Ag Today May 18, 2021

Running out of water and time: How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought? [CalMatters]

… The good news is that in urban areas, most Californians haven’t lapsed back into their old water-wasting patterns. But, while some farmers have adopted water-saving technology, others are drilling deeper wells to suck out more water to plant new orchards. The upshot is California isn’t ready — again. … The most acute problem, experts say, is the lack of controls on groundwater pumping. … The mighty agriculture industry, which uses the bulk of California’s water, plowed up some crops such as rice and alfalfa to save water. … But growers also continued to plant new fruit and nut crops, despite the recurring water shortages. Some farmers offset their financial losses by fallowing fields and selling their water to other growers.


California farmers facing drought are choosing empty fields [Bloomberg Green]

… Growers north of San Francisco have begun pulling out of local farmers markets and produce-box programs. County Line Harvest, which farms more than 30 acres in Petaluma, California, doesn’t have enough water to grow all the peppers, lettuces and other produce that normally go into its subscription boxes, according to a video posted to its Instagram page. Nearby farms are saying the same, underscoring the impact of the extended dry spell. The announcements are concerning because California grows a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts.


Analysis: California leads nation in tree loss, but worse may lie ahead [Salinas Californian]

… According to Global Forest Watch data, California lost the most tree canopy of any state in the U.S. — not just over the last year, but over the last five and 10 years, as well. Ancient redwoods, sequoias, and Joshua trees were lost in wildfires, drought and disease. … What they found, he said, was that California led the nation in deforestation, due, in large part, to its massive 2020 wildfire season. … The state lost its trees primarily along the eastern and western edges of the state, particularly in northern California.


Budget additions could fund statewide pesticide notification system, leaving local effort in limbo [Bakersfield Californian]

A push to require farmers to give public notice of certain pesticide applications in the Shafter area has stalled but a statewide effort is gaining traction with $10 million in funding designated for it in the governor’s recent budget revision. … “I always pushed back on the local notification project here because it’s unfair to saddle Kern growers with something the whole state doesn’t have to abide by,” said Commissioner Glenn Fankhauser. … Fankhauser said he prefers a statewide notification system because it would provide an even playing field for all growers. But he acknowledged he doesn’t think the information such a system would provide would have any impact on public health.


Protesters decry cannabis farms ahead of Sonoma County supervisors hearing [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

A vocal crowd of 40 or so people gathered Monday morning at the entrance to administrative center for Sonoma County government, hoping to pump the brakes on proposed new rules that would make it easier for growers to get a permit to raise cannabis crops and open up more ground where those farms can go outside cities. The demonstration came ahead of Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors hearing, which could give the county Agricultural Commissioner’s Office more authority to issue cultivation permits without public notice or a hearing.


Floodplain restoration helps both fish and people where Tuolumne and San Joaquin meet [Modesto Bee]

… Crews have reshaped former farm fields to mimic the floodplains that spread across much of the Central Valley in the time before dams and levees. In the very wet 2017, these zones took on water that might otherwise have added to the flood threat for homes in Manteca. The water sat for three months as it seeped into the ground, recharging an aquifer tapped by farm and city wells. The restoration also benefits salmon, which could help local irrigation districts fend off calls to greatly increase reservoir releases.


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