Ag Today September 11, 2017
Audit finds improper taxpayer subsidies for Delta tunnels. Will it halt the project?
By Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler, Sacramento Bee
In a potential setback for the controversial Delta tunnels, federal auditors say $50 million in taxpayer funds were used to improperly subsidize San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts as they helped plan the project.
Despite insistence from Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration that no taxpayer dollars would be used to finance the tunnels, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation obtained $50 million to pay the San Joaquin Valley districts for tunnels planning costs over a seven-year span, according to an audit released Friday by the U.S....
Ag Today September 8, 2017
‘Shot in the arm’ for water district
By Alex Breitler, Stockton Record
A water-starved agricultural area in north San Joaquin County finally got some good news recently with the proposed awarding of $4 million in state and federal grants.
The money will allow farmers on about 6,000 acres east of Lodi to finally take advantage of a water right on the Mokelumne River that they haven’t been able to use even during last year’s floods because their crumbling infrastructure is half a century old.
Instead, farmers south of the river have relied mostly on groundwater to grow their crops. But groundwater levels have declined over...
Ag Today September 7, 2017
After 'a dark day,' immigrant rights advocates rally in Sacramento to fight for workplace protections from ICE raids
By Jazmine Ulloa, Los Angeles Times
Immigrant rights advocates shared stories Wednesday of workers left in the lurch after President Trump's decision to rescind a program that offered temporary immigration relief for thousands of people brought into the country illegally as children.
But members of the Service Employees International Union and allied employers vowed to continue their fight to protect immigrant workers without legal residency.
Dozens gathered in Sacramento in support of a state bill that would prohibit employers from allowing federal immigration officials to enter...
Ag Today September 6, 2017
Round of NAFTA talks ends amid resistance over Mexico wages
By Christopher Sherman and Mark Stevenson, Associated Press
MEXICO CITY - The second round of talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement ended Tuesday amid resistance to discussing Mexico's low wages and large differences over dispute resolution mechanisms.
The head negotiators for all three countries at the talks in Mexico City said progress had been made, but U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer said some areas were going to be challenging.
"There's no secret that the labor provisions will be contentious and that it's our objective to have provisions that raise wage rates...
Ag Today September 5, 2017
California farmers say they don’t have enough workers – but it’s not because of Trump
By Stephen Magagnini, Sacramento Bee
CLEMENTS - As temperatures plunged from 94 degrees into the 60s on a recent August evening, Lodi grower Brad Goehring dispatched his crew of Mexican workers into a field to pick Pinot gris. The grapes were finally sweet enough, and the 2017 wine harvest had begun.
Instead of plucking the grapes by hand, workers climbed into the cabs of giant yellow harvesters imported from France. They rumbled through 36 acres, row by row. Rods attached to the giant machines shook juicy clumps of...
Ag Today September 1, 2017
Crop insurance program could save billions, auditors say
By Bartholomew D. Sullivan, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year by reducing the expected profits of private crop insurance companies and limiting payments that cover their administrative costs, government auditors have concluded.
It could also take on more of the risk it shares with companies that have netted more than $240 million annually in all but two years since 1996.
The report by General Accountability Office, requested by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., comes as Congress contemplates achieving cost savings in a 2018 Farm Bill. The...
Ag Today August 31, 2017
Farm to Table: Innovative Produce fighting labor shortage with visas, technology
By Jennifer Best, Santa Ynez Valley News
Pesticides, herbicides, organics and technology are all hot topics in the agriculture community, but labor issues, particularly a lack of available workers, are the chief concerns this year for large-scale operations on the Central Coast.
“Labor is pretty much front and center right now. I was just talking to our general manager about H-2A workers we’re trying to bring in, but they’ve been delayed since May 1,” said Philip Adam, operations manager at Santa Maria-based Innovative Produce.
The H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers Program grants temporary visas...
Ag Today August 30, 2017
Coalition forms to protect California’s threatened salmon runs
By Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle
A coalition of government agencies and advocates for sustainable fisheries came together Tuesday to launch a long-term effort to save California’s beleaguered salmon populations in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems.
The Central Valley Salmon Habitat Partnership will include 21 members — state and federal water and wildlife agencies, plus groups representing conservationists, farmers, water suppliers and the fishing industry — seeking to study, develop and fund projects to restore and protect vital habitats.
The partnership deal was signed Tuesday by John Laird, California’s secretary for natural resources.
“This group will...
Ag Today August 29, 2017
STATE: MORE THAN 99 PERCENT OF SUSTAINABLE GROUNDWATER AGENCIES HAVE BEEN FORMED
Fresno Business Journal
In what the state is billing as “a major step toward sustainable groundwater management in California,” more than 99 percent of the state’s groundwater basins have met a key deadline in reporting groundwater pumping.
According to the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014, key stakeholders of the state’s 127 high- and medium-priority groundwater basins were required to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to manage groundwater pumping. The deadline for formation of the GSAs was June 30, and as of this week, more than 99 percent...
Ag Today August 28, 2017
Mexico says it won't renegotiate NAFTA with President Trump via Twitter
By Patrick J. McDonnell, San Diego Union-Tribune
Mexico will not renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement or any other aspect of its relationship with the United States via social media or the press, the Mexican government declared Sunday.
Mexico City released the statement in an apparent response to a series of provocative tweets by President Trump on Sunday in which he called NAFTA the “worst trade deal ever made,” argued that Mexico and Canada were being “very difficult” and concluded that he “may have to terminate” the tri-nation trade pact.
During the presidential...