Ag Today May 25, 2021

As drought intensifies, California seeing more wildfires [Associated Press]

As California sinks deeper into drought it already has had more than 900 additional wildfires than at this point in 2020, which was a record-breaking year that saw more than 4% of the state’s land scorched by flames. … This year’s fires so far have burned nearly five times as much acreage as they did last year at this time. … Last year’s epic fire season lasted so long that it slowed Cal Fire’s attempts to set its own fires — the prescribed burns that they want to make an increasing part of their long-term efforts. … That means in many areas officials will have to continue using hand crews, machinery or animals to clear overgrown areas.


The Central California town that keeps sinking [New York Times]

… Corcoran is sinking. Over the past 14 years, the town has sunk as much as 11.5 feet in some places. … The main reason Corcoran has been subsiding is not nature. It’s agriculture. … how Corcoran came to dip nearly 12 feet in more than a decade is a tale not of land but of water, and the ways in which, in ag-dominated Central California, water is power — so much so that many residents and local leaders downplay the town’s sinkage or ignore it entirely. Few in Corcoran are eager to criticize agricultural companies that provide jobs in a struggling region for helping to cause a little-known geological problem no one can see.


Fresno-area candidate for Congress wants to declare the Delta smelt extinct [Fresno Bee]

A hopeful for a Fresno-area seat in Congress has initiated a petition to have the embattled Delta smelt declared extinct. Chris Mathys said Monday he took the first step toward that petition, which is a letter of intent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of California 30 days before filing the formal petition. … He argues there’s no reason to wait any longer to call the fish extinct, not when water is so important in the central San Joaquin Valley.


Cal/OSHA proposes nearly $300,000 in fines tied to Foster Farms COVID-19 outbreaks [Los Angeles Times]

In the wake of deadly COVID-19 outbreaks at poultry processing plants operated by Foster Farms in California’s Central Valley, the state’s health and safety agency is proposing nearly $300,000 in fines. Foster Farms, one of the West Coast’s largest producers of poultry, faced ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 during the pandemic. By the end of 2020, 12 Foster Farms workers had died. … Labor experts and advocates for workers have said the deaths show a need for authorities to pay greater attention to workplace safety in the Central Valley.


California finds 4% of fruits, vegetables contaminated by pesticide [Salinas Californian]

… The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has found that 4% of fruits and vegetables tested in 2019 had illegal amounts of pesticide residue, in line with the past five years’ test results. Advocates called for even greater gains, maintaining all fruits and vegetables should be safe to eat. … Of the produce samples that contained illegal residue, Department of Pesticide Regulation testers found the majority (83%) had pesticide residue with no established tolerance for the sampled crop, meaning any detected level is considered illegal. Dutton noted most illegal pesticide is found on imported produce, accounting for 82% of the 137 unsafe fruits and vegetables.


Kern County proposes increase in land use fee to combat illegal dumping [Bakersfield Californian]
… At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, local officials could take the first steps toward addressing the persistent problem. At the meeting, the county Public Works Department is slated to propose increasing the land use fees for all residential properties within the county to fund illegal dumping cleanup efforts in both the unincorporated areas of the county as well as the cities themselves. … The county would then fund five cleanup crews stationed throughout Kern to handle illegal dumping complaints.


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