Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Trump promised a ‘big beautiful door’ in his border wall. California farmers are ready and waiting

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: California needs to stop letting farm-water suppliers ignore the law

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.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Commentary: Why a national infrastructure bill needs money for Western irrigation

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Survey finds US honeybee losses improve from horrible to bad

There’s a glimmer of hope for America’s ailing honeybees as winter losses were the lowest in more than a decade, according to a U.S. survey of beekeepers released Thursday.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

What to wear to be kind to the planet?

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.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

To relax demand on groundwater, MID sells river water to neighbors

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.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

How do Lodi wines stack up against the best in the world?

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.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California farmers face labor drought

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.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Farmer faces $2.8 million fine for plowing field

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.”

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto, Turlock irrigation boards will meet together on Tuolumne River flow issues

The Modesto and Turlock irrigation district boards will get updates Tuesday on proposed flow increases in the lower Tuolumne River.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Most California farm-water suppliers are breaking this law. Why doesn’t the state act?

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.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California farmers used enough groundwater during drought to fill Lake Mead (with audio)

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A remote tribe fights to save its river, and its children

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. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Stranded cows save themselves, walk through Merced River and off island

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Bee industry buzzing: Stolen hives recovered in California

The bee industry is buzzing over the arrest of a man accused of stealing thousands of hives worth nearly $1 million from California’s almond orchards in one of the biggest such thefts on record.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

You could fill Shasta Lake 7 times with farm groundwater lost during state drought

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.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

Trump’s expected pick for top USDA scientist is not a scientist

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.”

Aquafornia news The Bakersfield Californian

Commentary: Groundwater repayment coming due early for some San Joaquin Valley farmers

Fixing our groundwater deficit will be painful. No way around it. And growers in the massive Semitropic Water Storage District are learning that sooner than most.

Aquafornia news The Whittier Daily News

Experimental project off Catalina Island aims to make fuel out of kelp

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.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

After massive bee kill, beekeepers want answers from Fresno County AG commissioner

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.