January 3, 2018

Government shutdown closes county’s federal offices, national parks [Bakersfield Californian]

Some Kern County workers have not escaped the clutches of the ongoing federal government shutdown. Several agencies and organizations currently are closed due to the shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, with some federal employees on furlough until funding is restored….The California Farm Bureau Federation, a trade group that lobbies for government policies that benefit farmers and ranchers, said local offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on California Avenue also are closed….Besides the USDA offices, the Bakersfield field office of the Bureau of Land Management also is closed.



Exclusive: Key U.S. crop reports may still be issued if government shutdown ends – USDA [Reuters]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will decide on Friday whether to delay a slew of key crop reports scheduled for release on Jan. 11, USDA chief economist Robert Johansson told Reuters on Wednesday. The agency had previously said the reports could be suspended in light of the partial U.S. government shutdown, worrying grain traders who rely on the data….The January WASDE report coincides with the release from USDA of several other potential market-movers, including a quarterly report on U.S. grain stocks, a final U.S. crop production report for 2018 and USDA’s report on winter wheat seedings for harvest in 2019.



BOR releases document to aid biological opinion [Klamath Falls Herald and News]

Bureau of Reclamation this week released the finalized portion of the Klamath Project Biological Assessment, a guiding document totaling hundreds of pages that will help other federal agencies to write the biological opinion for the Klamath Basin hoped to take effect by April 1. “It’s analyzing, assessing, the impacts of the Klamath Project operation on all these (endangered) species,” said Laura Williams, a spokesperson for the Klamath Basin Area Office of Bureau of Reclamation….The assessment references the threatened Coho salmon in the lower Klamath River, and endangered Lost River and shortnose sucker in Upper Klamath Lake, Williams said, among many others.



Detective story: The path to pinpointing the romaine E. coli outbreak [Cox News Service]

…After weeks without, romaine lettuce is making a slow and steady comeback to grocery store produce bins. Restaurants are serving it again. Yet, federal authorities aren’t ready to declare the danger has passed. They are still warning consumers against eating romaine grown in three central coastal California counties. The great romaine recall of 2018 is a testament to how difficult it is to pinpoint tainted produce from thousands of farms across the country, despite a growing network of local, state and federal health departments tapping increasingly useful technology like genome sequencing.



Few Santa Barbara County crops test positive for illegal pesticide residue [Santa Maria Sun]

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation released its most recent study on pesticide use on Dec. 27, and some Santa Barbara County growers were forced to destroy food products that tested positive for illegal levels of pesticide residues….Tests showed that the majority of fresh produce collected met national pesticide residue standards, maximum amounts of pesticide residue that can be present in fruits and vegetables set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency….About 25 percent of those produce samples were California grown, and of those with a California label, about 5 percent tested positive for illegal levels of residue. While those levels did not pose any health threat to consumers, the report shows that nine of those 30 illegal samples were grown in Santa Barbara County.



Federal judge dismisses Sonoma County neighbors’ pioneering lawsuit against cannabis grower [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

A federal judge has ruled that a group of Petaluma neighbors cannot sue a cannabis company and its lead grower under a federal racketeering and corruption law because bad odors and noise are nuisances that don’t cause the kind of measurable financial losses required to pursue the case….The plaintiffs argued that the operation’s “sickening cannabis odor” and loud noise diminished the value and enjoyment of their properties. But Tigar, in his 11-page decision dismissing the case, wrote that the neighbors’ complaints amounted to nuisances and personal injuries, which are “not compensable under RICO.”