Ag Today, September 30, 2021

Drought expected to persist in much of the Western US for 2022 and beyond, according to NOAA report [ABC News]

The thirst for water in the Western U.S. will likely not be quenched in the near future. Drought conditions are expected to persist in the West, which is already amid a decades-long megadrought, through 2022 and beyond, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s drought outlook. The drought will remain the worst from California to the Northern Plains, according to the report. Precipitation totals in the Southwest over the 20 months from January 2020 and August 2021 are the lowest on record since at least 1895, according to the report. The 2021 to 2022 winter season is forecast to be drier than average. The new NOAA report did not outright blame warming temperatures across the globe for the regional drought, but stated the drought is occurring due to “successive seasons of below average precipitation that appear to have come from natural, but unfavorable, variables in the atmosphere.”


This company has a climate-friendly use for shells left from the Valley’s almond harvest [Modesto Bee]

A new plant in Merced is turning some of California’s huge supply of almond shells into an especially rich fertilizer. Corigin Solutions hopes to counter climate change with this use of a nut byproduct that has had little value to date. The company expects to handle about 1,000 tons of almond shells this year but could grow to about 47,000 within three years. Orchards in and near Merced County will supply them. he shells surround the almond kernels, which are the top-grossing crop in the Central Valley. The nut meats brought growers an average of $4,680 per ton from 2016 to 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported. The shells are surrounded in turn by hulls, which long have been fed to dairy cattle. The hulls were worth an average of $80.20 per ton last year, according to the Stanislaus County crop report, released Tuesday.

Merced plant turns almond shells into fertilizer and fuel | Modesto Bee (


Butte County supervisors back new water district [Chico Enterprise Record]

After a lengthy public hearing Tuesday, the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to support a proposed water district in the northwest county. The Tuscan Water District would cover 102,000 acres stretching from Butte Valley, north and west to the Tehama and Glenn county lines, excluding Cal Water’s Chico Division. The district name refers to the aquifer beneath the area. The area is almost entirely dependent on groundwater, and to meet the provisions of a recent state law, the amount that is pumped will have to be reduced. A group of farmers proposed the Tuscan District to import surface water so less groundwater will have to be pumped. That’s because if conservation and other measures don’t achieve enough of a reduction in pumping, farmland will have to be fallowed. Chico State women’s soccer opens CCAA play at home Friday. The district has proven to be controversial. During Tuesday’s hearing before the supervisors, roughly 50 people spoke over the course of three hours, the majority of whom were opposed to district formation.


Jean Guerrero Column: How Newsom disappointed farmworkers after they defended him in the recall election [Los Angeles Times]

On Saturday, Guillermo Garcia addressed dozens of farmworkers outside the French Laundry, the high-end restaurant in Yountville, Calif., where Gov. Gavin Newsom was caught dining maskless at a party during the pandemic. “I don’t know about you, but I’m angry!” cried the 49-year-old farmworker from El Salvador, who has spent two decades harvesting kale, parsley, cilantro and other produce. Three days before, Newsom had vetoed a bill that would have allowed farmworkers to vote by mail in union elections, with ballot cards that could be mailed in or dropped off with the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board office. In his veto, Newsom cited “inconsistencies and procedural issues” in Assembly Bill 616 and directed a state labor agency to work on other options. Teresa Romero, president of United Farm Workers, told me Newsom’s team didn’t bring up any issues in talks about the bill. Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for Newsom, said the governor’s office “offered to codify an absentee ballot election process,” in which ballots are mailed to workers’ homes and they can mail them back or vote in person at a polling place. She said the offer was declined. Both the union and the bill’s author, Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), dispute the claim that Newsom’s office offered any alternatives.


Southern Sierra wildfires wiping out giant sequoia trees for 2nd year in a row [San Francisco Chronicle]

More than a dozen groves of giant sequoias may lose significant numbers of trees in the wildfires now raging in the southern Sierra Nevada, even as fire crews succeed, sometimes dramatically, in keeping flames at bay in the most popular stands. Scientists surveying the damage of two active fires say the biggest losses will likely be at the south end of Giant Sequoia National Monument, where already 29 large trees have been listed as dead and many more are expected to follow. The Windy Fire there has exploded to 87,901 acres, and it’s burning out of control through several less-known, but still-towering sequoia stands, including the stately Packsaddle Grove. The fire was just 25% contained on Wednesday. Once thought to be impervious to fire, the trees, which grow only within a limited band on the western slopes of the Sierra, have become increasingly vulnerable to California’s bigger, hotter blazes. The 2020 Castle Fire alone wiped out between 10% and 14% of the total sequoia population.


U.S. Plans to Restore Criminal Penalties for Accidental Killings of Migratory Birds [Wall Street Journal]

The Biden administration is moving to restore criminal penalties for accidental killings of migratory birds, saying the measures are needed to protect declining bird populations. The Trump administration had eliminated those penalties, responding to complaints from home builders, farmers, wind-power developers and others that they were too harsh. The Interior Department said Wednesday that it is completing a final rule that revokes the Trump administration action, in a decision that had been expected. President Biden had ordered a review of the bird-kill policy on his first day in office, as one of 103 Trump-era environmental rule changes to be reconsidered. The Interior Department said it plans to develop new rules for accidental killings and will take public comment as part of the process.


Ag Today is distributed by the California Farm Bureau Marketing/Communications Division to county Farm Bureaus, California Farm Bureau directors and staff, for information purposes only; stories may not be republished without permission. Some story links may require site registration. Opinions expressed in stories, commentaries or editorials included in Ag Today do not necessarily represent the views of the California Farm Bureau. To be removed from this mailing list, reply to this message and please provide your name and email address. For more information about Ag Today, contact 916-561-5550 or