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Ag Today, September 13, 2016

Hot and dry winter weather predictions raise fire alert  John Scheibe, john.scheibe@vcstar.com,  Authorities are bracing for more wildfires as a federal climate agency released a forecast last week showing much of California will probably have a drier than normal winter together with above-average temperatures. “They’re saying that we’ll get below-normal rainfall under the best scenario,” Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said on Thursday. Seto spoke just hours after the Climate Prediction Center put out its latest forecast ruling out a La Niña winter. La Niña systems typically make for cooler than normal temperatures across the region. “They’re...

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Ag Today, September 12, 2016

Farm Beat: Food and drink drive region’s exports   jholland@modbee.com Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties set records for exports in 2015, mostly food and drink from their farms and processing plants. Merced County came close. The U.S. Department of Commerce this week reported $1.99 billion in Stanislaus goods headed for foreign lands. Trade was up 10 percent from 2014 and more than triple the level of 2005. San Joaquin stood at $1.49 billion last year, up from $1.36 billion in 2014. Merced was at $971 million, off the record $1.07 billion the previous year. The report does not detail what was exported, but it’s clear that the region...

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Ag Today, September 9, 2016

Local grape grower slapped with $10,000 fine BY STEVEN MAYER smayer@bakersfield.com A state regulatory agency has fined a Kern County grape grower $10,000 after an illegal pesticide was detected on his harvested crop. The enforcement action came after the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s residue monitoring program detected the pesticide Dimethoate last month on grapes at a wholesale store in Los Angeles County, a spokeswoman for the department said Thursday. State and federal law prohibit the use of this pesticide on grapes — although the chemical is allowed to be used on many other crops to protect them from insects, including mites, flies...

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Ag Today, September 8, 2016

Farmworkers could get overtime, despite outcry from growers. Ana Ceballos- Monterey County Weekly Nic Coury Maria Alvarez works an average of 60 hours a week. She says a seasonal worker shortage affects her workload, giving her more crops to harvest with fewer people.     On a September afternoon, 25 workers picking strawberries in South Salinas fields fill up thousands of baskets to the brim. The workers arch over rows of runners and pluck ripe berries, some of which will travel as far as Hong Kong. It’s noon and they have a couple acres more to go. Maria Alvarez works an average of 10 hours a...

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Ag Today, September 7, 2016

Driscoll’s Aims to Hook the Berry-Buying Shopper By STEPHANIE STROM   SEPT. 6, 2016 The New York Times WATSONVILLE, Calif. — On 40 acres at a farm near the central coast of California, new varieties of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are being tested, each of them proprietary. No other company in the world grows berries exactly like these. Now the business behind it all — Driscoll’s, the family-owned berry juggernaut — is hoping a new marketing campaign will make berry lovers care about that distinction. With new labels on its packages, a retooled website and an aggressive social media outreach that starts this week, the company...

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Ag Today, September 6, 2016

Fair deal or government giveaway? Farmers' toxic drainage agreement nears completion By Alex Breitler Record Staff Writer Posted Sep. 2, 2016 at 6:48 PM The federal government and farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley may be close to signing off on another controversial deal to clean up toxic runoff which, if left unabated, could threaten the downstream Delta. But the terms of the latest agreement are not as aggressive as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation itself has proposed in the past under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Most notably, to some critics, the agreement contains no specific plan for how the...

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Ag Today, September 2, 2016

Development interests defeat bills seeking to improve transparency at the California Coastal Commission By Dan Weikel- Las Angeles Times 9/1/16 Business, labor and pro-development interests on Wednesday night defeated two bills designed to improve transparency at the powerful California Coastal Commission. A third reform measure that requires one of the commission’s 15 members to be from a low-income minority community affected by environmental problems passed the Assembly and was sent to the governor’s desk. Only 12 members of the Assembly voted to support SB 1190, a measure sponsored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) that sought to prohibit the so-called ex-parte contacts that occur outside official public meetings between coastal commissioners and developers, lobbyists,...

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Ag Today, September 1, 2016

Citrus farmers want tighter regulations John Lindt7:55 p.m. PDT August 31, 2016 When was the last time a farm group called for more regulatory oversight, tighter rules and penalties as well as more crop inspection? It may not be typical but in this case the orange industry is facing a “death sentence,” fears Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen. That threat comes from the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) that can carry deadly citrus greening disease (HCP) that has already devastated Florida’s citrus groves. What can growers do to stop the spread of the insects into the state’s top citrus producing region? “Who ya gonna call?” The...

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Ag Today, August 31, 2016

UPDATE 2: Farmworker overtime bill draws fire Roberto M. Robledo, The Salinas Californian5:55 p.m. PDT August 30, 2016 Leaders of the Salinas Valley agriculture industry responded firmly Tuesday in opposition to a state bill that rewrites the overtime pay policy for farmworkers in California. While farm labor advocates hail the passage of Assembly Bill 1066, Norm Groot, president of the Monterey County Farm Bureau, said the changes could lead to less pay for fewer farm workers in a region that employs as many as 45,000 regular field laborers. “The end result, if this is signed into law, is that farm operations will be driven...

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Ag Today, August 30, 2016

California farmworker overtime expansion sent to Gov. Jerry Brown BY JEREMY B. WHITE The California Assembly on Monday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a hard-fought and historic expansion of overtime rules for farmworkers, but it remains uncertain whether the Democratic governor will sign off on the measure. A nearly identical bill fell three votes short of passage on the Assembly floor in May, with 15 Democrats voting against the measure or declining to vote. But on Monday, an amended version of the measure, now contained in Assembly Bill 1066, passed on a 44-32 vote.  Agricultural workers already receive some overtime pay under California law thanks...

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