Ag Today October 10, 2018

US states agree on plan to manage overtaxed Colorado River [Associated Press]

Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River have reached landmark agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought, including a commitment by California to bear part of the burden before it is legally required to do so, officials said Tuesday….California agreed to soften the blow by voluntarily reducing its Colorado River use by about 6 percent if conditions are bad enough, said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a wholesaler serving 19 million people. Kightlinger said California wanted to avoid having Congress or the U.S. Department of Interior step in and dictate a solution.


Proposition 3: Smart water plan or costly gift to farmers? [Bay Area News Group]

California voters may be feeling a sense of deja vu when they consider Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion water bond on the November ballot to fund a long list of water projects — from repairing Oroville Dam to restoring Bay Area wetlands to helping Central Valley farmers recharge depleted groundwater….But more is needed, say supporters of Proposition 3….The chief item that irks many critics is $750 million to repair the Friant-Kern Canal and the Madera Canal, which run across about 200 miles of the San Joaquin Valley from Chowchilla to Bakersfield.


Opinion: Dear Felicia: Your plan will hurt mountain counties, too [Modesto Bee]

…If the Board adopts the proposed Plan, it is with little to no regard for the impacts on the ecosystem of mountain counties and impacts on endangered aquatic plant and animal species, including endemic and migrating species that are already stressed by forest fires and drought. The board’s plan will penalize rural disadvantaged communities in California’s 16 mountain counties, increase fire-prone vegetation, exacerbate tree mortality, increase the risk of catastrophic fire in the Wildland Urban Interface, degrade air quality, increase ground temperature and further degrade the overall health of the Sierra Nevada environment.


The state labor board says four farmworkers were fired for voicing workplace safety concerns. Now a grower is paying them $40K [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

A Coachella Valley farming operation has agreed to rehire and pay four farmworkers a total of nearly $40,000 in lost wages after the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board found they were unlawfully fired from the company’s 50-acre date farm for raising health and safety concerns. The settlement is the result of unfair labor charges filed by two workers in June and October 2017, alleging that KR Thermal Middleton fired them in retaliation for raising concerns over the safety of date harvesting equipment, the lack of functioning restrooms and other issues….Chris Schneider, the labor board’s regional director based in Visalia, said the settlement sends a message to Coachella Valley farmworkers. He said laborers can report workplace problems to the Board, whether or not they’re in a union.


Before passing farm bill, Congress has a big fight over wildfires to get through [Washington Examiner]

…Disagreement over food stamps is the main issue dividing the House and Senate, but an unresolved dispute over forest management projects for wildfires is also disrupting the process….The House-passed version of the farm bill, which advanced 213-211 without a Democratic vote, contains provisions to expand the pace and scale of forest management projects through the removal of overgrowth and dead trees, which fuel wildfires….But Democrats and conservationists say these measures go too far in removing environmental reviews.


U.S. Agriculture’s Perdue says farmer aid could be less than first estimated [New York Times]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $12 billion package to offset farmers losses from the imposition of tariffs American exports could end up shrinking after an agreement to update NAFTA was struck, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday. “We will be recalculating along as we go,” Perdue said in a phone interview with Reuters, regarding the second tranche of the planned compensation, estimated at about $6 billion, which was first announced in July after U.S. and China imposed trade tariffs on each others imports….Perdue said the picture has changed after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was reached, a revamp of the NAFTA trade agreement between the three nations.