Ag Today June 15, 2021

Central Coast farmers and ranchers see an increase of insurance companies drop them due to wildfire risk [KSBY TV, San Luis Obispo]

… California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and the California Farm Bureau came together Monday at Booker Vineyard in Paso Robles to discuss fire insurance issues facing local farmers, ranchers, and agriculture businesses. … “They’ve taken those steps of having those defensible spaces, maybe making sure they have metal roofs on their barns or homes and still being denied, even though they’ve taken those steps that seem to say we are mitigating that risk when it comes to wildfire,” said California Farm Bureau President, Jamie Johansson. This issue has prompted Commissioner Lara and the Farm Bureau to support Senate Bill 11, which would allow access to the FAIR Plan, as the last resort for high-risk residential and commercial properties in California.


Final plan for water releases into Sacramento River could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run [San Francisco Chronicle]

… The State Water Resources Control Board has informed the federal Bureau of Reclamation it would accept its final plan for managing water flows from Shasta Lake into the Sacramento River, which is both the main source of water for Central Valley farms and the spawning habitat for chinook salmon. Because the bureau’s plan involves releasing water to irrigation districts earlier in the season, the river will be lower and warmer during salmon spawning season and could result in killing as many as 88% of endangered winter-run chinook eggs and young fish. The plan is the latest and final step in ongoing negotiations between federal water managers and the state water board over management of critical salmon habitat.


Tulare County’s never-ending drought brings dried up wells and plenty of misery [CalMatters]

Severe drought is gripping most of California, but its misery isn’t spread equally. While most of the state compares today’s extreme conditions to previous droughts, people in Tulare County speak of drought — in the singular, as in a continuous state of being. … While officials around the state are devising strategies to restrict or conserve water, here in the upper San Joaquin Valley there isn’t much in the way of water to begin with. … County Supervisor Dennis Townsend said he’s heard estimates that as much as 20% of the region’s farmland is being fallowed because of lack of water.


Opinion: California drought sharpens perpetual water conflict [CalMatters]

… Farmers, municipal users and environmental advocates vie for shares of water that has been captured by California’s extensive network of dams and reservoirs. Their battles are waged in the state Capitol, in Washington, in regulatory agencies and in the courts and over time, the trend has been a subtle shift of supplies from long-dominant agriculture to protecting flows for fish and other wildlife while maintaining the relatively small amount consumed in urban areas. … How the state handles competing demands during this drought may be a harbinger of the larger conflict over the long-term reallocation of water as climate change affects supply.


Opinion: Profit-thirsty Big Ag makes a bad thing worse [CalMatters]

… The situation is a foreseeable symptom of an allocation system that overpromises to those with financial and political clout.  When the gaps in an overallocated system are laid bare, it’s the environmental, Indigenous, family-farm and low-income community stakeholders who are left clamoring for the water spilling from the Big Ag trough. So if we’re stuck with the fish-versus-farmer paradigm, let’s be clear. The big agribusinesses and shadowy water districts serving them, for whom the system was designed and who have historically benefited — they’re the farmer. The rest of us are the fish.


Lodi wineries eager for return to tourism ahead of California’s reopening [KCRA TV, Sacramento]

… Stuart Spencer, executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, said wineries have not had to put a cork on sales despite a lack of tourism throughout the pandemic. … Spencer said most Lodi wineries reopened with limited capacity earlier this year. He hopes many more tourists will head down the grapevine as the state moves past the pandemic. “We can move back indoors. We don’t have to worry about social distancing, and we don’t have to worry about the customers wearing masks into the place because that’s created a lot of challenges and obstacles for us all to work around,” Spencer said.


Ag Today is distributed by the California Farm Bureau Marketing/Communications Division to county Farm Bureaus, California Farm Bureau directors and staff, for information purposes only; stories may not be republished without permission. Some story links may require site registration. Opinions expressed in stories, commentaries or editorials included in Ag Today do not necessarily represent the views of the California Farm Bureau. To be removed from this mailing list, reply to this message and please provide your name and email address. For more information about Ag Today, contact 916-561-5550 or