Ag Today May 30, 2019

Turning poop into power: California dairies appeal for more state climate change money [Sacramento Bee]

…So far, California has steered at least $260 million in those grants to methane digester projects like the one Airoso joined. The California Air Resources Board projects they’ll remove millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking lawmakers to put another $35 million into the dairy grants. But this year, the subsidies are meeting new opposition from some of the state’s leading environmental organizations. They argue that California-style large dairies are unsustainable even with methane digesters because the machines cannot eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions cows produce, and because the dairies have other damaging impacts on water quality.


Chicken slaughter due to Newcastle spread tops more than 1.1 million in Inland Empire [San Bernardino Sun]

More than 1.1 million chickens have been euthanized at 10 egg farms in Riverside and San Bernardino counties since December in a fierce effort to eradicate the virulent Newcastle disease outbreak that started a year ago, state officials say. Poultry owners in both Inland Empire counties are so outraged by the slaughter that they have started a Facebook page called Save Our Birds, posting videos and photos of California Department of Food and Agriculture workers clad in white biohazard suits showing up at homes in Perris and Jurupa Valley, among other places….The main gripe is that chickens, pigeons and other species not tested positive for the deadly avian virus are being euthanized anyway, and that there should be a better way to corral and eradicate the virus without killing so many birds, which is traumatizing chicken owners who rely on the livestock for food or commercial purposes.


Thirsty Silicon Valley water agency might buy a Central Valley farm. Why agriculture is worried. [Sacramento Bee]

…Farmland purchases by big municipalities are always a sensitive issue, raising warnings of an urban “water grab.”…And any proposal involving the movement of groundwater from a rural area creates controversy, especially as farmers begin to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, a state law that will put strict limits on pumping in the coming years….“There is concern in the farm community if this goes through and if groundwater … is taken out of our water basin, out of the Merced water basin,” said Gino Pedretti III, president of the Merced County Farm Bureau.


An 800-acre reservoir could be coming to Stanislaus County, but what are the risks? [Modesto Bee]

A federal bill promising $14 million in funding for water storage projects for the Central Valley and Northern California served to place more attention on a proposed reservoir in Stanislaus County….The so-called “Canyon Reservoir” would create an 800-acre lake in scenic Del Puerto Canyon, nestled in the foothills west of Patterson….Del Puerto Water District and Central California Irrigation District have developed the reservoir project without many public concerns rising to the surface. That was until Patterson city staff members showed up for Wednesday’s meeting.


Newsom and legislative leaders decline to embrace changes to California’s wildfire liability law [Los Angeles Times]

Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders on Wednesday declined to embrace requests from Wall Street to change California’s controversial wildfire liability law, instead throwing their support behind a proposed multibillion-dollar fund to help utilities pay for wildfire damages and legislation to more clearly define when ratepayers would pick up the bill for claims. The state leaders said they would continue to explore “the impact of strict liability” on ratepayers, wildfire victims and the utilities….The statement was made on the same day that a California commission appointed by Newsom and the legislative leaders released a report recommending the Legislature enact sweeping changes to manage wildfire liabilities.


Opinion: Changes in climate continue to make surveying watersheds tricky. ‘But we can change that’ [Sacramento Bee]

…In my 40 years at the California Department of Water Resources, I have seen changes in climate that have convinced me that the full picture is changing and our extrapolation methods are losing value rapidly….But we can change that. For the past six years, California has collaborated with local water districts, flood agencies, power generators, environmental groups and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to fund and operate the Airborne Snow Observatory….Senate Bill 487, introduced by state Sen. Anna Caballero, would extend the California’s involvement and funding for this program for 10 years, and also expand it to the entire Sierra Nevada.