Ag Today May 1, 2019

Why California farmers are having increasingly harder time finding workers [Bakersfield Californian]

California’s farm labor shortage is getting tougher, according to results of a new survey that says the situation worsened this year for most farmers struggling to find enough workers. The California Farm Bureau Federation reported 56 percent of 1,071 farmers surveyed across the state indicated they could not hire enough help, up from 55 percent last year….Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson emphasized farmers have tried to adjust by raising wages, altering their farming practices, using the H-2A foreign worker visa program and introducing automation where appropriate.


Hydropower bill would sabotage California’s clean energy mandate, critics say [Los Angeles Times]

…Under Senate Bill 100, which was signed last year by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, California is required to get 100% of its electricity from climate-friendly sources by 2045….But the details of how to get to 100% still need to be worked out. And now SB 386, which was written by state Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), is reviving an old fight that’s never been fully resolved. Central Valley lawmakers have long argued that large hydropower projects should count toward California’s renewable energy goals….But environmentalists are loath to encourage the construction of new dams, which they see as destructive projects that drain rivers and kill fish. Although the era of dam building in California largely ended decades ago, many climate advocates also oppose categorizing existing hydropower as renewable energy.


Salton Sea wetland projects access agreement afoot [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

With the clock ticking, a major hurdle to restoring the southern edge of the fast-drying Salton Sea may finally be overcome. Imperial Irrigation District general manager Henry Martinez told the Desert Sun that he and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade  Crowfoot have reached an agreement in principle that the state — not the water district — will be responsible for construction and maintenance of more than 3,700 acres of wetlands aimed at controlling toxic dust and restoring wildlife habitat. In exchange, the water district will sign easements for access onto lands it owns that border California’s largest lake. The agreement could break a years-long impasse and find ways to get restoration projects moving.


EPA reaffirms glyphosate safe for users as court cases grow [Associated Press]

The Environmental Protection Agency reaffirmed Tuesday that a popular weed killer is safe for people, as legal claims mount from Americans who blame the herbicide for their cancer. The EPA’s draft conclusion Tuesday came in a periodic review of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. The agency found that it posed “no risks of concern” for people exposed to it by any means — on farms, in yards and along roadsides, or as residue left on food crops.


No fresh aid package for U.S. farmers planned for now: Agriculture Secretary [Reuters]

The Trump administration does not have any active plans to provide more aid to farmers at the moment but can consider the option if the trade negotiations and weak commodity prices linger, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday….On Monday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration was ready to provide more aid if necessary. But Perdue said he was not aware of any such plans at the moment….A constituency that helped carry Republican President Donald Trump to victory in 2016, U.S. farmers have been among the hardest hit from his trade policies that led to tariffs with key trading partners such as China, Canada and Mexico.


Opinion: Sharyne Merritt: Cannabis a threat to other crops [Santa Maria Times]

I grow 13 acres of certified organic avocados in Carpinteria. Our farm is our primary source of income. For the past 15 years a local agriculture company has been spraying my avocados for persea mites and avocado thrips with Entrust, a certified organic product….But this year they won’t spray Entrust or any conventional pesticides for that matter because of fear of lawsuits from cannabis growers….So, marijuana growers will make millions and I will lose half the value of my crop. Doesn’t seem fair to me.