Ag Today January 28, 2019

Could California produce soon cost you more? Farms face labor shortages, immigration woes [USA TODAY]

…California farmers, anchors of a $50 billion industry that represents 13 percent of the nation’s agricultural value and a critical source of its produce and milk, are facing an unprecedented squeeze on their livelihoods that could have repercussions in households from coast to coast. Beyond a decade-in-the-making labor shortage, spurred in part by a lack of replacements for an aging work force, California’s newly enacted overtime pay law and the Trump administration’s tense rhetoric over immigration have ratcheted up concern among both farmers and those they rely on to work the land….“If you want your food grown in the U.S., we need to find a way to have a legal and stable labor supply for farmers,” says Bryan Little, director of employment policy for the California Farm Bureau Federation.


Wildfire prevention: Can California make up ground lost to shutdown? [San Francisco Chronicle]

President Trump made a commitment last month to reduce wildfire danger across the West, rolling out an ambitious, if uncertain, executive order that demands more aggressive management of the nation’s forests….Even as it came to an end Friday, the president’s impasse with Congress over funding for his border wall hamstrung the nation’s largest land-management agencies long enough to slow Trump’s forest initiative. It also halted vegetation work that fire experts say is even more critical to heading off another bad fire year. During the shutdown, no new logging projects went forward, nor did fuel reduction programs like brush clearing, controlled fires and slash-pile burns.


PG&E abandoning water-power project in remote Mendocino County [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

PG&E said Friday it’s dropping efforts to sell or seek relicensing for a remote Mendocino County hydropower project that plays an outsized role in providing water to cities, residents and ranchers from Ukiah south through much of Sonoma County and into northern Marin County. Little known to many of the more than 600,000 customers and residents who get their water from the Russian River is the century-old Potter Valley Project’s contribution of 20 billion gallons of water that it diverts yearly from the Eel River….Janet Pauli, a Potter Valley rancher, said PG&E’s move was a complete surprise….The orphan process, which could lead to decommissioning, “has the potential to threaten the regional water supply,” Pauli said.


Napa County tackling thorny environment/farm issues [Napa Valley Register]

Napa County will consider strengthening protections for oaks, streams and city-serving reservoirs while also weighing how stronger environmental laws might affect the wine industry….This is last year’s Measure C battle brought to the board chamber….Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Klobas Friday said the group planned to go through the county recommendations in-depth….At the Jan. 15 Board of Supervisors meeting, Klobas asked that Measure C proponents and opponents meet….A meeting never happened.


Chicken-killing Newcastle disease spreads to Norco [Orange County Register]

The virulent Newcastle disease that has prompted 500,000 Southern California chickens to be euthanized has now been detected in a small flock of backyard chickens in Norco, the city announced Friday afternoon. Beside quarantining those birds, all feed stores in Norco have been quarantined and restricted from having birds on site, the city said….Until December, all infected poultry had been backyard birds, mostly used for show. But then, Perris in Riverside County was added to the list for mandatory euthanasia when a commercial chicken operation there was identified as having been infected.


This diet is better for the planet. But is it better for you, too? [NPR]

What we eat – and how our food is produced – is becoming increasingly politicized….A new, headline-grabbing report — compiled by some of the top names in nutrition science — has come up with a recommended target: Eat less than half an ounce of red meat per day….Here’s the environmental argument: Agriculture is responsible for up to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and much of the emissions come from red meat production….But climate health is not human health, and at a time when competing food tribes (think Paleo versus vegan) cling to polar-opposite conclusions about what makes a healthy diet, the recommendations put forth in this report were bound to stir controversy and raise the ire of the meat and animal-agriculture industries.