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Ag Today, September 24, 2021

La Niña is about to take the Southwest drought from bad to worse [CNN] Global scientists reported in August that due to the climate crisis, droughts that may have occurred only once every decade or so now happen 70% more frequently. The increase is particularly apparent in the Western US, which is currently in the the throes of a historic, multiyear drought that has exacerbated wildfire behavior, drained reservoirs and triggered water shortages. More than 94% of the West is in drought this week -- a proportion that has hovered at or above 90% since June -- with six states entirely...

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Ag Today, September 23, 2021

Without federal aid for wildfires, California's wine industry could collapse, vintners say [San Francisco Chronicle] As the Caldor Fire continues to pump smoke into California's Sierra foothills, endangering yet another year's worth of wine there, more farmers and winemakers are clamoring for government assistance. This week, they got news that some help could be on the way, after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a disaster-relief package that would allocate $10 billion to compensate farmers who have lost crops due to natural disasters. The bill's text explicitly pointed to smoke-tainted wine grapes as an example of such a crop loss. The...

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Ag Today September 21, 2021

California halts insurance cancellations in major wildfire areas across 22 counties [Sacramento Bee] Wrestling with an insurance crisis that’s bedeviled much of rural California for years, the state imposed a one-year ban Monday that prevents carriers from dropping homeowners in areas affected by the Dixie Fire, Caldor Fire and other major 2021 wildfires. The one-year moratorium, announced by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, affects about 325,000 homeowners. It came a month after Lara imposed a similar moratorium affecting 25,000 homeowners who live in the vicinity of the Lava and Beckwourth Complex fires. Lara acknowledged that the moratorium isn’t a cure-all for the...

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Ag Today September 20, 2021

High temperatures, wildfire smoke and drought: The politics of climate change in one California congressional district [CNN] The changing climate is everywhere Gustavo Carranza looks when he walks through his undulating citrus farm here in this tiny town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Smoke from nearby wildfires fills the sky.  And, most concerning, the water he needs to run his 150-acre farm has become so scarce that Carranza, the son of farm workers in California's Central Valley who grew up picking and pruning every weekend, is worried about encouraging his own children to take over the farm he and...

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Ag Today September 17, 2021

  Biden picks CEO of Modesto-based almond group for key post involving global trade [Modesto Bee] President Joe Biden has nominated Elaine Trevino, leader of the Modesto-based Almond Alliance of California, to a key foreign trade position. She will be chief agriculture negotiator for Trade Representative Katherine Tai if the U.S. Senate confirms her. The pick drew praise from leaders hoping to boost sales of American farm products around the world. Among them is Denair-area grower Mike Curry, chairman of the Almond Alliance board. “We are thrilled to see Elaine nominated for this position,” he said in a news release, “and know...

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Ag Today September 16, 2021

In response to Western drought, a flood of legislation [Roll Call] Much of the American West is struggling to cope with a worsening drought that has strained municipal water supplies, agricultural operations and wildlife populations. Tens of millions of Americans live in areas being punished by drought, from Oregon’s Klamath River basin to California’s Central Valley. The crisis is ramping up pressure on Capitol Hill to act even as lawmakers confront sharp partisan differences over the best ways to respond. The bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by the Senate includes provisions aimed at mitigating drought impacts, and Democrats are looking to build...

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Ag Today September 14, 2021

California Farmers, Worried About Water, May Be a Force in Recall Vote [New York Times] Craig Gordon, the owner of several dairy farms near Los Angeles, is a lifelong Democrat. He supported Senator Bernie Sanders for president, he doesn’t like former President Donald J. Trump and he voted for Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2018. But lately, he said, high taxes on milk, coronavirus shutdowns that have cut into his sales and state-imposed limitations on water for agriculture have made him so angry at Mr. Newsom that he has paid for seven billboards throughout the state — most of them in the...

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Ag Today September 13, 2021

Torture orchard: Can science transform California crops to cope with drought? [Cal Matters] There’s a hive of PhDs at the University of California at Davis who are working to reinvent food production in the Golden State. Researchers have fanned out across the globe collecting rare plant samples; others are grafting Frankenstein trees and stitching together root systems of plums and peaches to create better almond and walnut trees. Some scientists are deconstructing crime scenes of withered and dying plants, gathering clues about what killed them. Others deprive trees of moisture or douse them with salty water, stress-testing the plants to understand...

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Ag Today, September 10, 2021

California OKs new spending on drought, wildfire prevention [The Associated Press] California lawmakers on Thursday voted to spend more than $2 billion to prevent wildfires and address a severe drought, closing the book — for now — on a $262.5 billion operating budget that began the year with a record deficit because of the pandemic and ended with a record surplus in spite of it. Wildfire spending in California has more than tripled since 2005, surpassing $3 billion last year. But most of that money is spent on putting out fires, not preventing them. Lawmakers also approved an additional $1.2 billion...

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Ag Today September 9, 2021

Opinion: California's Farms Face a Reckoning [New York Times] California has become the No. 1 agricultural state in the U.S. Thanks to extensive irrigation, it produces a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, and ranks first in dairy and wine, among other products. But now that the abundant processed water that made this cornucopia possible is no longer so abundant, will some of California’s agriculture need to shift to wetter states? It’s a painful question that Californians can no longer avoid. The good news is that California’s farms use so much water that fallowing even...

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