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Ag Today September 27, 2017

Valley air district focuses on particulate pollution at local workshop By Steven Mayer, Bakersfield Californian An air quality workshop held in Bakersfield Tuesday night started out like a polite government meeting, with scads of information about progress made in controlling dangerous PM2.5 particle pollution in the valley -- and plans being formed to control it even further. But as the workshop moved into the public comment period, it came to resemble a verbal boxing match. In one corner were air quality advocates and the environmental community demanding more and faster progress; in the other, farming representatives angry, they said, that their contributions to cleaner...

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Ag Today Septmeber 26, 2017

Who’s going to pay for California’s giant water tunnels? Bet you can guess By Ellen Knickmeyer and Scott Smith, Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO — Water districts and households across California could be compelled to help pay for Gov. Jerry Brown’s plans to build two giant tunnels to ferry water to cities and farms mainly in central and Southern California, under newly revealed plans to shore up funding for the struggling $16 billion project. The tougher state funding demands pivot from longstanding state and federal assurances that only local water districts that seek to take part in the mega-project would have to pay for the...

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Ag Today September 25, 2017

Not every water agency is rejecting Brown’s Delta tunnels – here’s one yes vote By Dale Kasler, Sacramento Bee The embattled Delta tunnels project has secured a financing commitment from a Bay Area water agency, albeit a small one. The board of Zone 7 Water Agency, which serves about 220,000 customers in Alameda County, voted Wednesday to join the project, known officially as California WaterFix. The 5-2 vote came one day after Westlands Water District, a sprawling agricultural district in Fresno and Kings counties, dealt WaterFix a huge setback by rejecting the project. Zone 7’s share of the project would be only about 1 percent...

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Ag Today September 22, 2017

New fight in California water wars: How to update old system By Scott Smith and Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — In California's long-raging water wars, pitting north against south and farmer against city dweller, the one thing everybody agreed on Wednesday was that the outdated method of shipping water throughout the most populous state needs a serious upgrade. A group of influential California farmers shook up the debate a day earlier, backing out of Gov. Jerry Brown's $16 billion plan to build two massive water tunnels, re-engineering the delivery system. Westlands Water District in Fresno said it was too expensive and came...

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Ag Today September 21, 2017

What’s next for Brown’s Delta tunnels now that a big chunk of funding has disappeared? By Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow, Sacramento Bee Shellshocked by an influential farm irrigation district’s refusal to help pay for the Delta tunnels, advocates of the $17.1 billion project were scrambling Wednesday to salvage it or conjure up a Plan B. Three possible options were floated by California water policymakers for reviving the proposal. All of them face substantial hurdles of their own. Can the tunnels go forward? Here’s a look at the current state – and the immediate future – of the project dubbed California WaterFix by Gov....

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Ag Today September 20, 2017

Yolo County agritourism encounters snags By Hans Peter A back-burner agenda item became a two hour long discussion recently as Yolo supervisors and county staff attempted to make sense of current Williamson Act guidelines, and how they may be modified to best suit both farms and event centers. Those guidelines seem clear-cut at face value, but when planted with the county’s push for agritourism, things get tangled. Attempts to marry the two objectives have been underway for two years, but confusion and tension still clouded the supervisors’ chambers. The Williamson Act exists to protect contracted agricultural zones. Any activity on affected parcels of land...

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Ag Today September 19, 2017

San Joaquin Valley farmers think Sacramento water agencies should help pay for Delta tunnels By Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow, Sacramento Bee Some Sacramento-area water agencies would end up paying for a small share of the Delta tunnels under a last-minute alternative funding plan pitched by one of the state’s largest farming groups. Westlands Water District, whose board of directors is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to help pay for the tunnels, says it needs to spread the costs among a greater number of water districts, both north and south of the Delta, to make the project affordable to the Fresno and Kings...

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Ag Today September 18, 2017

Follow the money – Delta tunnel foes try new strategy By Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow, Sacramento Bee Opponents of the Delta tunnels proposal, facing a long-shot bid to kill the controversial project on environmental grounds, are now trying to undermine the plan’s financial structure. Six environmental groups filed court papers late Thursday attempting to derail the state Department of Water Resources’ plans to bankroll the tunnels with billions of dollars in bond financing. The groups said bonds can’t be issued because the tunnels violate California environmental laws and because the project has received illegal subsidies from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The groups are...

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Ag Today September 15, 2017

REPORT SHINES LIGHT ON IMPORTANCE OF VALLEY AGRICULTURE By David Castellon, Fresno Business Journal The recent five years of severe drought across California has fueled debate on whether agriculture uses too much water. As Michael A. Shires sees it, that debate could eventually spiral into local and state governments taking actions that put agriculture at a lower priority, and as a result, production could be reduced significantly. And while agriculture comprises only about 2 percent of California’s gross domestic product, he said the loss of agriculture could have devastating effects on the state, from job losses — particularly among unskilled workers — to the devastation...

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Ag Today September 14, 2017

US West's wildfires spark calls to thin tree-choked forests By Andrew Selsky, Associated Press SALEM, ORE. - Wildfires that are blackening the American West in one of the nation's worst fire seasons have ignited calls, including from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to thin forests that have become so choked with trees that they are at "powder keg levels." The destruction has exposed old frictions between environmentalists and those who want to see logging accelerated, and it's triggered a push to reassess how lands should be managed to prevent severe wildfires. Zinke's directive Tuesday for department managers and superintendents to aggressively prevent wildfires was welcomed by...

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