Ag Today November 28, 2018

Farmers frustrated after tainted romaine tied to Central Coast [Bay Area News Group]

Lettuce is king on California’s Central Coast, where row crops and produce stands line the roadways in a region that boasts of being the Salad Bowl of the World. So it struck deep when federal authorities this week linked a rash of severe bacterial infections to romaine lettuce from California’s Central Coast. Now farmers who adopted a host of safety measures after local spinach was tied to a deadly 2006 outbreak fear another battle to win back consumers’ trust.


Local romaine growers glad to be harvesting again [Imperial Valley Press]

Growers in the Imperial Valley were back to work Monday as soon as an agreement to label romaine lettuce’s origins and harvest date were finalized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, lifting a blanket ban on the leafy green that lasted a tense six days….“It was a big hit, but we’re just glad everybody is back to work,” Holtville-area farmer Jack Vessey said Tuesday….The E. coli outbreak was tied to romaine lettuce that had been part of the tail end of the previous growing season. In fact, the winter crop, most of which is grown out of the Imperial Valley and Yuma areas, hadn’t really even had a chance to get to market yet when the FDA and CDC shut everything down.


Editorial: Romaine roulette exposes farm-to-fork flaws [USA TODAY]

…Given the urgent need to get this information rapidly, why hasn’t the government been able to give consumers these vital answers before three outbreaks in the last two years killed six people? There are lots of answers, none of them acceptable, especially seven years after the passage of a new federal food safety law that was supposed to offer farm-to-fork regulation. Despite that law, practices in parts of the industry are stuck in the dark ages.


Feds loan $449 million for Sites Reservoir [Marysville Appeal-Democrat]

Another piece of the puzzle has been placed in the massive effort to build Sites Reservoir in Colusa and Glenn Counties. The United States Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday it will loan $449 million to help build the Maxwell water inter-tie….The project was important to the department because it benefits a large part of the Sacramento Valley, including rural areas and economies. If Sites is built, the new pipeline would be a crucial part of the overall project, which is designed to be an off-stream reservoir.


Salmon surge: Habitat improvements paying off on one California river [San Francisco Chronicle]

Near record numbers of chinook salmon are surging up the Mokelumne River, marking the second large spawning year in a row and signaling to fisheries biologists that habitat improvements in recent years are paying off for fish and the people who eat the pinkish delicacies….It is expected to be the best two-year run on the river since records started being kept in 1940, a significant accomplishment given how dismal salmon returns have been over the past three years in virtually every other waterway in California, including the Sacramento River, which last year saw its lowest returns in eight years. The incursion in the Mokelumne is the result of increases over the past few years in cold water releases from the reservoirs, better management of hatchery fish and habitat improvements in the river, according to fisheries biologists.


Congress weighs ‘nieces, nephews’ and ‘first cousins’ farm subsides [CNN]

…After months of hold-ups, Congress is negotiating the final farm bill, which could reach the floor as soon as this week. One of the final issues being hammered out is a controversial expansion of farm subsidies that critics say would enable extended family members to receive subsidies, even if they don’t live or work directly on the farm….The Senate bill did not expand the subsidy eligibilities, while the House bill included a provision by the House Agricultural Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, a Texas Republican, that does.