Friday, January 30, 2015

Nielsen: Prison cap no cause for celebration

From the office of Northern California state Sen. Jim Nielsen:
California’s prison system hit a milestone at midnight, with new figures showing Thursday that the current inmate population inside the state’s 34 adult prisons has fallen below a court-ordered cap as reported by the Sacramento Bee. Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) issued the following statement:

“There is little cause for celebration. This threshold has been met at the expense of our families’ safety and security.

“This is not an accomplishment; it is the product of releasing felons before they complete their terms including an agreement between the courts and the Brown Administration to increase credits and release second strikers early.

“Without sufficient rehabilitation, releasing a convicted person into society is a disservice to the individual and harmful to our communities.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Scant precip, warm temps make for weak snowpack

As expected, the California Department of Water Resources found very little in the way of snow today when officials conducted their second manual snow survey of the season.

From the DWR:
The absence of precipitation in January, normally California’s wettest month, has combined with warmer-than-average temperatures to produce a dismally meager snowpack for a drought-stricken state.

Today’s second manual snow survey of the season found a snow water equivalent of just 2.3 inches in the scant snowpack near Echo summit approximately 90 miles east of Sacramento. That is just 12 percent of the long-term average for this time of year at that particular snow course. Statewide, the snow water equivalent as measured by more than 100 sensors was 4 inches today, or 25 percent of the historical average. That’s down from December 30 when DWR conducted the winter’s first manual survey; the statewide snow water equivalent was 50 percent of that date’s long-term average.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has measured the winter snowpack’s water content for decades. In normal years, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer. The greater the snowpack water content, the greater the likelihood California’s reservoirs will receive ample runoff to meet the state’s water demand in the summer and fall.

Unfortunately, today’s manual snow survey makes it likely that California’s drought will run through a fourth consecutive year. DWR managers said heavy precipitation and cooler temperatures in the next three months would be required for the snowpack to build and give Californians hope for beginning to recover from drought this year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January rainfall (or lack thereof) by the numbers

A winter that was ushered in with copious amounts of rainfall in Northern California has given way to another record-setting dry spell. A stubborn high-pressure ridge that stymied rainfall in past winters is back for a repeat performance, sending approaching storms on a detour through the Pacific Northwest.

Here are the monthly and seasonal rainfall totals and comparisons to normal for selected California cities, according to the National Weather Service.

*Redding: Month to date 0.26 inches (normal 5.06 inches); season to date 16.51 inches (normal 17.91 inches)
*Eureka: Month to date 1.36 inches (normal 5.54 inches); season to date 22.87 inches (normal 22.59 inches)
*Sacramento airport: Month to date trace inches (normal 3.04 inches); season to date 10.38 inches (normal 9.32 inches)
*Modesto: Month to date 0 inches (normal 2.17 inches); season to date 7.4 inches (normal 6.25 inches)
*Salinas: Month to date 0.01 inches (normal 2.16 inches); season to date 8.11 inches (normal 6.27 inches)
*Fresno: Month to date trace inches (normal 1.83 inches); season to date 3.19 inches (normal 5.3 inches)

Before today, Red Bluff had seen 0.04 inches of precipitation this month, a little above the trace amounts it received in January 2007.

For my complete story, check soon.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New front emerges in battle over COOL

The epic fight over mandatory country-of-origin labeling of meat has been fought in the legal, political and diplomatic arenas for several years. Now, proponents of the law have taken the battle to the academic arena as well.

I just got off a conference call with Auburn University ag economist Robert Taylor, whose new study asserts the economic losses suffered by the Canadian and Mexican cattle industries as a direct result of COOL appear negligible. From a National FArmers Union press release:
[A]fter close examination of more robust data sources to assess the impact of COOL on market access, the study found:

--COOL has not had a significant negative effect on the price paid for imported slaughter cattle relative to comparable domestic cattle. In fact, the fed cattle price basis declined after the law went into effect. “The price basis is lower in the six years since implementation of COOL than it was the preceding four years,” the study notes;

--COOL did not negatively impact imports of slaughter cattle. “Qualitative and econometric analysis of Mandatory Price Reporting (MPR) and monthly trade and price data cast considerable doubt on assertions that COOL negatively affected imports of slaughter cattle,” says the study. Failure to recognize the effects of imported and domestic captive supplies of slaughter cattle and beef demand uncertainty, along with other factors, played a larger role in reduced import demand than acknowledged in previous studies.

--COOL did not significantly affect imports of feeder cattle. “USDA monthly data on imports of 400-700 lb. cattle did not show COOL having a significant negative effect of imports of feeder cattle from either Canada or Mexico relative to placements in U.S. feedlots,” the study points out.
Taylor's study is at odds with the Canadian government's contention the law has cost producers north of the border close to $1 billion a year. That figure is based on research by UC-Davis ag economist Dan Sumner. As I reported in November:
The problem, Sumner explained, is that American feedlots and processors must separate streams of cattle from different countries and keep track of them all. That has limited access for cattle from Canada and Mexico, as many slaughterhouses stopped accepting foreign cattle or paid a lower premium for them to offset their added costs, he said.
Taylor said his data is based on detailed mandatory price reporting by meatpackers to the Agricultural Marketing Service, while Sumner relied on private Canadian cattle industry data.

I'll be reaching out to Sumner and to the U.S. Trade Representative's office for reactions. Watch for my story at

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

LaMalfa: Obama 'missed opportunity' in SOTU

President Obama missed an opportunity to reach out to the new Republican leadership in Congress and instead kept pandering to the hard left in his State of the Union speech, the north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa said afterward.

Here is LaMalfa's response:
This evening, the President missed an opportunity to set the tone for this new Congress to start working together across party lines to advance meaningful reforms and the solutions our country so desperately needs. Instead, we heard the same empty rhetoric that appeals exclusively to one side of the aisle to advance the exact agenda Americans voted against last November: more spending, more taxes, and more government control.

These failed and outdated policies will not solve our $18 trillion debt or encourage our uncertain economy. America already has some of the highest capital gains tax rates in the world and last year had the largest tax revenues in our history. Despite some lukewarm improvements in employment, we have a lower percentage of people working than in the Carter administration. Raising Americans’ taxes will only move investment overseas where taxes are lower and inhibit domestic job growth.

Everyone agrees we need tax reform to make taxes simpler, easier, and equitable. However, instead of working with Republicans to enact responsible, comprehensive tax reform that helps all Americans, the President proposed tax hikes that will simply pay for more spending out of Washington.

I agree that our higher education system faces significant and systemic challenges, particularly skyrocketing costs that limit access and the increasing student debt too many are facing. However, the President’s plan to provide two years of free community college fails to address the root of these problems, the growth of non-teaching administrative staff which divert resources from the classroom and inflate the costs of college.

In one breath the President speaks of making college more affordable for average Americans, yet in the next he announces new taxes on the savings middle income families have set aside pay for college.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Humane Society on rising egg prices: Relax

The Humane Society of the United States' reaction to fretting over the sharply escalating price of eggs in California reminds of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' admonition to fans after a 1-2 start. R-E-L-A-X.

From Paul Shapiro, the HSUS' vice president of farm animal protection, in an email statement forwarded to me today by his PR staff:
“Egg prices always fluctuate during the year, and always rise in winter. Egg producer Cal-Maine notes, “wholesale shell egg market prices … fluctuate widely and are outside of our control.” Egg prices go up and down based on energy costs, feed prices, and other variables. Prices for all animal products have increased this year due to high grain prices. Egg prices have increased less than prices for beef and pork, and remain one of the least expensive animal products in the marketplace.

“After Europe brought in animal welfare reforms in 2012, egg prices initially rose, only to fall a year later. If egg prices rise in California, it will be because many egg producers failed to use the six year phase-in period to prepare for the law, and prices will subsequently fall as they did in Europe as supply adjusts to demand and as egg prices fluctuate as they normally would.”
Meanwhile, the United Egg Producers cooperative, which represents more than 90 percent of egg producers in the United States, isn't saying anything. From their spokeswoman, Hinda Mitchell:
Tim, there were a number of possible scenarios that could have resulted from the California regulations, just as there are a number of possible scenarios that could be impacting prices, so we're not going to be able to speculate on what is occurring in the market, as market and pricing are not areas UEP addresses.
Attention farm groups: If you're going to let HSUS get out in front of you on issues such as this, you can't complain that their activities are hurting your image.

My story is in my editors' hands and should be up at soon.

Monday, January 19, 2015

California egg prices to rise 90 cents a dozen

California consumers could be paying as much as 90 cents a dozen more for eggs by next week, according to a USDA market report that was posted at today.

Prices right now are ranging about $2.20 to $2.60 a dozen, depending on the type, so a 90-cent increase would be steep.

Egg price hikes have been anticipated as California's Proposition 2 in 2008 was set to take effect Jan. 1. As the Capital Press' Dan Wheat has reported, Chad Gregory of United Egg Producers has predicted the larger-cage requirements could cause an egg shortage. From what I gather, many California growers are complying with the new standards by raising fewer chickens in existing cage facilities. The number of egg-laying chickens in California has dropped by 23 percent in the last two years, according to NASS. Fewer chickens means fewer eggs and higher prices.

Watch the Capital Press' website and this week's paper for my story.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ranchers face deadline for diesel trucks

Cattle producers have until Jan. 31 to seek agricultural exemptions from certain state air-quality restrictions on diesel trucks.

The California Air Resources Board last year adopted a provision that effectively exempts trucks used exclusively to haul livestock from the statewide diesel truck and bus regulation until Jan. 1, 2023, the California Cattlemen's Association advises in a newsletter.

Under the provisions, cattle trucks used on a not-for-hire basis can be used all year long without mileage restrictions, and for-hire cattle trucks can go without mileage restrictions during the spring and fall cattle runs, the CCA explains.

Ranchers have until Jan. 31 to put their trucks in the state's database. Owners of cattle trucks wishing to obtain the exemptions can report online using the ARB's TRUCRS database here.

For questions about the database, call the ARB at (866) 634.3735.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ranchers GRAPple with regs at Redding meeting

Dozens of north state ranchers and local leaders told state water board officials today that their plan to regulate livestock grazing is unnecessary.

Ranchers complained that the State Water Resources Control Board effort to impose rules governing grazing near streams lacks any scientific finding that the practice has been responsible for polluting streams. They said the agency's process for developing its Grazing Regulatory Action Project is flawed, that the board isn't gathering enough input from affected ranchers and is ignoring all the measures take to keep water clean and keep their animals away from streams.

This morning's meeting drew a packed house to the Redding City Council chambers, and state officials planned another meeting for this afternoon to handle the overflow crowd. The information-gathering "listening session" was one of three around the state that were planned for this month. A similar gathering was held last week in San Luis Obispo and another meeting is planned later in the month in bishop.

In the photos, from the top: Ben Letton (left) of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in Redding talks with Kirk Wilbur of the California Cattlemen's Association before the meeting; A big crowd stands in line to sign in after having to RSVP to attend the meeting; Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko (right) talks with Rick Roberti of the Sierra Valley Resource Conservation District; and (from left) Vicky Whitney, the water board's deputy director for water quality, makes a presentation as Esther Tracy of the water board and Matt St. John of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board listen.

What was Bosenko doing there? He essentially told the regulators to focus on the water pollution from illegal marijuana grows and leave the farmers and ranchers alone.

My complete story on this issue will be up at soon.

State, feds to unveil latest drought strategies today

State and federal water managers and wildlife agencies are doing a media call today to give updates on the drought and their efforts to balance demands. The call will include officials from the state departments of Water Resources and Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board as well as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service.

I'll be attending this morning's state water board meeting on proposed grazing regulations, but I should be back in time for this afternoon's call. The call comes as the federal Climate Prediction Center is still bullish on the prospect of a wet winter, but the center's 14-day outlook calls for a whole lot of dry.

Keep an eye here and at for updates on what the water and wildlife gatekeepers say -- and do.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

State puts controls on soil fumigant chloropicrin

California's Department of Pesticide Regulation has put new regulations on the use of chloropicrin, a soil fumigant used by the almond and other industries.

From the department:
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has announced new rules for the use of the pesticide chloropicrin, providing enhanced protections for people who work and live near fields treated with the fumigant.

Chloropicrin is injected into the soil to control pests which threaten a variety of crops including strawberries, raspberries, almonds, tomatoes, peppers, and melons. The fumigant is used in many counties including Ventura, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Joaquin, and Fresno.

“Once again California is ensuring that the communities where we produce and grow food, are protected from harm,” said DPR Director Brian Leahy. “These new measures are an additional safeguard for nearby residents. Our regulatory program is the most stringent in the nation and sets an example for other states to follow.” [...]

Under state law, chloropicrin is a restricted material that can only be used by trained licensed professionals. They can only apply it in compliance with restrictions specified in a permit that is issued by a local county agricultural commissioner. These conditions are designed to protect against excessive exposure to chloropicrin which can cause eye or respiratory irritation.

Overall, the new restrictions, announced by DPR, are more protective than those at the federal level which went into effect in 2012. DPR devised these restrictions after extensive public outreach and comment in 2013.
Even people in ag circles have told me chloropicrin can be nasty stuff. I have calls out to groups such as the California Strawberry Commission to seek their reaction.

Watch for my story.

Gallup chief: American economy still in death spiral

While some media outlets continue to prattle on about the "booming economy," the truth is that American free enterprise is dying.

So observes Jim Clifton, the chairman and CEO of Gallup.

From Breitbart News:
In a stunning Tuesday report, Gallup CEO and Chairman Jim Clifton revealed that “for the first time in 35 years, American business deaths now outnumber business births.”

Clifton says for the past six years since 2008, employer business startups have fallen below the business failure rate, spurring what he calls “an underground earthquake” that only stands to worsen as lagging U.S. Census data becomes available.

“Let’s get one thing clear: This economy is never truly coming back unless we reverse the birth and death trends of American businesses,” writes Clifton.

Indeed, the numbers are striking. Contrary to the oft-cited 26 million businesses in America figure, Clifton says 20 million of these so-called “businesses” are merely companies on paper with zero workers, profits, customers, or sales. In reality, America has just 6 million businesses with one or more employers–3.8 million of which have four or fewer employees. In total, these 6 million U.S. companies provide jobs for more than 100 million people in America.
Hmmm -- first time in 35 years. Wonder what happened 35 years ago. Oh yeah, that's right.

Jefferson activists to rally at state Capitol

With leaders from two more counties having signaled their support for a State of Jefferson, advocates will hold a rally at the state Capitol tomorrow and present statehood proclamations to legislators.

From the committee via Liz Bowen at Pie N Politics:
The State of Jefferson project is gaining steam as the Jefferson Declaration Committee will present two more Declarations for withdrawal from the State of California on Jan. 15, 2015.

“We are closer to making Jefferson a reality than ever before,” said Mark Baird, spokesman for the Declaration Committee. “We are thrilled to present Declarations from two more county boards of supervisors. Glenn County and Yuba County agree that it is time to restore equal representation.”

Supporters of the State of Jefferson will rally from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the West Steps of the California Capitol as committee members present Glenn and Yuba County Declarations for withdrawal from California to the Secretary of State and both houses of the state legislature.

Both county boards of supervisors approved the decision for withdrawal during 2014. Glenn Co. Supervisors approved the Declaration with a 5-0 vote and in Yuba Co. the supervisors voted 3-1 in favor of splitting from California.

Glenn and Yuba join Siskiyou and Modoc County Boards of Supervisors, who approved the Declaration in 2013. Siskiyou and Modoc Declarations for withdrawal were presented to the State on Aug. 28, 2014 by the Jefferson Committee and Jefferson supporters.
For more on this, click here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Entrants down slightly at Red Bluff Bull Sale

Entrants are down slightly at this year's Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale, to be held Jan. 27-31 at the Tehama District Fair grounds. In all, there are 310 bulls, 84 horses and 20 dogs entered, manager Adam Owens tells me. Last year 318 bulls were auctioned off, and that was after no-shows and sifting whittled the numbers. That fewer animals are available for sale is no surprise considering the drought has pushed down cattle numbers in California, but ranchers were also getting good prices for bulls in the fall, creating a scarcity of bulls for sale now, Owens said.

The full schedule of events is here. My advance story on bull sale week will appear at soon.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rain to return to Redding area this weekend

Rain appears poised to finally return to Shasta County on Friday night and Saturday and extend further south by Sunday, though it probably won't go further than the Interstate 80 corridor.

From the National Weather Service in Sacramento:
The persistent ridge to the start of 2015 will temporarily weaken as a Pacific weather system moves inland. Although earlier model runs indicated precipitation extending well into the central part of CA, the models are trending farther north, keeping most of the precipitation north of Interstate 80. The forecast precipitation graphics would suggest most of the precipitation would occur along the northern CA coast and the Pacific NW. [...] Few impacts are expected in interior northern CA over the weekend, with mainly dry weather and no impacts for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday on Monday.

Grazing regulations the focus of Redding meeting

The State Water Resources Control Board will hold a meeting in Redding on Jan. 15 to gather input on its Grazing Regulatory Action Plan, which seeks measures to prevent livestock grazing from polluting surface water or groundwater.

The meeting is slated for 9 a.m. in the council chambers at Redding's City Hall, 777 Cypress Ave. An RSVP is requested.

From the water board's website:
GRAP aims to facilitate efficiency and statewide consistency in developing and implementing strategies to meet its goal, while at the same time accounting for regional differences in hydrology, topography, climate and land use. The GRAP process will consider a wide range of alternatives to ensure that grazing has minimal negative impacts on water quality. A cornerstone of the GRAP will be thoughtful consideration of the costs of compliance to the regulated grazing community.

The participation of interested stakeholders throughout the development of the GRAP is necessary to its success. As an initial step, in November and December 2014, the Water Boards engaged stakeholder groups in Focus Listening Sessions (FLSs) to solicit comments early in this process before beginning to develop the GRAP. The FLSs were the first of many opportunities for stakeholder participation. The next opportunity for participation is the Regional Stakeholder Meetings scheduled for January 2015 in San Luis Obispo (1/9), Redding (1/15) and Bishop (1/28). The purpose of the Regional Stakeholder Meetings is to share the comments from the FLSs and gather feedback on the FLS comments and on GRAP. To RSVP and learn more about the meetings, please see the Notice of Regional Stakeholder Meetings.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cattlemen hold dinner, auction in Red Bluff

Tonight my wife and I attended the annual Tehama County Cattlemen's Winter Dinner and auction in Red Bluff, where I met up with Billy Flournoy (pictured in the black hat), a Likely, Calif., rancher and the new president of the California Cattlemen's Association.

Billy says he'll be a low-key group leader without a big soap box, as the CCA deals with issues that mostly center around preserving grazing rights for California cattle producers.

The third photo is of the meal that was served to me tonight, which was quite delicious. So there, Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

For my story about Billy and his priorities for the coming year, check early next week.

Friday, January 9, 2015

One tea party activist's case for re-electing Boehner

I’ve been meaning to make an attempt to write this whole thing down because a lot of people want more information on what we have been watching with the budget bill and the speaker’s vote. Here’s what I have so far and I’m sorry it’s so long but these issues are very connected and have a lot of moving parts. I hope this at least shows that things are not always what they appear at first glance. At least I hope this helps you begin to puzzle this together. Feel free to call if you have questions.

About the vote for House leadership:

The vote happened in November after the election. Each party elected their leadership teams. That’s why you didn’t see the Majority Leader and Whip elections on Tuesday – they already took place in their conference meeting back in November . It happens after every election when the new guys are back there at orientation getting their stuff squared away before the term begins. At that time with a clear Republican majority in the House ALL of the Republicans voted for John Boehner to lead as speaker in this term. It was an UNOPPOSED vote. He didn't just get 100%. No one else ran for the job!

For those who thought just 1 more vote would have changed everything you might want to read about the process. Here’s an article that isn’t too much detail but makes it clear that Boehner could have lost more votes and still won the seat. It is important to know that all members of the House know that you have to run for the speaker’s set – showing up at the last minute and raising your hand just doesn’t cut it. If you want the job then you have to let the rest of your colleagues know you are running with enough time for them to compare your battle plan to that of the others who are running. The only one who campaigned and had a plan to review was John Boehner. Think for a minute about this. Each one of them had just won a MAJOR campaign for federal office. Not one person who voted for John Boehner last November was confused about how to run a campaign and yet not one person stood up and challenged the speaker for his job. Public pressure doesn’t create a great replacement and it obviously didn’t move other members of congress to seriously take up the gauntlet.

A day or so prior to the official vote a few guys throw their hat in the ring? Really? Were they serious about the job? Of course not. If they were they would have told the others to vote for them sometime between November and the January 6th. The drama wasn't real and anyone who buys any of that is being played. The speaker's job isn't a popularity contest with the public. It's the leader of the House and they have to know what they are doing. No one else wanted the job and/or didn't know enough to actually run for it (making them unqualified at the very least) so Boehner was the only person most felt was qualified. That is why he won.

If they all voted for different people and got below the Dems threshold we would have Nancy Pelosi in the chair again. THAT'S why you don't mess around with the vote at the 11th hour. Even Trey Gowdy said if he wasn't stuck in a snow storm he would have voted for Boehner. Is he now a RINO? This is a high-stakes deal back there with Obama at the helm and now is not the time to elect someone who can't figure out how to even run for the position. If you can't campaign for speaker then how can you lead the House? I suppose the public can continue to fret about it and the media can continue to drive the wedge and in 2016 we can welcome Hillary back to the White House. There is no perfection written into our constitution. It’s checks and balances at every turn. This was a balance vote I guess. We can’t self-destruct a new majority because people want someone to be the speaker when nobody wanted the job. Remember, the media doesn’t have Nancy and Harry to pick on anymore so it’s going to be “nitpick who is not conservative enough” so the division is wide enough to ensure a swing back to the left. We can avoid that if choose not to play.

Regarding the Omnibus Spending Bill that passed December 11, 2014:

It was a compilation of 11 appropriations bills that went through House committees, passed the House and have been sitting in Harry Reid’s dusty desk drawer all year. The idea that no one read the bill when they had already voted on most of it in appropriations was not true.

Congressman LaMalfa ultimately voted against the bill because he felt on majority there were things he could not support. That said, the bill did pass. Since the bill is now a done deal it might be interesting to note that there was some good stuff in those appropriations bills. Here are some highlights of things you might like. The detailed version is attached to this email.

· There was NO new funding for Obamacare (So much for Congressman Gomert’s claims that Boehner gave away the farm and funded Obamacare)

· Prevented a taxpayer bailout of the Obamacare Risk Corridor program

· Required the Inspectors General at Health and Human Services and Treasury to report to Congress on improper payments of Obamacare tax subsidies


o Side note: This was a CUT to Obamacare. If the bill would have failed then Obamacare would have continued at the same level. This bill did not help Obamacare or give it more money as you’ve probably been told.

· Prevents Army Corps from regulating farm ponds and irrigation ditches under the Clean Water Act

· Stops Fish & Wildlife Service from issuing new rules placing sage-grouse on the Endangered Species List

· Maintains all existing pro-life policy and funding provisions plus three new provisions

· Prohibits implementation of an Arms Trade Treaty

· Prohibits funds from being used to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S.

· Prohibits construction or acquisition of a facility in the US to house detainees

· $554Billion for Defense (Dems wanted big cuts here) Check the many details on the attached document

· Prohibits funding to acquire, store, or monitor the electronic communications of a US person from a public service provider

· Restricts funds for Pakistan until stringent requirements and certifications are met

· Slashes funding for the IRS by $345 Million (below FY2014 and $1.5Billion below what the IRS requested)

· Cuts funding for EQP for the 5th consecutive year (they have been reduced 21% since FY2010)

· Rejects a White House proposal for $66Million in new expanded EPA regulatory programs

· Prohibits the EPA from regulating the lead content in ammunition or fishing tackle

Let’s also close the loop on the accusation that Boehner gave Obama the funding for his amnesty plan:

· Obama’s amnesty speech was November 20, 2014

· To my knowledge the executive order that Obama outlined in his speech was not published prior to the passage of the Omnibus budget bill. How do you defund an executive order that exists only in speech form?

· The Omnibus bill did include the passage of funding for DHS … but ONLY through February 27, 2015 (the rest of the bill funds the government through Sept 2015). This gives the Congress time to convene and put together a comprehensive appropriation for DHS in the first 2 months of the session and vote on it. Appropriation funding means that they can determine the spending level in addition to restricting the use of those funds. THAT is the power of the purse in action. It’s not all about the total a department gets but rather the limitations on how that money may be used. Had the Omnibus bill not passed it would have led to a showdown resulting in an all too familiar “CR” or Continuing Resolution which is just a giant blank check to fund the government with the details determined by the President.

The idea that the Omnibus funded “Obama’s Agenda” is sort of skewed. A bevy of taxes fund Obamacare every day. No speaker of the house could have stopped that funding. The Amnesty executive order wasn’t funded in the Omnibus either. DHS was given a very short leash and you can be sure with Republican majority in House and Senate the appropriation for them will be a lot smaller than it would have been under Harry Reid’s watch.

In the end, it’s a lot of mumbo jumbo for people and it’s easier to just go with the headlines or the emails from activist groups. The problem is that without getting the whole story you wind up knowing that the media lies to us and believing everything they say. Going forward I plan to “trust but verify” when I get information. Hopefully, this gives you a place to start verifying things. If you find I’ve misstated anything please let me know and if you have questions I’m always up for a call or an email. I do my best to learn as I go and get that information to as many people as possible so we can figure this out without losing our minds. Thank goodness for Excedrin!

[Erin Ryan was a coordinator of the Redding Tea Party and is a field representative for Rep. Doug LaMalfa. She is shown in the photo, seated third from left.]

Cattle groups to hold annual Red Bluff dinner

The Tehama County Cattlemen and CattleWomen will hold their 63rd annual Winter Dinner and Scholarship Auction beginning at 6 p.m. tomorrow night at the Red Bluff fairgrounds. The Daily News offers details.

I'll be meeting up with Billy Flournoy, a Modoc County rancher who is the California Cattlemen's Association's new president, to talk about the group's priorities in the coming year.

My wife and I always enjoy the dinner and auction as a way to start the year, and it's fun to see how much people will bid for that shotgun or even that jar of peanut brittle.

See you all there.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Farm groups call for end to Cuba trade embargo

The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Chicken Council and other major farm groups are calling for an end to the trade embargo with Cuba. From the NCC:
Prominent U.S. food and agriculture associations and companies announced the formation of a coalition that seeks to advance trade relations between the United States and Cuba by ending the embargo policy. The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) is supported by more than 30 agricultural organizations and companies committed to and united around the opportunity presented by a deeper U.S.-Cuba relationship.

“The historic policy changes announced by the President will take steps to make American farm and products more price competitive, which will expand choices for Cuban shoppers at the grocery store and create a new customer base for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The President and this Administration look forward to engaging in an honest and serious debate about next steps in Cuba, and I have no doubt that the USACC will have an important role to play as these conversations continue and we expand our relationship with the Cuban people in the coming years.”

The purpose of the USACC is to expand Cuba as a market for U.S. food and agriculture exports and address liberalizing trade between the United States and Cuba. The coalition will work to end the embargo and allow for open trade and investment.

“Changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba can support economic growth and well-being in both countries,” said Devry Boughner Vorwerk, Cargill Vice President and Chair of the USACC. “Improvements in Cuba market access allows for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food companies to serve a nearby market and the Cuban people gain improved access to healthy and affordable food and feed.”
Members of this coalition represent a veritable who's-who list for agriculture. They are: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, Illinois Cuba Working Group, Illinois Soybean Growers, Illinois Farm Bureau, International Dairy Foods Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Grain and Feed Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Sorghum Producers, National Turkey Federation, North American Export Grain Association, North American Meat Institute, Soyfoods Association of North America, US Canola Association, US Dairy Export Council, US Dry Bean Council, US Soybean Export Council, US Wheat Associates, USA Rice Federation, Smithfield Foods, Chicago Foods International, Cargill and CoBank.

We are following up. Look for our story at in the coming days.

Case of bird flu discovered in Butte County

Don Jenkins, a fellow Record Searchlight alum who is the Capital Press' newest field reporter based in Olympia, Wash., has broken the story of the discovery of a "highly pathogenic" avian influenza in a wild duck shot by a hunter in Butte County.

His story is here.

More California citrus to be shipped to China?

China's misfortune may be California's gain, at least when it comes to the prospects of citrus growers in the two places. As the California Farm Bureau Federation explains:
Citrus disease in China could lead to additional demand for California-grown fruit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that Chinese orange production will drop 10 percent this year, because of a plant disease known as citrus greening. At the same time, demand for fresh fruit in China continues to increase. As a result, USDA says it expects China to import more oranges and other citrus fruit.
Of course, this comes after China kept California citrus fruit out last season because of a fungal disease that showed up on a few shipments, so perhaps you can chalk this up to a case of "You reap what you sow."

California citrus fruit registered about $28 million in sales in the 2012-2013 season -- the last season that fruit from the Golden State was allowed in. Bob Blakely of California Citrus Mutual tells me he expects the industry to top that this year.

For my story on this, check soon.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

UC nutrition expert on MyPlate: Just add water

A University of California nutrition expert wants the federal government to advise people to include a glass of water in their balanced meals.

Jeannette Warnert of the UC writes:
The brightly colored divided plate that lays out the USDA's model for healthy eating needs one little tweak, says the director of the UC Nutrition Policy Institute Lorrene Ritchie. Don't take anything away, but add H20.
Ritchie has joined with dozens of nutrition and health professionals around the country to ask that the USDA put water onto MyPlate.

“We don't have all the answers to overcoming obesity, but the research on sugar-sweetened beverages is very clear,” Ritchie said. “When you drink beverages like soda, sports drinks or punch, the sugar gets absorbed very rapidly and the body doesn't recognize the calories. The result is excess calories and weight gain.”

The USDA introduced MyPlate in 2011 to reflect the message of its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Federal law requires that the guidelines be reviewed, updated and published every five years.

Reality and the passage of Time

Time magazine has a new app on Roku, a device that streams online content to your television. And you just have to love how they describe their own "channel".

"With 24/7 reporting from around the world, TIME puts the global news of the moment into context -- shaping the conversation and illuminating events in its own distinct style. ..."

Translation: We're a bunch of agenda-driven hacks and everyone knows it, and that's why our readership has been in decline for the past 20 years. We couldn't ever sell a 24/7 to the cable carriers, so we slapped a bunch of YouTube videos on a Roku app and called it a "channel" so we could generate as much attention as we can while we're still in business.

If the number of people who take the time to rate apps is any indication, Time doesn't appear to be getting all that many takers. It has 140 ratings, whereas new apps for cable channels Nat Geo and FX have 425 and 577, respectively.

Farm groups have high hopes for new Congress

Farm groups hope the new Republican-led Congress can make some progress in the areas of water policy, immigration and other needs, the California Farm Bureau Federation reports.

From the group's Food and Farm News:
As the new Congress convenes, California farm groups say they will renew their efforts to pursue key issues at the federal level. A California Farm Bureau policy specialist says farmers want Congress to address issues such as water, immigration reform, taxes and foreign trade. Because Republicans now control both houses of Congress, farm groups say they expect more bills to pass but increased tension between Congress and the administration.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Shasta Lake level improving, but still low

Runoff from the December rains is still filling Shasta Lake and other major California reservoirs, enabling them to slowly rise from their historically low levels this fall.

Shasta Lake, for instance, has improved from just 24 percent of capacity in late October to 42 percent of capacity as of last night.

Here are the percentages of total capacity and average for this time of year for major California reservoirs, according to the state Department of Water Resources' California Data Exchange Center. Totals are as of Jan. 5.
Trinity Lake: 34 percent of capacity; 50 percent of average
Shasta Lake: 42 percent; 66 percent
Lake Oroville: 39 percent; 62 percent
Folsom Lake: 45 percent; 91 percent
New Melones: 23 percent; 40 percent
Don Pedro: 39 percent; 59 percent
Exchequer: 7 percent; 16 percent
San Luis: 43 percent; 62 percent
Millerton Lake: 35 percent; 64 percent
Pine Flat: 13 percent; 31 percent

Unfortunately, the break we've been taking from the rain will last at least another week, according to the National Weather Service. Too much more of this and we'll run the risk of giving back the gains we made against the drought in the fall, weather observers warn. AccuWeather calls for the next precip-producing storm to arrive in the Redding area a week from Friday. The Climate Prediction Center's three-month outlook for Northern California is still warm and wet.

Predicting how much water will be available in reservoirs in the spring and summer will be key for water agencies in determining allocations for the coming year. Growers could be in for a rude awakening this spring if we've gotten more rain than normal in the valley but not much snow -- a prospect one state water official calls "a public relations nightmare." For more on that, look for my story at soon.

National Bean Day highlights $30 million industry

Did you know it was National Bean Day? The University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources has the scoop.
The Golden State leads the nation in many things, but did you know that California farmers supply virtually all of our country's dry lima beans?

California farmers grew about 23,000 acres of baby and large limas with a value of about $30 million in 2012, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

"While that's not a lot compared to some crops in our state, it's significant because California growers produce 60 to 80 percent of the world's market of dry limas," said Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor.

The primary export market for California baby lima beans is Japan, where they are used to make Japanese confections, such as sweet bean filling for manju.
Read more of Pamela Kan-Rice's blog post here.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Citrus crop holds steady amid cold

As a follow-up to last week's story on how the citrus industry is weathering the cold nights, orchards are still holding strong, according to California Citrus Mutual.

From the organization:
Overnight low temperatures are forecasted to moderate tonight and gradually rise for the remainder of the week. Six nights of critically cold weather kept growers busy protecting California's $2.4 billion citrus crop, over the extended New Year's weekend.

Citrus growers have run water and wind machines in their groves six to ten hours each night since December 31st, as temperatures bottomed out at 26 degrees in the coldest areas for short periods of time. Generally, the overnight low temperatures in unprotected areas fluctuated between 27 and 29 degrees for durations of one to eight hours throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley, where 65% of California's citrus acreage is located.

"Wind machines have been very effective in holding temperatures inside groves above critical levels, maintaining safe conditions and protecting both oranges and mandarins from damage," reports CCM Vice President Bob Blakely. The higher sugar content in the fruit this time of year results in a piece of fruit that can better protect itself. However, there could be some damage to exposed fruit on the outside borders beyond the range of the wind machines. There is no indication at the present time of significant damage to the remaining 75% of the navel crop, or the remaining 70% of the mandarin crop. "I do not expect to see any impact from this cold event on fruit supply or price," said Blakely.

Mandarin producers and lemon growers, on average, ran their equipment at least ten hours each night. Navel orange growers, depending on location, ran their equipment for six to eight hours. The citrus industry has spent over $16.5 million protecting the citrus crop over the past six nights.

Based on California agricultural statistics for the 2013/14 season the California citrus industry represents $2.4 billion in value with another $1.75 billion generated in economic value. The crop estimate for the 2014/15 navel orange season was 78 million cartons in the San Joaquin Valley and another 5 million cartons in Southern California. Approximately 25% of the orange crop has been harvested. Mandarin tonnage was estimated to be 50 million 5lb cartons this year and approximately 70% of the crop remains on the tree. The vast majority of lemon tonnage is in Ventura County and all of it remains on the tree. The San Joaquin Valley has an estimated 10 million carton lemon crop to be harvested with about 80% of that tonnage remaining on the tree. The entire lemon crop is estimated at approximately 45 million cartons.

A preliminary forecast by the CCM weather team for citrus production areas indicates a slightly warmer night tonight with shorter durations below freezing. Temperatures are expected to gradually warm over the next few days.