Ag Today March 26, 2021

Amid Prop. 19 uncertainty, family fears for 134-year-old Sonoma Coast ranch [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

… The California Association of Realtors, which led the campaign for the measure’s passage, is adamant it won’t hurt family farmers and in fact benefits them. Farm advocates disagree. California’s steep land prices, particularly in counties like Napa or Sonoma, mean the fair market value of farm land vastly outstrips what family farmers have been assessed at … Under the new law, some properties could be reassessed at current market value when they pass to heirs. Even with buffers in the law, the lack of profitability of the farms means any alignment of property taxes with current market values would be “a death sentence,” California Farm Bureau policy advocate Robert Spiegel said.


California Democrats want to give more COVID tax breaks. Why new stimulus law might block them [Sacramento Bee]

Gov. Gavin Newsom and California legislators want to use federal stimulus money to give tax breaks to small and essential businesses for certain expenses during the pandemic — but they’re worried that they can’t because of certain provisions in the new COVID relief law. … Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, introduced a bill to give tax credits to small and essential businesses on any money spent to provide protection against COVID-19 … His bill would be a benefit to local restaurants, hospitals and agriculture industries, he said.


Can California’s first Latino senator break Washington’s gridlock on immigration reform? [Los Angeles Times]

… The first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate, Padilla has optimism that legislation is possible under President Biden, who has said that comprehensive immigration reform is a priority, and with Democratic control of the Senate and House. … Like Biden, Padilla says comprehensive reform is ideal, but piecemeal fixes would be acceptable. … House Democrats passed bills to provide legal status to hundreds of thousands of people brought to the country illegally as children, so-called Dreamers, and to create a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers and their families. … People who know Padilla remain optimistic that some legislation is possible and that he’ll play a major role in it.


‘Often unseen’ category of essential worker during pandemic gets a Stanislaus honor [Modesto Bee]

Razo Barron has been a field worker since the early 1970s. … In the first couple of months of 2020, when the orchard supervisor with Blossom Hill/Beard’s Quality Nut in Oakdale started hearing how serious the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was becoming, he took action … When so many of us were sheltering at home, “they were out there providing us with food,” Karen Williams of the Modesto Rotary Club said about the crucial role of agricultural workers during the pandemic. She was speaking Tuesday at the Farmworker of the Year presentation, where Razo Barron was the inaugural recipient of the award from MoRo, the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau and AgSafe.


Pandemic effects on the ag industry, one year later [Colusa County Sun-Herald]

Local agriculture industry workers have continued to work through the pandemic to ensure that local commodities reach the table of consumers around the world, but how difficult has this task been while implementing the many COVID-19 protocols required to mitigate the spread of the virus in the workplace? Kurt Richter, general manager of Richter AG, said the COVID measures his company adopted in 2020 have served them well thus far. … Yerxa said while he feels every fortunate that there have not been any virus outbreaks at River Vista Farms over the course of the pandemic, the bigger picture isn’t just “on the farm” – it’s all of the support industries that must work together to get the product from the field to the consumer.


Napa Valley’s grape growers chart course in the face of an emerging statewide drought [Napa Valley Register]

There’s one thing at the forefront of the minds of many of Napa Valley’s grape growers anticipating the 2021 harvest: water. Different regions within Napa County have received between 60% and 70% less rainfall than is average this rainy season, experts say, part of a larger drought pattern that is emerging state-wide. The previous 2019-2020 rainy season was also a dry one for North Bay wine country, according to Kaan Kurtural, associate specialist at the University of California, Davis’ Cooperative Extension in Viticulture, and the consecutive dry years have had a “compounding” effect.


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