Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mission to serve 1,000 Thanksgiving meals today

Redding's Good News Rescue Mission, which does God's work and is always near the top of my wife's list of charitable organizations to support, will serve 1,000 meals to guests during its Thanksgiving feast today, the mission's executive director told me.

People were lined up along the sidewalk and around the corner for the first serving at 11 a.m. In addition to the hot meals, the mission will give out 500 meals for folks to take home and prepare, director Cesar Partido said. All of the food comes from community donations, and among the donors this year was a co-op of rice growers in the Sacramento Valley.

In the photos, from the top: Volunteers dish up turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and other fixings to serve to guests; volunteer Lu Pointer of Shasta cuts slices of a pecan pie; and cook Chiew Saechao puts out fixings to serve.

When you sit down for your feast tomorrow, the chances are good that something on your table will have originated from a farm in the San Joaquin Valley. For that story, check soon.

Among the blessings I'll be counting this week is that our Capital Press website continues to set new highs in traffic since our redesign this summer, and some of that new traffic has been drifting over to this blog. Thanks for visiting, everyone, and happy Thanksgiving to all.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

LaMalfa: High-speed rail 'is dead in the water'

The north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who fought California's high-speed rail plan as a state senator, said a judge's pair of rulings Monday show the project "is dead in the water" and promised to redirect federal funds from the project to other uses.

From his office:
Representative Doug LaMalfa today commented on a state court ruling which found the California High Speed Rail Authority's plan violated voter-approved law and effectively halted the project. LaMalfa, who authored legislation to place the project back on the ballot while a member of the state Senate, said the ruling would finally force the state government to recognize that the project bore no resemblance to the plan voters were promised.

“It's been clear for years that the California High Speed Rail Authority has little regard for the promises made to voters in 2008. After spending $600 million the Authority has nothing to show for it but a plan that violates the written bond measure that was passed,” said LaMalfa. "This ruling is a victory for voters and a reminder that California's goverment must abide by its own laws, regardless of what some politicians think.”

While voters were promised a system connecting Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego for about $34 billion, the Authority's plan costs over twice as much and would reach from near San Francisco to near Los Angeles. Despite being promised a one-seat ride, Californians would need to transfer to local mass transit to actually reach those cities.

"The ruling halts state spending and most federal funds can't be spent without matching funds from the state, meaning the project is dead in the water," LaMalfa added."I'll be working in Washington to ensure that the unspent federal funding is redirected to more useful purposes, which at this point would be literally almost anything else.”

Redding forum to discuss state water issues

Assemblyman Brian Dahle will discuss California water issues during a forum in Redding next Wednesday afternoon.

Dahle, a third-generation Lassen County farmer who serves on the lower chamber's Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, will address regional water issues and what he calls a looming statewide water crisis. He will also discuss an Assembly water bond proposal.

The meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers, 1450 Court St.

For information, call (916) 319-2001.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving meals a bit cheaper this year

Americans won't have to spend quite as much as last year for their Thanksgiving feasts, according to a survey.

From the Fresno County Farm Bureau:
The American Farm Bureau Federation's 28th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year's feast for 10 people is $49.04, a 44-cent price decrease from last year's average of $49.48.

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

The big ticket item - a 16-pound turkey - came in at $21.76 this year. That was roughly $1.36 per pound, a decrease of about 3 cents per pound, or a total of 47 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2012. The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price decrease compared to last year.

By nature of the supply-and-demand markets that most farm commodities operate in, farmers end-up being price-takers, not price-setters. The prices farmers or ranchers receive depend on the market conditions the day they harvest/market their crops or livestock. Since it's driven mostly by supply-and-demand, it rarely takes into account increased input costs. Purchases of fuel and energy, water and irrigation costs, fertilizers and agricultural chemicals, insurance and taxes, equipment and repairs, environmental compliance, new technology, seed and feed for livestock are all production costs that are absorbed by whatever the farmer or rancher receives.

As in the past, Americans will enjoy foods during their Thanksgiving Day celebrations that possibly originated on a Fresno County farm or ranch. "Central Valley residents have the benefit of living close to the most productive farmland in the world," said FCFB CEO/Executive Director Ryan Jacobsen. "A diverse variety of wholesome, fresh food is available to us that's locally grown and highly sought after by the rest of the country and world. Nothing beats produce from our region," he added.

In fact, the star of the Thanksgiving meal - the turkey - is part of one of Fresno County's top 10 crops (poultry). In 2012, Fresno County had approximately 3.5 million turkeys in production, weighing in at more than 97.4 million pounds of live weight. During the same year, poultry - including turkeys - was Fresno County's number three crop, valued at more than $728.5 million, according to the Fresno County Department of Agriculture 2012 Agricultural Crop and Livestock Report.
The photo is courtesy of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wolf delisting plan elicits cheers, protests

A federal proposal to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List elicited emotional responses from speakers on both sides of the issue during a public hearing in Sacramento this evening, as some 400 people packed a hotel ballroom to voice their views.

Beforehand, about 100 wolf advocates gathered for a rally outside the Marriott Courtyard Cal Expo, where the meeting was held.

In the photos, from the top: Timothy and Sameena Crofton of Fremont hold a sign during the rally; others hold signs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials (from left) Mike Jimenez and Gary Frazer listen as hearing officer Mike Chapel speaks; audience members listen intently to a speaker; and Beverly Williams of Merced holds up signs favoring the delisting.

As could be expected when you hold a meeting like this so close to the Bay Area, a majority of speakers opposed removing protections for the wolf, and moderator Chapel had to ask them several times to stop cheering each other on and jeering those who voiced the opposite view. But there were numerous supporters of the delisting proposal, including Siskiyou County Resource Conservation District president Scott Murphy.

"I've been involved in agriculture and producing food for you for 36 years," Murphy said. "As a livestock producer, I'm concerned about the impact that wolves would have on my livestock should they come to California."

The federal officials made the case that wolves had recovered to the point that they no longer need protection.

For my full coverage of this meeting and this issue, check soon.