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Ag Today April 8, 2019

California could see fewer wildfires thanks to wet winter [Wall Street Journal] California’s unusually wet winter has officials hopeful that there will be fewer deadly wildfires in 2019 than last year’s series of devastating infernos. So far this year there have been 149 wildfires in the state, compared with 720 during the same period last year, according to tabulations as of April 2 by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. The number is the lowest in at least 10 years of record-keeping and is attributable in part, officials say, to soaking rains finally reaching Southern California...

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April 2019

A year into Trump’s trade turmoil, an iconic California industry struggles to resist [CALmatters] …It has been a year since Trump sent a collective shudder through California’s economy, imposing taxes on imported steel and aluminum that in turn prompted China to impose new tariffs on agricultural products….Meanwhile, a bevy of signature California products—almonds, pistachios, walnuts, wine grapes, oranges, dairy—have teetered on the verge of becoming collateral damage. So far, the worst-case scenario has not come to pass, and some products, such as pistachios, have survived relatively unscathed, at least for now….And some fears have been entirely realized. Sales of California oranges...

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Ag Today April 4, 2019

Why Harder, other valley reps are asking EPA for close review of delta water plan [Modesto Bee] Political leaders from the valley are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to closely scrutinize new water quality standards proposed for the San Joaquin-Sacramento delta. A two-page document submitted by the State Water Board to EPA sparked a bipartisan reaction this week from communities with major interests in delta water….State Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, raised concerns that thousands of pages of reports and testimony on the Bay-Delta water quality plan were condensed in a two-page letter asking for a federal sign-off on new salinity standards...

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Ag Today April 3, 2019

California adopts new wetland protections as Trump administration eases them [San Francisco Chronicle] California water regulators adopted a far-reaching plan Tuesday to prevent more of the state’s creeks, ponds and wetlands from being plowed or paved over, a move that comes as the Trump administration scales back protections under the federal Clean Water Act….The new policy is a culmination of about a dozen years of back-and-forth between state regulators pushing for restrictions and critics trying to fight them off….“There were some things that we weren’t able to reach agreement on, but for the most part they were able to address our...

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Ag Today April 2, 2019

As Trump threatens to close border, experts warn of billions in economic damage [Los Angeles Times] ...The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business organization, warned Monday of “severe economic harm on American families, workers, farmers, and manufacturers across the United States” if Trump closes the border....Nearly $13.7 million in agricultural products move through the port of entry at Nogales, Ariz., every day, for example, said Veronica Nigh, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington. Because those products are perishable, even a short closure could hurt farmers and consumers on both sides. https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-border-closing-chaos-20190401-story.html   White House immigration plan may call for commission...

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Ag Today April 1, 2019

Emails show FDA worry after romaine outbreaks [Associated Press] After repeated food poisoning outbreaks tied to romaine lettuce, a U.S. food safety official shared his concerns in an internal email, saying the produce industry’s water testing “failed in an epic and tragic way.”…Though the FDA has publicly called on the leafy greens industry to step up safety, the emails offer a stark view of the agency’s longstanding frustrations with continued outbreaks. They also show how the agency leveraged the crisis to pressure for voluntary changes, even as it tries to figure out its own water testing rules. https://apnews.com/38083427e630401e915c3dda458be2d8   Farmers look to adapt to...

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Ag Today March 29, 2019

U.S. sues California over river flow standards [Los Angeles Times] The federal government Thursday added to the pile of lawsuits challenging new state requirements to boost river flows in order to help struggling fish populations. The U.S. Department of the Interior, which manages California’s largest irrigation supply project, argues that the flow standards will interfere with its operation of the New Melones Dam and reservoir on the Stanislaus River. The federal complaint, filed in both state and federal court, is the 11th lawsuit launched against the State Water Resources Control Board since it voted in December to require greater flows in...

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Ag Today March 28, 2019

Arizona Sen. McSally promises swift action on drought plan [Associated Press] U.S. Sen. Martha McSally vowed Wednesday to take quick action on a plan to preserve the drought-stricken Colorado River, which serves about 40 million people in the U.S. West and Mexico. Seven states are looking to Congress to pass legislation to implement drought contingency plans that would mean voluntary cuts to keep two key reservoirs on the river from falling so low that their dams could not deliver water or produce hydropower. The plans that have been in the works for years got a first congressional hearing Wednesday before a...

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Ag Today March 27, 2019

GOP lawmakers set goal of summer vote for trade deal [Associated Press] President Donald Trump and House Republicans moved to build congressional support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade accord on Tuesday with lawmakers selling the plan as offering big benefits for American workers. But prospects remain uncertain as Democrats are in no hurry to secure a political victory for the president. GOP lawmakers emerged from a White House meeting knowing they likely have a narrow window to push it through both chambers of Congress, given that lawmakers tend to avoid tough trade votes during election season. https://www.apnews.com/69bd07dd034b4308a65d7ff722409ab2   Trump team and China seek elusive deal...

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Ag Today March 26, 2019

How California is defying Trump’s environmental rollbacks [Los Angeles Times] …As the Trump administration continues its assault on environmental regulation, state officials are throwing up legal barriers to some high-stakes attacks. They are preparing to strengthen safeguards for waterways that are about to lose federal protections in a major rollback of the Clean Water Act. They are refusing to issue permits the federal government needs to build a controversial dam project that would drown portions of a Northern California river renowned for its wild trout fishery. And they can use state water quality standards to limit Washington’s ability to boost irrigation...

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