Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Appellate court blasts Oakdale Irrigation District’s fallowing project

The Oakdale Irrigation District skirted state law by not predicting the environmental results of fallowing land and selling freed-up water to outside buyers in a 2016 proposal, appellate justices in Fresno ruled. The Nov. 27 decision affirms one handed down last year by a Stanislaus County judge, who said OID should have conducted an environmental impact report before launching the project.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Big setback for Gov. Brown’s twin tunnels delta water project

A crucial certification needed to build two tunnels that officials believe would help solve California’s water delivery problems was withdrawn Friday, ensuring that Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet water project won’t be approved before he leaves office in January.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

CA wildfires: Most sweeping forestry changes out of key bill, sources say

A typically noncontroversial part of Congress’ must-pass farm bill has become a flash point in the aftermath of California wildfires that President Trump blamed on neglected forests, prompting House and Senate leadership to intervene in negotiations over how to regulate federally owned woodlands.

Aquafornia news The Salinas Californian

CDC: 9 more people sickened, 3 additional hospitalized from E. coli-tainted romaine lettuce

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that 12 more people have been sickened, three of them hospitalized, in the U.S. due to the recent E. coli outbreak linked to Central Coast romaine lettuce.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Trump rule would limit EPA’s control over water pollution

The Trump administration is expected to put forth a proposal on Tuesday that would significantly weaken a major Obama-era regulation on clean water, according to a talking points memo from the Environmental Protection Agency that was distributed to White House allies this week.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Lundberg Family Farms receives California Leopold Conservation Award

The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) applauds Lundberg Family Farms as the recent recipient of the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award as described below. The award is a valued testament to Lundberg Family Farms and many other leaders in the Sacramento Valley who live and embody the spirit of Aldo Leopold with their land ethic and numerous efforts for conservation, including the improvement of fish and wildlife. Bryce Lundberg is the Chairman of the NCWA Board of Directors. He joins several other NCWA Board members who have previously received the award, including Montna Farms and Mary and Jim Richert.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Christmas tree prices rise yet again — and that’s likely to continue

The Christmas tree industry took a turn a decade ago when the Great Recession hit and growers started planting fewer trees. For California, the problem has been exacerbated as growers in the Pacific Northwest — where most of California’s Christmas trees are grown — moved away from planting pines in favor of more lucrative crops like hazelnuts and, in some cases, marijuana.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, DC, Bureau

Felons may be back in the hemp farming business

People with felony drug convictions may be able to grow hemp after all. A controversial provision in the Senate farm bill that bars felons from growing hemp, even as it makes it easier for farmers across the nation to grow the crop, has been modified. Congress is expected to release final details of the compromise bill next week, with a vote shortly afterward.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, DC, Bureau

House GOP loses farm bill fight for tougher work requirements for food aid recipients

Federal food aid recipients won’t be faced with major new work requirements. And changes in forestry policy that made environmentalists furious are gone. House Republicans gave up Thursday on trying to include those provisions in a massive farm policy bill, clearing the way for a vote in Congress next week.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto Irrigation District justifies power prices with new study

Modesto Irrigation District board members on Tuesday embraced an important new report justifying prices for both electricity and farm water. MID recently said electricity rates will not go up in 2019, a point restated in Tuesday’s action. Whether farm water rates will rise typically is decided before irrigation starts flowing in the spring.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Palm Desert resident sues CVWD over property taxes, claims they illegally benefit farmers

Palm Desert resident Randy Roberts filed a class-action lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District on Dec. 3, claiming the cash-rich agency is illegally taxing non-agricultural homeowners and businesses and has diverted more than $60 million to fund projects that often benefit large farmers. … Roberts, a longtime critic of the water district, charges it has violated state voter-approved laws, including Prop. 13 and Prop. 218, and the constitution. 

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Legal Commentary: U.S. Supreme Court limits agency discretion under ESA

In a victory for landowners and other regulated entities, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously limited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s discretion when designating critical habitat under the federal Endangered Species Act. In its Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision last week, the Supreme Court held that only “habitat” may be designated as “critical habitat” under the ESA and that FWS decisions regarding whether to exclude a certain area from a critical habitat designation due to economic considerations are subject to judicial review.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

New Arizona drought plan would put Pinal farmers back on groundwater

A new plan to deal with less Colorado River water being available for Arizona would give Pinal County farmers the same amount of water as previous plans – but with much of it in groundwater.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, DC, Bureau

Gray wolf protections on track to survive the current Congress

The gray wolf has been in danger in recent weeks of losing the federal protection that for decades has kept it from being hunted. But the congressional ardor to end the protection — and make it easier to trap or shoot the wolves — is fading fast.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Tainted lettuce: Should Congress bring back produce screening program?

On Nov. 10, Joe Stratta of Texas ate a Caesar salad at a Beef O’Brady’s in Crestview, Florida. Four days later, he was stricken with a severe intestinal infection that hospitalized him for five days with acute kidney failure. The culprit was a virulent strain of intestinal bacteria — E. coli O157:H7.

Aquafornia news KQED News

These invasive 20-pound rodents could wreak havoc on California agriculture

Merced County sweet potato farmer Stan Silva hadn’t even heard the word “nutria” until a few months ago. He’s still never seen one, but he’s worried about the damage these 20-pound rodents with big orange buck teeth could do in California if they’re not eradicated. “It would be devastating,” Silva says. “They can basically ruin the ag industry here — they get in your fields, burrow into your canal ways, your waterways.” They can also tear up crops and levees, making the state’s water infrastructure more vulnerable.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water: Judge says Colorado River fight between farmers, IID could go to high court

A state judge on Thursday turned down a powerful Imperial Valley farmer’s request for an injunction against his irrigation district to stop them from signing a major Colorado River conservation plan. Superior Court Judge L. Brooks Anderholt denied the motion by Michael Abatti and his attorneys, a court clerk told The Desert Sun.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Could industrial hemp farming mean billion-dollar green for Central Valley ag?

Can San Joaquin Valley farmers and entrepreneurs make industrial hemp agriculture’s next big commodity? … Recently, the California Department of Food and Agriculture issued draft regulations along with some cleanup language that will allow for the growing of industrial hemp. The public has until Dec. 24 to submit written comments.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Sunset magazine, a California icon, struggles as advertisers turn away from print

For 120 years, Sunset magazine has been synonymous with California living. Created by Southern Pacific Railroad to promote westward travel, Sunset has long been a tastemaker for the masses, popularizing backyard barbecues, hot tubs, mid-century architecture, weekend getaways, California wines and food culture, including a boom in avocados.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

For some romaine farmers on California’s Central Coast, the E. coli scare is a maddening mystery

Californians know a lot — or think they do — about our Central Valley’s crops and their controversies. … Few city dwellers understand that growers of leafy green vegetables divide their lives between two places 500 miles apart.