Ag Today Friday, April 3, 2015

Gov. Brown’s drought plan goes easy on agriculture [Los Angeles Times]

Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic order to curb California’s water use largely bypasses agriculture, the state’s biggest water user, setting off debate about whether growers are getting a pass.…For critics of Brown’s plan, it’s ineffective policy to crack down on watering suburban yards while largely ignoring the vast, still-green expanses of the state’s fruit and vegetable garden.…Other water experts and growers say that agriculture has already suffered severe cutbacks as a result of the drawn-out drought, now in its fourth year.…”I think much of California is all of a sudden waking up to the fact that the drought is not theoretical. It’s going to manifest itself in ordinary Californians’ lives for the first time. “Well, our farmers have been feeling it for a while,” said Chris Scheuring, a water attorney for the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Valley leaders urge Brown to release more Delta water for local livelihoods [Fresno Bee]
In another of an ongoing series of pleas by elected leaders in the Valley, representatives of farming communities in Fresno and Tulare counties gathered Thursday in Selma and challenged Gov. Jerry Brown to do more to relieve the effects of drought on farms and families in the region. Their top demand is for the state to allow more Northern California water to be pumped through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and into San Joaquin Valley canal systems. Some fear that the need for more water transfers may not be understood in metropolitan regions of the state until the pinch in agricultural production makes some commodities scarce or more expensive for urban consumers.…Leaders said they’re grateful for a $1 billion drought relief package that Brown signed into law last week. It included money for emergency food and water for stricken Valley towns where a lack of water has idled farmland — and farmworkers. “The funding for food and drinking water relief is appreciated,” Selma Mayor Scott Robertson said. But, he and others added, it’s not enough. “
The environment, agriculture and urban consumers drink up California’s water [Fresno Bee]
With California entering its fourth year of drought, the question takes on new urgency: Where does all of the state’s water go? The answer can vary depending on how the data are compiled, but according to the California Department of Water Resources, the biggest users are the environment, agriculture and urban consumers….Taking all that into account, data from the state show that 50.2% is used by the environment, 40.9% for agriculture and 8.9% by urban residents and businesses. State officials acknowledge that excluding the portion of water dedicated to the environment makes agriculture, by far, the major user, at about 80%….“If you say that ag uses 80% you are trying to make the point that there is a huge imbalance between what ag and urban use,” Parker said. “But it is far more complicated than that.”
County wrapping up new groundwater policies for hillsides [Napa Valley Register]
Napa County is finishing up revised groundwater policies designed to make certain new hillside wineries and other large, proposed projects don’t suck aquifers dry. Applicants would have to calculate the water to be used and water recharge available for specific sites. The county said a more formulaic approach works in rural Napa Valley, but not on hillsides and in places such as Carneros with complicated, fractious rock aquifers….Sandy Elles, executive director of Napa Valley Farm Bureau, said site-specific groundwater studies could lead to battles of “dueling experts.” She urged caution, flexibility and a one-year review after the revisions are adopted. “This is an issue fraught with technical difficulties, legal difficulties and political difficulties,” Elles said.
Report: Climate change puts Valley at risk [Hanford Sentinel]
Imagine a San Joaquin Valley with hotter, longer summers, more drought/rain extremes and a lot less snow in the mountains. That’s the picture you’re going to see as the 21st century progresses because of to global warming, according to a report released Thursday by the Risky Business Project, which studies the economic risks of climate change. The report looks at impacts to major California industries, with a lot of focus on the state’s $45 billion ag economy and its epicenter, the San Joaquin Valley….The report predicts that climate change will exacerbate droughts by making them hotter. That means a good chance that the extreme conditions of 2014-15 — which can’t necessarily be attributed directly to climate change — will become more common. To Kings County Farm Bureau President Dino Giacomazzi, that’s a good argument to build more reservoir space to capture more water during heavy rain events.
Can U.S. stop spread of superbugs? [Wall Street Journal]
Imagine a world where medical procedures are derailed regularly because patients are resistant to antibiotics. And that day may be growing nearer—thanks, in part, to increasing use of these medicines for bulking up or preventing disease in food-producing livestock….Antibiotic resistance has been blamed for at least two million human illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually in the U.S. alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 70% of antibiotics used to treat Americans are also used in livestock, says the Natural Resources Defense Council. Meanwhile, the amount of antibiotics consumed by food-producing animals in the U.S. is expected to rise by about 20% between 2010 and 2030, according a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Mindful of the problem, the Obama administration last week issued an action plan to thwart antibiotic resistance.…But critics say details for combating antibiotic usage in livestock are largely insufficient.
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