Ag Today September 17, 2018

Farmers thought they had 20 years to use groundwater as they wished – maybe not anymore [Sacramento Bee]

…For the first time, a California court has said state and county governments have a duty to regulate groundwater usage when it’s clear that the pumping drains water from adjacent rivers….The Aug. 29 ruling by the Third District Court of Appeal involves the Scott River in Siskiyou County, an obscure 60-mile tributary of the Klamath near the Oregon border that suddenly looms as a major artery in California water law….The court case spotlighted the often overlooked connection between rivers and aquifers….The court established a broad, general principle – essentially, that groundwater pumping that harms rivers violates California law, and Siskiyou County officials must take that into account when they allow new wells to be drilled.


Groundwater managing agencies begin to take shape [Chico Enterprise-Record]

Two of the agencies that will manage the water beneath Butte County began to take shape this week, one with some controversy. Groundwater sustainability agencies are required under the September 2014 law regulating the state’s aquifers, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act….Tuesday, the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted to abolish its GSA and enter into partnerships to create single agencies for two of the expected three sub-basins in the county.


Tough market conditions greet local table grape, almond harvests [Bakersfield Californian]

…Robust supplies of California table grapes and almonds are being met with sluggish prices that people in the industry say result at least partly from a trade war that has spawned steep tariffs — in China, 50 percent on the price of almonds, 53 percent on grapes — and opened opportunities for competitors in other countries. Based on estimates by local growers, table grape prices have fallen as much as 40 percent from a year ago, while almond prices have slipped between 5 percent and 9 percent. The situation is especially difficult for grape growers, who unlike almond producers have limited ability to store their product until market conditions improve.


Trained dogs set to sniff out deadly citrus disease in California [Fresno Bee]

…The crew of 19 canines and their trainers have spent months getting ready for what many hope is an important step toward preventing the disease, known as huanglongbing, or HLB, from invading the state’s commercial citrus groves. Farmers, scientists and industry leaders don’t want what happened in Florida to happen here….Scientists and dog trainers say the value of using canines is they can detect the disease in its early stages and they are highly accurate, nearly 100 percent in some field trials. Early detection is key because the sooner growers can identify the disease, the better chance they have of preventing the spread.


Opinion: How the United Farm Workers can regain their influence [Washington Post]

There are 2 million to 3 million farmworkers in the U.S. today, but the United Farm Workers (UFW) union only has a membership of 10,000 people, sapping it of its political potential and negotiating heft. As Teresa Romero takes the reigns as its new president, she faces the challenge of making the union more outward-facing and nationally popular, so that it can continue to advocate for farmworkers across the country….By amplifying Latina farmworkers’ voices, further highlighting immigrants’ vulnerability in the agricultural industry and gathering the support of Americans who have no connection to the farmworker experience, she could return the UFW’s base, national prominence and political might to its peaks, or even exceed them.


Opinion: More logging in California’s forests won’t prevent wildfires, no matter what the Trump administration says [Sacramento Bee]

…Current science shows that it is weather, and therefore climate change, that overwhelmingly determines how fires behave and spread, not forest density. The most heavily-logged areas burn more intensely, not less, contrary to the claims of the Trump administration….After the tragic loss of so many homes and lives in recent fires, why is the Trump administration pushing for more logging and clear-cutting in remote public forests, rather than helping to save homes and lives by creating fire-safe communities?