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 Bay Area News Group

People who would be flooded by Sites Reservoir still back project

Cattle and sheep have grazed on the floor of the Antelope Valley for more than a century. But just a few years from now, the land could be transformed into the bottom of a vast inland sea.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern CA

Blog: California farmers pray for rain, prepare for continued drought

Get a group of farmers and ranchers together and they will tell you without hesitation California’s historic drought is driving up the cost of food. The Center for Land-Based Learning, a non-profit teaching people how to farm, held its annual fundraiser at the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood City this weekend.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Reintroduced tule elk compete with cattle on Point Reyes

The wild elk and domestic cows simply do not mix, according to the ranchers who lease the fields from the National Park Service, which administers 28,000 acres of agricultural land in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes seashore. The ranchers say the competition from the elk for scarce vegetation threatens their very existence after three years of drought.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

It’s alive! And it grows into a Jack-o’-Lantern

Like Victor Frankenstein, Tony Dighera was determined to bring a new creature to life. Though he was fairly new to farming, Mr. Dighera saw profit to be made in strangely shaped pumpkins.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Horseback protest targets BLM, but environmentalists say whoa

They’re a dozen men and women riding horseback on a modern-day cross-country cattle drive, but with fistfuls of petitions instead of a herd of steers. … But environmentalists have lashed out at protesters as a selfish, entitled group with no business running private cattle on public lands, especially during years of prolonged drought.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Plans for five new Glenn-Colusa wells face a tough crowd

Five new wells are on the drawing board for Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, the biggest surface water district in the Sacramento Valley. … Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District is considering the five wells as a backup to surface water during dry and critically dry years, presenters explained.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water for Coachella Valley farms untouched by drought

One of the most extreme droughts in California’s history has been hitting agriculture hard, forcing cutbacks in water deliveries in parts of the Central Valley and leaving more than 400,000 acres of farmland fallow and dry.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Business Journal

Drought cuts California food exports sharply, costing growers millions

Exports of California food products took a dive in August, with fruit and tree nuts decreasing by 8 percent when compared to the same time last year and vegetables dropping by 7.8 percent, according to data released Friday by Beacon Economics.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California dairy farmers struggling to survive prolonged drought

Dust whips across the toasted soil where Tom Barcellos usually plants corn for his 800 dairy cows. This season, there was no water to plant the crop.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: State high court OKs water cuts on Russian River to aid salmon

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed California regulators to order farmers along the Russian River to reduce cold-weather water sprays that have helped preserve their crops while killing thousands of endangered salmon.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Western U.S. governors begin drought discussions

In the midst of a record-smashing dry cycle in the United States, the organization with the most influence over state and federal drought policy wants to do a better job managing the crisis. … On September 18 and 19, the Western Governors’ Association, a forum for state leaders, will welcome to Norman, Oklahoma, agency officials, industry representatives, and technical experts who will offer insight on how a multi-year drought in the western United States is challenging the energy sector.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Biologists identify pot gardens as salmon threat

Water use and other actions by the marijuana industry in the Emerald Triangle of Northern California and Southern Oregon are threatening salmon already in danger of extinction, federal biologists said Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

IRS extends deadline for farmers forced to sell livestock due to drought

Farmers and ranchers forced to sell livestock due to the drought have an extended period of time to replace their livestock and defer tax on any gains from the sales, the Internal Revenue Service announced.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California harvest much smaller than normal across crops

It’s harvest time in much of California, and the signs of drought are almost as abundant as the fruits and nuts and vegetables.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Survey: California wine industry adapting to aging baby boomers, foreign competition, drought

In the latest surveys, respondents said California’s massive wine industry will hold its own in the global marketplace despite shifts in consumer demographics, drought, competition from imported wines and the rising popularity of craft beers and cocktails.

Friant Dam
Aquapedia background

Friant Dam

Located just north of Fresno, the Friant Dam helps deliver water as it runs towards the Merced River, though its environmental impacts have caused controversy.

Western Water Magazine

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses the problems of nitrate-contaminated water in small disadvantaged communities and possible solutions.

Western Water Magazine

Keeping It Down on the Farm: Agricultural Water Use Efficiency
March/April 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines agricultural water use – its successes, the planned state regulation to quantify its efficiency and the potential for greater savings.

Western Water Magazine

Salt of the Earth: Can the Central Valley Solve its Salinity Problem?
July/August 2007

This Western Water looks at proposed new measures to deal with the century-old problem of salinity with a special focus on San Joaquin Valley farms and cities.

Western Water Magazine

Shaping the West: 100 Years of Reclamation Water
May/June 2002

The Reclamation Act of 1902, which could arguably be described as a progression of the credo, Manifest Destiny, transformed the West. This issue of Western Water provides a glimpse of the past 100 years of the Reclamation Act, from the early visionaries who sought to turn the arid West into productive farmland, to the modern day task of providing a limited amount of water to homes, farms and the environment. Included are discussions of various Bureau projects and what the next century may bring in terms of challenges and success.

Video

Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.

Maps & Posters

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.

Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and manmade reservoirs and aqueducts - including federally, state and locally funded projects - the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with implementation. 

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Maps & Posters

Delta Sustainability Map
Published 2006

This beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability.

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta Authority.

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many of these issues. 

Maps & Posters

Nevada Water Map
Published 2004

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the environment. It features natural and manmade water resources throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River that forms the state’s eastern boundary.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Agricultural Drainage
Updated 2001

With irrigation projects that import water, farmers have transformed millions of acres of land into highly productive fields and orchards. But the dry climate that provides an almost year-round farming season can hasten salt build up in soils. The build-up of salts in poorly drained soils can decrease crop productivity, and there are links between drainage water from irrigated fields and harmful impacts on fish and wildlife.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2015

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2011

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the history of the project, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state, and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2013

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing
Updated 2005

The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides background information on water rights, types of transfers and critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in 1996, the 2000 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use …  Colorado River transfers, CALFED’s Water Transfer Program and the role of private companies in California’s developing water market. 

Order in bulk (25 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

The story of water is the story of California. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

The story of California is the story of water. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Water Q&A: What Vegetables Can You Grow During a Summer of Drought?

From The Sacramento Bee:

“Grow beans. … Tomatoes, melons and squash grow deep roots that seek out water.”

Read more from The Sacramento Bee

 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California Drought: Feinstein Pressure Helps Farms Over Fish

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“First came the urgent e-mail to two Cabinet secretaries from San Joaquin Valley farm interests, demanding that officials allow ‘maximum pumping’ of water from recent storms for agriculture and cities and minimize flows for endangered fish making their river migrations amid the worst drought in years.”

Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle

 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Beef Prices Hit All-time High in U.S.

From the Los Angeles Times:

“Extreme weather has thinned the nation’s beef cattle herds to levels last seen in 1951, when there were about half as many mouths to feed in America.”

Read more from the LA Times

 

Aquafornia news

Blog: Water Serves Triple Duty in the Sacramento Valley

From the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) blog, in a post by NCWA Chair Bryce Lundberg:

“Despite recent rainfall in March, there will be significant surface water cutbacks in the Sacramento Valley during the third consecutive year of drought. Reduced water use by farms and wildlife refuges will directly impact wildlife habitat, rural communities and our economy.”

Read more from the NCWA blog

 

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Keeping It Down on the Farm: Agricultural Water Use Efficiency
March/April 2012

There are two constants regarding agricultural water use – growers will continue to come up with ever more efficient and innovative ways to use water and they will always be pressed to do more.

It’s safe to say the matter will not be settled anytime soon, given all the complexities that are a part of the water use picture today. While officials and stakeholders grapple to find a lasting solution to California’s water problems that balances environmental and economic needs, those who grow food and fiber for a living do so amid a host of challenges.

Land Retirement
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Land Retirement

Land retirement is a practice that takes agricultural lands out of production due to poor drainage and soils containing high levels of salt and selenium (a mineral found in soil).

Typically, landowners are paid to retire land. The purchaser, often a local water district, then places a deed restriction on the land to prevent growing crops with irrigation water (a source of salt). Growers in some cases may continue to farm using rain water, a method known as dry farming.

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Evaporation Ponds

Evaporation ponds contain agricultural drainage water and are used when agricultural growers do not have access to rivers for drainage disposal.

Drainage water is the only source of water in many of these ponds, resulting in extremely high concentrations of salts. Concentrations of other trace elements such as selenium are also elevated in evaporation basins, with a wide degree of variability among basins.

Such ponds resemble wetland areas that birds use for nesting and feeding grounds and may pose risks to waterfowl and shorebirds.

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Coachella Valley

The Coachella Valley in Southern California’s Inland Empire is one of several valleys throughout the state with a water district established to support agriculture.

Like the others, the Coachella Valley Water District in Riverside County delivers water to arid agricultural lands and constructs, operates and maintains a regional agricultural drainage system. These systems collect drainage water from individual farm drain outlets and convey the water to a point of reuse, disposal or dilution.

Commands