Western United Dairymen Headline News

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Western United Dairymen

  • California Senators Introduce Emergency Drought Relief Legislation

    California Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Barbara Boxer (D) introduced emergency drought legislation on Wednesday aimed at helping communities facing severe water shortages and supporting new water projects in the parched state. Key provisions of the California Emergency Drought Relief Act will assist rural and disadvantaged drought-stricken communities with a new USDA program, seek federal support for desalination projects, promote the building of new reservoirs, support water recycling projects, increase agriculture water conservation mandates and expand protections for threatened fish and wildlife. "I’m hopeful the bill we’re introducing today will serve as a template for the kinds of short-term and long-term solutions California needs to address this devastating drought," Feinstein said in a press release. <more>

    July 29, 2015 The Huffington Post



  • ‘My Job Depends on Ag’ strikes marketing gold

    Valley residents Stephen Malanca and Erik Wilson were fed up with claims that farmers use too much water and do more damage than good to the environment. They were also frustrated that many residents, even as close as San Francisco, had no idea of the scope of Valley farming and how much it’s connected to other major businesses, thus playing a large role in the success of California’s economy. So two months ago, Malanca, who works at Mac’s Equipment Repair in Kerman, and Wilson, who owns a custom spraying company in Dos Palos, created a Facebook group called “My Job Depends on Ag” and began offering decals to get their message out. In two short months, the page has attracted nearly 35,000 followers. And decals have sold like hotcakes, with about 5,000 decals purchased so far. <more>

    July 28, 2015 The Business Journal



  • Five questions crucial to future of California drought legislation

    The House of Representatives’ passage Thursday of an ambitious and controversial California water bill now starts a round of maneuvering that will show whether a divided Congress can get its act together and legislate. There’s reason for skepticism. Start with the general gridlock and incessant partisanship that has earned Congress a 79 percent public disapproval rate. Add to this the inherent regional conflicts, historical baggage and technical complications that surround Western water, and the odds for legislative success sink further. Even judging the significance of federal water legislation invites some skepticism. As House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield noted Thursday, “We can’t make it rain.” The drought has its own, untouchable timetable. Some potentially big actions, like raising Shasta Dam or expanding San Luis Reservoir, would not help this year or even next. In some cases, a little fine-tuning might be the most that can be reasonably expected. <more> July 17, 2015 McClatchy Newspapers



  • State issues first action to enforce a water rights curtailment

    State regulators Thursday took another step in the escalating battle over drought-related curtailments of thousands of California water rights. The State Water Resources Control Board issued a draft cease-and-desist order against the West Side Irrigation District of Tracy, which holds junior rights to some flows in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The board alleges that inspectors found the district was continuing to withdraw water from the delta's Old River even after it received a May 1 notice that there weren't sufficient flows to meet the demand of junior rights holders in the delta. It is the first such enforcement action the board has taken this year. If West Side doesn't comply or request a hearing on the matter, the state board could adopt the order, subjecting the district to fines of up to $10,000 a day.<more> July 16, 2015 LA Times



  • Sec. Ross orders temporary change to Class 4b pricing formula

    On Friday, CDFA Secretary Karen Ross announced she has ordered a temporary change to the dry whey scale of the Class 4b pricing formula, effective August 1, 2015 through July 31, 2016. The decision comes after a milk price hearing on June 3 in Sacramento where Western United Dairymen and dairy producers voiced the desired direction the industry hoped CDFA would take. 

    "Western United Dairymen is encouraged by the Secretary's actions today on milk pricing.  We are appreciative of the intensive effort by the CDFA to listen and respond to the industry and act accordingly,” said WUD President Frank Mendonsa. "While we had hoped for more, we will continue to work closely with the Department to be more consistent with the Federal order."

    If the announced adjustments to the Class 4b formula had been in place for the past five years, it would have resulted in a Class 4b price that would have been $1.01/cwt higher. This represents 46 cents on the overbase price. While this does not bring the Class 4b whey value exactly in line with the Class III whey value like the CDC/MPC/WUD proposal requested, it would have brought the two closer if this change had been implemented at the beginning of this year. In her letter, the Secretary said she believes California’s system of regulated milk pricing is antiquated and outdated. The industry competes within national and international markets that have dramatically changed since the pricing system was established. She added the pricing system needs to be updated to provide the opportunity for our dairy families and processors to achieve long-term growth and prosperity. “I believe this adjustment will provide a needed increase in revenue to producers to ensure a stable milk supply. I have taken this action even though I believe there are long term structural challenges within the dairy industry that the Department cannot address through changes in the class pricing formulas,” Secretary Ross said in her announcement. July 17, 2015 WUD Friday Update



  • Enrollment for 2016 Dairy Margin Protection Program Open

    Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that starting July 1, 2015, dairy farmers can enroll in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Margin Protection Program for coverage in 2016. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy operations when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. Harden made the announcement while visiting Wolfe’s Neck Farm and dairy school in Freeport, Maine. The Margin Protection Program gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment begins July 1 and ends on Sept. 30, 2015, for coverage in 2016. Participating farmers will remain in the program through 2018 and pay a $100 administrative fee each year. Producers also have the option of selecting a different coverage level during open enrollment each year. Margin Protection Program payments are based on an operation’s historical production. An operation’s historical production will increase by 2.61 percent in 2016 if the operation participated in 2015, providing a stronger safety net. <more>

    June 29, 2015 FSA news release



  • Congressmen blast revised tunnels plan

    The new draft environmental documents on the governor’s twin tunnels plan are getting a cold reception from at least two Valley congressmen. “This project is not about restoring the environment,” says Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield. “California law requires meeting the co-equal goals of providing a reliable water supply and preserving the environment. The twin tunnels are about building a plumbing system that will suck the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta dry and damage water quality in the San Francisco Bay.” At the heart of the “Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan,” is a plan pushed by Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. to build two tunnels, each side enough to fly a Cessna airplane through, for 35 miles beneath the Delta. The tunnels would siphon off fresh water from the Sacramento River before it could flow into the Delta. That water would then be sold to farmed in the San Joaquin Valley, to Silicon Valley and to the Los Angeles region. <more>

    July 9, 2015 Central Valley Business Times



  • Take two on Delta tunnels project

    Grab those reading glasses —again. State officials on Thursday released a 9,276-page report detailing the latest version of Gov. Jerry Brown’s $15 billion twin tunnels plan. Public comments are accepted through the end of August. The original 34,000-page plan, released in December 2013, generated thousands of comments, an indication of the amount of controversy generated by Brown’s proposal. A modern-day variation of the peripheral canal plan that voters defeated in 1982, the tunnels would siphon water off the Sacramento River and divert it south beneath the Delta, rather than allowing that water to flow through the sloughs and channels as it does today. The idea is to safeguard much of the state’s water supply should Delta levees fail. The tunnels are also supposed to decrease so-called “reverse flows,” in which rivers in the south Delta flow backward toward huge state and federal export pumps near Tracy. Reverse flows harm threatened and endangered fish. <more>

    July 9, 2015 Stockton Record



  • F.D.A. Extends Deadline for Calorie Counts on Menus

    The Food and Drug Administration has delayed by a year the deadline for the nation’s chain restaurants, pizza parlors and movie theaters to post calorie counts on their menus in what some consumer advocates said was a setback for public health but others contended would simply give companies enough time to comply. Pressure had been growing to delay the rule, which was proposed in November and would have taken effect at the end of this year. Food companies — in particular, the pizza industry —had campaigned against it, saying it was onerous and in many cases served no purpose, as most Americans order pies over the phone and not in a restaurant, where they would see a menu. A measure in the House sought to delay compliance by a year. On Thursday, the agency announced that it had done just that to give companies more time to comply. Critics said the delay was not a fatal blow, but was worrisome, as it would give the restaurant and grocery industries more time to lobby against the measure. <more>

    July 9, 2015 The New York Times



  • Water rights ruling is setback for California drought regulators

    In a potentially major setback for California’s efforts to handle the drought, a judge Friday blocked the state water board’s decision to curtail the water rights of four irrigation districts. The judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the State Water Resources Control Board from enforcing a curtailment order against the West Side Irrigation District, Central Delta Water Agency, South Delta Water Agency and Woods Irrigation Co. The judge said the four agencies were denied the right to defend themselves in front of the water board. While the ruling affects only those four agencies, experts said the decision has statewide implications. It could affect “everybody that received a curtailment order,” said Stuart Somach, a Sacramento water-law attorney not involved in the case. <more>

    July 10, 2015 Fresno Bee



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