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Ag Today December 21, 2016

New lemon import rules leave California growers bitter BY TIM SHEEHAN tsheehan@fresnobee.com A new rule issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow the import of lemons from Argentina is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of California lemon growers. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published the rule Tuesday. But California Citrus Mutual, a statewide industry advocacy organization, described the rule’s issuance just days before Christmas as a “lump of coal” for growers in the state. Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, said his organization’s members not only fear the imports may depress prices, but also worry they could spread pests...

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Ag Today December 20, 2016

Fed-up farmers drive tractors to protest at state water board hearing bcalix@mercedsun-star.com   Merced elected officials and community members alike gave the State Water Resources Control Board a tongue lashing Monday during a public hearing on the board’s Bay-Delta Plan. Officials called the state board members “the grim reaper,” “the assassin squad” and “domestic terrorists” for their proposal to send 40 percent of Merced River’s water into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to boost salmon populations, which critics have characterized as a “water grab.” “Water is life in this region, and you appear to have no other purpose than to take that life away,” Assemblyman Adam...

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Ag Today December 19, 2016

Stormier times for California's water expected under new law BY ELLEN KNICKMEYER Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO The first winter storm of 2017 to drop welcome rain over the rivers, pumps, pipes and canals that move California's water north to south likely will open a new era of tension over how much water goes to fish or farms under a new U.S law. Legislation signed Friday by President Barack Obama dictates that the federal portion of California's heavily engineered water systems gives agricultural districts and other human users the biggest possible share of the most fought-over resource in a state with a six-year drought. Water experts...

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Ag Today December 16, 2016

Bee experts urge shake-up at Dominican University forum to promote proliferation of bees By Adrian Rodriguez, Marin Independent Journal POSTED: 12/15/16, 5:22 PM PST | UPDATED: 3 MINS AGO Bees, left to their own devices, could survive diseases with minimal or no chemical treatment — and those bees could be bred to stimulate a diminishing population. “In the U.S., typically we are losing 30, 40 percent of our beehives anyway, so what have we got to lose?” said Francis Ratnieks, a professor of apiculture at the University of Sussex. The proposal was one of many “audacious” ideas conjured up by a new collaborative of bee experts who spoke at...

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Ag Today December 15, 2016

USDA rules would aim to protect livestock, poultry producers BY MARY CLARE JALONICK  Associated Press WASHINGTON With a little more than a month left in the Obama administration, the Agriculture Department on Wednesday announced new rules aimed at protecting the rights of livestock and poultry producers who do business with larger companies. A years-long fight over the regulations has pitted small farmers and ranchers against some of the nation's biggest meat companies. The administration first proposed similar rules in 2010, but Congress blocked funds for them. Congress lifted that ban in a spending bill last year. USDA announced three rules Wednesday. A rule effective immediately...

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Ag Today December 14, 2016

Trump Is Said to Offer Interior Job to Ryan Zinke, Montana Lawmaker By CORAL DAVENPORTDEC. 13, 2016   WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump has offered the position of secretary of the interior to Montana’s freshman representative, Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL commander, two officials familiar with Mr. Trump’s decision confirmed on Tuesday. The appointment of Mr. Zinke would round out Mr. Trump’s choices to lead the four agencies that will shape the future of the nation’s energy and climate change policies. Last week, he named Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has built a career out of suing the Environmental Protection Agency, to lead that office. On Tuesday,...

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Ag Today December 13, 2016

Monsanto shareholders approve Bayer's $57 billion takeover BY JIM SALTER Associated Press ST. LOUIS Monsanto Co. shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a $57 billion merger with Bayer AG, a deal that would combine two of the world's biggest agricultural companies. But the path toward securing regulatory approval may be rough. Critics say the combination would shrink competition in the agricultural market, drive prices higher for farmers and consumers, and escalate damage to the environment. Monsanto and Bayer officials say growers and ranchers stand to benefit, and the combined company will be better suited to address issues like climate change. Preliminary results showed that 99 percent of...

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Ag Today December 12, 2016

The big water bill and what you need to know about it   By Alex Breitler Record Staff Writer Posted Dec 9, 2016 at 6:00 PMUpdated Dec 9, 2016 at 6:37 PM   By now you've heard that California's two longtime U.S. senators are seriously at odds over legislation to address the drought. Who's right? The dust devil is in the details. Here are six themes from Sen. Dianne Feinstein's bill,and why they matter. Turning up the pumps Water from the Delta west of Stockton is pumped to cities and farms as far south as San Diego. At times, however, that pumping must be reduced to protect native fish that are hovering on the brink of extinction. This has frustrated water users...

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AG Today December 9, 2016

Last chance for public say on pesticide use near schools By GRETA MART • 17 HOURS AGO Friday is the deadline for public comment on a proposed statewide rule change affecting pesticide use near schools and day care centers. The proposed regulation would limit pesticide applications to non-school hours and weekends on fields within a quarter mile of campuses. In Monterey county alone, over 70 schools are adjacent to commercial farmland. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, growers would not be able to apply pesticides by sprinkler, airblast sprayer or gas, and most dust and powder pesticide applications would be prohibited during those...

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Ag Today December 8, 2016

Trump settles on global-warming skeptic to lead EPA   The Sierra Club said President-elect Donald Trump's choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a global-warming skeptic, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency was like "putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires." By MICHAEL BIESECKER and SEAN MURPHY The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump confirmed on Thursday that he will nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a global warming skeptic, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, which he has repeatedly sued and derided for pursuing an “activist agenda.” “My administration strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that...

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