Topic List: Agriculture

Overview

Agriculture

California has been the nation’s leading agricultural and dairy state for the past 50 years. The state’s 80,500 farms and ranches produce more than 400 different agricultural products. These products generated a record $44.7 billion in sales value in 2012, accounting for 11.3 percent of the US total.

Breaking down the state’s agricultural role in the country, California produces 21 percent of the nation’s milk supply, 23 percent of its cheese and 92 percent of all grapes. The state also produces half of all domestically-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables, including some products, such as almonds, walnuts, artichokes, persimmons and pomegranates, of which 99 percent are grown in California.

Overall, about 3 percent of employment in the state is directly or indirectly related to agriculture.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Farmers say, ‘No apologies,’ as well drilling hits record levels in San Joaquin Valley

Drive through rural Tulare County and you’ll hear it soon enough, a roar from one of the hundreds of agricultural pumps pulling water from beneath the soil to keep the nut and fruit orchards and vast fields of corn and alfalfa lush and green under the scorching San Joaquin Valley sun.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Group studies new way of dealing with dairy wastewater

I [John Holland] drove out past Merced last year to see a dairy farmer testing a new idea. He irrigated 40 acres of feed corn with drip lines, which are much more common in orchards and vineyards than annual crops.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

State announces river flow standards

State officials said Thursday that they are still seeking major increases in flows on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers, to the dismay of farming advocates.

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Xeriscaping

From the Greek “xeros” and Middle Dutch “scap,” xeriscape was coined in 1978 and literally translates to “dry scene.”  Xeriscaping, by extension, is making an environment which can tolerate dryness. This involves installing drought-resistant and slow-growing plants to reduce water use.

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Irrigation

Irrigation is the artificial supply of water to grow crops or plants. It optimizes agricultural production, obtained from either surface or groundwater, when the natural quantity and distribution of rain is insufficient. Different irrigation systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in practical use are often combined or serve as subcategories of one another.

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Salinity

Excess salinity poses a growing threat to food production, drinking water quality and public health. Salts increase the cost of urban drinking water and wastewater treatment, which are paid for by residents and businesses. Increasing salinity is likely the largest long-term chronic water quality impairment to surface and groundwater in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Rerouted water may provide big bonus for endangered smelt

Feeding fish isn’t exactly in the job description for Lewis Bair, manager of Reclamation District 108, which provides water to farmers in southern Colusa and northern Yolo counties.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farm revenue plunges in 2015

Farm revenue in California dropped by more than $9 billion last year as the drought forced farmers to scramble for water and crucial commodities declined in price, according to data released by the state and federal governments Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drones meet drought in skies of storied California farmland

A drone whirred to life in a cloud of dust, then shot hundreds of feet skyward for a bird’s-eye view of a vast tomato field in California’s Central Valley, the nation’s most productive farming region.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Drought costs California farms $600 million, but impact eases

California’s drought is costing farmers an estimated $603 million this year, although the impact is far less than a year ago, according to a study released Monday by UC Davis.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farm communities pay price for decades of fertilizer use

A pollutant that has leached into California aquifers since farmers first began using synthetic fertilizer continues to accumulate and would not be removed from groundwater even if the state’s agriculture businesses abruptly quit using nitrogen-based materials to boost the productivity of their crops.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Report: California agriculture is largest source of nitrogen pollution in state (with audio)

Nitrogen is essential for growing crops and producing food, but too much of it pollutes the water and air. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Almonds lead all crops in Fresno County for gross value

Fresno County’s overall crop value fell to $6.61 billion last year from a high of $7 billion in 2014 as the region battled drought, lower commodity prices and production issues.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Glenn County to resume granting permits for new wells

As of this week, the ban on drilling new wells in Glenn County has expired. … The issue, however, is not entirely dead.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California fishermen win key ruling over Delta water supply

A group of commercial fishermen won a potentially significant court ruling in the seemingly endless battle over California’s water supply and the volumes of water pumped south through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Can flooded rice fields be a solution in California water war?

California is the country’s second-largest rice producer, after Arkansas, and the $5 billion crop is particularly well suited to the Sacramento Valley’s clay soil. … Although seeing thousands of acres of rice fields covered shin-deep in water might seem wasteful to some, not everyone sees it that way.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Despite drought, California farming prospered

It might not be what you expect to hear about California agriculture in the throes of drought: After four years of historic water shortages, farm earnings in the state increased 16 percent, and total employment increased 5 percent. Yet those are real numbers gathered by federal agencies that track economic data.

Aquafornia news

Operation Yurok destroys nearly 80,000 marijuana plants

As Operation Yurok — which the Yurok Tribe carries out each summer with help from local, state and national agencies — continues this week, Yurok Tribe Chairman Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. said Wednesday the tribe may carry out similar raids later this year. … Illegal diversion of water from stream and creeks lead to less water for the Yurok people and the salmon that live and spawn in the rivers.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

After the dams come down: Klamath Basin stakeholders seek to resurrect water sharing agreements

For thousands of Oregon and California ranchers and farmers who rely on Klamath River Basin water, their primary concern is not whether dams will be removed, but what happens afterward.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Court says lawsuit targeting Point Reyes cattle operations can move forward

Senior U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong rejected a legal motion by the National Park Service to dismiss a lawsuit brought by conservation groups seeking an updated general management plan and assessment of the environmental impacts of commercial dairy and cattle grazing at the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California rice harvest expected to be near normal

Jim Morris with the California Rice Commission says this year is an average planting, but it’s welcome news to rice farmers who have had to idle fields during the drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Advocacy groups call for a ban on recycled oil field wastewater to irrigate crops

Organizers of a petition drive to ban the practice of irrigating crops with recycled oil field wastewater will be pitching their cause on Saturday morning to customers at markets in nine cities across the state, including a Ralph’s in Los Angeles.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Agency’s decision could expand farmland in the desert

Water from the Colorado River could transform several thousand acres of desert into farmland under a change in policy adopted by the Coachella Valley’s largest water district.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California politicians still split on water legislation

Framed by a hearing Tuesday, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives will vote this week on whether to retain farmer-friendly California water provisions in an Interior Department funding bill for the fiscal year that begins in October.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Rice farms receive federal help to provide waterbird habitat

With habitat for California waterbirds drying up, conservation groups and rice farmers are collaborating to flood fields and enhance waterbird habitat on roughly 550,000 acres of California’s rice fields.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California lemon growers lobby against imports from Argentina

California lemon growers and their allies are seeking reinforcements in their campaign against proposed imports from Argentina.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun Washington Bureau

California farmers can chime in on Argentine lemon imports

Members of Congress representing districts where citrus is grown, including several from California where the domestic lemon industry is centered, expressed disappointment Monday that the USDA extended a public comment period on proposed lemon imports by just 30 days.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Water for pot no longer unregulated

Within less than a year, as many as 50,000 marijuana growers in California could be required to obtain state permits for the irrigation water they consume. … This new ability to regulate water for marijuana growing is a result of SB 837, a state law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 27.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

California almond harvest likely to set record, feds say

A federal agency projects a record almond crop in California this year, based on sampling results announced Wednesday. The orchards will yield an estimated 2.05 billion pounds, up from an even 2 billion in a May projection, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Watch out for faster, colder flows on the American River

Starting Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will increase flows below Folsom and Nimbus dams from 4,000 cubic feet per second to 4,500. The flows will increase to 5,000 cfs on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

New groundwater found deep under Central Valley

The Central Valley is home to California’s productive farming belt, but the region’s groundwater is so severely overdrafted in some places that the land has been sinking. … Now scientists from Stanford University have found that the region might actually have three times more groundwater than previous estimates, which are decades old.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Dead trees aren’t a wildfire threat, but overlogging them will ruin our forest ecosystems

There are now 66 million dead trees in California’s forests due to several years of drought and native bark beetles, creating a “catastrophic” wildfire threat—or so claims U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  While Vilsack’s assertion may resonate with many in the general public because it makes intuitive sense, it simply isn’t true.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

US giving $48 million to help Western farms handle drought

The Obama administration is announcing $48 million in grants to help farmers and ranchers in the West conserve water and energy amid drought and climate change.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Bill targets secrecy in California water data

Farms and golf courses rank among the biggest water users in the Coachella Valley, but detailed information about how much water each of those businesses use is kept secret by the area’s largest water agency. That would change under a bill now before the California Legislature. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Oakdale Irrigation District sues two of its own board members

Water leaders voted 3-2 Tuesday to sue to bar elected board members Linda Santos and Gail Altieri from closed-door board discussions regarding an ongoing lawsuit facing the Oakdale Irrigation District. Santos and Altieri cast “no” votes but were outvoted by board members Steve Webb, Gary Osmundson and Herman Doornenbal. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: State water board drops record $1.5-million drought fine

State water regulators Tuesday dismissed a record $1.5-million fine against a Northern California irrigation district accused of diverting water last year in violation of a drought order.

Aquafornia news KQED

Beekeepers feel the sting of hives stolen in California

Between December and March, beekeepers send millions of hives to California to pollinate almond trees. Not all of the hives make it back home.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

The drought solution that’s under our feet

When California searches for relief from the drought, and explores different solutions, from conserving water to desalination, one avenue that often gets overlooked is what’s under our feet – soil.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Old irrigation pipe under freeway cause of Interstate 5 sinkhole

A deteriorating abandoned irrigation pipe below the pavement of Interstate 5 is being blamed for a sinkhole that has detoured motorists near Tracy this week.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Point Reyes ranchers at center of debate over nature of national parks

Point Reyes National Seashore is now at the center of an unfolding dispute that ultimately seeks to define the nature of America’s national parks: Can the treasured public scenery accommodate the country’s ranching tradition?

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In agricultural heartland, Trump sides with California farmers over environmentalists

Donald Trump waded into California’s perennial water wars Friday, taking the side of agriculture and vowing to boost the state’s farmers even if it means cutting back environmental protections.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Water board moves to dismiss record fine against irrigation district

State water regulators are proposing to dismiss a record $1.5-million fine they intended to levy against a Northern California irrigation district accused of ignoring drought-related cuts in water diversions.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Two Delta districts may be off the hook

In a significant reversal on Thursday, state water officials moved to drop their case against two Delta water districts accused of illegally diverting water during the drought last summer.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California to dismiss $1.4 million fine against irrigation district

Water regulators Thursday recommend dismissing a historic $1.4 million fine issued at the height of California’s drought last summer against a group of Central Valley farmers accused of taking river water that didn’t belong to them.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Court blocks Oakdale Irrigation District fallowing program

A judge reversed course and decided that the Oakdale Irrigation District must address environmental concerns before implementing a new fallowing program.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

America’s vanishing West: California losing most land to development

The natural landscape of the American West is gradually disappearing under a relentless march of new subdivisions, roads, oil and gas production, agricultural operations and other human development, according to a detailed mapping study released Tuesday.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California irrigation-drainage disputes targeted in new bill

California’s tireless water warriors have something fresh to fight over, with the introduction of a bill to resolve an irrigation drainage dispute that affects three modest-sized San Joaquin Valley water districts, as well as the much bigger Westlands Water District.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Feds project 2 billion pounds of almonds

The state’s almond orchards will yield 2 billion pounds this year, the third most ever, a federal agency projected this week.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Is quinoa California’s next niche crop?

Bryce Lundberg is elated, which is saying a lot for a California farmer these days. “Hop on in,” he says, wading into eight acres of ragged stalks, their seed tassels turning russet in the desert sun.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Donald Trump still faces pockets of resistance in California farming belt

This pancake flat expanse of citrus groves, almond trees and dairy cows rolling up toward the Sierra Nevada was billed as Donald Trump’s Waterloo.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

California growers opposed to lemons from Argentina

California citrus officials are fuming over a proposal to allow lemons from Argentina into the United States.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Borrego Springs water crisis begins and ends with farming

The water crisis in Borrego Springs is as simple to understand as it will be difficult to solve. At the crux is farming.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Oakdale Irrigation District wins first round in lawsuit over water sales, fallowed land

A judge declined Wednesday to halt the Oakdale Irrigation District’s evolving plan to idle some farmland and sell water not needed for that land. The district has not revealed – to the public or its own board of directors – how its fallowing program has changed, other than to say that previous prospective buyers no longer are involved.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Almond industry growth continues despite drought

Despite California’s drought, almond growers expanded their orchards by an estimated 60,000 acres in 2015, marking the 12th consecutive year of growth for the crop, which now covers more than 1.1 million acres, or more than any other fruit, nut or vegetable crop in the state.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Mendocino County dumps federal killings of livestock predators

Wildlife advocates scored a major victory Tuesday when Mendocino County agreed to terminate its contract with the federal agency that helps ranchers kill predators such as mountain lions and coyotes that feast on livestock.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Strawberry crop hit hard by rain in Modesto, Merced

Strawberries tolerate some moisture from light spring rains but soakings such as that from the storms the weekend of April 9 rotted nearly all of the strawberries that were ripe for the picking.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Water flows in Fresno, Visalia for recharge

For the first time in more than two years, water is flowing inside the Friant-Kern and Madera canals for groundwater recharge and farm irrigation.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Central California agriculture sees failed crop of presidential hopefuls

As central San Joaquin Valley farmers and ranchers know, agriculture is rarely an easy business. There’s the up and down of commodity prices. Land subsidence. Water, of course.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Sacramento Valley rice growers have water, but markets have turned for the worse

Surface water supplies have returned to normal for most rice growers in the Sacramento Valley. … However, now that farmers are ready to fire up their tractors to plant rice, commodity prices have taken a nose-dive. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In sophisticated shell game, thieves hit Central Valley nut growers

The truck company appeared legitimate, though the paperwork was a bit sloppy. But after a few calls, the broker told Horizon Nut Co. to load 45,000 pounds of shelled pistachios and send it to the East Coast.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thieves targeting California almonds, walnuts

Authorities say sophisticated criminal organizations are stealing more of California’s high-valued nut crops than ever before.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Delta land purchase price $175 million; Southern California water provider signs deal

But attorneys for Delta farmers may be gearing up to challenge certain aspects of the sale, which would, for the first time, make Metropolitan a major landowner within the heart of California’s water distribution system.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: House Republicans reopen the bidding on California water bill

House Republicans intent on storing more California water and redirecting it to farms have resurrected some familiar and controversial ideas, this time as part of a must-pass spending bill.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

A California farmer who is preparing for climate change

Don Cameron expects farmers will see some of the biggest effects as the climate changes, and he says growers need to take proactive steps to prepare. … He is one of several featured speakers at the upcoming One Nation: Climate Change forum at the Sunnylands Center and Gardens in Rancho Mirage.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

More water means no water transfers, despite shortage in Southern California

The rains this winter were more or less than expected, depending on where you live and what you expected. … The unequal distribution of water continues as state and federal water leaders allocate surface water supply. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Pact reached to remove four Klamath River dams that block salmon migration

California, Oregon and a private utility Wednesday signed an agreement that could finally take down four hydroelectric dams that block salmon migrations on the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Oakdale Irrigation District approves water sale worth nearly $14 million

The Oakdale Irrigation District expects to reap $13.75 million selling Stanislaus River water to buyers from the Fresno area and on the Valley’s drought-scarred West Side, according to a sales agreement unanimously approved Tuesday by the OID board. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

No Fed project water for some California farmers (with audio)

Federal officials say farmers in Northern California can expect to receive all of their requested water deliveries this year, while those to the south of the Delta will likely receive a fraction. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

San Joaquin Valley’s irrigation supplies range from near-normal to dismal

The 2016 irrigation season is rolling out on these warm April days with close-to-normal supplies in parts of the Northern San Joaquin Valley. In other parts, the drought of the past few years has not eased much, and farmers face another year of scraping by.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

New groundwater rules confusing and costly, farm water managers say

Farm water managers said new rules for managing underground supplies are confusing and potentially expensive. … The regulations are slated to go into effect June 1; the state Department of Water Resources is taking public comment about them until April 1.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Questions and answers about Saudi land purchases in the US

Almarai Co., Saudi Arabia’s largest dairy company, has bought about 14,000 acres in drought-stricken Southern California and Arizona in an effort to grow hay for its massive herd of cows.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Saudi land purchases fuel debate over US water rights

Saudi Arabia’s largest dairy company will soon be unable to farm alfalfa in its own parched country to feed its 170,000 cows. So it’s turning to an unlikely place to grow the water-chugging crop – the drought-stricken American Southwest.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Feinstein, GOP press Obama administration on Delta water

As lingering El Niño rains swell the state’s rivers, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein joined California House Republicans on Thursday to demand that President Obama order more water to be pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to farms in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Almond market plummets, looks to recover

A larger than expected almond crop and soft global demand have sent the California nut industry into a tailspin, with prices falling by more than half and unsold nuts mounting in processors’ warehouses.

Aquafornia news KQED News

Feinstein, House Republicans urge Obama to rev up Delta pumps

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants President Obama to order an increase in water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farms and cities to the south. … A dozen Republican members of California’s House delegation sent a separate letter calling on Obama to act.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Feinstein, Republicans ask Obama for more water pumping from Sacramento Delta

Adding to the debate over Northern California’s winter stormwater, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and congressional Republicans asked President Obama on Thursday to increase the volume of water pumped through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Study: Farms, hydropower at risk in West’s changing climate

Climate change could upset the complex interplay of rain, snow and temperature in the West, hurting food production, the environment and electrical generation at dams, the federal government warned Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

New dispute erupts over Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnels project

A potentially major new fight has erupted over Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two huge tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and this time the protests are coming from a group of farmers that wants the tunnels built.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fight over senior water rights splashes into the Capitol

Late last spring, amid the depths of California’s punishing drought, state officials made a historic determination that rivers and creeks were too low for many farms and cities to draw from. Not everyone agreed, however.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Rice-growing experiment will cut water use but subtract from habitat

Conaway Ranch, a 17,000-acre farm in which the Tsakopoulos family acquired controlling interest in 2010, said Monday it will work with water-use experts from Israel to experiment with drip irrigation on a small portion of its rice fields.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farms added 30,000 jobs in 2015 despite drought

California’s farm industry kept growing in 2015 despite a fourth year of drought, adding 30,000 jobs even as farmers idled huge swaths of land because of water shortages.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Delta growers’ voluntary water cuts reap savings

In the darkest days of the drought last summer, when farmers up and down the Central Valley feared the state would cut off their water supply, a strange thing happened in the Delta. Hundreds of growers agreed to voluntarily give up a share of their extraordinarily reliable water supply, in exchange for protection from the possibility of deeper, mandatory cuts.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tomato plant owner in $1.5-million battle with water regulators over waste and odors

Chris Rufer, 66, never has been keen on big government and always liked an underdog fight. … That perseverance has Rufer entangled in a $1.5-million battle with water regulators over waste and odors from his tomato processing plant in the Sacramento Valley town of Williams, the largest facility of its kind in the country.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

As rain falls in California, tensions rise over who gets the water

Saying too much water is flowing out to sea, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday called on operators of the federal and state water projects to pump more water south through the Delta to drought-stricken farms and cities in Central and Southern California.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Major California water district hit with rare federal fine

Federal regulators issued a rare fine Wednesday to the nation’s largest agricultural water district for misleading bond investors about the district’s financial circumstances.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Daylight saving time could end in California

Hence Assembly Bill 2496, which would end the [daylight saving time] practice in California, undoing a law that voters approved back in 1949 via Proposition 12. At the time, a ballot statement in favor argued altered summertime hours would bolster “public health and industrial efficiency” by improving worker safety, limiting juvenile delinquency, saving water, preventing car crashes and aiding farmers.

Aquafornia news High Country News

A dry future weighs heavy on California agriculture

On a hot summer afternoon, California farmer Chris Hurd barrels down a country road through the Central Valley city of Firebaugh, his dog Frank riding in the truck bed. … Agricultural land stretches out in every direction.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt marijuana growers lead in water program participation

Humboldt County accounted for the majority of 51 medical marijuana growers who have chosen to enroll in the North Coast’s mandatory water quality protection program that hopes to serve as a model for California.

Aquafornia news KQED News

Could marijuana become California’s next big ag crop?

California farmers are known for producing some of the finest fruits, vegetables and nuts in the world. But what if the state’s big agriculture also included marijuana?

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California farmers reap record sales in record drought

A new state report shows California farmers reaping record sales despite the epic drought, thriving even as city-dwellers have been forced to conserve water, household wells have run dry and fish have died.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Why your Super Bowl vegetable platter might cost more this year

Drought followed by the rains of El Niño, and heat followed by cold snaps created a cauliflower price boom that now has turned to a bust, and a celery inflation that lingered just long enough, growers and industry experts say.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Outside sales keep local water rates from skyrocketing, Oakdale Irrigation District says

Only one farmer showed up Tuesday to share thoughts on the irrigation district’s controversial habit of selling river water to outside buyers, although benefits from doing so became the focus of a subsequent budget discussion.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Feds ease water requirements for Merced County farmers in dam relicensing

Farmers depending on irrigation water from the Merced Irrigation District heard better-than-expected news Thursday about the future of their water supplies.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Crop report: Good news, bad news for California farmers

Despite a historic drought, California farmers and ranchers are bringing in more money than ever, the state’s latest crop report shows. But that doesn’t mean they are living high on the hog.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California almonds, partly blamed for water shortage, now dropping in price

The decline also could influence whether farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will agree to help pay for Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels, the $15.5 billion plan to re-engineer the fragile estuary with the goal of improving reliability of water deliveries to Southern California cities and farms.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Feds to California farmers: Water reserves low despite recent rains

On Friday, the Bureau of Reclamation issued notice that reservoir levels behind Central Valley Project dams remained unusually low despite recent rains and heavy snowpack.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Some California farmers expect no federal water

The latest on the U.S. Bureau of Reclamations outlook for water supplies in 2016 for drought-stricken California (all times local):

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Capturing El Niño’s rains, California farmers flood their fields (with video)

The water bubbled and gurgled for a few seconds, and then poured out in a rush. Within minutes, a five-acre plot on Nick Blom’s almond orchard was under a half foot of water Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Drought years tough on Sacramento Valley rice growers

Rice growers gathered in Richvale Tuesday morning for an annual Sacramento Valley update sponsored by University of California Cooperative Extension.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Researchers show off groundwater recharge near Modesto

A farmer on Tuesday spread canal water across an almond orchard southwest of Modesto. He wasn’t irrigating the trees – the rain took care of that. He was recharging groundwater.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Researchers test a possible drought solution by flooding an almond farm

He’s [Nick Blom] a volunteer in an experiment run by UC Davis that could offer a partial solution to California’s perennial water shortages, and in the process, challenge some long-standing tenets of flood control and farming in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Stormwater floods Modesto almond orchard in experiment to restore aquifer

In an effort to restore California’s desperately depleted ancient aquifers, scientists are testing an approach that seizes surplus winter rain and delivers it to where it’s most useful: idle farms and fields.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Just like city folk, water rights holders will have to track usage

Even as California has marched out unprecedented water restrictions during the drought, the spigots at thousands of farms and ranches have gone largely unmonitored — a vestige of the state’s Gold Rush-era water policy.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California farmers brace for water shortage despite El Niño

Farmers in California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley are bracing to receive no irrigation water from a federal system of reservoirs and canals for a third consecutive year and looking to El Niño to produce the very wet winter they need.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Experts to study food safety of oilfield wastewater

More farmers in drought-stricken California are using oilfield wastewater to irrigate, and a new panel on Tuesday began taking one of the state’s deepest looks yet at the safety of using the chemical-laced water on food crops.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Oregon refuge standoff opens another front in old ‘Sagebrush Rebellion’

The standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge is the latest, edgiest skirmish in a decades-old conflict over federal control of Western lands. It’s been a war, not always bloodless, that’s been fought in courts, on Capitol Hill and far out on the range.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Farmers try political force to twist open California’s taps

The message that Maria L. Gutierrez gave legislators on Capitol Hill was anguished and blunt: California’s historic drought had not merely left farmland idle. It had destroyed Latino farm workers’ jobs, shuttered Latino businesses and thrown Latino families on the street. Yet Congress had turned a deaf ear to their pleas for more water to revive farming and farm labor.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Klamath Basin water accords crumble as Congress fails to act

Ronnie Reed was born 53 years ago into the Karuk Tribe, whose ancestral lands stretch through the forested Klamath River canyon in Humboldt and Siskiyou counties.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Without water, work or homes: Farm laborers displaced by drought

His [Martín Hernandez Mena] was one of dozens of shanties that grew where little else does after four years of California’s crippling drought. … Mena’s is a story about what water gives and takes away — how California’s farmworkers are an ecological crisis away from losing their jobs and their homes, with no safety net.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After drought and warmer weather, local farmers are taking time off

Four years of drought and unusually warm weather have exhausted the patience and the resources of many local farmers, and the result is empty farm stands at Southern California farmers markets.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Nevada judge denies counties’ bid for sage grouse injunction

A federal judge in Nevada refused Tuesday to temporarily block new U.S. rules intended to protect the greater sage grouse, leaving the land use planning amendments intact at least until a trial expected to begin early next year.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

How drought has hit farmworkers hard in Fresno, Tulare counties

Despite statewide increases last year in farm employment and gross production value, the drought has dealt farmworkers in some parts of the central San Joaquin Valley a big blow.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Even if El Niño delivers rain and snow, drought may never release its grip

Will the drought ever really end? … By most expert accounts, a wet El Niño winter will help, but not solve, the Valley’s water problems. Drought, it seems, is the new normal.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Christmas tree farmers tough out the drought

Some of California’s Christmas trees are looking a bit more like a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree this year. After four years of drought have stressed and stunted trees on area farms, growers are feeling the pinch.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California Supreme Court OKs organic labeling lawsuits

Consumers have a right to file lawsuits under California law alleging food products are falsely labeled “organic,” the state Supreme Court ruled.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

San Joaquin Valley farmers now see drought as rule, not exception: ‘There is a real fear out there’

Farmers are no strangers to struggle or drought. But this four-year drought is different than others, they say. It’s more widespread, touching nearly everyone who turns on the tap or starts an irrigation pump.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California Christmas tree farmer: ‘90 percent of what I planted died’

Christmas trees are the latest casualties of California’s devastating drought. Northern California tree farmers are reporting that this year’s crop is suffering due to the water shortage. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Drought squeezes duck hunters – that could be bad news for fowl

Largely lost in the statewide discussion about fallowed crops, depleted reservoirs and brown lawns, is the impact of California’s drought on hunting. The succession of four dry years has dried up many of the natural marshes and rice fields used by the estimated 55,000 people who hunt waterfowl in California.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

More California farmland could vanish as water shortages loom beyond drought

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, set to take effect in 2020, will limit how much groundwater can be extracted over the long haul. While details of what constitutes “sustainable” pumping are still being fleshed out, water policy experts say many farmers will gradually have their water supplies curtailed – and the nation’s leading agricultural state will farm fewer acres.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply, Covering the Crisis

Blog: Drought means no tree for some Christmas shoppers

As many as 27 percent of Californians say they will not buy a live Christmas tree this year because of the ongoing drought. That’s according to a new survey by the American Christmas Tree Association. … In Oregon, which produces more Christmas trees than any other state, the market is holding up just fine, even though that state is experiencing a milder drought of its own.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Q&A: A look at the Colorado River and its role in the West

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the nation’s largest drinking water distributor, bought nearly 13,000 acres of remote farms in July for $256 million, rattling farmers but giving it prized rights to the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water agency’s land purchase rattles California farmers

The nation’s largest distributor of treated drinking water became the largest landowner in a remote California farming region for good reason: The alfalfa-growing area is first in line to get Colorado River water.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California pot farmers wrestle with new medical marijuana rules

Now, growers will need to obtain cultivation permits and abide by rules for water and pesticide use, with state agencies policing their environmental impact and vetting labs that will test for pesticides and other contaminants.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Supervisors say feds want to reach too far with water plan

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-0 to adopt a resolution supporting the repeal of the Final Rule defining Waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Fear Not: You’ll get your Thanksgiving turkey, pumpkin pie

The holiday season perennially generates stories about some items being in short supply or dramatically pricier, but markets have a way of balancing themselves out, particularly around this meal. … While the California drought has pushed vegetable and fruit prices higher, the picture at the supermarket is mixed.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Environmentalists sue over Sacramento River water, fish perils

Escalating the fight over California’s diminished water supply, a coalition of environmental groups sued Central Valley farmers and the federal government over the possible extinction facing an endangered run of salmon.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

To save water, an underground movement to bank El Niño’s rainfall

When the California Water Commission this year surveyed water agencies about storage proposals that might qualify for funding under Proposition 1, the 2014 water bond approved by state voters, half the responses involved groundwater projects, including one from [Gary] Serrato’s [Fresno Irrigation] district.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Dueling drought relief bills reveal stark differences

As California enters the fifth consecutive year of unprecedented drought, Congress is debating two competing bills designed to provide federal drought relief to California agriculture. The proposals reveal stark differences in proposed federal water and environmental policy.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Gov. Brown takes heat for asking state officials to research oil and gas on family ranch

The issue of the governor’s request came to light as part of a lawsuit against the state by farmers who accuse the state of doing an inadequate job of preventing water pollution from oil and gas drilling.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg News

The water barons of California’s Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley farmers know their water is precious and understand that to preserve a way of life that runs back a century they have to grapple with the needs of a drought-stricken state. … In 2003, the Imperial Irrigation District, under pressure from Senator Dianne Feinstein and other federal and state officials, controversially agreed to sell as much as 280,000 acre-feet a year to San Diego.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California rice takes top spot in international competition

A rice variety developed and grown in California has won the top award in a worldwide competition, and the state’s drought may have had something to do with it.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Should we be carving jack-o’-lanterns during a drought?

You may have heard a few things about pumpkins: There’s a shortage nationwide or there’s a shortage in California due to the drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Drought transforms Sacramento Valley, right in our own backyards

Acre by acre, Sacramento Valley farmland is being transformed. Pastures and row crops are giving way to more valuable orchards.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Farmers near Sacramento River save water for winter birds

Right now, migrating waterfowl are looking for wet places to land and feed. … This week, several Sacramento River farm water districts finalized a deal with the federal Bureau of Reclamation to use water later in the year, to provide water for birds in November.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Los Angeles Aqueduct flows after dam built for drought is dismantled

With little mountain runoff due to a historic drought, water managers made the unprecedented decision to try to meet legal obligations to keep the Owens River flowing, control dust from a dry lake bed and irrigate pastures where cattle graze instead of sending water to the city.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Grower says Oakdale Irrigation District broke state law with secret water sale

Irrigation leaders illegally agreed to sell Stanislaus River water to outsiders, an Oakdale Irrigation District customer alleges in a formal complaint. … The district has explained the deal in meetings, a news release and an Oct. 18 advertisement in The Modesto Bee.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Endangered fish find unusual ally in rice farmers

An adult Chinook salmon is propelled by a powerful, unwavering instinct to swim upstream to spawn. But sometimes these fish zig when they should zag.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Fish screens are part of the answer to saving Sacramento River salmon

Before the founders of the Family Water Alliance began installing metal screens at the end of the big pipes that draw water from the Sacramento River to irrigate Colusa County’s rice and vegetable fields, seasonal salmon runs often included sizable helpings of fresh fish flopping in the brown dirt of farm furrows. The pumps that transported water were powerful enough to suck migrating fish into the pipes and toss them out the other end, typically startled and very much alive.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought creates fresh produce shortage at Central Valley food banks

The four-year drought in California is beginning to squeeze food banks.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought takes toll on ‘agritourism’ farms that once thrived on Halloween crowds

Around California, drought has taken a toll on small “agritourism” farms that once thrived on the Halloween season crowd. Some have shut down, while others have stopped growing their own pumpkins or trimmed acres from their corn mazes and canceled activities that require water.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Bill closes loophole in state ag land preservation program

Of the many bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this month, one was inspired by closed-door negotiations by the state costing Humboldt County hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Wildlife managers use careful management to prepare for winter bird migration

Wildlife managers are worried again this year: Will there be enough wet habitat for millions of birds in the Sacramento Valley? Before the drought, 250,000-300,000 acres of California rice lands was flooded each winter.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Irrigation season ends with more in storage than expected

Some irrigation districts in the Northern San Joaquin Valley ended the season with more water than expected to carry over into 2016, but the drought still looms.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Oakdale Irrigation District reveals big-money water sale to outside buyers

Irrigation agencies in Oakdale and Manteca will reap $11.5 million selling Stanislaus River water to outsiders in coming weeks. Sensitive to pressure from local farmers, government officials and media, the Oakdale Irrigation District kept the deal under wraps until Tuesday’s announcement.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Drought takes a toll on the giant pumpkins of Half Moon Bay (with video)

On top of everything else the drought gets blamed for, add the not-quite-as-giant pumpkins of Half Moon Bay.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California cannabis regulations signed into law

Rules governing pesticides and water discharge will apply to cannabis, newly classified as an agricultural product. [Gov. Jerry] Brown directly addressed pot’s ecological implications in a signing message, saying he would direct the state Natural Resources Agency to “identify projects to begin the restoration of our most impacted areas in the state.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Marijuana growers are new drought target

Pot growers have been put on notice by state regulators that they will have to follow the same rules as the rest of the agriculture industry in protecting the state’s drought-stricken water supply.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Mendota water rally calls for special legislative session

More than 300 farmers, workers and elected officials from throughout the Valley gathered Friday at Rojas Pierce Park in Mendota to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to call a special legislative session to deal with California’s water crisis.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

More California winemakers using less water to grow grapes

The grape vines that grower Frank Leeds tends in Napa Valley stand among the unheralded heroes of California’s drought, producing decade after decade of respected Cabernets and other wines without a drop of added water.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Delta farmers: Voluntary water cuts pay off

Whether an act of goodwill or a desperate move under duress, an agreement by Delta farmers to voluntarily reduce their water use last spring likely spared them from deeper cuts in the middle of the summer growing season, a state official said this week.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Exports suffer as Sacramento Valley rice crop takes hit in drought (with video)

It’s harvest time in Sacramento Valley rice country, and like a lot of farmers in the state, rice grower Fritz Durst loves the idea that California agriculture helps feed the world.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Here comes the sea — The struggle to keep the ocean out of California’s coastal aquifers

Saltwater intrusion challenges nearly every town and farm district in California that borders the Pacific. Many have been fighting back the ocean for generations. Bulletin 52, the first state report to document the salt problem in the Salinas Valley, a farming center just south of Watsonville, was published in 1946.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

U.S. trying to protect sage grouse without listing it as an endangered species

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that the greater sage grouse, a flamboyant bird that roams across 11 Western states, does not warrant a listing as an endangered species, an action that could have damaged oil and natural gas interests and the economies of many local communities.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

South Valley irrigation districts fixing leaks in drought

Drop by drop, millions of gallons of irrigation water are lost every year due to leaks from aging underground pipes in the central San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Kangaroo rat endangered listing stands

Federal wildlife officials on Thursday, Sept. 17, announced they have rejected a petition from the Riverside County Farm Bureau that demanded the Stephens’ kangaroo rat no longer be listed as an endangered species.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California farm drainage deal faces Capitol Hill currents

A Congress that has stumbled over a California water bill amid record drought now faces a challenging new fight over irrigation drainage. … In a federal court filing Wednesday, the Justice Department provided both details and a roadmap for the irrigation drainage settlement formally agreed to by federal and Westlands officials the day before.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Madera County’s 2014 crop values hit record-high $2.2 billion

Strong market prices and increased production helped push Madera County’s 2014 crop values to a record-high $2.2 billion. … Hardest hit by the drought were field crops, including cotton, corn, oat hay and wheat.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

A San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage settlement is reached, but questions remain

A top Interior Department official next Tuesday will sign a San Joaquin Valley irrigation settlement with the Westlands Water District, signaling the end of a long-running legal battle, but marking the start of a hot new political fight.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Almond harvest saw clear skies and water woes

Almond harvest is wrapping up in the Sacramento Valley, with a harvest earlier than most can remember.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Salinas Valley’s thriving crops mask fears over the area’s lone water source

Unlike the Central Valley, which depends on snowmelt transported from faraway reservoirs, the Salinas Valley has prospered for decades relying solely on the groundwater hundreds of feet below.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farm revenue grew in 2014 despite drought

California growers took in more revenue in 2014 compared to the year before, although their profits declined by about 10 percent, according to new figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and the Pacific Institute, a water policy think-tank. … Farm advocates say the numbers for 2015, which won’t be calculated until next year, will show a more pronounced impact.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Fight between tribes and farmers over Northern California’s water

It might seem easy, summarizing the conflict over the Trinity River in Northern California. But amid record drought, this long-running and singular battle has become a case study about the difficulties in balancing Western water use.

Aquafornia news NPR

Fight to save sage grouse finds friends in all corners of the West (with audio)

A recent study by Pew Charitable Trusts found that greater sage grouse numbers decreased by 56 percent from 2007 to 2013. Because of that decline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been tasked with determining whether the greater sage grouse needs protections under the Endangered Species Act by the end of the month, a deadline that’s led to hand-wringing across the West.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought making some California fruit smaller, tastier (with audio)

The drought is changing the size and flavor of California’s fruit.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno State study says drought causes $3.3 billion in farm losses

The state’s historic drought has hit the San Joaquin Valley hard, with farm losses in the billions, an increase in health issues and a decline in income, according to a Fresno State study released Thursday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

There’s no drought of cash for California farmers

Agricultural employment soared to a record 417,000 jobs, largely because gains in the Central Coast, deserts and Sacramento River Valley overcame losses in the San Joaquin Valley, according to a report by the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Oakland.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County sets record in 2014 crop report

Fresno County agriculture set a record in 2014, with crop values reaching $7 billion for the first time. … The county’s total value was just the third best in the state – behind Tulare and Kern counties – as the drought continued to drag down Fresno’s overall crop production.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer Jennifer Bowles

Allocating Water in a Time of Scarcity: Is it Time to Reform Water Rights?
July/August 2015

California’s severe drought has put its water rights system under scrutiny, raising the question whether a complete overhaul is necessary to better allocate water use.

(Read the excerpt below from the July/August 2015 issue along with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and get full access.)

Introduction

California’s severe drought has put its water rights system under scrutiny, raising the question whether a complete overhaul is necessary to better allocate water use.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Drought brings soul searching to California winemaking

From the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, to El Dorado in the Sierra Foothills, to Napa Valley and the Sonoma Coast, the drought, now in its fourth year, has affected every area differently.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California land quickly sinking in drought costs farmers

Land in Central California’s agricultural region is sinking so quickly because of the state’s historic drought that it is forcing farmers to spend millions of dollars upgrading irrigation canals and putting roads, bridges and other infrastructure at risk.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Drought: Colorado River saves Inland farmers

The drought is expected to cost the state $2.7 billion in agriculture losses this year, but farmers in eastern Riverside County are faring well because of steady supplies from the Colorado River, according to the authors of a new economic forecast.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Glenn County passes six-month moratorium on new well permits

The Glenn County Board of Supervisors Tuesday passed a ban on new well permits, which will slow but not halt the number of new wells drilled in the primarily agricultural county. … One project that will be put on hold, at least for the next six months, is the five new wells planned by the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, the largest supplier of ag water in the area.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Drought causing $2.7 billion economic hit in California (with audio)

The drought this year will cost California’s economy more than $2.7 billion and could result in nearly 21,000 job losses, according to a UC Davis study. … Direct agricultural costs of the drought will be about $1.8 billion and result in 10,100 seasonal job losses.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Farmers cope with $1.8 billion drought impact

California farmers are faring “remarkably well” this harvest season, despite the drought and an overall $1.8 billion hit to the state’s agricultural economy, experts said Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought impact pegged at $2.7 billion

The drought is costing California about $2.7 billion this year, according to a new UC Davis study, although the statistics suggest the state’s overall economy can withstand the impact. … At the same time, the study said farmers are holding up reasonably well in spite of significant water shortages and the fallowing of 542,000 acres of land.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz County 2014 crop report shows steady growth

Despite the unprecedented drought and the fragile state of local groundwater levels, Santa Cruz County crop values reached record levels, exceeding $616 million in 2014.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Palo Verde Valley farmers and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California find fallowing deal a win-win, so far

In the desert of California, where the Colorado River for decades has turned barren ground into an agricultural bounty, farmers are being paid not to grow crops on a portion of their land so that water can be shipped to thirsty cities on the coast.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Time for next turnaround on San Joaquin River

More than six decades after their deaths, the San Joaquin River and chinook salmon slowly are coming back to life in an unprecedented, hard-fought revival. … The trick in restoring this dried river is making water turn around and run uphill to be used on farms.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

13 states ask judge to delay new federal water rule

Thirteen states led by North Dakota asked a federal judge on Monday to delay a new rule that gives federal authorities jurisdiction over some state waters. … The rule is a response to calls from the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress for the EPA to clarify which smaller waterways are protected.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Where the drought has brought Head Start to a stop

The gutted cinder-block homes slated for demolition in the western Fresno County town of Five Points are a haunting symbol of [Diana's] Toscano’s struggle during one of the worst droughts in California’s history: finding enough children to keep the local Migrant Head Start Center from shutting its doors.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Innovation is blooming at water-wise urban farms

Unlike the large industrial farms that give California its reputation as the salad bowl of the nation, urban farmers don’t have to let fields sit fallow to reduce water use. The small-scale operations leave room for more creative approaches to drought-friendly growing practices.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Another milestone achieved for North Valley recycled water project

Officials gathered Wednesday at the Delta-Mendota Canal near Patterson to mark the latest milestone of the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Oakdale Irrigation District agrees – again – to give farmers more water

Despite the drought, local farmers this year will get 44 inches of water per parcel instead of 40, Oakdale irrigation leaders decided Tuesday, because customers so far have used much less than expected.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water & farmers: Things to know about AP-GfK drought poll

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds most Americans think of water as a limited resource that can be depleted if people use too much.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: AP-GfK Poll — Americans favor farmers & food during drought

When water gets scarce and the government slaps restrictions on its use, who should be first in line at the spigot? Farmers, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Calif. judge says she’ll likely uphold farmer water cuts

California’s demand for lower agricultural water use during the drought will likely survive a legal challenge, a judge indicated Thursday.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Business Journal

​Farmers, fighting back, say they’re unfairly blamed for worsening drought

California’s agricultural industry this week returned fire with a PR campaign that seeks to emphasize strides in conservation made by farmers in recent years.

Aquafornia news NPR

Squeezed by drought, California farmers switch to less thirsty crops (with audio)

Water scarcity is driving California farmers to plant different crops. Growers are switching to more profitable, less-thirsty fruits, vegetables and nuts. 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Almond harvest looks early this year, rice may mature early as well

Almond farmers who planned a mid-summer getaway may need to put those plans on hold. Already the nuts are at the phase of hull split, which comes just before its time to shake the trees. Butte County Agricultural Commissioner Richard Price said all crops are early this year.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought agency goes after another water district

State drought regulators went on the offensive against another agricultural irrigation district Monday, proposing a $1.55 million fine against a Delta-area agency accused of diverting water illegally over a two-week period.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento’s new Mexican consul to help drought-stricken farmworkers

With California’s historic drought evaporating the livelihood of thousands of Mexican migrants, Mexico will start offering them emergency rent assistance, clothing, food and even a plane ticket back home, said the region’s new consul general in her first major media interview.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Delta dispute raises urgent question: Whose water is it? (with video)

As California’s blue-green reservoirs are drained brown during this historic drought, [Dennis] Gardemeyer and other Delta property owners essentially are being accused of stealing. … At the heart of the dispute is California’s complex system of water conveyance.

Commands