Ag Today November 8, 2019
Interior proposes coveted deal to ex-client of agency head [Associated Press]
The Interior Department is proposing to award one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity to a powerful rural California water district that had long employed Secretary David Bernhardt as a lobbyist. Conservation groups are demanding fuller disclosure of financial terms and an environmental review of the proposed deal for the California’s Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier. The water district serves some of country’s wealthiest and most politically influential corporate farmers….Responding to questions, Interior spokeswoman Carol Danko said the handling of the Westlands’ contract...
Ag Today November 7, 2019
Justices seem uncertain about reach of Clean Water Act [Associated Press]
The Supreme Court seems uncertain about how to decide a closely watched case from Hawaii about the reach of landmark federal clean-water protections….Several justices appeared to be searching for a compromise between environmental groups on one side, and the Trump administration and the local Hawaii government on the other….The question in this case is whether a permit is needed when the pollutant first passes through the soil or groundwater….The justices seemed concerned that a ruling for Maui would provide what Justice Stephen Breyer called a “road map” for polluters to...
Ag Today November 6, 2019
Farmers urged to think big and small to survive groundwater cutbacks [Bakersfield Californian]
The thinking started small and then grew much bigger at a gathering Tuesday in Bakersfield that was intended to provide a "survival toolkit" for farmers and water managers facing drastic restrictions on Central Valley groundwater pumping. Irrigation and other technical specialists opened the meeting by promoting ways to maximize the region's existing water resources….By the end of the day, however, isolationism gave way to calls for unity as speakers asserted that the only real solution was to increase the region's water supply by as much as 10 million...
Ag Today November 5, 2019
Does a rain-free October signal a return to drought in California? [Los Angeles Times]
“There are 200 different definitions of drought,” said climatologist Bill Patzert....Southern California got no rain during October, and it was desiccated by super-dry Santa Ana winds....According to the Drought Monitor, almost one-fifth of California is either abnormally dry or in moderate drought, as of the end of October....Drought is all in your definition, said Patzert, a retired climatologist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. Although the reservoirs are generally pretty full, he says he looks at conditions in the wildlands and forests, and after...
Ag Today September 27, 2019
Farming the sun:’ As water goes scarce, can solar farms prop up the Valley? [Sacramento Bee]
On the Changala family farm in Tulare County, the past and future are separated by a dirt road and a barbed-wire fence. “We’re still farming the sun,” he said. Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are finding a lucrative new cash crop: solar electricity. As they struggle to cope with the Valley’s chronic water shortages, they’ve increasing turned to solar as a means of supplementing their revenue and keeping the remainder of their farming operations afloat. An estimated 13,000 acres of Valley farmland already have...
Ag Today September 26, 2019
Trump announces a trade pact with Japan [New York Times]
The United States and Japan signed a limited trade deal on Wednesday that will open Japanese markets to American farm goods and secure a win for an administration that has struggled to complete trade pacts with China, Canada, Mexico and other countries. The deal, announced as President Trump met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on the sidelines of a meeting of world leaders in New York, will reduce Japanese barriers to American beef, pork, wheat, cheese, almonds, wine and other products, while cutting American tariffs on Japanese turbines, machine...
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...
Ag Today September 24, 2019
Trump's plan to cut aid to Central America could push more migrants to come to US [USA TODAY]
The Trump administration has said Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will receive aid in the future only if they take “concrete actions” to reduce immigration. But experts say freezing international aid may increase the number of immigrants heading to the United States. President Donald Trump’s threats over foreign aid for Central America made headlines in October 2018, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S.-Mexico border and his Republican Party was facing dire predictions in the midterm elections. The threats were repeated when a...
Ag Today September 23, 2019
Chemical exposures in California’s vast cropland spark fear for growers and workers [Fresno Bee]
…Solorio, who now works a construction job, was among dozens of workers at a Tulare County vineyard on June 18 who were exposed to a chemical used in pesticides. The chemical was sprayed at a nearby peach orchard owned by Peters Fruit Farms….No penalties have been issued and the investigation now is in the hands of the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office….But the large-scale exposure, followed by another in Fresno County a week later, alarmed the farm community and opened old divisions over pesticide use and worker...
Ag Today September 18, 2019
Trump says China is buying U.S. farm products [Wall Street Journal]
President Trump said China has started to buy U.S. agricultural products, and signaled optimism that his administration will be able to sign a trade deal with China before the 2020 presidential election. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One en route to Mountain View, Calif., Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that a deal with China will “be the greatest deal ever made,” adding, “and China knows that.” Chinese negotiators were making plans to boost purchases of U.S. agricultural products, give U.S. companies greater access to China’s market and bolster intellectual-property...