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Ag Today July 30, 2021

California Wine Country Rebuilds as Threats Persist [New York Times] ...Not all of the damage of the 2020 fires in the northern Napa Valley and the adjacent Sonoma County is so visible and obvious. The consequences for vineyards that survived direct encounters with the fires remain to be determined, as wine producers affected by the blazes try to navigate the 2021 growing season, not exactly sure what they are confronting. Wineries can be rebuilt, interim facilities found, new vintages made, though the financial cost is steep. But for a winery to lose its vines — sometimes entire vineyards — is to...

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Ag Today July 29, 2021

‘Liquidation of cows.’ How the drought creates chaos on California ranches, dairy farms [Sacramento Bee] Jennifer Beretta has been working as a dairy farmer since she was 6 and knows some of her family’s 700 cows by name. One of her favorites, a Jersey named Harmony, has won top prizes at the Sonoma County Fair. “I raised them from when they were babies,” said Beretta, 33. “I watched them grow up to be milk cows. You get attached to them. They have personalities.” But business is business, and right now business is bad. California’s devastating drought has dried up most of...

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Ag Today July 28, 2021

Will Delta water users sue — again — to stop California’s drought rules? [CalMatters] Drought-plagued California is poised to bar thousands of farmers, landowners and others from pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, a move that irrigation districts said exceeds the water board’s authority. The emergency rules would be the first time state regulators have taken such wide-reaching action during a drought to prevent diversions from the massive Delta watershed stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border. At a more than three-hour workshop today to discuss the proposal, State Water Resources Control Board officials said the status of the...

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Ag Today July 27, 2021

California wineries, farms to get access to last-resort fire insurance as Gov. Newsom signs SB 11 [North Bay Business Journal] With wildfire losses in the state soaring, and insurance company rates following suit, a governor’s signature on a bill is leaving some winery owners eyeing a bit of relief. The Napa County Farm Bureau, one of the supporters of the legislation, reports that Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed Senate Bill 11, giving owners of wine and other agricultural properties a way to gain coverage through the state’s high risk insurance plan called the California FAIR plan, the state’s insurer of...

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Ag Today July 26, 2021

California moves to cut off water to thousands of farmers, as drought dries up rivers [Sacramento Bee] Forced to reckon with a worsening drought, California’s water regulators are preparing to forbid thousands of farmers from tapping into the state’s major rivers and streams. It’s an extraordinary step — and one that regulators didn’t take during the last drought, which was considered one of the worst on record. The State Water Resources Control Board on Friday released an “emergency curtailment” order that would cut thousands off from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds. The five-person board still...

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Ag Today July 23, 2021

Drought forces North America farmers to turn food crops to hay [Bloomberg News] Drought is withering crops on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, prompting farmers to take the rare measure of baling up their wheat and barley stems to sell as hay. The bales are providing much-needed forage for livestock operators struggling against a lack of pasture and soaring feed costs, and also signal smaller grain harvests that could keep crop prices high in the months to come. Temperatures are expected to soar next week in the Great Plains, further threatening parched farm fields....Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reduced its principal...

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Ag Today July 22, 2021

As drought slams California and Oregon, Klamath farmers grow fish to quell a water war [Los Angeles Times] …But water spews from the hot springs on Ron Barnes’ land near the California-Oregon border, pure and perfect for rearing c’waam and koptu, two kinds of endangered suckerfish sacred to Native American tribes....“We’re doing our damnedest to keep cooler heads here, to let cooler heads prevail,” said Scott Seus, a family farmer who relies on water from the lake. “There’s a sense of desperation right now, and not many people who want to listen.” Federal scientists and wildlife officials have asserted that maintaining...

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Ag Today July 21, 2021

California voters OK’d billions for water projects. Where are the new dams, reservoirs? [Sacramento Bee] It doesn’t look like much now, a dry and dusty valley surrounded by the modest mountains of California’s Coast Range. These barren, brown hills an hour northwest of Sacramento will be the future home of Sites Reservoir, one of the few major water projects to be built in California since the 1970s. California taxpayers are helping pay for Sites, which would hold more water than Folsom Lake, through a $7.1 billion bond they approved during the 2014 election....“If Sites were open today, we’d have nearly 1...

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Ag Today July 20, 2021

Thieves are stealing California’s scarce water. Where’s it going? Illegal marijuana farms [CalMatters] One day last spring, water pressure in pipelines suddenly crashed In the Antelope Valley, setting off alarms. Demand had inexplicably spiked, swelling to three and half times normal. Water mains broke open, and storage tanks were drawn down to dangerous levels. The emergency was so dire in the water-stressed desert area of Hi Vista, between Los Angeles and Mojave, that county health officials considered ordering residents to boil their tap water before drinking it. “We said, ‘Holy cow, what’s happening?’” said Anish Saraiya, public works deputy for Los...

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Ag Today July 19, 2021

Megadrought Poses ‘Existential’ Crisis in California and the West [CBS, San Francisco] The American West was once seen as a place of endless possibilities: grand vistas, bountiful resources and cities that somehow grew out of deserts. Now, manifest destiny has become a manifest emergency. A scorching drought made worse by climate change is draining reservoirs at an alarming pace, fueling massive wildfires and deadly heat waves and withering one of the most important agricultural economies in the country. “I’m really concerned, I’m really worried,” said Joe Del Bosque, who has been growing melons and other crops in California’s Central Valley since...

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