Ag Today July 10, 2019

Never mind those earthquakes: Atmospheric rivers could put Sacramento 30 feet under water [Sacramento Bee]

A research team led by Sasha Gershunov at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego published a new study on atmospheric rivers in Nature Scientific Reports this week that places atmospheric rivers under scrutiny as the driving cause behind California’s increasingly extreme, infrequent bouts of precipitation….According to a team led by scientist Dale Cox at the U.S. Geological Survey, California is due for another megaflood….Indeed, these rivers in the sky are becoming wetter and stronger….Gershunov said that atmospheric rivers are gradually overtaking storms as the main contributor to California’s fickle precipitation.


PG&E’s planned power shutdowns could choke off vital water supplies [San Francisco Chronicle]

PG&E’s plan to prevent wildfires with widespread power shut-offs means no lights, no refrigeration and no internet in many parts of California. It could also mean limited use of toilets and taps, an inconvenience that water and sewer districts across the state are scrambling to address before a blackout comes and nature calls. Utilities, including several in the Bay Area, simply don’t have the backup power to replace the electricity that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. normally provides for water delivery and sewage treatment. The agencies are trying to make their operations more energy efficient and adding alternative power sources in case the cord is cut, but it may not be enough.


Farmers grow the food. But who’s helping new farmers put down roots? [Christian Science Monitor]

…In the past two decades, the United States has lost about 8% of its farms and the only operations that have bucked that trend are the very largest (2,000 acres or more) and the very smallest (less than 50 acres). That persistence of small farms is significant, because the majority of those operations are run by beginning farmers….Around 50 land-link programs are still at work across the country. Unlike Ms. Sharrock and Ms. Newman’s arrangement, most land links involve a financial transaction like a sale or lease. While these programs vary in scope and success – offering a variety of services led by nonprofits, land trusts, universities, and state governments – the most effective models prioritize the transfer of knowledge and long-term business and retirement planning. When land links involve person-to-person resources, experts say, all parties involved are better equipped to address the challenges of growing the next generation of American farmers.


Farmworkers awarded $2.2 million settlement over workforce mistreatment [KYMA TV , Arizona]

Thousands of H-2A farmworkers that are working under California and Arizona contracts will be receiving compensation as part of a $2.2 Million settlement with large corporations like Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., Taylor Farms California, Inc., and Foothills Packing, Inc., one of the largest farm labor contractors in the western United States. Dozens of farmworkers that were named in the settlement claimed they were cheated out of their wages, required to travel in the employer’s vehicles for several hours a day without pay, and required to do preparatory work before harvesting lettuce without being paid for the time frame.


U.S., Chinese negotiators hold ‘constructive’ phone talks on trade [Reuters]

U.S. and Chinese trade officials held a “constructive” phone conversation on Tuesday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said, marking a new round of talks after the world’s two largest economies agreed to a truce in a year-long trade war….Kudlow said the talks “went well” and were constructive. He said the two sides were talking about a face-to-face meeting, but warned that there was not a magic way to reach what has so far been an elusive deal.


Opinion: Farm states slammed by double whammy of US-China trade war and immigration woes [CNBC]

…But the farm economy — never a sure thing — is challenged this year like at no other time in recent history, at least since the mid-1980s….Which states are hurt most depends on variables particular to each state. California is impacted most by lack of labor, while Wisconsin suffers worst from bankruptcies and dairy losses, for instance….Weather is beyond our control. But our trade and immigration policies are not….Fair and open global trade in agriculture can’t come soon enough for U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. Ditto immigration reform. The lack of an adequate agricultural labor force has dramatically impacted farmers.