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Ag Today March 20, 2017

Bee deaths soar in this year’s pollination season, but why is proving to be a whodunit BY ROBERT RODRIGUEZ brodriguez@fresnobee.com As a beekeeper, Rafael Reynaga is used to losing a few bees during almond pollination. But he was unprepared for the death of tens of thousands of his bees in what Fresno County agriculture officials are calling a perfect storm of events. “It was really bad,” said Reynaga of Reedley. “I picked up one of the boxes and there were at least 10 pounds of dead bees.” Since early February, the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office has been investigating at least 12 cases of bee deaths in...

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Ag Today March 17, 2017

California softens its proposed rule on pesticide use near schools Samantha Masunaga  Before using pesticides near California public schools, growers would have to notify school and county agricultural officials, under a revised draft regulation released Thursday — but the notification requirements would be less strenuous than what was proposed a few months ago. In September, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation released a draft proposal that would ban crop dusting and many other forms of agricultural pesticide spraying within a quarter of a mile of public schools and day-care centers on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. That original proposal said growers with fields within...

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Ag Today March 16, 2017

Trump budget plan cuts USDA food, rural water funding By P.J. Huffstutter and Jo Winterbottom | CHICAGO, MARCH 16   President Donald Trump has proposed eliminating an international food aid program, halting funding for clean water initiative in rural areas and reducing county-level staff for a 21 percent drop in discretionary spending at the Agriculture Department, according to a White House budget document. The proposal would save $498 million by eliminating a rural water and wastewater loan and grant program, which the White House proposal said was duplicative. The program helps fund clean water and sewer systems in communities with less than 10,000 people. Other...

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Ag Today March 15, 2017

Environmentalists seek to defend protections for wolves in California By Sharon Bernstein | SACRAMENTO, CALIF. Four environmental groups on Tuesday asked a court for permission to defend California's decision to grant endangered species protections to the gray wolf, the latest in an ongoing fight over the predator's future in the Western United States. The groups are seeking to be added as defendants along with the state to a legal challenge to the designation filed on behalf of farmers and ranchers, who worry that a resurgent wolf population will endanger people and livestock. "We chose to file a motion to intervene because we felt it was very, very...

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Ag Today March 14, 2017

Farmers in conservation mode despite wet winter Published on 03/13/2017 - 11:51 am Written by David Castellon With most of California out of exceptional or extreme drought status, you might expect farmers who had been desperate to find ways to save water slacking off on those efforts. But you’d be wrong. If last month’s World Ag Expo in Tulare is any indication, they were just as interested in seeking water-saving technology as they have been over the past five years of major drought conditions in the state. “That was the big question last year — of how we could use water more efficiently,” said Chad Vaninger,...

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Ag Today March 13, 2017

Is there too much water behind Oroville Dam? Critics say Army Corps standards unsafe BY DALE KASLER, RYAN SABALOW AND PHILLIP REESE dkasler@sacbee.com Long before a fractured spillway plunged Oroville Dam into the gravest crisis in its 48-year history, officials at a handful of downstream government agencies devised a plan they believed would make the dam safer: Store less water there. Sutter County, Yuba City and a regional levee-maintenance agency brought their recommendation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2006, when FERC was considering the state’s application to relicense Oroville Dam. Their plan, unveiled nearly a decade after heavy rains breached downstream levees and...

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Ag Today March 10, 2017

California water regulators expand focus on climate change Ian James , The Desert Sun12:24 p.m. PT March 9, 2017 California’s water regulators are looking to strengthen their focus on climate change, adopting policies aimed at helping the state prepare for more severe floods, more extreme droughts and shrinking snowpack. The State Water Resources Control Board approved a resolution this week outlining plans for what it calls a “comprehensive response” to climate change. In the document, the board says given the seriousness of global warming’s impacts on California, “our response to climate change must be comprehensive and integrated” into all of the agency’s work. The plan...

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Ag Today March 9, 2017

Ethics Questions Dogged Agriculture Nominee as Georgia Governor By ERIC LIPTON and STEVE EDER MARCH 8, 2017 WASHINGTON — In Sonny Perdue’s telling, Georgians were growing weary of the corruption and scandals in their state when he took over as governor in 2003 — a time when he gave his own version of a “drain the swamp” pledge. “My first goal as governor is to restore public trust in state government by changing the culture of state government,” Mr. Perdue told a leadership conference at Kennesaw State University in April 2003. “Our form of government depends on a mutual bond of trust between the people and their government. But...

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Ag Today March 8, 2017

Angelo Papagni, one of the Valley’s pioneering wine grape growers, dies Wine grape grower Angelo Papagni in his vineyard. Papagni Family Special to the Bee BY ROBERT RODRIGUEZ brodriguez@fresnobee.com Angelo Papagni, a pioneering wine grape grower in Madera, is among a handful of individuals credited with laying the groundwork for the central San Joaquin Valley’s burgeoning wine industry. Mr. Papagni died Feb. 27. He was 95. Born to Italian immigrants, Mr. Papagni grew up in Fresno, attending Fresno High School and later Fresno State College. Although he came from a farming background, Mr. Papagni also had a love of music. He mastered the saxophone and the clarinet,...

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Ag Today March 6, 2017

Advocates say downstream flooding can be prevented by dam at Temperance Flat BY ROBERT RODRIGUEZ /brodriguez@fresnobee.com Advocates for increased water storage and a new dam gathered at a swollen Lost Lake in Fresno County on Friday to remind the community about the increased potential of flooding because of major releases of water from Friant Dam. The water coming from Friant is being released to make room for more runoff, causing flooding in portions of the county park. But advocates, who represent elected officials, farmers and the building trades, said the flooding could be prevented if the state and federal government invest in a dam at Temperance Flat....

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