Ag Today September 25, 2019

California farmers face ‘catastrophic’ water restrictions. Can they adapt to survive? [McClatchy News Service]

…Starting next January, the law will require farmers to gradually rein in the amount of groundwater they can pump from their wells. It could devastate the economy of the entire San Joaquin Valley….Farmers will have to start throttling back their pumps, dramatically altering how they cultivate one of the world’s most fertile valleys. Some land probably won’t survive as farms at all.


California boosts efforts to eradicate invasive swamp rats [Associated Press]

One of the most recent threats to California’s environment has webbed feet, white whiskers, shaggy fur and orange buck teeth that could be mistaken for carrots….The swamp rodents, called nutria, are setting off alarms in California. They weigh about 20 pounds (9 kilograms) each and eat the equivalent of about a fourth of their weight each day by burrowing into riverbanks and chomping into plants that emerge from the water….The delta is the “heartbeat of California’s water infrastructure,” according to Peter Tira, spokesman for the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. It contains a network of more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of canals and levees that protect the area from flooding, provide drinking water to millions of Californians and irrigate the lush agricultural region….Damage to the region’s soil or water infrastructure would be devastating to the economy and diet. “It would mean no more sushi because the alternative would be to buy rice from Japan or Korea, where the price is five times higher,” said Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center at the University of California-Davis. “Kiss off carrots, or live without table grapes in the summertime.”


Trump’s EPA threatens California over air quality; governor says it’s ‘pure retaliation’ [USA TODAY]

…The battle between the Trump administration and California escalated Tuesday as the Environmental Protection Agency threatened to withhold billions in federal highway aid because California has, in the EPA’s words, “the worst air quality in the United States.” Reaction from leading Golden State officials was swift and scathing, with particular emphasis on the ironic nature of the threat….Newsom and Feinstein both noted California’s strong environmental track record, particularly in contrast to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and its recent efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations on everything from methane to endangered species. Newsom and Feinstein also recalled the days when Los Angeles air quality was, as Newsom said, “the color of mud,” and playing outside was often curtailed. Only “concerted action” led to improved skies, said Feinstein….In his letter, EPA Administrator Wheeler scolded CARB chair Nichols for not doing enough to meet Clean Air Act standards for at least one of six key pollutants — ground-level ozone (smog), particulate matter (soot or smoke), carbon monoxide, lead, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. As a result, 34 million of the state’s 40 million residents live in 82 areas that fail to meet federal ambient air quality standards.


Opinion: CalFresh expansion can help Californians in need, state farm economy [Bakersfield Californian]

California has an abundant network of farm-fresh produce, yet millions of Californians are food-insecure every day. Even with this tremendous need for food access, California produce goes unsold….Vulnerable Californians suffer the negative health effects of malnutrition, while farmers suffer financial consequences when people cannot afford to purchase their products. Through a recent expansion of the CalFresh program (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), California is making it easier for food-insecure people to access fresh, local food.


Supply squeeze for tomatoes? Some fear new border checks could cause delays, higher prices [USA TODAY]

…Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce finalized an agreement with tomato growers and exporters in Mexico that will adjust some base prices and mandate inspections of round, Roma and grape tomatoes sold in bulk. The inspections are “to prevent the importation of low-quality, poor-condition tomatoes from Mexico, which can have price-suppressive effects on the market,” the department said in a statement….But with more than 1 in 2 tomatoes eaten in the U.S. coming from south of the border, critics say the changes could give shoppers heartburn if it becomes more expensive, or harder to find the fixings for their salads, sauces and BLTs.


Longtime Farm Bureau executive director to be honored by Woodland chamber [Woodland Daily Democrat]

The Woodland Chamber of Commerce will recognize the longtime executive director of the Yolo County Farm Bureau when it holds its 52nd Annual Farm-City Dinner in October. Denise Sagara will be recognized as the 2019 Chamber Agri-Business Person of the Year during the Thursday, Oct. 17, to be held in the Woodland Community & Senior Center Kevin and Lori Haarberg Gymnasium. Sagara has been the executive director of the Yolo County Farm Bureau since 1998 and was recognized by the Farm Bureau with the 2012 Yolo County Farm Bureau Agriculturist Award.