Ag Today November 8, 2018

Board agrees to Newsom-Brown request to delay decision on water plan [Modesto Bee]

The State Water Resources Control Board honored a request by Gov. Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom for 34 days to work out voluntary settlements with irrigation districts in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, which are under pressure to divert less water so salmon populations can rebound in rivers. Wednesday, the state board voted 3-0 to postpone approval of a water quality control update for the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta that’s fiercely opposed by water districts, agricultural interests and communities that rely on water from the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers….Michael Franz, a Turlock Irrigation District board member, said after the meeting that lawsuits likely would have been triggered if the state board had approved the controversial Bay-Delta plan this week. And the talks would have ended.


Did gas, homeless people and sick kids kill California’s water bond? [Sacramento Bee]

California voters on Tuesday rejected a water bond for the first time in almost 30 years, disregarding pleas from its backers that the money would fix crumbling infrastructure, bring clean drinking water to disadvantaged communities and kick-start badly needed environmental restoration projects….University of California San Diego political scientist Thad Kousser…said he suspects the reason the bond failed was because voters in 2014 and in June passed water-related bonds. Plus, voters this election agreed to keep higher gas taxes, and they also passed bonds for children hospitals, homeless people and affordable housing. “I think there was bond fatigue here,” Kousser said.


Farmers keep majority on Coachella Valley Water District board as John Powell Jr. defeats Ed Muzik [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

The Coachella Valley’s largest water agency will still have three farmers on its five-member board next year, as Peter Rabbit Farms CEO John Powell Jr. won re-election over Ed Muzik, general manager of the Hi-Desert Water District in Yucca Valley….Powell’s re-election ensures that farmers will continue to control three of the five seats at CVWD, which sells water to agricultural customers in the eastern Coachella Valley and homes and businesses from Palm Springs to Mecca….Powell has said one of his top priorities is more sustainable use of local water supplies. Groundwater levels have risen significantly near recharge ponds in La Quinta, where imported water from the Colorado River has helped replenish the underground aquifer. But while the Coachella Valley is using less water overall, the amount of Colorado River water going to farms has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade.


Drought tests Australia’s model water market [Wall Street Journal]

The world’s driest inhabited continent is struggling to sustain its pioneering effort to put water supply in the hands of market forces, as authorities contend with a drought and complaints by farmers who say the system is putting them out of business. Australia has one of the world’s most sophisticated water-trading systems, and officials in other water-challenged places—notably California and China—are drawing on its experience to manage what the World Bank has called world’s “most precious resource.”…The challenge of managing supply when water is scarce has intensified around the world with rising populations and growing demand for food.


Six animal welfare activists face felony charges for Petaluma chicken farm protest [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

Six protesters involved in a September animal welfare demonstration at a Petaluma poultry farm when about 15 chickens were taken from the property are facing felony burglary, theft and trespassing charges, the Sonoma County district attorney’s office confirmed this week….Wayne Hsiung, 37, of Berkeley, one of the protesters charged for his actions during that September protest, said he and others believed they were following laws allowing them to provide water and food to neglected animals when they went onto the Petaluma property to help chickens that appeared to be in distress….Sonoma County Farm Bureau Executive Director Tawny Tesconi, called the animal welfare protesters “domestic terrorists” at a workshop held last month with about 70 farm bureau members to discuss how farmers can prevent trespassing and respond if demonstrators show up at their property lines.


U.S. farmers aren’t checking Trump on trade [Wall Street Journal]

Beijing thought it had the American heartland figured out. Tuesday’s midterm result shows it may have overestimated its leverage. China’s main response to U.S. tariffs has been to slap its own tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports including soybeans, pork and sorghum. The idea was to raise the political cost to President Trump of attacking China by squeezing his rural support base….Still, Tuesday’s election results show that Mr. Trump’s rural base isn’t punishing him too harshly.