Ag Today March 21, 2019

California governor pushes for fee to clean up tainted water [Associated Press]

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to charge California water customers up to $10 per month to help clean up contaminated water in low-income and rural areas, but he will face resistance from some legislative Democrats hesitant to impose new taxes….The fee on water customers would affect households and businesses — an idea that lawmakers killed last session. Newsom wants to combine it with fees on animal farmers, dairies and fertilizer sellers to raise about $140 million per year….Democrats hold 75 percent of the legislative seats, but some who represent moderate or agricultural districts may balk at the proposal, particularly after voters recalled a Democratic senator last year after he voted to raise the gas tax.


UCLA pesticides study finds California, counties not doing enough to keep us safe [Salinas Californian]

California state and county agencies aren’t doing enough to protect the public from pesticide exposure, a new study found. The research, released Wednesday by the University of California, Los Angeles, alleges a systemic lack of oversight by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and county agricultural commissioners when it comes to pesticide application permits. Opponents from the Central Coast to the Central Valley call the research “poppycock” and question the agenda of the authors.


Despite rulings, farmers remain loyal to Bayer’s Roundup [Wall Street Journal]

Farmers are standing by Bayer AG’s BAYRY -3.19% Roundup herbicide despite rulings from two juries that the world’s most widely used weedkiller caused cancer in plaintiffs. The chemical, used on the vast majority of corn, soybean and cotton acres planted in the U.S., remains prized by farmers for its low cost and effectiveness….A U.S. District Court jury in San Francisco on Tuesday found that exposure to Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide, caused a man’s cancer. It was the second such ruling since July against Bayer, which markets Roundup and is one of the world’s biggest glyphosate suppliers.


Western states finish Colorado River drought deal, ask Congress to sign off [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

Representatives of seven states finished a landmark agreement to shore up the dwindling Colorado River and signed a letter to Congress on Tuesday calling for legislation to enact the deal. The set of agreements would prop up water-starved reservoirs that supply cities and farms across the Southwest and would lay the groundwork for larger negotiations to address the river’s chronic overallocation, which has been compounded by years of drought and the worsening effects of climate change….The signing event was held amid bitter complaints by California’s Imperial Irrigation District, which was excluded from the deal even though it controls the single largest share of Colorado River water.


California’s drought may be over, but its trees are still dying [KXTV, Sacramento]

…The numbers from the 2018 USDA Forest Health Aerial Survey released in February show that 2018’s below average rainfall slowed the forests’ recovery from drought and diseases. And even heavy rain and snow totals in the first few months of 2019 might prove to be detrimental to forest survival. According to the ecologists who compiled this year’s Forest Health survey, the end state-wide of California’s drought is expected to be a breeding ground for the fungus responsible for Sudden Oak Death.


U.S. farmers face devastation following Midwest floods [Reuters]

Midwestern farmers have been gambling they could ride out the U.S.-China trade war by storing their corn and soybeans anywhere they could – in bins, plastic tubes, in barns or even outside. Now, the unthinkable has happened. Record floods have devastated a wide swath of the Farm Belt across Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and several other states. Early estimates of lost crops and livestock are approaching $1 billion in Nebraska alone. With more flooding expected, damages are expected to climb much higher for the region.