Ag Today July 12, 2019

Utility customers will pay $10.5 billion for California wildfire costs under bill sent to Newsom [Los Angeles Times]

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign legislation Friday to overhaul how the state pays for utility wildfire damage — a complex bill the governor championed and moved swiftly through the California Legislature this week at Wall Street’s urging. The bill’s passage was a political victory for the governor, but some questioned whether California leaders were just making a down payment for wildfire costs that will skyrocket if more isn’t done to prevent ever-larger blazes….Utility customers will be required to pay $10.5 billion to the so-called wildfire fund through a 15-year extension of an existing charge on monthly bills, one that was originally expected to expire by 2021.


Costa joins Hispanic caucus members to denounce reports of weekend immigration raids [Fresno Bee]

Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, Friday joined members of the House Hispanic Caucus to denounce plans by the Trump administration to conduct weekend sweeps that caucus members say will divide families and spread fear through communities….“We’ve been here before,” said Costa, who mentioned workplace audits conducted at packing houses and other businesses in the central San Joaquin Valley where immigration officials checked for undocumented workers. Costa said he recently took up the issue in Los Banos with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.


This Tulare County pistachio grower looks to settle wage dispute lawsuit [Visalia Times-Delta]

A Tulare County pistachio grower is attempting to settle a lawsuit alleging the company failed to pay workers up to three minutes of pay each workday. Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc., recently announced that the company is offering cash settlements to hourly employees who worked between April 27, 2012, and March 1, 2019….The company is accused of failing to pay somewhere between one to three minutes of pay each workday as employees walked between the front-gate and the time-clocks, according to company officials.


IID passes conservation plan over farmer objections [Imperial Valley Press]

While the Imperial Irrigation District board approved its 2019 conservation program relating to its on-farm efficiency conservation program Tuesday afternoon, members of the ag community were not happy with the new plan….Currently, farmers are reimbursed $285 per acre foot for their participation in the IID’s water conservation programs. The problem is the $51.3 million that was budgeted for conservation payments this year exceeds the amount of water the district actually needs….What also upset several members of the ag community is they had no opportunity to review the proposal and asked for the item to be tabled for a future meeting


California lawmakers seek to slow desert water project [Associated Press]

A project to pump billions of gallons of water out from under the Mojave Desert and sell it to people in Southern California could be slowed by a bill approved for the first time on Thursday by the Democratic-controlled Legislature….Cadiz Inc., an agriculture company that owns lots of land in the area, wants to pump out 50,000 acre feet of that water each year before it is lost and send it to Southern California….The project has passed all of the required environmental reviews dating back to at least 2002. But Thursday, state lawmakers added another step by passing a bill that would require the State Lands Commission to review the project before it can go forward.


Opinion: Proposed state bill would threaten key water supply negotiations and hurt farmers [Fresno Bee]

…If the federal government weakens certain standards, SB 1 would have state agencies immediately adopt the “baseline” standards that were in place on Jan. 19, 2017 (the day before Trump took office)….The endangered species portion of this bill, in particular, could devastate ongoing federal-state negotiations over Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta operations using new scientific studies rather than decades-old data. Proponents have said SB 1 will keep Trump from delivering more water to farms, thereby harming endangered fish. That sentiment is exactly what makes SB 1 so dangerous.