Ag Today November 22, 2019

Newsom administration sends mixed signals on delta endangered species protections [Los Angeles Times]

California officials sent mixed signals Thursday when they said they will sue to block a Trump administration rollback of endangered species protections for imperiled fish — while also proposing new water operations that mimic parts of the Trump plan. The state moves reflect the political pressure the Newsom administration has been under as it confronts one of California’s most intractable environmental conflicts — the battle over the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the center of the state’s water system….Thursday’s announcements appeared to give something to both sets of interests: In coming weeks the state intends to sue federal agencies over the rollback, which has not yet taken effect. At the same time, the California Department of Water Resources is proposing new rules for state pumping operations in the delta that loosen some existing limits and give water managers more flexibility in how they run the department’s giant export facilities that fill the southbound California Aqueduct.


100-year-old Shasta County dam creating conditions of ‘extreme peril’ [Redding Record Searchlight]

With winter rains on their way, officials worry a dam that creates a small lake 17 miles west of Redding could collapse, inundating downstream homes with up to 20 feet of water if sediment and debris clogging two outlet pipes is not cleared. Two 30-inch outlet pipes at Misselbeck Dam have been clogged with silt and debris since last summer, forcing water from Rainbow Lake to flow over the top of a deteriorated 100-year-old spillway, said Charles Tucker, president of the Igo-Ono Community Services District, which owns the dam. Currently there is no imminent danger from water flowing over the spillway, he said. But with rains due next week and winter approaching, the situation could deteriorate, and possibly lead to the collapse of the dam, district officials said.


For the sake of American farmers and workers, pass this bipartisan immigration bill [Chicago Sun-Times]

…The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is a sliver of immigration legislation meant to help farmers and migrant workers who pick our fruits and vegetables….Farmers in red and blue states need this legislation. America needs it….These undocumented immigrants who work in America’s fields for years deserve to be legalized. They earn it. And this bill would provide a path for it. This would stabilize the work force for farmers, something they desperately need. In a 2019 survey of nearly 1,100 farmers, 56 percent told the California Farm Bureau Federation they’d been unable to hire all the workers they needed for production of their main crop at least once in the last five years.


Here’s how much California agriculture is in a typical Thanksgiving dinner [Southern California News Group]

As we shop and prepare for Thanksgiving dinner, we can be grateful for California’s massive agricultural output. The shopping list for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Thanksgiving meal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers….If your Thanksgiving feast has any of the following foods, it has California to thank.


Visalia is getting out of the walnut business after squandering $100,000 in taxpayer funds [Visalia Times-Delta]

Just three years after the city controversially invested taxpayer money in a walnut orchard on Visalia’s westside, council members have decided to scrap the trees and sell a portion of the 17-acre lot to a local homebuilder for $1.1 million….The trees were meant to create a “scenic corridor” leading into Visalia while turning a profit for the city through the sale of the lucrative nut crop. However, expenses associated with maintaining the urban orchard has caused city leaders to reverse course. Since walnut trees take five years to mature, the orchard will be scrapped before its first harvest — amounting to a more than $100,000 deficit.


Shale Drillers’ Latest Problems: Hog Manure and Chicken Guts [Wall Street Journal]

It isn’t just Appalachian shale drillers that are swamping the natural-gas market. Chicken slaughterhouses, pig farms, expired yogurt and leftover bits from your last meal are contributing to the glut….Anaerobic digesters, which break down organic waste into usable fuel and fertilizer, are being built among the chicken houses on the Delmarva Peninsula, on the site of a defunct oil refinery in Philadelphia to be filled with old food and in a remote part of Utah to collect fumes from a hog-manure lagoon….Though renewable natural gas, also known as biogas, is usually more expensive than the fuel extracted from shale formations—and often subsidized—it has appeal to utilities, municipalities and others.