Ag Today July 28, 2021

Will Delta water users sue — again — to stop California’s drought rules? [CalMatters]

Drought-plagued California is poised to bar thousands of farmers, landowners and others from pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, a move that irrigation districts said exceeds the water board’s authority. The emergency rules would be the first time state regulators have taken such wide-reaching action during a drought to prevent diversions from the massive Delta watershed stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border. At a more than three-hour workshop today to discuss the proposal, State Water Resources Control Board officials said the status of the Delta was so severe that they had to take urgent action. The board will vote on the regulation next week, and it could lead to formal curtailment orders as soon as August 16. “We don’t take this action lightly,” Eileen Sobeck, executive director of the water board, said in a press briefing last week. “We know that it’s going to impose hardship on folks.”

Will Delta users sue again to stop California’s drought rules? | CalMatters


Gov. Newsom signs law to give farmers help with fire insurance [KPBS, San Diego]

California farmers in high fire risk areas like San Diego County’s backcountry will now have access to a last-resort, bare-bones insurance policy if they get turned down by other insurers. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Friday Senate Bill 11, which makes farmers eligible to insure their buildings through the California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan, or FAIR Plan….The California Farm Bureau Federation sponsored the legislation, which was introduced in March by state Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park. inewsource reported in February that an Alpine chicken rancher spurred the statewide campaign when he tried to insure a new tractor last year but got a letter from the FAIR Plan saying it could not provide coverage because he was a farmer….Hannah Gbeh, the executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, said the new law was excellent news for farmers because it provided a fail-safe, last-resort plan for insurance needs, but that farmers are still having problems getting affordable insurance in fire-prone areas. “It’s an enormous issue,” she said. “Every week, I probably receive a call from a farmer saying that they have their insurance canceled and they’re struggling trying to get coverage.”

Gov. Newsom Signs Law To Give Farmers Help With Fire Insurance | KPBS


Potential long-term drought makes Napa Valley grapegrowers nervous [The Weekly Calistogan]

…“It’s on everyone’s mind. It’s not an overstatement to say everybody is thinking about it when they decide to irrigate or not,” said vineyard manager Mike Wolf….“You can’t make up for a dry winter with irrigation, volume-wise. You don’t recover from this kind of situation with one good winter. This is a multi-year deficit we have to make up for and we need to get into this conservation mode with everything we do. Vineyards definitely have a huge part to play in that.”…“It’s normal for the state to experience long cycles of drought, lasting anywhere from decades to centuries,” said geologist and California land use expert Amber Manfree….“It’s a wild card. It will most likely make whatever our prevailing conditions are more extreme,” she said. This year, however, Wolf is optimistic. “Vines have their own mechanisms for responding to drought, with really strong survival instincts. Smaller canopies can be seen on vines and this year’s crop looks to be about average. So we don’t need to irrigate like we would in a more normal situation.”

Potential long-term drought makes Napa Valley grapegrowers nervous | News |


Drought expected to change almond dynamics [Manteca/Ripon Bulletin]

The current drought — coming within several years on the heels of the previous one — could alter the map for almonds to the benefit of South San Joaquin County growers. That’s because the long-term dynamics of almond growing coupled with water shortages are prompting growers in the southern and western sides of the San Joaquin Valley who depend on water deliveries from the Central Valley Project and State Water Project to rethink what they plant. Those farmers have a less stable source of water in times of drought. They are faced to make hard decisions on what crops they will have water to produce….Already Westside growers have been removing older orchards and directing what water they have toward younger trees….As things stand now, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District has indicated as long as everyone — farmers as well as urban users in Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy — adhere to strict conservation measures they will able to meet all water demands this year. The 2022-2023 water year could be a different issue.

Drought expected to change almond dynamics – Manteca Bulletin


California residents urged to conserve energy as heat, fire conditions worsen; governors to tour border with Nevada [USA Today]

California and Nevada’s governors planned a tour near their state line Wednesday to assess damage from a massive wildfire burning near the border as officials warned residents of the Golden State to conserve energy because of worsening fire conditions. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, both Democrats, will be near the Tamarack Fire, which has burned more than 68,000 acres between the two states south of Lake Tahoe….Thunderstorms and heavy rain were possible Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Service said, and similar conditions had the potential to last through Friday. “This wet stuff fell out of the sky yesterday that I barely remembered and recognized,” Dan Dallas, an incident commander for the fire, said Tuesday. However, much of the rest of the state could see higher temperatures, which prompted California’s Independent System Operator, which oversees all power systems in the state, to issue a statewide alert Wednesday asking people to conserve energy later in the afternoon and evening.


Working outdoors in the heat? Here’s what Californians need to know about their rights [Sacramento Bee]

California in 2005 became the first state to establish a standard to protect outdoor workers from heat exposure….However, employers can be granted exceptions if they use other cooling measures such as misting machines that provide “equivalent protection.” Those in the agricultural industry seeking exceptions also need to demonstrate that it is not possible or unsafe to have a shade structure at their workplace. Cal-OSHA warns that shades must allow the body to cool. Metal storage sheds, for instance, are not considered shades unless they provide a comparable cooling environment….The standard has a special provision for farmworkers: If the temperature exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit, they must be allowed to take at least a 10-minute cool-down break every two hours.


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