Ag Today March 15, 2019

US eases land restrictions meant to protect bird in West [Associated Press]

The Trump administration on Friday finalized changes to sweeping federal land use plans for Western States to ease energy industry restrictions in a way officials say will protect a struggling bird species. The changes by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will guide future efforts to conserve greater sage grouse, ground-dwelling birds that range across portions of 11 Western states….U.S. Bureau of Land Management Acting Director Brian Steed told The Associated Press the changes address concerns aired by state officials that previous policies governing millions of acres of federal land were too restrictive.


Wolves prove resilient, but proposal could curtail expansion [Associated Press]

A proposal to strip gray wolves of their remaining federal protections could curtail their rapid expansion across vast swaths of the U.S. West and Great Lakes, yet the predators already are proving to be resilient in states where hunting and trapping occur….Authority over wolves would revert to state wildlife agencies with no obligation to maintain current numbers. Critics say that amounts to a death sentence for thousands of the animals, shrinking well-established populations and preventing wanderers from carving out new territory. The track record suggests otherwise in parts of the Northern Rockies, where wolf numbers have not noticeably flagged in the face of aggressive hunting and trapping.


Plant quarantine in place for Sacramento County after Asian citrus pest is seen for first time [Sacramento Bee]

All of Sacramento County is under a plant pest quarantine after the Asian citrus psyllid bug was found in the Lemon Hill area of south Sacramento, the California Department of Food and Agriculture said Thursday….CDFA’s news release calls the vector outbreak a “grave concern,” prompting a quarantine after just one reported psyllid bug was detected in the county….Sarah Bowles, a spokeswoman for the state- and industry-backed Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program, said the psyllid has been observed and more than 1,100 HLB cases have been detected in Southern California since their first appearance there in 2012. Cases have been documented in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties.


California officially out of drought after 7 plus years [KSEE TV, Fresno]

California’s seven year drought finally came to an end Thursday. Drought monitors announced the news, calling it a “great winter for the west.”…”Even though we are out of it right now, we know it could be short lived,” Ryan Jacobsen CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau said….”California agriculture continues to innovate, tries to get as much of that water when available back into the ground water when possible, as well as continues to build the infrastructure that’s needed for both the population of the state as well as agricultural needs,” he said.


California turns to tech to keep pollinators, pesticides apart [Bloomberg Environment]

An old-school way of mapping beehives and pesticide applications is giving way to technology this season in California in an effort to better keep the two apart. This year the tracking, which has long consisted of giant maps or corkboards taped to walls with tiny pins marking hive locations, goes digital with BeeWhere, a program powered by a geographic information system….With the up-to-date information, beekeepers can move or cover hives before treatments so bees aren’t harmed. Pesticide applicators could also switch to non-toxic treatments.


The organic food industry is booming, and that may be bad for consumers [Washington Post]

As organic food shifts from utopian movement to lucrative industry, a war is being waged for its soul….In a scorecard set to be released this week, the Cornucopia Institute ranked all 45 domestic certifiers on their adherence to the spirit and letter of the organic law….California Certified Organic Farmers, based in Santa Cruz, is a certifier noted as demonstrating documented unethical behavior. According to chief executive Kelly Damewood, CCOF certifies 4,000 producers, processors retailers and other organic businesses,…“I can only presume that this organization’s rating of us is [because of] our certification of hydroponic operations. We are a federally accredited certifier and cannot deny certification based on philosophy or values alone. This scorecard is showing that they have an issue with the National Organic Program’s allowance of hydroponics, not with CCOF.