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Ag Today April 14, 2017

Why celebrate the latest rainstorm? Because Northern California has set a new record BY DALE KASLER dkasler@sacbee.com   While you sidestep the puddles and wrestle with your umbrella, be comforted by this: Northern California is going through the wettest rainy season on record. The region broke the 34-year-old record for precipitation in one year, the Department of Water Resources reported early Thursday. The eight-station index for the northern Sierra Nevada, a series of rain gauges positioned from Pacific House to the city of Mount Shasta, showed that 89.7 inches of inches have fallen since the “water year” began last fall. The old record was 88.5 inches, in...

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Ag Today, April 13, 2017

West Side has full water supplies for first time since 2006 BY JOHN HOLLAND jholland@modbee.com AMD VIKAAS SHANKER vshanker@losbanosenterprise.com Full water deliveries have returned to the last of the West Side irrigation districts affected by federal water cutbacks in recent years. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday that it will provide 100 percent of the contract amounts this year to a class of customers that had suffered the worst during the drought. This has not happened since 2006. The news came too late for some farmers, who have already planted based on the earlier projection of 65 percent for 2017. “While the water is welcome, it’s very...

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AG Today April, 12, 2017

Drought busted: Bureau of Reclamation boosts water allocation to 100 percent for west-side farmers BY BONHIA LEE The Fresno Bee The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is boosting the water allocation for farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to 100 percent for the first time since 2006. The announcement Tuesday comes only weeks after the bureau told disappointed growers that they would receive 65 percent of the contract supply from the Central Valley Project. They received a 5 percent allocation last year, causing them to fallow at least 200,000 acres in the Westlands Water District. “That should have been a no-brainer – 100 percent allocation,” said Ryan...

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Ag Today April 11, 2017

California farmers in the crosshairs BY MATTHEW KRAMER POSTED 04.10.2017 California’s farmers are getting nervous — understandably. The Trump administration wants to slash the budget of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cutting one out of every five dollars of the department’s discretionary spending. “The fact that government-wide he picks on government agriculture to cut (21) percent of funding is an item of concern, especially when it would impact research dollars.” — Josh Rolph, California Farm Bureau Federation. Experts say this cut, although its ultimate fate remains uncertain, would mean a loss of $4.7 billion to the department itself. In California, which at $48 billion has the largest farm...

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Ag Today April 10, 2017

State may be drenched, but ‘drought’ label remains on Valley and it’s partly about money BY MARC BENJAMIN AND ROBERT RODRIGUEZ mbenjamin@fresnobee.com The rest of California is done with the drought, but not Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties, Gov. Jerry Brown decided Friday. The reason is as much about money as it is about water. Keeping those four counties under a drought declaration ensures money continues to flow for emergency drinking water projects to help water-short communities address dry or contaminated wells, the governor’s order said. “It’s really a tool for these communities that have a water shortage so they can get technical and financial assistance,”...

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Ag Today April 7, 2017

California Legislature votes to raise gas taxes, vehicle fees by $5.2 billion a year for road repairs and transit Patrick McGreevy and Melanie MasonContact Reporters After a week of fierce debate between opposing interests, the state Legislature on Thursday approved a plan to raise gas taxes and vehicle fees by $5.2 billion a year to pay for the repair of California’s pothole-ridden, decaying system of roads, highways and bridges. The bill squeaked through the Senate on a 27-11 vote and cleared the Assembly with 54 votes, the bare minimum required in both houses. The measure sparked suspenseful wrangling in the waning hours of Thursday, with Assembly...

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Ag Today, April 6, 2017

'You want to have a screwed up state?' If not, then vote to raise taxes, Brown says John Myers , Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason In the final days before a decisive vote in the Legislature on a sweeping $52-billion tax plan for transportation, the sales pitch from Gov. Jerry Brown often strayed from civic inspiration to political exasperation. “I’m going to my ranch in two years,” Brown said last week, a nod to plans to retire in 2019 to his Colusa County homestead. “You want to have a screwed up state with a bunch of potholes? Go ahead, but that’s insane.” That Brown might already be looking...

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Ag Today April 5, 2017

Farmworker issues seen as threat to state crops Bartholomew Sullivan, USA TODAY Published 4:20 p.m. PT April 4, 2017 |   Harold McClarty of HMC Farms in Fresno County hires up to 1,500 farm laborers each year to tend and pick his orchards full of peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots and knows many of those workers have family members in the country without legal permission. “We had incredible labor issues last year, and we anticipate it will only get worse and worse,” he said, adding that all the people he hires are documented. Talk of stepped-up immigration enforcement has people concerned, he said, but talking about...

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Ag Today April 4, 2017

Farmers Find Rotten Apples in Trump’s Ag Policy Barrel By Glen Martin,  Cal Alumni Association UC Berkely President Trump’s positions on immigration and trade are causing some queasiness among people who largely supported him during the campaign: farmers. The reasons are straightforward enough. Oft-repeated protectionist sentiments raise the possibility of a trade war that could throttle U.S. food exports, and Trump’s fixation on building a “beautiful wall” on the nation’s southern border threatens the agricultural labor force. Anything that could crimp US exports is especially worrisome to farmers, including California farmers. To a very real degree, the world is more interested in what we grow than...

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Ag Today April 3, 2017

The end of Delta asparagus? By Alex Breitler Record Staff Writer In the old days, standing on the floor of the Kings Crown packing shed in the southern Delta, you couldn’t have a basic conversation. The trucks delivering freshly cut asparagus, the conveyors sending the spears along for washing, sorting and packaging, and the hustle of 200 employees would have drowned out your words. Today, everything third-generation farmer Joe Ratto says on the floor of the mostly empty building sounds perfectly clear. “Today, we’re down to 32 employees,” he said Friday. “Thirty-two. It makes me sick.” The dry-erase board hanging on the wall behind him tells the story,...

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