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Ag Today August 22, 2017

Dozens are suing to block Delta tunnels. Will it matter? By Dale Kasler Sacramento Bee They have one of the most powerful legal weapons found in any courtroom – the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. But environmental groups, local governments and others face an uphill climb in their fight against the controversial Delta tunnels project. History suggests that suing under the California environmental law likely won’t be enough to kill the tunnels. At least 58 groups opposing the tunnels had sued the state as the legal deadline approached Monday afternoon. The plaintiffs include an alliance of crab boat owners, an American Indian tribe dependent...

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Ag Today August 21, 2017

Sinking Friant-Kern Canal has $500M problem By John Lindt,Visalia Times-Delta The canal that helps bring food to tables across the world has a big problem — it's sinking. Land subsidence along the Friant-Kern Canal in Tulare and Kern counties has increased in the past five years, according to Dan Vink, South Valley Water Authority executive director. The sinking terrain, reported to be two to three feet — mostly along a 25-mile stretch, has already reduced the capacity of the key irrigation artery by 50 to 60 percent in some locations. “It’s like a big dip, a bowl or depression in the land that has the...

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Ag Today August 18, 2017

Grapevine scourge has returned to Temecula Valley’s Wine Country By Aaron Claverie, Riverside Press-Enterprise The glassy-winged sharpshooter, a flying menace that devastated the Temecula Valley Wine Country in the late 1990s, has made an ominous comeback. The insect — which carries the deadly-to-grapevines Pierce’s Disease — has been detected in area orange groves. UC Riverside scientist Matt Daugherty, who leads the monitoring efforts in the region, said this week that his team captured more than 1,500 of the half-inch shooters last month in the groves, the largest haul since a trapping program was instituted in 2003. “It’s certainly very scary,” he said, adding that the...

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Ag Today August 17, 2017

Billions in new spending for housing, water, parks and more could be on the 2018 ballot By Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times Californians could vote on billions of dollars in new spending for low-income housing developments and water and parks improvements next year. Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are considering five proposals that would finance new homes for low-income residents, build parks in neighborhoods without them and restore rivers, streams and creeks among dozens of other projects. The Legislature is likely to decide how much money would be borrowed and where it would be spent before it adjourns for the year in mid-September...

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Ag Today August 16, 2017

Settlement reached in federal case of Modesto-area farmer fined $2.8 million for plowing his field BY DALE KASLER AND RYAN SABALOW AUGUST 15, 2017 10:03 AM Northern California farmer John Duarte spent years fighting the federal government after being fined for plowing over protected wetlands on his property. He attracted a nationwide army of conservative supporters who saw it as government overreach and hoped the Trump administration would order federal officials to back off. But just before his trial was set to start Tuesday, Duarte settled. Duarte agreed to pay $330,000 in fines and another $770,000 on “compensatory mitigation,” according to a settlement agreement reached...

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Ag Today August 14, 2017

Farm bureau takes stand for farmer facing $2.8 million fine Cristina Davies, [KRCR-TV, Redding] Posted: Aug 11, 2017 05:43 PM PDT Updated: Aug 11, 2017 08:44 PM PDT TEHAMA COUNTY, Calif. - A farmer with a plot of land in Tehama County faces a $2.8 million fine for plowing his land. John Duarte, president of Duarte Nursery, said the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is claiming he damaged wetlands when he plowed. However, Duarte said the wetlands have not been damaged. "The vernal pools are normal, functioning vernal pools today. They came out here in 2015, during a drought and they were normal, functioning vernal pools for a...

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Ag Today August 11, 2017

Southern Californians, here’s how much your water bills could rise to pay for Delta tunnels BY RYAN SABALOW rsabalow@sacbee.com AUGUST 10, 2017 6:03 PM More than 6 million Southern Californian households could pay $3 more a month to help cover the costs of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial plan to bore two huge tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But that’s cheaper than the $5 a month that households in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s service area were expected to pay under projections released four years ago, Jeffrey Kightlinger, the water district’s general manager, said Thursday. “Given the importance of this project to maintain...

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Ag Today August 10, 2017

'Broken' immigration system leaves Californian farmers short of labour As Donald Trump pushes for tougher immigration policies, farmers in America's breadbasket By Jeremy B White, The Independent, UK   In America’s most abundant agricultural region, where immigrant pickers have long sustained the economy, many farmers are less concerned with the illegal immigration decried by Donald Trump than with finding enough people to harvest their crops. As Mr Trump pushes the tougher immigration policies that helped propel him to the oval office, California farmers continue their years-long wait for a federal solution to a lingering labour shortage. “The United States hasn't had major immigration reform since 1986,”...

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Ag Today August 9, 2017

Millions in federal funds to encourage low-income Californians to shop at farmers markets Sacramento Bee By Hannah Knowles A $3.9 million federal grant awarded to the California Department of Food and Agriculture will help the state expand a program that encourages low-income people to shop at farmers markets, state officials announced this week. In July, the department launched the California Nutrition Incentive Program, or CNIP, which rewards recipients of CalFresh food stamps who buy fruits and vegetables grown in the state by doubling the value of their vouchers when they purchase at 339 farmers markets throughout the state. The program’s latest infusion of funds,...

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Ag Today August 8, 2017

Let Forest Fires Burn? What the Black-Backed Woodpecker Knows BUCK MEADOWS, Calif. — With long strides, Chad T. Hanson plunged into a burned-out forest, his boots kicking up powdery ash. Blackened, lifeless trees stretched toward an azure sky. Dr. Hanson, an ecologist, could not have been more delighted. “Any day out here is a happy day for me, because this is where the wildlife is,” he said with a grin. On cue, a pair of birds appeared, swooping through the air and alighting on dead trees to attack them like jackhammers. They were black-backed woodpeckers, adapted by millions of years of evolution to...

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