Ag Today November 27, 2018

Regulators tie tainted romaine lettuce to California [Wall Street Journal]

Food regulators are closing in on the source of the E. coli outbreak that shut down the romaine lettuce market last week, and are asking producers to change the way they label the leafy salad green….On Monday, the FDA said the contaminated lettuce was likely grown in the central coast region in California, where the vast majority of lettuce originated at the time of the outbreak. The FDA also outlined a new voluntary labeling regime for romaine lettuce to help consumers better identify whether it is safe to eat. Romaine lettuce entering the market will now be labeled with a harvest location and date, according to the agency.


In Trump administration’s third visit to Paradise, the message remains clear: Thin the forests [Sacramento Bee]

The man who oversees America’s national forests for the Trump administration offered a novel idea Monday to help the fire-ravaged town of Paradise recover from the Camp Fire: Use timber from the nearby Plumas National Forest to rebuild….Following President Donald Trump’s lead, Perdue and Zinke visited Paradise and surveyed the devastation from the Camp Fire to push an issue they’ve been talking about for months: Give the government greater leeway to thin out forested lands and reduce damage done by major wildfires. Yet even though there’s fairly broad consensus among federal officials, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and even some environmentalists about the need to reduce tree density in forests, finding common ground on the details has proven elusive.


Forest fires add snag to getting farm bill passed [CQ-Roll Call]

Forestry provisions have emerged as the latest snag in farm bill negotiations, sending the issue to congressional leaders for talks to break the impasse. The forestry provisions in the House-passed version of the farm bill say the proposed changes to federal forest management policies would prevent forest fires — an issue that is now at the forefront after the deadly California fires. Opponents say the proposed changes would ease federal oversight and safeguards needed to limit logging on public lands that could destroy forests habitats and reduce protections for endangered wildlife.


Supreme Court finds unity in decision against the endandered dusky gopher frog [USA TODAY]

…In a unanimous 8-0 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the justices overruled a federal appeals court that upheld the designation of more than 1,500 acres of forested land in Louisiana as “critical habitat” for the frog – even though no dusky gopher frogs reside there now….In his opinion, Roberts said the lower court failed to consider adequately the frog’s absence from the area now and said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of the area as critical habitat may have been flawed. there now. “According to the ordinary understanding of how adjectives work, ‘critical habitat’ must also be ‘habitat,'” Roberts wrote.


Lame-duck congressman sees payoff of ‘Sites’ efforts [Manteca Bulletin]

Lame duck congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) is seeing his efforts pay off in bringing Washington D.C. Secretaries of the Interior and of the Army to Manteca and the Central Valley for them to see first-hand the dire water storage needs for farms and cities alike, resulting in a $449 million construction grant on the heels of a multi-million-dollar California state grant last summer….The Sites Project is being situated on the west side of the Sacramento Valley, some 10 miles west of the rural town of Maxwell in historic Colusa County….U.S. Representatives David Valadao, Jim Costa and John Garamendi will stand with Denham this morning for the formal announcement of the Sites Project Construction grant in Maxwell along with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Rickey “RD” James at the future site of the 858,000-acre-foot reservoir.


Imperial Irrigation District GM steps down amid unsettled fight over water rights [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

Imperial Irrigation District general manager Kevin Kelley will retire at year’s end, capping an often tumultuous and challenging eight years at the helm. Kelley, 60, submitted a letter to the board of directors in a closed session on Monday, and his offer was accepted….Kelley’s retirement comes after a particularly difficult stretch, during which he has been forced to spar repeatedly with farmers trying to wrest control of the Imperial Valley’s water from the district. With five weeks left on the job, he will depart with major issues unresolved, including seven-state drought contingency plans for the rapidly dwindling Colorado River, and an appeal of a decision in favor of powerful farmers and against the district.