Ag Today July 8, 2019

Wanting to ease utility wildfire costs, Newsom faces biggest test yet with lawmakers [Los Angeles Times]

There’s been no shortage of criticism for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to help California’s largest utilities stave off bankruptcy from costs associated with wildfires: No focus on prevention efforts. More difficulty proving utility negligence. Too much of the financial burden falling on millions of utility customers. The governor, six months into his first year in office, faces a crucial test this week as he attempts to convince the California Legislature to ratify a multibillion-dollar utility wildfire fund before lawmakers leave Sacramento for a one-month recess….Newsom’s plan would take $10.5 billion from California ratepayers to help utilities pay wildfire costs, which critics say is an unfair burden for electricity customers with no guarantees that the corporations will operate their systems safely.


VP Mike Pence is coming to the Valley for trade and fundraising. Here’s where he’ll be [Fresno Bee]

Doug Freitas, who grows almonds, alfalfa and grain on his farm in Lemoore, says he thought it was some kind of hoax when he got a phone call about hosting Vice President Mike Pence for a talk about trade with Mexico and Canada. But it’s legit. The vice president will visit Freitas’ farm on the northwestern edge of Lemoore on Wednesday for a panel discussion on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement….It’s one of two stops that Pence is making that day in Fresno and Kings counties; he is also scheduled for a campaign fundraising luncheon near Coalinga hosted by prominent farmer/rancher John Harris.


Opinion: Why Trump alternative to NAFTA is good for California farmers [San Francisco Chronicle]

…Trade is agriculture’s bread and butter and President Trump is fighting for new and better trade deals for America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers. The president has won a better deal for America in the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement….USMCA benefits California’s entire agricultural industry. By ensuring better market access and advancing science-based rules with our top trading partners, USMCA is a big win.


Market-based program would encourage farmers to buy, sell local groundwater [Bakersfield Californian]

A local water district is developing a novel, market-based groundwater trading program that, if successful, could be expanded or copied to help Central Valley farmers cope with new state restrictions against over-pumping the region’s aquifers. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District’s pilot program, set for testing later this summer or early fall, would allow certain landowners to buy or sell groundwater to or from another property owner within the district….Farmer members of the district would receive a periodic groundwater allocation, as called for under SGMA. Their account would then be credited or debited, depending whether they bought or sold groundwater within the district.


State agencies report on voluntary agreements in process to Water Board plan [Clarke Broadcasting, Sonora]

Behind the scenes, state environmental officials seem to be making progress on alternatives to water regulators’ impending plans many describe as a massive “water grab.” This week, California Secretary of Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld and Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crawfoot jointly issued a status report to stakeholder groups.…In the memo, the secretaries provided specific deliverables and an anticipated timeline for work through the summer….They state they anticipate by mid-October there will be enough information for potential submission to the Water Board for its analyses.


Opinion: California’s kids deserve healthy lunches. Here’s how better food can save the planet [Sacramento Bee]

…California has the opportunity to provide healthier and climate-friendly alternatives with Assembly Bill 479, groundbreaking legislation that proposes to expand access to plant-based food in the state’s public schools….Food has a huge impact on our planet, sucking up natural resources and spewing out pollution….Industrially-produced meat and dairy products are the worst offenders,…And yet food is left out of the climate policy conversation, while our schools are actually subsidizing and serving the most climate polluting foods in almost all of the 540 million school lunches served in our state every year.