Ag Today Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Farmers, spared from mandatory cuts, defend water use [Riverside Press-Enterprise]

Nothing raises Brad Scott’s ire like accusations that farmers waste water. The Moreno Valley dairyman has been defending himself for years, but even more so since Gov. Jerry Brown last week ordered cities – but not farms – to cut water consumption by 25 percent from 2013 levels….“Consumers are feeling the pain now and they have no idea what we’ve been dealing with for generations,” said Scott, co-owner of Scott Bros. Dairy Farms along Gilman Springs Road….At the 6-acre Kallisto Greenhouses in Fontana, owner Kathye Rietkerk said she spent about $300,000 during a dry spell in the 1990s to improve efficiency at her wholesale indoor plant business….Rietkerk said she is angry that half of the state’s available water goes to the environment at a time when residents and businesses have grown desperate with drought.
Camps divided by governor’s water cut proposals [Imperial Valley Press]
Linsey Dale objects to the notion of black-hatted farmers reaping the rewards of a biased water system in California, a system central to some of the criticism that while farming makes up only 2 percent of the state’s economy, the industry receives up to 80 percent of the water supply. It’s a gross misrepresentation, the Imperial County Farm Bureau executive director said….“I’m not saying that the environment doesn’t need some type of allocation but I think it’s gotten a little out of hand,” Dale said. “We’re putting the environment ahead of certain necessities that what we need to survive. The delta smelt has only about a one-year lifespan, so it’s very concerning for us that the state is putting that in front of farmers, who grow the citrus and grains and other food sources we need to survive.”
OID could sue over water supply [Modesto Bee]
A drought-fueled battle pitting people against fish over the Stanislaus River could wind up in court. Oakdale Irrigation District leaders described the struggle Tuesday to a boardroom full of worried farmers who began irrigating three weeks ago with no idea how much water they’re entitled to this year –and they won’t find out for two more weeks. The small amount of water stored behind New Melones Dam, which they were counting on, was expected to begin diminishing at midnight Tuesday as officials release more water, swelling the Stanislaus to benefit fish. The latest surge, called a pulse flow, was not envisioned in a compromise recently hammered out between local leaders and federal officials. But state water officials have stalled approving the deal, leaving federal officials feeling they had no choice but to maintain the status quo.
Project irrigators to get reduced water deliveries [Klamath Falls Herald and News]
Klamath Project irrigators are facing another tight water year. At the annual Klamath Water Users Association water meeting Tuesday, Brian Person, acting manager for the Bureau of Reclamation Klamath Basin Area Office, announced that the Klamath Project is slated to receive 254,500 acre-feet of water for the 2015 irrigation season. “It’s disappointing, but not unexpected,” said Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association. According to the BOR 2015 Operations Plan, historical full Project demand is 390,000 acre-feet. “I think we could see it coming. You know it’s a number that if we weren’t stringing droughts back-to-back, it’s manageable,” Addington said. “I’m afraid people are going to get hurt this year.”
Supervisors order agriculture commissioner to improve pesticide scrutiny [Ventura County Star]
A county board Tuesday directed Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales to upgrade scrutiny of pesticides in a meeting tinged with questions about whether Gonzales and state regulators were meeting their obligations to protect public health. The Ventura County Board of Supervisors gave the direction to Gonzales two weeks after he reported that air-quality targets for the presence of the pesticide 1,3-Dichloropropene had been exceeded from 2011 through 2013 in fields near Rio Mesa High School. Gonzales and state regulators have downplayed the risk because the targets are tied to exposure over a lifetime and not just one year….Gonzales and state officials disavowed suggestions that they had placed the interests of the agricultural industry above public health.
Feds to consider endangered species listing for spotted owl [Associated Press]
Federal biologists have agreed to consider changing Endangered Species Act protections for the northern spotted owl from threatened to endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will announce Wednesday there is enough new scientific information in a conservation group’s petition to warrant a hard look, which will take about two years. A notice will be published Friday in the Federal Register….Paul Henson, supervisor for Fish and Wildlife in Oregon, says a lot has changed since the original listing. Back in 1990, the biggest threat to the owl was cutting down the old growth forests where the owls live. Now it is the barred owl, an aggressive cousin from the East Coast that migrated across the Great Plains and invaded spotted owl territory. Those two areas will be the focus of the review, he said.
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