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.
On a mostly party-line 23-16 vote, the House Natural Resources Committee approved the bill to settle the irrigation dispute between the mammoth Westlands Water District and the federal government. The measure relieves Westlands of a big construction debt, and in turn shifts the burden for solving the toxic drainage problem from the government to the water district.
The Senate on Monday confirmed former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to be agriculture secretary in President Donald Trump’s administration as the farming industry looks to Washington for help amid a downturn in the market.
Organic growers in California and other farm states appear split over an industry promotion proposal that’s blossomed into a heated dispute. … With a Wednesday public comment deadline imminent, more than 11,000 public responses had flooded the Agriculture Department as of Friday.
The water spread into every corner of the fields, beckoning wading ibises and egrets as it bathed long rows of sprouting grapevines. Several inches had covered the vineyard ground for a couple of months. But rather than draining it, Don Cameron was pouring more on.
Full water deliveries have returned to the last of the West Side irrigation districts affected by federal water cutbacks in recent years. … The news came too late for some farmers, who have already planted based on the earlier projection of 65 percent for 2017.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is boosting the water allocation for farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to 100 percent for the first time since 2006. The announcement Tuesday comes only weeks after the bureau told disappointed growers that they would receive 65 percent of the contract supply from the Central Valley Project.
In a key ruling released Monday, a judge slammed the Oakdale Irrigation District for skirting state law in last year’s fallowing proposal. The district should have studied whether shipping river water elsewhere might harm local groundwater levels, Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne said in a decision issued nearly 11 weeks after a one-day trial in January.
The Trump Administration on Wednesday denied a petition by environmental groups that sought to ban a common pesticide used on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops, reversing a push by the Obama administration to revoke all uses of the pesticide on food after a government review concluded it could harm children’s brains.
California farmers have a sympathetic president in the White House and have enjoyed one of the wettest winters on record. But those in a giant swath of the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country, are due to get only two-thirds of their water allotment this year from the federal government.
Farmers in a vast agricultural region of California will receive a significantly greater amount of irrigation water this summer compared to past drought years – but not their full supply, federal officials announced Wednesday.
[Arnulfo] Solorio is one of a growing number of agricultural businessmen who say they face an urgent shortage of workers. The flow of labor began drying up when President Obama tightened the border. Now President Trump is promising to deport more people, raid more companies and build a wall on the southern border.
Farmers employ tens of thousands of people in the San Joaquin Valley and run a $35 billion industry producing grapes, milk, oranges, almonds and dozens of other commodities sold in stores around the globe. Many of them supported Donald Trump for president, calculating that his promise to deliver more water to drought-starved valley farms would help them despite his hard-line stance on immigration.
Worried about having to relinquish too much reservoir water and saddle Bay Area customers with restrictions on their taps, San Francisco officials plan to unveil a counterproposal Friday that they say restores river habitat and helps fish while maintaining water for cities and farms. … The plan already has sparked an unusual alliance between San Francisco and the Central Valley agricultural communities along the Tuolumne.
Modesto and Turlock farmers are thankful that record storms have boosted to capacity Don Pedro Reservoir, which holds water needed for crops. But excessive rain and snowmelt also have washed huge amounts of debris into the Tuolumne River upstream from the reservoir.
To hear John Duarte tell it, farmers knew the cavalry was coming to their rescue on election night. … On Tuesday, Trump ordered his new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, to scale back the agency’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act.
With a Republican in the White House and the GOP controlling Congress, Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., said Tuesday that he was hoping to build on last year’s legislation that was loved by farmers and loathed by environmentalists.
Federal officials announced Tuesday that the 20 reservoirs that make up the Central Valley Project are so swollen with winter runoff that many growers will get all the water they requested this year — a remarkable change from the past few years when countless orchards and fields received no federal water at all.
Last May, Donald Trump stood in an arena full of farmers from California’s desiccated Central Valley and said words many yearned to hear: “If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water.”
California agriculture is going to have to learn to live with the impacts of climate change and work toward reducing its contributions of greenhouse gas emissions, a Yolo County walnut grower said at the Jan. 26 California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento.
“I don’t believe we are going to be able to adapt our way out of climate change,” said Russ Lester, co-owner of Dixon Ridge Farms in Winters. “We need to mitigate for it. It won’t solve the problem but it can slow it down.”
Donald Trump said Thursday that he expects that former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, his choice to lead the Agriculture Department, will “deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”
While some farmers lament the release of thousands of acre-feet of water from Friant Dam, others are putting it to good use: recharging groundwater supplies. Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began releasing water from Millerton Lake to make room for a deluge of storm runoff.
Days after Donald Trump won the White House vowing to deport millions of people in the country illegally and fortify the Mexican border, California farmer Kevin Herman ordered nearly $600,000 in new equipment, cutting the number of workers he’ll need starting with the next harvest.
Federal inspections of cattle and hog feedlots, turkey houses, and other animal feeding operations dropped for a fourth consecutive year, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data. The number of fines and orders to change management practices for those same facilities fell for a fifth consecutive year.
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. … California is the largest lemon-producing state in the U.S., with about 47,000 acres of bearing trees out of about 55,300 acres nationwide, according to the USDA.
New Melones Reservoir would hold virtually nothing in about one in seven years if the state’s river flow plan goes through, water managers said Friday. They spoke at a State Water Resources Control Board hearing that also drew support for boosting the lower Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers to help fish.
San Joaquin County residents and public officials alike voiced opposition this week against a state plan to increase flows from the Stanislaus River as well as increase allowable salt in the southern San Joaquin Delta, stating the proposals could have significant negative impacts on the region’s agricultural viability.
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.
Urging her fellow lawmakers to pass a bill that would send more of California’s water to the arid farm fields of the San Joaquin Valley, Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave an impassioned speech Friday about the threat facing family farmers.
California farmers and Southern California cities were aghast last winter when much of the heavy rainfall that fell in Northern California washed through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to sea.
Both California senators took to the floor Friday to take opposite sides in a debate over provisions of a national water resources bill that allows more water to be pumped south to Central Valley agriculture at the expense of the salmon industry.
The House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the biggest federal reset of California water use in a generation, setting the stage for easier dam-building, more recycling and potentially happier Central Valley farmers.
The water policy measure overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday to build long-term water infrastructure across the Golden State is headed for a showdown with outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, who plans to mount a filibuster in the Senate on Friday as one of her final acts in Congress.
Tuesday, I visited a couple of projects in the Sacramento Valley that are aimed at helping salmon on both ends of the life cycle. They are collaborations between farmers and environmentalists, two groups that are often at each other’s throats in the never-ending battle over who is entitled to California’s precious water supply.
A controversial California water bill that’s sparked years of fighting has been added to a fast-moving measure, boosting the chance the water measures will pass Congress but sharply dividing the state’s U.S. senators.
House Republican leaders and California’s senior senator announced Monday a new attempt to pass legislation that would increase water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness and Southern California.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, teamed up Monday to slip a legislative rider into a giant end-of-year water infrastructure bill that would override endangered species protections for native California fish for the purpose of sending water to San Joaquin Valley farmers.
Asking the public to listen carefully to their controversial plan, state water officials began a series of hearings Tuesday on permanently shifting a share of water away from farms and cities and reallocating it to wildlife on streams feeding the San Joaquin River.
California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm. … But dairy farmers say the new regulations will drive up costs when they’re already struggling with five years of drought, low milk prices and rising labor costs.
Fishing and environmental groups will get the first say Tuesday about how much water should run down the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The session in Sacramento will be the first of five before the State Water Resources Control Board, which is considering a major boost in the flows.
President-elect Donald Trump might have trouble living up to one of his more sweeping campaign promises in California. On the stump in Fresno last May, he made headlines for declaring, “There is no drought” here.
Year after year, volunteers return to tributaries of the Klamath River, just like the fish they’re trying to help do the same thing. Jimmy Peterson, a fisheries project coordinator for the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council, places rocks and stones to make fish passages in Fort Goff Creek, 60 miles up from the river’s mouth on California’s North Coast.
Friday will provide a chance to wade into the details of the state’s proposal to increase flows on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. … The public hearings will start Nov. 29 in Sacramento and continue in Modesto, Merced and Stockton next month.
Thirsty avocado trees in the hills of De Luz are on a literal chopping block. The Rancho California Water District on Monday, Nov. 14, started accepting applications from district growers who want to remove high water use crops, such as avocado trees, for lower use varieties such as wine grapes or citrus trees.
An hour north of Sacramento, in a ghost town tucked into a remote mountain valley, California is poised to build a massive new reservoir – a water project of a size that hasn’t been undertaken since Jerry Brown’s first stint as governor in the 1970s. Sites Reservoir, all $4.4 billion of it, represents an about-face in a state where drought has become the norm and water users are told to scrimp and save.
If there is a positive outcome of five years of drought in California, it’s the lessons learned about how to manage water during a shortage in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. On the up-side, farmers got creative to cut back their water diversions by 32 percent through a volunteer program. On the learning-curve side, complex water rights confound who gets water during shortage.
For more than 30 years, wastewater from oil and gas operations has been used to irrigate food crops in California. Regulators will re-examine the safety of that practice during a public hearing Friday.
When California officials got serious about building two giant tunnels to divert freshwater out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, it didn’t take critics long to propose alternatives. One of the first was a grassroots scheme that, at first, seemed radical and counterintuitive: Let winter floods retake vast parts of the San Joaquin Valley – the very farmland that needs those Delta water diversions.
A plan to leave more water in streams feeding the San Joaquin River will benefit Delta water exporters while letting the government off the hook for failing to meet water quality standards, San Joaquin County water wonks said Wednesday.
California should leave more water in the state’s most vital river delta to save crashing populations of native fish, state regulators said Wednesday in findings that could cut the amounts that cities and farms can take from the Sacramento and San Joaquin waterways.
A project to rebuild the Wallace Weir, a century-old levee northwest of Sacramento, could help both farmers and salmon. Bringing together a coalition of unlikely allies, it promises a more sophisticated approach to water management.
Manteca-area farmers voted this week to oppose a state proposal to permanently allow more water to remain in the Stanislaus River to protect fish. … The State Water Resources Control Board says river flows would increase from roughly 20 percent to perhaps 40 percent on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers combined.
Westland Water District’s farmers generated $3.6 billion in economic activity and created 29,000 jobs, according to a recent economic analysis commissioned by the district. The report, written by Pepperdine University public policy professor Michael Shires, details Westland’s contributions to the local and regional economy while also pointing out the consequences of farming without a reliable water supply.
Pesticides can drift off the edges of orchards and end up in streams that provide drinking water and fish habitat. A promising solution: Use a fan to blow the chemical back into the trees as the spray rig moves along.
Seventeen water districts in the San Joaquin Valley and the city of Fresno have filed a blockbuster claim for $350 million against the federal government for not delivering water to Friant Division contractors in the drought year of 2014.
A state official on Tuesday defended plans to permanently allow more water to remain in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries in an effort to help struggling fish species. The proposal, released last month, has come under attack from farms and cities that rely on those tributaries, particularly in Stanislaus and Merced counties.
Four of the five board members at the Turlock Irrigation District voted Tuesday against the state’s proposed boost in river flows. Meanwhile, the fifth board member was in Sacramento to press the same case.
The AB 935 water projects bill by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, authorizes $7 million in state money to build pumps to move water north to about Terra Bella via reverse flow pump-back facilities still to be built.
The board of the Turlock Irrigation District will get its turn Tuesday to denounce the river flow increases proposed by the state. Later in the morning in Sacramento, supporters and opponents of higher flows will speak to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.