Ag Today March 11, 2019

Momentum builds for public investment in California water-storage projects [Bakersfield Californian]

…Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward a series of reservoir projects, as well as repairs to a canal serving Kern County farmers….Past efforts by Central Valley politicians to redirect bullet-train money toward transportation projects have failed, and it’s unclear whether there is sufficient political will — or legal precedent — to steer rail money toward water storage. But the new legislation could benefit from timing.


Top fed backs IID push for Salton Sea Farm Bill clean-up funds, with no linkage to drought plan [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

As promised, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman on Friday wrote a letter of support to the Imperial Irrigation District, backing efforts to win substantial Farm Bill funds to restore the dwindling Salton Sea. But she stopped short of linking a pledge of funds to the seven-state Colorado River drought package that she is pushing to complete in two weeks. Instead, she said adopting the drought plan was the single biggest step to both preserving drinking water across the West and to preserving the Salton Sea….It’s unclear whether Burman’s support will be enough to satisfy directors of the sprawling rural water district, which in December set a condition of receiving a $200 million pledge of federal funds in exchange for its support of the Lower Basin drought plan.


Opinion: Plentiful rain and snow, but westside growers get shortchanged on water supply [Fresno Bee]

…The low initial allocation, in a year that in mid-February was on course to end with precipitation and runoff that is well above average, is further evidence that California’s water system is not working. Fortunately, both the federal and state governments recognize this fact….In the short-term, because of wet hydrologic conditions, the allocation for farmers served by the CVP will increase. But in the long-term, we must find better ways of managing the system, to provide better protection for fish and wildlife and an adequate, more reliable supply of water for people.


Hoop structures ordinance coming before Santa Barbara County supervisors Tuesday [Santa Maria Times]

…Hoop structures are widely used in the county to shelter berries and other crops from the elements, control temperatures and protect crops from dust and moisture. As temporary agricultural equipment, hoop structures are exempt from building permits under the County Building Code, but the Land Use and Development Code contains conflicting regulations and permits for them only required in Carpinteria Agricultural Overlay Zone. The structures are also popular with cannabis growers, but many of them have been unable to obtain permits for their cultivation operations because an ordinance regulating hoop structures has not been adopted by supervisors.


Opinion: I’ve been a farmworker all my life. Here’s why you should buy organic food [Sacramento Bee]

…The farmworkers who plant and harvest America’s food are on the frontlines of pesticide harm. Protecting farmworkers from toxic pesticides will require reducing industrial agriculture’s dependence on synthetic chemicals while expanding organic farming. Consumers who choose organic food to protect themselves and their families from pesticide exposure also help to create a safer and healthier food system for everyone, from farm to table….Choosing organic food reduces pesticide exposures in our own bodies and protects the health and well-being of the people who make our food possible: the farmworkers and farmers of America.


Opinion: School lunch scheme rich on indoctrination

…State lawmakers now want to pry the chicken tenders and one-to-a-customer milk cartons from the plastic-gloved hands of the state’s lunch ladies. The replacement? Quinoa tacos, eggplant sloppy joes and kale smoothies – along with a healthy serving of agitprop theater. Straining the boundaries of fiction writing, the bill, introduced in February, would allow California tax dollars to be used to undermine the federal School Lunch Program and teach kids about the evils of Greek yogurt and cottage cheese in the nation’s biggest dairy state. It also brings the state’s Air Resources Board into the school nutrition game. It’s Orwellian. And it identifies the wrong culprit for obesity.