Drought’s toll on U.S. agriculture points to even-higher food prices [Wall Street Journal]
…The current drought is on pace to be one of the worst ever. One of the hardest-hit states is California, home to about 70,000 farms and ranches with a combined output of about $50 billion a year. The dairy industry accounts for the largest chunk of the state’s agricultural revenue, followed by almonds and grapes. The agricultural industry throughout the West has suffered in the past decade from a number of climate-related disasters, including a severe drought in 2014-15. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said federal support and relief programs “need to be redesigned to meet the reality of longer-term weather incidents and climate-related incidents that create not just a month, or two- or six-month, problem, but create years of problems and potentially decades worth of problems.”
As drought ravages California, Biden’s infrastructure bill could help store more water [Sacramento Bee]
As California and the West suffer through an epic drought, President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans and Democrats have included $5 billion for Western water projects in their infrastructure deal. The prospect of federal money comes as several big-ticket water projects are on the drawing boards in California — although many are still years from completion and probably wouldn’t get finished in time to help California with the current drought….It’s “the largest federal investment in western water storage in U.S. history. More than the Hoover Dam and other similar investments,” Eric Olsen, spokesman for Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, told The Sacramento Bee. Heather Engel, director of communications at Association of California Water Agencies, said they were “waiting on the legislative language to understand what it means for California.”
Water deliveries ending early for local farmers as dry conditions continue [ABC 30, Fresno]
This year’s surface water flow through Fresno Irrigation District canals is one of the shortest in history. In a few weeks, this canal near Stan Morita’s Biola farm will run dry because the 2021 water delivery season lasted for just the month of June. “I can’t remember when we only had one month of Fresno Irrigation District water,” Morita said. “Back in 2015, it was very similar,” says FID General Manager Bill Stretch. “It was about the same duration. Probably prior to that, it would be 1977.” Without canal deliveries, farmers in FID will rely on their pumps for the rest of the season.
Should homeowners pay for climate change? [CalMatters]
In hard-hit Napa Valley, which has burned multiple times this last decade, successful winemakers and longtime residents are weighing their options to rebuild or move out entirely simply by looking at their property insurance policies. “They just can’t get insurance,” said Democratic state Sen. Bill Dodd, whose district spans the region’s celebrated vineyards. “Or the insurance is so expensive that there is no way they could ever afford that kind of coverage.”…The problem is catching. California’s streak of infernos has already created record liability for insurers: Insurance companies lost a total of $20 billion in 2017 and 2018, twice the industry’s profits since 1991, according to a white paper by Milliman, a financial consulting firm. Insurers are betting climate change isn’t going away and that’s why they’re now pushing the state to allow them to factor in future flooding, mudslides and forest fires into customer premiums.
Promising technology arises in fight against potentially devastating citrus disease [Bakersfield Californian]
Researchers in Riverside and Maryland may have come up with a breakthrough in the fight against a pest-borne bacterial disease threatening to wipe out California’s citrus industry. A kind of virus first spotted in the 1950s, when the leaves on four limequat trees in Indio developed yellow veins, has been found to spread effectively throughout citrus trees’ vascular systems. Although not itself medicinal, the material could prove useful to delivering helpful therapies. While a patent is still pending and a considerable about of testing remains to be done, hopes are high enough that a company founded to commercialize the discovery reports having already raised millions of dollars from investors.
How erratic weather, lava rock terrain challenges crews battling Lava Fire [Redding Record Searchlight]
…“What really helps firefighters is when we have stable conditions,” U.S. Forest Service Spokeswoman Adrienne Freeman said Wednesday. Nonetheless, the weather has been anything but predictable for crews battling the Lava Fire in Siskiyou County….“One of the complicating factors is Mt. Shasta itself. The winds are extremely strong and erratic, essentially creating its own weather because the mountain is so big,” Freeman said. She also said the access to water is limited so it has to be trucked in. “Those are all environmental challenges that are native to Mt. Shasta and it makes firefighting very difficult,” she said.
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