Ag Today September 4, 2018

Wildfire bill to aid PG&E clears Legislature despite ratepayer concerns [Sacramento Bee]

The California Legislature passed a sweeping proposal to address wildfires despite warnings that the legislation would raise energy bills for customers across the state. Amid calls from PG&E for a legislative response to wildfires that killed more than a dozen Californians and destroyed thousands of homes over the last year, lawmakers approved a bill that makes it easier for utility companies to recover wildfire costs from ratepayers. The measure also designates $1 billion in cap-and-trade money to the removal of dead trees and brush that fuel blazes, among many other major changes to state law.


Trump administration talks of boosting Central Valley water deliveries. But is it just talk? [Los Angeles Times]

With talk of boosting water deliveries to Central Valley agriculture, the Trump administration is telling growers exactly what they want to hear. But given California’s complex water system and a web of federal and state environmental regulations, such promises could prove more political than practical….Federal and state export operations are also intertwined in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — the center of California’s sprawling water supply system — to a degree that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for Interior to strike out on its own.


Long process of selling the Potter Valley Project begins this week [Ukiah Daily Journal]

Pacific Gas and Electric announced that it intends to begin the “marketing phase” this week of its potential sale of the Potter Valley Project, a hydroelectric plant that provides a relatively insignificant amount of electricity but an extremely significant amount of water to the Ukiiah Valley and many other communities along the Russian River. The Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission (MCIWPC), a Joint Powers Authority made up of representatives from the Mendocino County Water Agency, the City of Ukiah, the Potter Valley Irrigation District, the Redwood Valley County Water District and the Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District, officially announced its intention to enter the auction process for the facility….According to the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, PG&E announced that it “intends to start the marketing phase of the auction where anyone can request the marketing materials related to the project on Sept. 4.”


Why milk matters in U.S.-Canada trade feud [Wall Street Journal]

…Dairy trade is a central grievance of U.S. negotiators with Canada as they debate a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Talks between the U.S. and Canada on resolving differences concluded Friday without a deal, but both sides agreed to continue negotiations next week. The U.S. Trade Representative issued a statement saying Canada had yet to offer any concessions on agriculture, a U.S. priority.


Huffman bill favors agriculture in Point Reyes National Seashore [Marin Independent Journal]

Rep. Jared Huffman has introduced a bill that would bolster the continuance of dairy and beef cattle operations within the Point Reyes National Seashore….A lawsuit brought by conservation groups challenging continued agricultural operations within the park was settled in July 2017 with the understanding that the management plan would be updated. That updating process is currently underway. Huffman’s proposed legislation, H.R. 6687, elicited a scathing reaction from the Western Watersheds Project and the Resource Renewal Institute, two of the groups that filed suit.


Farm bureaus in Napa, Sonoma counties aim for bigger political voice with picks for top posts [North Bay Business Journal]

Promotion to CEO of the man who fronted Napa County Farm Bureau’s successful defeat of a June ballot initiative some viewed as a referendum on wine industry growth is part of its shift into more policy and political activism, particularly as three county supervisors face reelection in March 2020. “Ryan really sort of established himself as the face of farm bureau. A lot of people were going to him for information, businesses and the media,” said Peter Nissen, the farm bureau’s treasurer and a past president of the 700-member organization on the elevation of Ryan Klobas….Just as in Napa, over the last year Sonoma County Farm Bureau has looked to free up its top leader, Executive Director Tawny Tesconi, to focus more on policy by hiring staff to help her.