Ag Today July 18, 2019

Salmon study may foil Trump’s plan to boost water deliveries to Central Valley farms [Los Angeles Times]

Federal biologists worked frantically this year to meet a deadline to assess the environmental impacts of Trump administration plans to send more water to Central Valley farmers. But the biologists’ conclusion — that increased deliveries would harm endangered Chinook salmon and other imperiled fish — would foil those plans. Two days after it was submitted, a regional federal official assembled a new review team to improve the documents. The move is the latest salvo in the decades-long battle over the environmental harm caused by the mammoth government operations that export water supplies from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the center of California’s vast water system.


LA’s Kern County sludge farm to stop receiving free Bakersfield water [Bakersfield Californian]

…For around 20 years, Los Angeles has shipped a large portion of “biosolids” from its toilets to fertilize a farm it owns just west of Bakersfield. Bakersfield, in return, has been providing an annual load of 18,000 acre-feet of free water to the farm, Green Acres, in a deal that was meant to benefit both cities. However, Bakersfield is choosing not to renew the water contract with LA, and the farm will have to find another source to irrigate its crops…….At the time, the agreement provided an outlet for its treated wastewater at no cost, which the city described as a positive….However, after the passage of the State Groundwater Management Act, the value of treated wastewater increased.


U.S. Forest Service relents in California firefighting dispute, state to recoup millions [McClatchy News Service]

The state of California and the U.S. Forest Service reached an agreement late Tuesday on federal reimbursement rates for local firefighters, ending a tense standoff that had alarmed state officials. In a joint letter to California fire departments, leaders of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), and the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest regional forester announced they had agreed to continue their firefighting partnership under existing reimbursement guidelines. That should smooth the path for California fire departments to receive the more than $9 million in outstanding payments they say they are owed by the federal government for fighting fires on federal land in 2018.


Santa Maria to call on Santa Barbara County to accommodate ag worker housing [Santa Barbara Noozhawk]

After wrangling with seasonal farmworker housing rules for more than a year, the Santa Maria City Council has agreed to a send a letter urging Santa Barbara County officials to pave the way for ag-employee projects in unincorporated areas….In early 2018, Santa Maria began reviewing housing issues for temporary farm employees brought to the United States under the federal H-2A program. The issue arose after residents complained about single-family homes housing dozens of workers, leading to workshops informing the community about the strict rules of the H-2A program, including background checks for employees and regulations for housing requirements.


Stanislaus County helps farmers grow hemp with launch of new pilot program [KOVR-TV, Sacramento]

Stanislaus County is helping farmers grow hemp. It’s all part of a new pilot program which officially launches on July 18. It allows farmers to grow a limited amount of industrial hemp, a plant that is in the cannabis family but is grown differently and can’t get you high. The county said so far more than 90 farmers have expressed interest in the program and about a third of them have already signed up.


If you want to help the environment, cut your beef consumption in half, new report says [USA TODAY]

…The World Resources Institute released a report Wednesday that proposed reducing beef consumption as one of the strategies to achieve a sustainable food future by 2050….According to the report, beef accounts for roughly half of agricultural land use and emissions associated with U.S. diets, but provides just 3% of the calories. Searchinger suggests that consumers should shift from cattle, sheep and goats to chicken, pork and vegetable-based alternatives….Citing numerous studies, including from the US Department of Agriculture, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said in a statement sent to USA TODAY that a well-balanced diet that promotes health and sustainability does not include eliminating single foods, like beef.