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Ag Today September 14, 2021

California Farmers, Worried About Water, May Be a Force in Recall Vote [New York Times] Craig Gordon, the owner of several dairy farms near Los Angeles, is a lifelong Democrat. He supported Senator Bernie Sanders for president, he doesn’t like former President Donald J. Trump and he voted for Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2018. But lately, he said, high taxes on milk, coronavirus shutdowns that have cut into his sales and state-imposed limitations on water for agriculture have made him so angry at Mr. Newsom that he has paid for seven billboards throughout the state — most of them in the...

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Ag Today September 13, 2021

Torture orchard: Can science transform California crops to cope with drought? [Cal Matters] There’s a hive of PhDs at the University of California at Davis who are working to reinvent food production in the Golden State. Researchers have fanned out across the globe collecting rare plant samples; others are grafting Frankenstein trees and stitching together root systems of plums and peaches to create better almond and walnut trees. Some scientists are deconstructing crime scenes of withered and dying plants, gathering clues about what killed them. Others deprive trees of moisture or douse them with salty water, stress-testing the plants to understand...

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Ag Today, September 10, 2021

California OKs new spending on drought, wildfire prevention [The Associated Press] California lawmakers on Thursday voted to spend more than $2 billion to prevent wildfires and address a severe drought, closing the book — for now — on a $262.5 billion operating budget that began the year with a record deficit because of the pandemic and ended with a record surplus in spite of it. Wildfire spending in California has more than tripled since 2005, surpassing $3 billion last year. But most of that money is spent on putting out fires, not preventing them. Lawmakers also approved an additional $1.2 billion...

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Ag Today September 9, 2021

Opinion: California's Farms Face a Reckoning [New York Times] California has become the No. 1 agricultural state in the U.S. Thanks to extensive irrigation, it produces a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, and ranks first in dairy and wine, among other products. But now that the abundant processed water that made this cornucopia possible is no longer so abundant, will some of California’s agriculture need to shift to wetter states? It’s a painful question that Californians can no longer avoid. The good news is that California’s farms use so much water that fallowing even...

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Ag Today September 7, 2021

Farmworker shortage raises worries grapes will go unpicked [Bakersfield Californian] The signs first appeared last fall when Central Valley table grape growers couldn't find enough workers to prune their vines. Now, a month into the harvest, it's become clear California doesn't have enough farmworkers for the harvest. Work crew sizes are reportedly down a quarter to 40 percent amid what may be the first year-round labor shortage in decades. People familiar with the situation rank the lack of workers as the industry's biggest challenge, ahead of even the drought. During the recent shortage of workers across many industries, the lack of...

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Ag Today September 3, 2021

Drought threatens access to clean water in California farming communities, study finds [Sacramento Bee] Researchers have suspected for years that drought conditions worsen groundwater quality, but a study published this week provides strong evidence proving the long-held assumption. While previous studies have focused on the risk of wells being overdrawn and run dry during drought, the study from the United States Geological Survey and the California State Water Resources Control Board is the first to directly link drought to deteriorating water quality on a regional scale. The study looked at 30 years of data from California’s Central Valley. Based on their...

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Ag Today September 2, 2021

As California burns, anger and pointed questions for caretaker of its vast forests [Sacramento Bee] Ivo Dachev was among the first to lose his home to the Caldor Fire — and wanted to know why the fire wasn’t smothered in its infancy in the Eldorado National Forest. “I tell you what, the fire started one to two acres as a brush fire,” said the Grizzly Flats resident. As the Caldor Fire spills into the Lake Tahoe basin and threatens one of America’s most breathtaking locales, some folks back in Grizzly Flats — largely destroyed and still smoldering 40 miles to the...

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Ag Today August 31,2021

California moves slowly on water projects amid drought [Associated Press] In 2014, in the middle of a severe drought that would test California’s complex water storage system like never before, voters told the state to borrow $7.5 billion and use part of it to build projects to stockpile more water. Seven years later, that drought has come and gone, replaced by an even hotter and drier one that is draining the state’s reservoirs at an alarming rate. But none of the more than half-dozen water storage projects scheduled to receive that money have been built. The largest project by far is...

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Ag Today August 30, 2021

Madera County residents and farmers face groundwater challenge of a lifetime [Fresno Bee] Madera County is running out of time as groundwater levels plummet to new depths. Wells are going dry everywhere. Drillers have months-long waitlists. Residents are scrambling for water tanks. And farmers will soon face a reckoning after agriculture’s footprint, particularly nut trees, has more than doubled in the past 50 years — far outpacing irrigation supplies. There’s growing consensus among farmers, county officials and residents that Madera’s groundwater problem will be solved mainly by cutting water demand, not by waiting for more dams to be built or even...

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Ag Today August 27, 2021

California’s ‘Cantaloupe Center’ struggles to reign supreme as drought pummels agriculture across the West [Washington Post] This small town in California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley advertises itself as the “Cantaloupe Center of the World.” But as relentless drought punishes California and the West, the land is drying up and the cantaloupes are disappearing. Farmers have let large portions of their melon fields lie fallow as they struggle to get by on dramatically curtailed water supplies. Some are giving their vines barely enough water to stay alive in an effort to conserve. In other cases, fields that have already been planted will never...

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