Ag Today Monday, April 6, 2015


California Gov. Brown defends scope of water restrictions [Wall Street Journal]

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday defended the scope of new mandatory water restrictions in the Golden State, pushing back against the idea of applying them to the farming industry, which uses the bulk of the water in the state. Extending the limits to the agricultural industry would amplify harm to agriculture producers already suffering through the state’s four-year drought, Mr. Brown said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There are people in agriculture that are really suffering,” he said….Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) also on Sunday said the drought is “a very, very serious problem” that will lead to “mandatory rationing” as well as “the fallowing of large amounts of agricultural land,” speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.” She added she is working on a bill that would help the state deal with the record drought, but didn’t go into detail.
Californians with century-old water rights face restrictions [Associated Press]
Farms and other Californians that have been shielded from water reductions because of century-old claims could face new restrictions, the State Water Resources Control Board said Friday.…Thousands in California, mostly farmers but also cities and energy companies, have rights to divert water for their needs, including irrigation and for hydroelectric dams. But if dry conditions continue through summer, they will likely face restrictions on taking water, the board warned in a letter. The board’s move could place restrictions on those with claims to water before 1914 for the first time in the current drought. The so-called senior rights holder are prioritized and protected from cuts under California’s antiquated water rights system.
Editorial: On water, Big Ag should ante up, too [Sacramento Bee]
As the rest of California comes to grips with the state’s historic new water mandates, there’s an elephant in the room. And it’s wearing a farmer’s hat….Unfortunately, change has never been particularly welcome in California’s farm sector. And the painfully deliberate culture of the state’s water regulators, which would make a snail’s pace look like the Indy 500, hasn’t been giving them much encouragement….In the San Joaquin Valley, the aquifers have been sucked so dry that the earth is sinking. That’s one reason why the state last year passed a historic groundwater bill to address the plunder. Problem is, the timeline is so slow that decades are likely to pass before meaningful curbs are implemented.…That timeline needs to be accelerated.
$25-billion Sacramento-San Joaquin delta tunnel project reexamined [Los Angeles Times]
Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is overhauling its proposal for a controversial tunnel project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta in the wake of doubts about whether water exporters can meet stringent federal conditions for operating the system over a 50-year period.…A major goal of the plan is to gain a 50-year environmental permit for delta exports that would ease the endangered species restrictions that have cut delta deliveries to San Joaquin Valley growers and the urban Southland. But state water officials have concluded that the federal requirements for such long-term approvals are too onerous for the water exporters to meet.…Sources familiar with the state discussions said that it is likely the department will separate the habitat restoration component from the tunnel proposal and pursue shorter-term operating permits for the new diversion facilities and existing pumping operations. Although the Bay Delta plan included restoration money, it is unclear how the separate restoration effort would be funded or carried out.
Farm Bureau board endorses formation of Paso Robles water district [San Luis Obispo Tribune]
After more than a year of deliberations and fact finding, the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau board of directors has voted to endorse the formation of a water management district for the Paso Robles groundwater basin. The Farm Bureau endorsement is a major step forward, said Jerry Reaugh, chairman of the Paso Robles Agricultural Alliance for Groundwater Solutions, a group advocating for the establishment of the district.…In their vote, the board members cited the importance of local control by the people who are most affected by the groundwater issue, rather than those who live or represent entities outside the basin boundaries, as one of the main reasons for their support.
Editorial: Supervisors should OK pesticide policy direction [Ventura County Star]
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on a request from two of its members for policy direction to their agricultural commissioner requesting clearer, more frequent information regarding use of pesticides in the county. We urge the full board to support the policy initiative of Supervisors Steve Bennett and John Zaragoza. The policy is all about transparency. It directs the agricultural commissioner — who is appointed by the board — to submit to the board any government tests he is aware of that measure potential pesticide impacts on public health; identify the tests he believes he should regularly monitor; give the board reports on those tests; and tell the board promptly when a test shows the state standard has been exceeded. The directive from the two supervisors comes as a result of an investigation done by the Center for Investigative Reporting, parts of which were published in The Star, which found that higher levels of one of the riskiest available pesticides were used near Rio Mesa High School than around any other school in the state.
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