UC Davis seeks to turn little water into wine
The main vineyard at the University of California, Davis, currently relies on 4 to 6 gallons of water to produce each gallon of wine. As soon as next year, researchers hope new technologies can reduce that vineyard demand to as little as 1 gallon of water per gallon of wine. As California endures its fourth year of drought, the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology on Thursday showed off its latest attempts to make sure student-produced wine not only remains delicious but also water conscious. The dry heat in California has sped up wine-grape picking at UC Davis, but the volume remains stable compared to previous years. By the end of the 2015 wine crush at UC Davis, students and staff of the department will have crushed 7,182 pounds of grapes, and they are on course to produce close to 450 gallons of wine out of their 12 acres of vines, located near the main entrance of the campus off Interstate 80. <more>
Aug. 13, 2015 The Sacramento Bee
USDA Announces September Hearing on Proposal to Establish a Federal Milk Marketing Order
The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced it will hold a hearing starting on Tuesday, September 22 at 9:00 a.m. at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Building, 808 Fourth Street, Clovis, to discuss a proposal to establish a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO). Dairy operators are highly encouraged to attend and take an active role in shaping a potential milk pricing system.
The public hearing is being held to consider and take evidence on a proposal that would establish a FMMO to regulate the handling of milk in California. In February, AMS received a formal hearing request from California Dairies, Inc.; Land O Lakes, Inc.; and Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. to establish a FMMO in California. AMS also received additional proposals from the Dairy Institute of California, the California Producer Handlers Association, and Ponderosa Dairy. The proposals incorporate the same dairy product classification system used throughout the FMMO system. Additional features would recognize California quota premium and fluid milk fortification values.
The California dairy industry represents 20 percent of all U.S. milk production and is currently regulated under a state marketing order. The 2014 Farm Bill allows for a California FMMO that recognizes certain state-specific aspects of the current order, if recommended by USDA and approved by California dairy producers.
For a copy of the announcement and copies of the proposals visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/moa/dairy/ca. USDA has not taken a position on any of the proposals.
The hearing will be overseen by an impartial Administrative Law Judge who will ensure testimony and evidence presented fall within the scope of what is contained in the Notice of Hearing.
Poll: Americans favor farmers over industry, wildlife & residential use 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. The national survey provides a glimpse into how Americans think water should be managed at a time when abnormally dry weather has afflicted swaths of the country, and water shortages in some states have led to conflict over who should get water and how much. Two-thirds of Americans believe water is a limited resource that can be depleted if people use too much, the poll found, and 70 percent believe that government should restrict how much residents and businesses use when drought takes hold. When asked to rate the importance of competing needs when water is scarce, 74 percent said agriculture should be a top or high priority, followed by residential needs (66 percent), wildlife and ecosystems (54 percent) and business and industry (42 percent). <more>
Aug. 3, 2015 AP
Twelve counties produce 25 percent of U.S. milk
Just how much has our industry consolidated? It took only 12 counties to produce 25 percent of our nation’s milk last December. By casting a slightly wider net, 56 counties were responsible for producing half of the U.S. milk needs, according to research conducted by the Central Federal Milk Marketing Order administrators. An expanded list of 180 counties produced 75 percent of the nation’s milk. There is one caveat to this data. It is based on statistics from Federal Milk Marketing Orders and California’s State Milk Marketing Order. That means much of the milk production from the nation’s third-largest dairy state based on milk production — Idaho— is not included in this survey. <more>
Aug. 3, 2015 Hoard’s Dairyman
States to sue Obama administration over climate rules
A coalition of conservative states wasted little time Monday in promising to sue the Obama administration to stop its climate rules for power plants. The states, led by West Virginia, believe the rules are “fundamentally flawed and illegal” and intend to go to court to prove their case. “The final rule announced Monday blatantly disregards the rule of law and will severely harm West Virginia and the U.S. economy,” Patrick Morrisey, attorney general of West Virginia, said in a statement. “This rule represents the most far-reaching energy regulation in this nation’s history, drawn up by radical bureaucrats and based upon an obscure, rarely used provision of the Clean Air Act,” he said. “We intend to challenge it in court vigorously.” <more>
Aug. 3, 2015 The Hill
Pacific Trade Talks End With No Deal
High-level efforts to complete a major Pacific trade agreement ended Friday without resolution amid deep differences over trade in dairy and other products. U.S. and other officials had hoped to wrap up the final contours of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership this week. Officials in a statement said they made “significant progress” and would work further on a deal, without specifying a future meeting. “The sad thing is, it’s 98% concluded,”Australia’s trade minister, Andrew Robb, said as ministers prepared to leave on Friday. U.S. and Canadian officials have quarreled in recent months about ways to use the agreement to open up Canada’s highly protected dairy industry, but the public dispute this week spread to three of the other developed economies negotiating the agreement—Australia, Japan and New Zealand. <more>
July 31, 2015 The Wall Street Journal
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