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Ag Today, October 26, 2021

Record rains transform a parched California, but ending drought remains elusive [Los Angeles Times] The drought-dried shores of Folsom Lake were damp this week after what officials called the first big storm of the season. The water level at Lake Oroville, which receded so much this summer that officials had to close its hydroelectric power plant for the first time, rose by more than 16 feet. And the Russian River — recently reduced to something more like a trickle — flowed with more ease after the atmospheric river dumped record-breaking amounts of rain across California, replenishing dwindled reservoirs and rehydrating cracked terrain....

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Ag Today, October 25th 2021

California rainstorm moves south; shelter-in-place ordered for Alisal burn zone [Los Angeles Times] The powerful storm that walloped Northern California over the weekend moved into the Southland on Monday, carrying with it the potential for localized flooding, strong winds and debris flows across the region. The atmospheric river event will probably peak in Los Angeles around midday Monday and could dump up to an inch and a half of rain on downtown L.A. The Santa Lucia mountains in San Luis Obispo County could see as much as 5 inches, and roadway flooding and debris flows in recent burn areas are possible....

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Ag Today, October 12, 2021

California still won't make coronavirus workplace outbreaks public [San Francisco Chronicle] Supporters of a push to require companies to report workplace coronavirus outbreaks publicly say they plan to keep fighting despite recent setbacks that they say allow big businesses to keep outbreaks secret. In February, Assembly Member Eloise Gómez Reyes, D-San Bernardino, proposed a law requiring the California Department of Public Health to report coronavirus outbreaks by workplace location, meaning outbreaks at specific businesses would be disclosed to the public. But that requirement was dropped from the bill’s final version, allowing companies — and public health officials — to withhold coronavirus...

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Ag Today, October 11, 2021

As drought worsens, California farmers are being paid not to grow crops [Los Angeles Times] Green fields of alfalfa and cotton rolled past as Brad Robinson drove through the desert valley in Blythe, where his family has farmed with water from the Colorado River for three generations. Stopping the truck, he stepped onto a dry, brown field where shriveled remnants of alfalfa crunched under his boots. The water has been temporarily shut off on a portion of Robinson’s land. In exchange, he’s receiving $909 this year for each acre of farmland left dry and unplanted. The water is instead staying in...

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Ag Today, October 1, 2021

California gets money for wildfire, drought as Congress temporarily funds government again [Fresno Bee] Congress passed a government funding bill in a down-to-the-wire vote on Thursday in the face of a looming shutdown. The continuing resolution bill, a short-term spending resolution that will keep the government funded through early December, delegates $28.6 billion to disaster relief efforts, including for wildfire prevention and response and the consequences of drought. Burnt crops: $10 billion will go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program to help agricultural producers affected by wildfires and smoke. $200 million will go to the Bureau of...

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Ag Today, September 30, 2021

Drought expected to persist in much of the Western US for 2022 and beyond, according to NOAA report [ABC News] The thirst for water in the Western U.S. will likely not be quenched in the near future. Drought conditions are expected to persist in the West, which is already amid a decades-long megadrought, through 2022 and beyond, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's drought outlook. The drought will remain the worst from California to the Northern Plains, according to the report. Precipitation totals in the Southwest over the 20 months from January 2020 and August 2021 are the lowest...

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Ag Today September 28, 2021

A bitter dispute ends as California water agencies pledge cooperation on Colorado River [Los Angeles Times] Two years ago, a pact to safeguard the West’s shrinking water supplies took effect at a ceremony high above the Colorado River. Major water districts across the West that supply water to Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles gathered to sign a deal in hopes of preventing reservoirs from falling to critically low levels. But notably absent from the May 2019 ceremony were representatives of California’s Imperial Irrigation District, the single largest user of Colorado River water. Managers of the agricultural irrigation district in the Imperial...

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Ag Today, September 27, 2021

Farmworkers, environmentalists file suit to stop reapproval of herbicide paraquat [San Francisco Chronicle] Groups of farmworkers and environmentalists asked a federal appeals court Friday to reject the Biden administration’s 15-year reapproval of paraquat, a widely used herbicide that has been linked to Parkinson’s disease in many studies. Paraquat kills weeds on cotton, soybeans, almonds, grapes and other crops, and has become one of the nation’s most commonly used herbicides, particularly in California and some Midwestern states, where its application has doubled in the past decade. It is banned, however, in 32 countries, including China — whose government owns Syngenta, the chemical’s...

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Ag Today, September 24, 2021

La Niña is about to take the Southwest drought from bad to worse [CNN] Global scientists reported in August that due to the climate crisis, droughts that may have occurred only once every decade or so now happen 70% more frequently. The increase is particularly apparent in the Western US, which is currently in the the throes of a historic, multiyear drought that has exacerbated wildfire behavior, drained reservoirs and triggered water shortages. More than 94% of the West is in drought this week -- a proportion that has hovered at or above 90% since June -- with six states entirely...

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Ag Today, September 23, 2021

Without federal aid for wildfires, California's wine industry could collapse, vintners say [San Francisco Chronicle] As the Caldor Fire continues to pump smoke into California's Sierra foothills, endangering yet another year's worth of wine there, more farmers and winemakers are clamoring for government assistance. This week, they got news that some help could be on the way, after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a disaster-relief package that would allocate $10 billion to compensate farmers who have lost crops due to natural disasters. The bill's text explicitly pointed to smoke-tainted wine grapes as an example of such a crop loss. The...

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