Ag Today May 7, 2021

Farm-district Democrats raise caution flag on capital-gains tax plan [Wall Street Journal]

Rural Democrats issued a warning Thursday about the Biden administration’s plan to tax unrealized capital gains at death, saying they are worried about the potential impact on family farms. In a letter to House leaders, 13 members said they appreciated the administration’s proposal so far to let family-owned farms and businesses defer the taxes if they stay in family control and operation. They said they would push to ensure strong protections for farms as the plan advances and details get written. … The American Farm Bureau Federation will be fighting any efforts to change capital-gains taxes, said Pat Wolff, the group’s senior director of congressional relations.


‘Are we going to have water?’ | Amid worsening drought, California rice growers to cut back an estimated 20% [KXTV, Sacramento]

Look to the skies north of Sacramento this time of year and chances are you’ll see low-flying planes seeding the rice fields. But the California drought has had a ripple effect across industries, particularly agriculture. “We were faced with the tough decisions. Are we going to have water? And if so, how much? And where?” said Fritz Durst, a rice farmer of 40 years. California Rice says the industry contributes more than $5 billion annually and 25,000 jobs to the state economy, but this year farmers are expected to cut back production by an estimated 20% to conserve water.


Farms, ranches in southern Santa Clara County grapple with worsening drought [KPIX TV, San Francisco]

… The beauty of pasturelands in southern Santa Clara County hides hard facts. Grasses used for cattle grazing are short and stubby because of little rainfall this year and what’s there is drying out fast in the sun. … Santa Clara County’s $4 million cattle industry is facing hard times in the face of what are now extreme drought conditions. … Other ag businesses in the county are doing better. … Because the vines have deep roots and the groundwater situation in the Santa Clara Valley is healthy, Guglielmo is cautiously optimistic his vineyard can weather the extreme drought conditions forecast for the county.


Court denies Tribes’ request to keep more water in Upper Klamath Lake [Klamath Falls Herald and News]

A federal judge denied the Klamath Tribes’ efforts on Thursday to have the Bureau of Reclamation reduce flows on the Klamath River and keep Upper Klamath Lake’s elevation more suitable for spring sucker spawning. … The Bureau also said it wasn’t liable for harm done to suckers in 2021 because of the exceptionally bad hydrology present this water year. … Reclamation said temporarily suspending irrigation deliveries to the Klamath Project was proof of them doing their best to keep Upper Klamath Lake levels as high as possible.


Opinion: No, California isn’t ‘flushing water to the ocean,’ despite what Fresno politicians say [Fresno Bee]

… During one of the driest years on record, once again curtailing water deliveries to local farms, Fresno-area lawmakers wasted little time trotting out one of their favorite falsehoods. … Heated rhetoric over water and water allocations is nothing new, certainly. … And since the economies of Fresno, Kern, Tulare, Merced, Kings and Madera counties are dependent on agriculture production, it only makes sense that local electeds advocate for larger allotments. … Finding solutions for our state’s dwindling water supply will require fresh ideas and compromise. But when we allow our local politicians to propagate delusions without push-back, it only lets them off the hook.


Cost complicates access to health care for Napa Valley’s farmworkers [Napa Valley Register]

Even if his employer did offer him health insurance, Jose Segura knows he wouldn’t be able to afford the monthly premiums. … The nature of seasonal work like the kind Segura does is such that wages matter to workers more than almost anything else, Segura said. … Medical care is often prohibitively expensive for farmworkers, particularly for uninsured, undocumented workers, according to Herman Varela, a health educator with Dignity Health in Yolo County, from where many farmworkers make the seasonal commute to work in Napa Valley’s vineyards.


Red meat politics: GOP turns culture war into a food fight [Associated Press]

… Republican politicians in recent months have increasingly used food — especially beef — as a cudgel in a culture war, accusing climate-minded Democrats of trying to change Americans’ diets and, therefore, their lives. … As more Americans acknowledge the link between food production and climate change, food choices are likely to become increasingly political. Already, in farm states, meat eating has joined abortion, gun control and transgender rights as an issue that quickly sends partisans to their corners. … There are signs that Americans may be adjusting their diets out of concern for climate change.


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