More than 11,000 foreign guest workers like [Alfredo] Betancourt were approved last year to harvest the lettuce, fruit and vegetables for California’s $47-billion agricultural industry — a fivefold increase from 2011, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of U.S. Labor Department data. … If growers have their way, they will get even more under the visa program known as H-2A and face fewer barriers, delays and regulations.
Agriculture accounts for roughly 80 percent of the water used by people in California. “Roughly” because, unlike urban water districts, farm-water suppliers reveal little about how much of the state’s most precious resource goes into irrigation ditches and fields.
After the first 100 days of the new administration, Washington, D.C., and Congress look more deeply divided and bitterly partisan than ever. While the political differences run deep and can’t be papered over, it’s also true that Americans are hungering for real solutions and pragmatic compromise on key issues. One approach that both parties agree on is the need for large infrastructure investments in roads, bridges and other systems to help keep the economy running.
Buying less is the easiest way to make a difference. But when you do need new clothes, you will usually be choosing among four major types of fibers: oil-based synthetics, cotton, rayon and wool. Their environmental trade-offs are so varied that a definitive ranking would be impossible.
Selling Tuolumne River water to growers just outside borders of the Modesto Irrigation District for $60 an acre-foot should cover the district’s costs while remaining low enough to attract buyers, the MID board agreed Tuesday.
Thanks to growers and winemakers embracing all that this region has to offer, Lodi is the most diverse wine growing region in the state. Though Zinfandel still is king, some 100 other wine grape varieties are planted on a total of more than 100,000 acres in the Lodi American Viticultural Area, with its Mediterranean climate and sandy loam soils.
This year’s rains brought a welcome respite to California’s farmers, who had grappled with surface water supply shortages for the previous four years. But now farmers are increasingly worried about the availability of another crucial element to their farms’ productivity―farm labor. The connection between farm labor and immigration patterns was among the topics covered in a recent conference at UC Davis.
A farmer faces trial in federal court this summer and a $2.8 million fine for failing to get a permit to plow his field and plant wheat in Tehama County. … Because the property has numerous swales and wetlands, [John] Duarte hired a consulting firm to map out areas on the property that were not to be plowed because they were part of the drainage for Coyote and Oat creeks and were considered “waters of the United States.”
During California’s epic five-year drought, most of the state’s irrigation districts didn’t comply with a 2007 law that requires them to account for how much water they’re delivering directly to farmers, a Bee investigation has found. State regulators are largely powerless to stop them, but they don’t seem too bothered by it.
California farmers in the Central Valley pumped enough water out of the ground to fill Lake Mead, which can store the entire average flow of the Colorado River for two years. It’s enough to drown the state of Pennsylvania in a foot of water.
Deep in California’s coastal woods near the Oregon border, the [Yurok] reservation straddles the mighty Klamath River, the tribe’s lifeblood for centuries. … Drought sparked a water war in 2001, between the Indians along the river and farmers in Oregon who relied on upper Klamath water for irrigation.
The herd was stranded on an island for months after the Merced River became too swift and too deep to cross. Merced Irrigation District since January kept the water levels high to make room in Lake McClure for this winter’s record snow pack.
The massive scale of California’s groundwater pumping is outlined in a study released Wednesday by researchers at UCLA and the University of Houston. The researchers conclude that California’s pending groundwater regulations remain woefully behind what is necessary to bring the state’s groundwater levels back into balance.
The USDA’s research section studies everything from climate change to nutrition. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, its leader is supposed to serve as the agency’s “chief scientist” and be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”
Lines of kelp, floating along the waves of the Pacific with help from drone-powered submarines, harvested, processed and turned into biofuel — that’s the vision some researchers and bioenergy company officials are hoping to make a reality. Their goal is still a long way off, but it will start this year with a scaled-down test off the coast of Catalina Island. If successful, growing kelp in the ocean could help resolve the large-scale problem of diverting farmland or crops for biofuel, officials said.
When Rafael Reynaga came to check on his bee colonies in a Fresno almond orchard, he found a carpet full of dead bees on the ground. Reynaga picked up a hive and found two inches of bees at the bottom. He says most were dead, but a few were still moving. … He suspects his honeybees died from pesticide exposure.