Ag Today November 4, 2020

Effort to revamp California property taxes may fall short [Associated Press]

…No votes on Proposition 15 were ahead by about 2.5 percentage points with 11 million votes counted. It could take days or even a week or more to count enough remaining votes to determine a winner….Supporters say the “split-roll” system will go a long way toward fixing inequities that shield wealthy corporations, depriving property tax proceeds for schools and local governments. Opponents call it a massive tax increase that will cripple businesses in a pandemic-wracked economy.…They include the California Assessors’ Association, which would be tasked with reassessing properties, the California Farm Bureau and the California Business Roundtable. The measure exempts agricultural land, but opponents say property could be reassessed for improvements, like vineyards and dairies.


Voters say ‘no’ to Oceanside’s North River Farms residential project [San Diego Union-Tribune]

Oceanside said a loud “no” to Measure L, a developer’s proposal to build up to 585 homes in South Morro Hills, according to unofficial results released Tuesday by the San Diego County registrar of voters….Measure L would have rezoned 176.6 acres that’s now set aside for agriculture and a minimum of 2.5-acre residential lots. The new designations would have allowed the construction of a mixed-use development called North River Farms, with homes, a 25-acre commercial village, 68 acres of agriculture and 17 acres of parks and open space….“I suspect those who voted against it did so because they believe commercial farming on the city’s east side will remain in place forever, but it won’t,” said Yes on L campaign manager Tony Manolatos. “We will see more of our farmland replaced by big homes on big lots as a result of Measure L’s defeat. It’s also important to point out that ballot box planning is a terrible tool that’s made our housing crisis worse.”


Election 2020 results: Greenhouse cannabis measure headed for victory [Ventura County Star]

Voters were passing a measure to allow commercial production of marijuana in greenhouses in unincorporated areas of Ventura County, semi-official final returns showed early Wednesday. With more than 76% of the precincts reporting, 57% voted in favor with 178,792 votes counted while 43% were opposed with 134,597 votes. “It looks good,” campaign spokesman Jared Ficker said late Tuesday after the first results came in. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”


How AI can help save forests [Wall Street Journal]

A beetle no larger than a grain of rice is ravaging European forests, infesting and killing trees faster than they can be culled to slow the insects’ spread. It turns out the best way to spot the pests, and stop them, may be from space. For years, Swedish forestry cooperative Södra has deployed hundreds of foresters to walk the widely spaced spruce on properties it helps manage, monitoring the trees’ bark for drilling holes that are a telltale sign of infestation….So in early 2019, Södra began working with the Dutch technology company Overstory to find the beetles from above—way above. By matching high-resolution satellite imagery with geographic readings of sick trees as recorded by the company’s harvesters, and integrating other satellite-derived data such as land-surface temperature, they were able to train a model to quickly and accurately locate infested areas.


‘Save the Old’ aims to bring awareness and appreciation to Lodi’s historic vineyards [Stockton Record]

The saying “out with the old and in with the new” has its place when cleaning out a closet. But in Lodi, the old are worth keeping. Lodi boasts California’s highest concentration of own-rooted, old-vine vineyards – an undisputed source of pride in the region’s wine community. (Note: Vines 50 years and older generally are considered “old,” though there is no legal definition for the term). Easy to spot with their bushy, gnarly appearance, old vines make delicious wines but are low-yielding, expensive to grow and fetch scant returns per ton, especially zinfandel, the primary old-vine variety planted in Lodi. That rough reality helps explain why some growers have replaced their old vines with other wine grape varieties or crops that are less costly and generate higher revenue. Lodi’s urban development also has taken a toll.


Organic Farmer Foundation awarded $300K grant from USDA [Monterey Herald]

The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded the California Certified Organic Farmer Foundation a $318,300 grant to help create a better understanding of the Food Safety Modernization Act for local organic farmers, Rep. Jimmy Panetta announced last week. The California Certified Organic Farmer Foundation in Santa Cruz will use the Department of Agriculture Grant to lead a multi-state initiative to support organic food processors through food safety compliance training and education. “When Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, it unintentionally left some of our small and mid-scale organic processors without the resources to live up to the standards of this law,” said Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, in a press release.


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