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Ag Today July 9, 2021

Governor asks Californians to voluntarily cut water use [Associated Press] California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday asked people and businesses in the nation’s most populous state to voluntarily cut how much water they use by 15% as the Western United States weathers a drought that is rapidly emptying reservoirs relied on for agriculture, drinking water and fish habitat. The water conservation is not mandatory, but it demonstrates the growing challenges of a drought that will only worsen throughout the summer and fall and is tied to more intense wildfires and heat waves....California’s most important reservoirs are already at dangerously low levels...

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Ag Today July 8, 2021

US agency offers $307 million for rural water projects [Associated Press] The U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue up to $307 million in grants and low-interest loans in an effort to modernize rural water infrastructure, officials announced Wednesday. The programs are aimed at towns with less than 10,000 people in 34 states and the territory of Puerto Rico. Officials made the announcement at a wastewater treatment center in the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, north of Santa Fe, where employees have worked to keep the aging plant running for its thousands of residents along the Rio Grande. US agency offers $307 million for rural...

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Ag Today July 7, 2021

North Coast grape harvest nears with smaller crop amid challenges of drought, wildfires [Santa Rosa Press Democrat] As he surveys the area surrounding his vineyard in the Ukiah Valley, Tyler Rodrigue tries to remain upbeat about the North Coast wine industry’s two big worries: drought and another looming fire season. “There’s a lot of things out of our control … welcome to farming,” said Rodrigue, CEO of Noble Vineyard Management. “You kind of just layer on another one with the drought.”...Walking between organic vines in his 170-acre Haiku Vineyard, Rodrigue notes that it is shaping up to be a lighter crop...

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Ag Today July 6, 2021

Drought: The end of California’s groundwater free-for-all [Bay Area News Group] The water spigots on California farms will soon be twisted tighter. As the state faces a growing threat from drought, an increasing number of water agencies are planning to require flow meters on agricultural wells, part of a landmark effort to measure and constrain pumping that used to be free and unlimited. It’s a controversial step aimed at protecting water supplies that could change cultivation practices in the Golden State’s thirsty fields. “It’s hard to be as efficient as possible if you don’t know how much water you’re using,” said...

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Ag Today July 2, 2021

Farmworkers with West Coast Berry strike, join call for higher wages [Santa Maria Times] More than 100 farmworkers employed by West Coast Berry Farms in Santa Maria walked off their job site on Oso Flaco Road Thursday to join a call for increased wages across the region. Employees at the farm, who claim they are not paid enough to meet the growing costs of everyday needs, are demanding their compensation per box of strawberries be increased and that an hourly pay system be put in place. Workers striking outside the company's Skyway Drive office said they wanted their wage per box...

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Ag Today July 1, 2021

Drought’s toll on U.S. agriculture points to even-higher food prices [Wall Street Journal] ...The current drought is on pace to be one of the worst ever. One of the hardest-hit states is California, home to about 70,000 farms and ranches with a combined output of about $50 billion a year. The dairy industry accounts for the largest chunk of the state’s agricultural revenue, followed by almonds and grapes. The agricultural industry throughout the West has suffered in the past decade from a number of climate-related disasters, including a severe drought in 2014-15. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said federal support...

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Ag Today June 30, 2021

As drought ravages California, Biden’s infrastructure bill could help store more water [Sacramento Bee] As California and the West suffer through an epic drought, President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans and Democrats have included $5 billion for Western water projects in their infrastructure deal. The prospect of federal money comes as several big-ticket water projects are on the drawing boards in California — although many are still years from completion and probably wouldn’t get finished in time to help California with the current drought. But the federal dollars, which are probably months and several more negotiations away from possible approval, could enable California...

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Ag Today June 29, 2021

It’s some of America’s richest farmland. But what is it without water? [New York Times] In America’s fruit and nut basket, water is now the most precious crop of all. It explains why, amid a historic drought parching much of the American West, a grower of premium sushi rice has concluded that it makes better business sense to sell the water he would have used to grow rice than to actually grow rice. Or why a melon farmer has left a third of his fields fallow. Or why a large landholder farther south is thinking of planting a solar array on...

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Ag Today June 28, 2021

Sonoma County farmers facing 'heartbreaking’ crisis in drought [Santa Rosa Press Democrat] … With Santa Rosa having received barely one-third of its average rainfall for this time in the weather year, which began Oct. 1, and no rain likely until mid- to late fall, the most severe drought in decades is testing farmers all over the region. That’s the case whether they’re cattle ranchers, vegetable growers or vineyard managers. “Our farmers keep overcoming one crisis after another in Sonoma County, and this is just one more sock to the chin,” said Tawny Tesconi, executive director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau....

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Ag Today June 25, 2021

Western drought reveals need for stronger farm protections, agriculture secretary says [Wall Street Journal] A drought gripping the Western U.S. shows the need for stronger protections for farmers navigating growing climate-related risks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. Since taking leadership of the USDA earlier this year, Mr. Vilsack has urged lawmakers to redesign farm support systems and disaster programs to help farmers cope with harsher and longer-lasting weather calamities, he said. The economic scars left by droughts and other disasters can linger for years, Mr. Vilsack said, rippling beyond farms, ranches and orchards into other sectors of the economy. https://www.wsj.com/articles/western-drought-reveals-need-for-stronger-farm-protections-agriculture-secretary-says-11624630116   Glenn County...

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