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Ag Today October 16, 2020

Trump administration blocks California wildfire relief [Los Angeles Times] The Trump administration has rejected California’s request for disaster relief funds aimed at cleaning up the damage from six recent fires across the state, including Los Angeles County’s Bobcat fire, San Bernardino County’s El Dorado fire, and the Creek fire, one of the largest that continues to burn in Fresno and Madera counties. The move heightens tensions between California and the president over wildfires. … The decision came to light when the administration denied a request from Gov. Gavin Newsom for a major presidential disaster declaration, said Brian Ferguson, deputy director of crisis communication...

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Ag Today October 15, 2020

Which businesses would pay more property tax under Proposition 15? It’s complicated [Los Angeles Times] … Critics remain unconvinced by the promise of protecting small businesses and have warned its protection for agricultural land includes a worrisome loophole. … Farmers, in particular, believe the ballot measure’s silence on land improvements could mean higher property tax assessments for barns, offices — and even fruit trees planted as part of new farming operations. “This affects agriculture,” Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation and an Oroville farmer, said during the Sacramento Press Club debate. “And multiple-generation farmers, as well as first-time...

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Ag Today October 14, 2020

  Trump makes water demand of farms priority for new office [Associated Press] President Donald Trump on Tuesday created what he called a “subcabinet” for federal water issues, with a mandate that includes water-use changes sought by corporate farm interests and oil and gas. … Establishment of a water subcabinet “will streamline decision-making processes” across federal agencies, the EPA said in a statement. The first priority set out by the executive order is increasing dam storage and other water storage, long a demand of farmers and farm interests in the West in particular. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/california/story/2020-10-13/trump-makes-water-demand-of-farms-priority-for-new-office   Latinos, farmworkers, 20-year-olds have most COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara...

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Ag Today October 13, 2020

Trump funnels record subsidies to farmers ahead of Election Day [New York Times] ... The gush of funds has accelerated in recent weeks as the president looks to help his core supporters who have been hit hard by the double whammy of his combative trade practices and the coronavirus pandemic. … “Nearly every major sector of the farm economy will have lower cash receipts this year compared to last year, and total cash receipts will be the lowest since 2010,” John Newton, the American Farm Bureau’s chief economist, wrote in a report on the state of the industry last month. The...

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Ag Today October 12, 2020

California farmworkers endure harsh conditions, wildfires and the coronavirus [KTVU TV, Oakland] From oppressive heat, to wildfires and smoke, all amid the coronavirus pandemic, California farmworkers are putting their lives on the line and facing greater risks in 2020. … Despite efforts to keep clean, data shows fieldworkers, many who are Latino, are three to four times more likely to get sick with the virus. … In many ways, agricultural workers can only work with what they’re given and investigations into produce companies’ operations are scarce. … Advocates for farmworkers argue there’s still a lack of protective equipment, improper pay or long hours that may...

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Ag Today October 9, 2020

California needs forests to fight climate change, but they are going up in smoke [Reuters] California’s record wildfires pose a problem for the state’s plan to use its forests to help offset climate-warming emissions. It is unclear how much California’s plan for becoming carbon-neutral by 2045 depends on its forests. But as climate change fuels increasingly frequent and intense blazes, any plan that relies on keeping forests healthy could be frustrated. California’s climate-change agenda is among the most ambitious in the United States, but thanks to wildfires, forests are “part of the problem, not part of the solution,” Edie Chang, a...

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Ag Today October 8, 2020

Newsom signs order to protect 30% of California's land and coastal waters by 2030 [Palm Springs Desert Sun] With a California-grown walnut in one hand and a pen in the other, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Wednesday calling for 30% of the state's land area and near-shore marine habitat to be protected in the name of conservation by 2030. … Newsom stressed that the order was not meant to drive food production out of California. … He also instructed the department to find ways to include the state's 70,000 ranchers and farmers in the planning process. "Growing plants pulls carbon...

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Ag Today October 7,2020

California's Prop. 15 would raise taxes on commercial buildings [KCRA TV, Sacramento] … Proposition 15 promises the biggest change in property taxes in 40 years. … Many farmers worry that Prop. 15 would become a big tax on agriculture and lead to higher food prices. “It's really the consumer who's going to end up paying several hundred dollars more a year on average for their food prices,” said Shannon Douglas, vice president of the California Farm Bureau, an opponent of Prop. 15. “Because as everybody along the line takes those increases, they're able to pass that on to the consumer and...

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Ag Today October 6, 2020

Proposition 15: The new tax and who it effects, explained [KMPH TV, Fresno] One of the more hotly debated measures up for a vote is Proposition 15 - the "California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020." … Residential property is exempt from the new tax regulations, and the bill says no changes are made to the tax laws for agricultural land. But Jamie Johansson, the President of the California Farm Bureau, is wary of that exemption. … "There really is a tax increase all along the food chain, so not just our farmers, but people who transport our foods...

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Ag Today October 5, 2020

Trump gets Harder bill aimed at ‘swamp rats’ threatening Central Valley waterways [Modesto Bee] Congress has given final approval to a bill that would take on nutria, a giant rodent threatening waterways in the Central Valley and beyond. The bill, by Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, passed the U.S. Senate unanimously on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The House of Representatives approved it without opposition in February. The bill now goes to President Donald Trump, who has indicated support, Harder spokesman Ian Lee said by email Friday. When it will be signed is unclear, as Trump has been hospitalized since Friday with mild COVID-19...

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