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Ag Today April 27, 2021

California is primed for a severe fire season, but just how bad is anybody’s guess [Los Angeles Times] At this point, it seems like almost a given that California will see another historic fire season. … But there are still some key variables that haven’t yet taken shape. Weather events, human behavior and even luck will dictate whether 2021 goes down in the record books like 2020, when California wildfires burned an area larger than the state of Connecticut. … Weather models suggest the West will be dry through June, and temperatures are likely to be above normal, said Heath Hockenberry, fire...

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Ag Today April 26, 2021

Wells dry up, crops imperiled, workers in limbo as California drought grips San Joaquin Valley [Los Angeles Times] As yet another season of drought returns to California, the mood has grown increasingly grim across the vast and fertile San Joaquin Valley. … Some growers say they are now facing a convergence of forces that is all but insurmountable — a seemingly endless loop of hot, dry weather, new environmental protections and cutbacks in water allotments. “I’m proud of our family’s history in this part of the state,” said John Guthrie, president of the Tulare County Farm Bureau. … “Things were tough...

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Ag Today April 23, 2021

California wells will go dry this summer. ‘Alarm bells are sounding’ in the Valley [Fresno Bee] Thousands of wells that bring water to San Joaquin Valley homes are at risk of drying up this summer, leaving families without running water for drinking, cleaning and bathing. … Homes, farms and entire communities that rely on shallow wells as their only source of water are vulnerable to declining groundwater levels from dry conditions and agricultural pumping. … Groundwater basins lost significant volumes of water from increased agricultural pumping last year and haven’t had a chance to replenish, data from local water agencies show....

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Ag Today April 22, 2021

How pandemic delivered humbling defeat for California’s struggling farmworkers union [Sacramento Bee] The United Farm Workers had itself a win. But the celebration didn’t last long. In late January, the legendary labor union obtained a court injunction requiring Foster Poultry Farms to follow COVID-19 rules at its main chicken-processing plant in Livingston, a small farming-dependent town in Merced County. Hundreds of UFW members had been sickened at the plant and as many as nine workers died. Six days after the judge ruled, the plant’s workers voted the United Farm Workers out. … Today, Chavez’s bronze bust sits behind President Joe Biden’s desk in the White...

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Ag Today April 21, 2021

US sets aside habitat critical for survival of rare songbird [Associated Press] … The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the final habitat designation for the western yellow-billed cuckoo on Tuesday. It covers about 467 square miles (1,210 square kilometers) along hundreds of miles of rivers and streams in the western states. Most breeding in the U.S. occurs in Arizona and New Mexico, but the habitat designation also includes areas in California, Colorado, Utah, Texas and Idaho. The designation isn’t as big as initially proposed. … Listed as threatened in 2014, biologists say the bird has seen population declines due to...

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Ag Today April 20, 2021

23ABC takes in-depth look at California's drought concerns impacting agriculture [KERO-TV, Bakersfield] … Although most cities have plenty of water storage to get through the year there is worry that there won't be enough water for farmers and rural wells could also run dry. … “Because of our environmental concerns our water is being cut back. Much of the water is being let go through the Delta into the Pacific Ocean for the protection of the Delta smelt and salmon. Farmers up and down the valley have really been cut back on their supply of water," said Keith Gardiner. … Kern County...

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Ag Today April 19, 2021

Is California suffering a decades-long megadrought? [Los Angeles Times] … Some researchers believe the region is actually more than two decades into an emerging “megadrought” — a hydrological event that is on par with the worst dry spells of the past millennium. Except this time, they say, human-caused climate change is driving its severity — and will make it that much harder to climb back out of. … Other experts are more skeptical, saying that while the Colorado Basin may be facing megadrought conditions, the same can’t yet be said for California. But they agree that warming temperatures are making droughts worse and forcing the...

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Ag Today April 16, 2021

Federal & state bills aim to fix CA water infrastructure [KMPH TV, Fresno] … The bills, led by U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, Congressman Jim Costa and State Senator Melissa Hurtado, could mean big improvements for the Central Valley’s water supply. "This has shaped up to be one of the driest years on record," said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau … State and federal representatives have introduced the bipartisan Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act, which aims to tackle California’s drought issues by updating its outdated infrastructure. …  The bill would authorize more than $653 million to restore the capacity of three...

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Ag Today April 15, 2021

Klamath irrigators face devastating lack of water [Klamath Falls Herald and News] It wasn’t much of a surprise when the Klamath Water Users Association announced the lowest allocation to the Klamath Project in its history. But that didn’t make the words “33,000 acre-feet" sting any less for Basin irrigators. “We’re in a tough spot this year, and we all know that,” KWUA President Ben DuVal said at a meeting Wednesday morning. … The allotment is less than 10% of what the project would have typically used prior to the introduction of Endangered Species Act regulations in the early 2000s. … The nearly two-month...

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Ag Today April 14, 2021

California to insurers: How much is fire risk ‘hardening’ commercial coverage market for wineries, vineyards, farms? [North Bay Business Journal] After hearing stories about cancellation, nonrenewal or rejection of commercial insurance for wineries, wine grape growers and other agribusinesses in high wildfire risk areas, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Tuesday directed insurers to provide details on what’s going on. Lara gave carriers operating in the state and those participating in its coverage of last resort, the California FAIR Plan, 60 days to provide the Department of Insurance with detailed information about changes to and effects of commercial policy underwriting since...

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