costs back over 30 years. A small rate increase could be imposed as well. A coalition of farmers known as Growing Coachella shot back with a different proposal. In a meeting with The Desert Sun editorial board, they said the district should dip into its $500 million reserves to pay for the project instead.


Sonora High District won’t rescind sale of Wildcat Ranch [Sonora Union Democrat]

The Sonora Union High School District has directed its legal counsel to respond to a letter from the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau that demanded the district rescind the sale of a portion of the Wildcat Ranch property to a Sonora-area non-profit. Superintendent Mark Miller said the response was intended to be compliant with a requirement that the district respond within 30 days, but it would not rescind the sale as requested….Shaun Crook, a Tuolumne County Farm Bureau board member, said anything short of rescinding the contract would likely trigger another legal response by the farm bureau, but he would reserve additional comment until the letter was received….Crook said the group’s formal opposition to the sale was initiated out of the interest of the entire community.