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Ag Today January 14, 2021

Interior strips protections for owl species on decline [CQ-Roll Call] The Interior Department said it will eliminate from federal protection more than 3 million acres in California, Oregon and Washington vital to the northern spotted owl, a species considered endangered under federal law. In a draft rule published Wednesday as much of the nation was glued to impeachment proceedings, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a division of Interior, said it was excluding about 3.5 million acres of “critical habitat” established for the owls. … The rule could be subject to the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to strike down...

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Ag Today January 13, 2021

Farmworkers lose out on $1.5B COVID-19 safety funding after USDA springs surprise spending [Salinas Californian] Farmworkers lost out on up to $1.5 billion in grants and loans for COVID-19 safety needs after the USDA committed funds earmarked as such for a food box program. … The reaction from ag, labor and congressional leaders was swift. Dozens of congressional leaders signed a letter urging the USDA to prioritize funding for farmworker safety. … "We were shocked by this development, to be quite honest," stated Sara Neagu-Reed California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) Federal Policy Associate Director in an email to The Californian. CFBF immediately contacted their...

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Ag Today January 12, 2021

Study: Wildfires produced up to half of pollution in US West [Associated Press] Wildfire smoke accounted for up to half of all health-damaging small particle air pollution in the western U.S. in recent years as warming temperatures fueled more destructive blazes, according to a study released Monday. Even as pollution emissions declined from other sources including vehicle exhaust and power plants, the amount from fires increased sharply, said researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, San Diego. … Air pollution experts say that residents of the West Coast and Northern Rockies in particular should expect major smoke events from...

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Ag Today January 11, 2021

California North Coast farmers fear dry winter amid dismal snow survey [North Bay Business Journal] The slow drip from Mother Nature’s faucet so far this winter has caused cautious concern from farmers and their bureaus reliant on adequate water supplies. … “Right now, it’s not looking good,” said Loren Poncia, who runs Stemple Creek Ranch based in Tomales in Marin County. … Santa Rosa dairy farmer Doug Beretta feels his Sonoma County counterpart’s pain. … “We’re really lucky we have (Lake) Berryessa, and at this moment, it’s still early,” Solano County Farm Bureau Director Lisa Shipley said of the Napa County...

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Ag Today January 8, 2021

California OKs expansion of who can get COVID-19 vaccine to avoid doses going to waste [Los Angeles Times] … The state has also told officials that if a surplus remains even after all those eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine under expanded criteria have been granted access, they should move to Tier 1 of the next phase of distribution, which has not yet officially taken effect. That group includes individuals who work in education, child care, emergency services and agriculture, as well as those 75 and older. The announcement comes amid a slower than anticipated vaccine rollout throughout the state. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-07/california-oks-expansion-of-who-can-get-covid-19-vaccine-to-avoid-medicine-going-to-waste   Rain was only 4...

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Ag Today January 7, 2021

Gavin Newsom wants to send $600 to millions of Californians, extend renter protections [Sacramento Bee] Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking state lawmakers to approve an additional $600 in cash for low-income families and an extension of California’s eviction moratorium to help people through the coronavirus pandemic, Newsom announced Wednesday morning. … The proposals Newsom unveiled Wednesday are part of his 2021-22 state budget plan, which he will unveil in full Friday. … Also included in Newsom’s early action proposal are $2 billion for school reopenings and nearly $1 billion in small business help. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article248310240.html   UC Riverside scientists fight citrus greening disease by breeding new...

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Ag Today January 6, 2021

U.S. to remove penalties for accidentally killing migratory birds [Wall Street Journal] The Trump administration is removing criminal penalties for accidentally killing migratory birds, reversing longstanding federal policy in a move officials say will help landowners and businesses. … Business groups and local government officials have pushed for the change, saying criminal penalties are too harsh for accidental deaths.  But it comes at a time when bird populations are plummeting, facing threats from climate change and habitat loss. … The National Ocean Industries Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Farm Bureau Federation are among the business trade groups to support...

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Ag Today January 5, 2021

Ag employers target state's new COVID-19 emergency rules [Bakersfield Californian] A coalition of farm and business groups has sued state workplace safety officials over month-old emergency safety rules it calls unnecessary in light of steps already taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. …  The rules' physical distancing requirements are of particular concern to local ag. The coalition expressed specific concern about a rule that beds in employer-provided housing be spaced at least six feet apart in all directions. "A reduction in already-scarce housing will directly impact farmworker communities and harm rural economies across the state that depend on agriculture," said...

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Ag Today January 4, 2021

Farmers aren’t happy with California’s COVID-19 workplace rules [Sacramento Bee – 4th item] Agricultural employers are suing California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly called Cal/OSHA, over the state’s COVID-19 emergency workplace rules. … “These regulations will disrupt food supply operations all along the line, but it will be especially hard on our 20,000 small family farming members,” said Jamie Johansson, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation, in a press release announcing the lawsuit. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article248178870.html   New Calif. workplace law to help cope with COVID met with opposition [KTVU, Oakland/San Francisco] … Under assembly bill 685, a business must notify employees within a day of learning of any...

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Ag Today December 31, 2020

Snowfall in much of the Sierra remains sparse. Is California in another drought? [Sacramento Bee] The Sierra Nevada’s snowpack is disappointingly thin, and California’s drought-like conditions continue despite a wet weather forecast for the New Year’s holiday. The overall mountain snowpack is just 52% of average for this time of year as dry conditions persist for a second consecutive winter, the Department of Water Resources said Wednesday. A closely-watched index of rain and snow gauges in the northern Sierra is registering just 55% of average. https://www.sacbee.com/article248172935.html   Climate change spells trouble for the Colorado River. But there’s still hope [Los Angeles Times] … The river is in...

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