Ag Today February 5, 2019
Trump taps ex-California water lobbyist for Cabinet. Critics call him a ‘swamp creature’ [Sacramento Bee]
President Donald Trump on Monday nominated David Bernhardt, the former top lobbyist for a powerful Fresno-based irrigation district, to run the Department of the Interior, raising renewed questions about whether he’d try to steer more California water to his former clients. Trump announced Bernhardt’s nomination to become Interior secretary on Twitter. “David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!” Trump tweeted. Bernhardt has been deputy secretary since early in the Trump administration, and...
Ag Today February 4, 2019
As EPA eases wetlands rule, California makes a countermove [Wall Street Journal]
Home builders cheered a Trump administration move in December to ease environmental regulations on development in wetlands. But in California, the celebration didn’t last long. Builders there say the action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prompted state water officials to accelerate longstanding plans to bolster wetlands protections that exceed those for federal waterways. “There’s a commitment [in California] to try to do things to the farthest environmentally protected status possible,” said Dan Dunmoyer, the head of the California Building Industry Association. “We just think that Mr. Trump tends...
Ag Today February 1, 2019
Trump gives upbeat assessment of trade talks with China [Wall Street Journal]
The U.S. and China moved closer to settling their trade dispute, with President Trump saying he expects to meet again with Chinese President Xi Jinping to resolve the conflict that has rattled the global economy. Mr. Trump’s upbeat assessment came as he met Thursday with Vice Premier Liu He of China in the Oval Office following two days of high-level talks between the two sides. During the talks, the Chinese delegation proposed to the U.S. that Mr. Trump meet with Mr. Xi in the Chinese resort island of Hainan...
Ag Today January 30, 2019
Just days left to avert Colorado River water crisis. Can states make a deal? [KQED, San Francisco]
Avoiding a long-expected crisis on the Colorado River, a water source for 40 million people, is coming down to a final few days of frenzied negotiations. A 19-year drought and decades of overuse have put a water shortfall on the horizon. If California and six other states, all with deeply entrenched interests, can’t agree on a plan to cut their water consumption by Jan. 31, the federal government says it will step in and decide the river's future....If farmers, cities and water districts can...
Ag Today January 29, 2019
PG&E files for bankruptcy. Electricity prices likely to rise for millions of Californians [Los Angeles Times]
PG&E Corp., California’s largest power company, filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday for the second time in two decades, starting an unpredictable process that could take years to resolve and is likely to result in higher energy prices for the millions of Californians who buy electricity from Pacific Gas & Electric….PG&E says a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which will allow the company to continue operating while it comes up with a plan to reorganize its debts, is the only way to deal with billions of dollars...
Ag Today January 28, 2019
Could California produce soon cost you more? Farms face labor shortages, immigration woes [USA TODAY]
…California farmers, anchors of a $50 billion industry that represents 13 percent of the nation's agricultural value and a critical source of its produce and milk, are facing an unprecedented squeeze on their livelihoods that could have repercussions in households from coast to coast. Beyond a decade-in-the-making labor shortage, spurred in part by a lack of replacements for an aging work force, California’s newly enacted overtime pay law and the Trump administration’s tense rhetoric over immigration have ratcheted up concern among both farmers and those they...
Ag Today January 25, 2019
Here’s how local governments are replacing California’s biggest utilities [Los Angeles Times]
…Local governments across the state have been forming these so-called community choice aggregators, or CCAs, to reduce rates and increase the use of climate-friendly energy sources such as wind and solar….There are now 19 community choice programs operating in California, 14 of which have launched in the last two years, according to the Center for Climate Protection, a nonprofit advocacy group….Although CCAs are an increasingly popular option, the rapid expansion of community choice has caused some renewable energy developers to worry about potential unintended consequences.
The end of fur trapping...
Ag Today January 24, 2019
When almond trees have to go, it's not as bad as it looks [Bakersfield Californian]
…The tree removals are entirely routine, especially in the almond capital of Kern County. But what's not as well-established is what to do with the downed trees….Until a few years ago, many dead almond trees were sent to nearby biomass power plants and co-generation plants that burned them to create energy for use in local oil production….Many farmers now grind up the trees instead of burning them….Increasingly, though, ground-up trees are recycled back into an almond orchard's soil.
Former SBC Farm Bureau president expects tough growing season...
Ag Today January 23, 2019
January storms added 580 billion gallons of water to California reservoirs [Bay Area News Group]
…Over the three weeks from Jan. 1 until this Tuesday, 47 key reservoirs that state water officials closely monitor added 580 billion gallons of water — as much as roughly 9 million people use in a year, according to an analysis by this newspaper….Nearly all of the major reservoirs around California are now at or above their historical averages, swelled by runoff that continues to pour in from brimming creeks, rivers and rising water tables. Meanwhile, the statewide Sierra Nevada snow pack, which provides about one-third...
Ag Today January 22, 2019
Blue Card' bill would give agricultural workers pathway to citizenship [Salinas Californian]
Rep. Jimmy Panetta and Sen. Dianne Feinstein have co-sponsored a bill that would allow agricultural workers an eventual pathway to citizenship as well as provide the agricultural industry with a more stable workforce....According to Monterey County Farm Bureau Executive Director Norm Groot, the temporary agriculture worker program has been an issue for more than a decade in the Salinas Valley....The California Farm Bureau Federation, a nonprofit that works to protect family farms and ranches, commended the 'Blue Card' bill Thursday in a press release. According to CFBF President Jamie...