The House is taking up immigration changes this week. Democrats are cautiously optimistic about Senate support [USA Today]
Armed with hope for the first time in years that immigration legislation can pass through Congress, Democrats on Capitol Hill are moving forward this week on bills that could help create a pathway to citizenship for millions of individuals living in the USA without legal status. The House will begin action on both the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office said Thursday. … Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a co-sponsor of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, said Thursday that she is “hopeful” about the legislation’s chances in the Senate.
Black farmers have long faced discrimination. New aid aims to right past wrongs [NPR]
Tucked into President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law are provisions meant to help Black farmers, who have faced generations of systemic discrimination. As part of the American Rescue Plan, $4 billion is going toward debt relief for “socially disadvantaged” farmers to pay off debts that have prevented their farms from growing, the Department of Agriculture said. Another $1.01 billion is being used to create a racial equity commission.
Judge rules against Los Angeles in Long Valley irrigation fight [Los Angeles Times]
A judge has ordered the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to continue providing historic quantities of irrigation water to lessees of its pasturelands east of Yosemite, despite the agency’s assertion that climate change is making water resources in the Sierra Nevada watershed increasingly unreliable. … The case was brought in a lawsuit filed against the city of Los Angeles by Mono County and the Sierra Club and was triggered by new leases the LADWP proposed in 2018 indicating that ranchers on its 6,400 acres in Long Valley should expect little to no irrigation water when they renew, according to court documents.
Where COVID-19 hit hardest in Kern [Bakersfield Californian]
As COVID-19 swept through Kern County in the past year, it took hold in some areas more than others. An analysis of cases in 50 ZIP codes in Kern by The Californian shows that rural valley communities surrounding Bakersfield — many of which are home to prisons, farmworkers and some of the county’s most impoverished pockets — were hardest hit. Wasco, known for its fields of roses and small-town feel, saw the highest cases of COVID-19 per capita in the past year.
Opinion: Raising cattle in a changing climate [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]
… Recognizing the need to be part of the solution, in 2017 California’s beef and dairy families were at the forefront of working to shape our state’s most ambitious climate goals — specifically the goal of reducing livestock emissions by 40% by 2030. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, dairy families have already cut 25% of the legislatively required 40%, outpacing original expectations. Today, California’s beef and dairy families are working with a number of nonprofits and scientists who believe that the proper strategies and sound science exists to achieve those climate goals.
Opinion: Regulatory failures could spell disaster for county’s farms, groundwater [Ventura County Star]
… Super-heated, pressurized steam is pumped deep underground to loosen otherwise inaccessible gooey Tar Sands. … A decade later, we still face the same dangers. Right in the heart of our prime farmland, which infuses Ventura County with over two billion dollars annually. … Farms aren’t the only thing at risk. Underneath the strawberries, celery, and broccoli lies the Fox Canyon Aquifer, a source of fresh drinking water for around 400,000 Ventura County residents.
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