Wednesday, November 30, 2016

State water plan to boost requirements for ag suppliers

California's water agencies unveiled a water conservation plan today that would include new requirements for agricultural water suppliers to show their water use and describe their measures to increase efficiency.

Here is the news release from the Department of Water Resources:
Working to make water conservation a way of life, State agencies today released a draft plan for achieving long-term efficient water use and meeting drought preparedness goals that reflect California’s diverse climate, landscape, and demographic conditions.

“Californians rose to the challenge during this historic drought and recognized that conservation is critical in the face of an uncertain future. This plan is about harnessing the creativity and innovation that Californians have shown during the driest years in state history and making water conservation a way of life in the years ahead,” said California Department of Water Resources Director Mark W. Cowin. “This plan will help make permanent changes to water use so California is better prepared for whatever the future brings.”

The new plan’s fundamental premise is that efficient water use helps all of California better prepare for longer and more severe droughts caused by climate change.

California recently suffered the driest four years in state history, with only average rainfall last year, and 75 percent of the state remains in severe drought conditions. Meanwhile, a new report from UCLA projects that the Sierra Nevada snowpack — one of California’s largest sources of water supply — is likely to drop 50 percent by the end of the century due to climate change. Recognizing these risks and many others, today’s plan seeks permanent changes to water use that boost efficiency and prepare for more limited water supplies. These practices will help achieve a top priority in the Governor’s Water Action Plan - to “Make Conservation a California Way of Life.”

Today’s plan builds on the success of mandatory water restrictions during California’s severe drought and develops long-term water conservation measures that will ensure all communities have sufficient water supplies. This will involve activities such as ensuring farmers plan and prepare for severe drought and permanently banning wasteful practices like hosing off sidewalks and driveways.

“The last few years provided the wake-up call of all wake-up calls that water is precious and not to be taken for granted,” said Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “Californians rose to the occasion collectively during the drought. We can build on that success and now prepare for a more unpredictable and disruptive future marked by a changing climate – and do it equitably and cost effectively.”

Today’s plan represents a shift from statewide mandates to a set of conservation standards applied based on local circumstances, including population, temperature, leaks, and types of commercial and industrial use. For example, communities in hotter and drier climate zones will receive irrigation allowances that reflect evaporation levels.

Key water conservation efforts included in today’s plan include:
• Permanent bans on wasteful practices, such as hosing driveways and excessively watering lawns.
• Technical assistance and financial incentives for water suppliers to implement leak prevention, detection, and repair programs.
• Collecting information about innovative water conservation and water loss detection and control technologies.
• Requiring agricultural water suppliers to quantify water use in their service areas and describe measures to increase water use efficiency.
• Full compliance with water use targets for urban water suppliers by 2025.
• Planning and preparing for continued and future drought and water shortages.

Some of the actions described in the draft plan will require working with the Legislature on new and expanded State authority, while others can be implemented under existing authorities. All recommendations aim to achieve the main objectives of the Governor’s Executive Order B-37-16: use water more wisely, eliminate water waste, strengthen local drought resilience, and improve agricultural water use efficiency and drought planning.

In addition to taking action to implement this long-term water conservation plan, State agencies recognize the reality that most of California potentially faces a sixth year of historic drought. Therefore, in January the State Water Board will also consider whether it must extend its existing emergency water conservation regulations, as required by Governor Brown’s recent executive order. The State Water Board has already taken action to maintain mandatory reductions in communities that could not verify they have enough water supplies to withstand three more years of severe drought.

Today’s plan, Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life, Implementing Executive Order B-37-16,” is the result of extensive community and stakeholder engagement across California. The plan was prepared by the Department of Water Resources, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Public Utilities Commission, Department of Food and Agriculture and the Energy Commission. For more information on the development of the draft plan, visit http://www.water.ca.gov/wateruseefficiency/conservation/.

The State encourages the public to submit comments on today’s draft plan: “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life Implementing Executive Order B-37-16” Comments should be submitted to wue@water.ca.gov no later than December 19, 2016. Public comments will be posted at: http://www.water.ca.gov/wateruseefficiency/conservation/comments.cfm.
For more on the plan's potential impact on agriculture, check CapitalPress.com in the coming days.

Rural folks oppose flushing more water out to ocean

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
Farmers and rural residents told state water officials Tuesday they’re concerned about a proposal to dedicate more water to fishery flows in the lower San Joaquin River system. The State Water Resources Control Board held the first of five hearings in Sacramento on its plan to reserve more water for fish in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. Opponents urged the board to seek alternative solutions to help fish.

State contractors 'cautiously optimistic' about water year

From the State Water Contractors:
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced its initial 2017 water delivery projection, forecasting that 20 percent of contracted water supplies will be available to the water agencies that purchase water from the State Water Project (SWP). DWR’s initial allocation is estimated based on current storage levels, regulatory restrictions and anticipated streamflows. The percentage may go up or down depending on actual conditions this winter and spring.

Since October 1, the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains have seen two times the amount of snow and rainfall compared to average, rivaling the region’s wettest year in decades. But this record precipitation has not translated into a significant increase in stored water – runoff has largely skipped storage reservoirs, flowing into rivers and streams that go out to the San Francisco Bay. If California is to recover from record drought, it is imperative that regulators and water managers capture available supplies this winter to replenish the state’s reservoirs and prepare for another potential dry year.

“We are cautiously optimistic, but California can only pull itself out of drought if we are able to capture water during peak storm periods. How we fare in 2017 will depend on how water is managed, operated and regulated in the Delta. Last winter’s storms yielded little water for Californians – a painful missed opportunity for a state reeling from drought. With key reservoirs still depleted, and a potential sixth year of drought ahead, we can’t afford another season of lost water and missed opportunities.”
Terry Erlewine
General Manager
State Water Contractors

Redding police to hold quarterly town hall tonight

From the Redding Police Department:
Redding Police Chief Robert Paoletti will hold his quarterly Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 beginning at 6 p.m. at Redding City Hall, Council Chambers, 777 Cypress Avenue. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

Citizens, business members and community leaders are encouraged to attend. For those who are unable to attend in person, RPD will live stream the event live on the Redding Police Department Facebook page and it will remain available there for future viewing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

USDA report: Most crops free of pesticide residue

From the Alliance for Food and Farming:
Today the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its latest Pesticide Data Program (PDP) report based upon 2015 data. As in previous years, the report shows that farmers of fruits and vegetables are doing an impressive job of complying with the stringent laws and regulations governing the use of pesticides in organic and conventional production. The findings show that 99% of samples tested had residues well below the Environmental Protection Agency tolerances. The 2015 results are quite similar to the findings from previous years.

Further, according to the USDA, the new results show that residues "do not pose risk to consumers' health" and "pesticide residues pose no risk of concern for infants and children."

Activists groups often manipulate the findings from USDA PDP report taking the positive results and somehow turn them into something negative. This tactic has been used routinely by the Environmental Working Group when creating their "dirty dozen" list, which has been repeatedly discredited by scientists. The Alliance for Food and Farming asks media, bloggers and others to simply read the findings of the USDA PDP report instead of reports based upon manipulations by activist groups.

Husband of abducted mom issues first statement

Keith Papini, the husband of Redding abduction survivor Sherri Papini, has issued his first statement since his wife was found safe on Thanksgiving morning.

A sampling:
Rumors, assumptions, lies, and hate have been both exhausting and disgusting. Those people should be ashamed of their malicious, sub human behavior. We are not going to allow those people to take away our spirit, love, or rejoice in our girl found alive and home where she belongs. I understand people want the story, pictures, proof that this was not some sort of hoax, plan to gain money, or some fabricated race war. I do not see a purpose in addressing each preposterous lie. Instead, may I give you a glimpse of the mixture of horror and elation that was my experience of reuniting with the love of my life and mother of our children.
The entire statement is here, courtesy of KRCR-TV.

Official: Low allocation shows need for modern system

A statement from Charles Wilson, executive director of the Southern California Water Committee, reacting to the state's initial allocation of 20 percent of requested supplies for State Water Project contractors:

"The storms we've seen so far this season are encouraging, but are not a panacea for the five years of drought California has suffered, and future dry years still loom just around the corner.

"The pattern of low water deliveries underscores California's need for a modern water system that would allow us to capture water when it's available then store until needed during dry years. Our current system permits large amounts of water to be lost out to the ocean, leaving homes, businesses and farms throughout the state high and dry. California WaterFix would protect against earthquakes, prepare for drought and ensure a reliable, efficient statewide water supply."

Initial state water allocation set at 20 percent

From the California Department of Water Resources:
Still early in California’s rainy season, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced its initial water allocation for 2017 of ­­20 percent of the requests by the 29 public agencies served by the State Water Project (SWP).

Winter storms in coming months may boost today’s initial 2017allocation, but California’s deep drought lingers.

“October’s storms and subsequent rainfall have brightened the picture, but we could still end up in a sixth year of drought,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “Our unpredictable weather means that we must make conservation a California lifestyle.”

Much of October’s heavy rainfall was soaked up by the state’s drought-dried soil, although water from subsequent storms will increase runoff into streams and reservoirs.

Initial allocations frequently change. For example, the initial allocation for this year (2016) was 10 percent, with a final allocation of 60 percent. DWR typically issues a final allocation in May, after the state’s wettest months have passed.

Lake Oroville in Butte County, the SWP’s principal reservoir, early this morning was holding ­­­1,492,136 acre-feet, 42 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity and ­­­70 percent of its historical average for the date. Shasta Lake north of Redding, California’s and the federal Central Valley Project’s (CVP) largest reservoir, was holding 2,896,484 acre-feet, 64 percent of its 4.5 million acre-foot capacity and 107 percent of its historical average. San Luis Reservoir, a critical south-of-Delta pool for both the SWP and CVP, was holding 814,972 acre feet, 40 percent of its 2 million acre-foot capacity and 67 percent of its historical average for the date.

The 29 public water agencies that receive SWP water collectively requested 4,172,786 acre-feet of water for 2017. Under today’s initial allocation, they would receive ­839,376 AF. For most agencies, that amounts to 20 percent of the supplies for which they contract with DWR.

Nearly all areas served by the SWP have sources of water other than the DWR allocation, among them streams, groundwater and local reservoirs. DWR is hopeful that today’s SWP allocation, made before the wettest months, will increase as storms bring additional rain and snow to the state.

The last 100 percent SWP allocation – difficult to achieve even in wet years because of Delta pumping restrictions to protect threatened and endangered fish species – was in 2006. SWP allocations in recent years:

2016 – 60 percent
2015 – 20 percent
2014 – 5 percent
2013 – 35 percent
2012 – 65 percent
2011 – 80 percent
2010 – 50 percent
2009 – 40 percent
2008 – 35 percent
2007 – 60 percent

DWR’s California Data Exchange Center Web sites show current water conditions at the state’s largest reservoirs and weather stations.

Reservoirs: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/reservoir.html
Precipitation: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snow_rain.html
Snow: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/current/snow/index.html

Monday, November 28, 2016

Giving Tuesday to help FFA, north state nonprofits

From the East Valley Times:
North State Giving Tuesday is a one day only online giving event. Please come back on November 29th and help the Northstate!

Each year at Thanksgiving and the week following, we have a day for giving thanks, two days for getting deals, and a nationally recognized day for giving back – Giving Tuesday – this year on November 29th. We invite you to “give where you live” for the benefit of our local nonprofits that do such important work in Shasta and Siskiyou counties during #NorthStateGivingTuesday!

We give this nationally recognized annual giving campaign a special local presence. By making an online donation at northstategives.org on Tuesday, November 29th between 6 AM and 6 PM Pacific Time, your dollars go further thanks to incentives of more than $80,000 provided by Shasta Regional Community Foundation – Knodel Family Endowment Fund.
As I reported recently, the California FFA Foundation is doing a statewide fundraiser on Giving Tuesday to help low-income members to afford their own iconic blue jackets, which they must wear at competitions and other events. The website is here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Today in the Times: Cops find stolen car in record time

Ripped from the latest East Valley Times headlines:
Redding Police able to recover stolen vehicle in record time due to LoJack Device
On November 17, 2016, at 9:25 a.m. Redding Police Officer Trevor Denham took a report of a stolen Toyota Prius that was taken overnight off the Crown Motors lot. The vehicle was equipped with a LoJack Corporation Stolen Vehicle Recovery Device.

Interfaith candlelight service in Redding to honor holidays
Honoring the winter Solstice, the birth of Christ and the holiday season from various faith traditions, Rev. Lynn E. Fritz, Ordained Life Artistry Focus Minister, Centers for Spiritual Living, presents an interfaith candle lighting service at Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ, 2850 Foothill Blvd, Redding.

Stabbing suspect arrested in Bella Vista
On November 22, 2016, at 2:26 p.m. the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop on Dry Creek Road and Highway 299 on a vehicle they had information suspect Corey Leon Willyard was in. During the traffic stop Willyard, was located in the vehicle and taken into custody without incident.

Americans stuff themselves with turkey year-round

From the CFBF's Food and Farm News:
On average, each American will consume 17 pounds of turkey during 2016. That’s the estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which posted a variety of turkey facts in advance of Thanksgiving. California ranks seventh in the nation in turkey production. University of California specialists offer a number of tips on enjoying a holiday meal. Listed at Number 1: Slow down and pay attention, in order to savor your food.

Butte County Farm Bureau, others win awards

From the CFBF's Food and Farm News:
Innovative programs by four county Farm Bureaus in California have earned recognition in national awards. The Fresno County Farm Bureau was selected for its Valley’s Gold television program, which highlights crops and farm products from the San Joaquin Valley. The Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Butte County Farm Bureaus were honored for an event in Modesto titled Ag Unite, which stressed the need for unity in responding to the challenges faced by farmers and ranchers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Water panel seeks more comment on Prop. 1 process

From a news release:
The California Water Commission, responsible for allocating $2.7 billion in voter-approved bond funds for new water storage projects, seeks public comment on an update of its draft regulations and additional documents related to the Water Storage Investment Program.

A new public comment period opened on November 22, 2016 and will extend until 5 p.m. on December 7, 2016.

Voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1 in November 2014. The $7.5 billion water bond includes $2.7 billion to pay for the public benefits of additional storage projects. The draft regulations now available for public comment generally describe what is required of project applicants and how the Water Commission will quantify and compare the public benefits of proposed projects. Proposition 1 defines public benefits as ecosystem improvements, water quality improvements, flood control benefits, emergency response, and recreational purposes.

The text of the revised draft regulation, related documents, and information about the public comment period can be found on the Commission’s website at: https://cwc.ca.gov/Pages/QuantificationRulemaking.aspx

The nine-member California Water Commission is charged with advising the director of the California Department of Water Resources, approving rules and regulations, and furthering development of state policies that support integrated and sustainable water resources management.

Give thanks for this week's rain, snow, but be careful

From the National Weather Service:
Weather Summary
A storm will move into NorCal this afternoon and continue through Wednesday afternoon. Holiday travel before Thanksgiving will be impacted by slick roads from rain and snow. Chain controls & traffic delays are likely. The second storm arrives late Thanksgiving night and continues into Friday, impacting post-Holiday travel. Another storm will bring precipitation Saturday into Sunday.

Impacts
Snow over Sierra could impact holiday travel with slick roads, chain controls, and traffic delays
Rain will also cause slick roads and increase potential for spin-outs

Forecast Confidence
High for wet pattern tonight and this weekend
Medium for precipitation timing and amounts tonight and this weekend

Timing and Strength
Storm 1
Timing: This afternoon into Wednesday afternoon
Snow levels around 4000 ft
Light to moderate rain

Storm 2
Timing: Late Thursday evening into Friday
Snow levels around 4500-5000 ft
Rain & Snow amounts for this storm will be posted in later emails

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hat Creek rancher encouraged as rain improves range

As I reported recently, the rain that Northern California has received this fall has been a welcome sight for ranchers, improving rangeland and non-irrigated pasture ground. One of those upbeat ranchers is Henry Giacomini, owner of the Hat Creek Grown grass-finished beef operation.

From the latest edition of the CFBF's AgAlert:
In Shasta County, rancher Henry Giacomini noted that Redding had the third-wettest October on record, giving a huge boost to winter pastures and native feed in the foothills. The amount of rain has also brought stock water to those pastures, allowing him to move some cattle there.

Giacomini said he did not have to reduce his own herd during the drought, but he did cut back on his hay production so that more of that land could be grazed, which lowered his income.

Although some California ranchers may be reluctant to grow their herds at this time, he noted that U.S. cattle numbers are increasing, with many of those animals yet to hit the market, and that could put more pressure on the market. If lower prices curtail expansion nationwide, whereby ranchers aren't retaining their heifers for replacement, that will keep pressure on the market for potentially two to three years, he added.

Depending on the rancher's situation, Giacomini pointed out that lower cattle prices also present "a pretty opportunistic time to expand, if you've got cash flow to do it." In his operation, there is not extra forage for him to expand much, but he said he might try to improve his herd by culling harder and replacing his lower-performing cattle.

"For the most part, we're going to hold steady," Giacomini said.

He said even though many California cattle ranchers were forced to reduce their herds during the drought and couldn't take full advantage of several years of strong cattle prices, they would have had a tougher time if the cattle market had not been so good.

"In a way, at least the market held us together," he said. "People who had to liquidate got paid well for it."

Today in the Times: Murder suspect sought

From Redding police via the East Valley Times:
On November 20, 2016, at 11:16 a.m. Officers form the Redding Police Department responded to a residence in the 1100 block of Yogi Ct. on a report of a stabbing that had just occurred. Upon arrival Officers located the victim of the stabbing and determined that he had succumbed to his injuries. The victim is a male adult and his identity will not be released at this time. When Officers arrived they contacted several witness at the residence and were advised the suspect had fled the scene on foot prior to their arrival.

Investigators from the Redding Police Department were called out to the scene and took over the investigation. After reviewing the evidence at the scene and interviewing the witness Investigators determined this was going to be a homicide investigation.

The suspect was identified as Corey Leon Willyard, 26 years of Redding. He is described as a white male adult, 5’6”, 140-150 lbs., red hair and last seen wearing a black t-shirt and blue pajama bottoms. (See attached photo) Willyard’s whereabouts are unknown at this time. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Willyard or this investigation is asked to contact the Redding Police Department Investigations Division at (530)225-4214.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Today in the Times: Guarding against thieves

Among the latest headlines from the East Valley Times:
Don't let thieves ruin your Christmas! (Part 1)
As the Christmas shopping seasons begins, we will be loading up our vehicles with toys and gifts. Criminals know this, too, and they will be shopping from the vehicles of easy targets. By following a few basic tips, we can ensure most of those criminals only end up with a lump of coal.
Also this week:

Suspect gives chase, eventually pulls over, arrested for eight felony offenses
Sheriff's log

Western Growers seeks startups for AgTech scholarship

From Western Growers:
The application period opened today for Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology® (WGCIT) Scholarship Program. This is arguably the first scholarship program of its kind in that it provides the winner with residence at one of the country’s premier agtech incubators designed to assist start-up companies who are developing agricultural technologies.

“Many agtech startups would benefit from residing in the WGCIT, but not all of them are at the stage where they have the economic capacity to locate there,” said Hank Giclas, Western Growers’ senior vice president, strategic planning, science & technology. “With the help of Wells Fargo, we will be able to give start-up companies the resources they need to accelerate the development of their technologies that will be crucial in solving the ag industry’s most pressing challenges.”

The scholarship program was developed as a result of a $30,000 grant awarded to the Western Growers Foundation from Wells Fargo Bank in July to establish a scholarship fund for agtech startups. Western Growers Foundation will grant up to 10 scholarships, each worth up to $3,000.

Each scholarship will underwrite the cost of a “hot desk” (non-reserved workstation) or defray the costs of a desk within the WGCIT for one year. Recipients will receive all the benefits of being a Western Growers’ member and resident of the Center, including access to prominent networking opportunities with leading fresh produce companies; ample exposure to agricultural-related organizations throughout California, Arizona and Colorado; training and mentorship from industry professionals, including legal, HR, insurance, financial and communications experts; routine classes and workshops designed to provide startups with the knowledge and customer connections they need to bring their technology from development to production. They will also be offered the amenities of a traditional office, including internet and phones, printers and copiers, meeting and conference rooms, and cutting-edge technology to live stream events and presentations.

Scholarships are open to any individual or company that is working on ideas or technology that will assist the fresh fruit, nut and vegetable industry to produce more food using fewer inputs and with less waste. All startups looking to apply must submit the following: 1) biographies of the management team; 2) a business plan; 3) description of the company’s desire to be in the WGCIT, technology being developed/offered and the potential benefits to the fresh produce industry; 4) proposed performance metrics to evaluate progress; and 5) a recommendation letter from a Western Growers member company. For the full scholarship requirements and additional information on how to apply, click here.

All applications must be submitted to Hank Giclas at hgiclas@wga.com and received by Friday, December 30th, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. PST.
My Capital Press story on the innovation center is here.

UC-Davis to offer beekeeping courses next spring

From Kathy Keatley Garvey at UC-Davis:
If you want to become a beekeeper or learn more about working your colonies, rearing queens, managing varroa mites, and breeding bees, the E.L. Niño Bee Lab at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Research Facility has announced its list of 2017 courses, which begin March 11 and continue through June 11.

The courses, directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Niño of the UC-Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and taught by her and her staff, will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Laidlaw facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. Registration is now underway, and gift certificates are also available.
Read more here.

[Photo: Students learn how to handle bees during a recent class at UC-Davis' Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey]

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Nielsen: Time for caution, not for spending spree

From Northern California state Sen. Jim Nielsen:
Vice Chair of the Senate Budget Committee Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) issued the following statement regarding the Legislative Analyst’s budget forecast for 2017-18:

“Legislative leadership should heed the independent Legislative Analyst’s warning of uncertainty about our economy. His forecast comes on the heels of the Brown Administration’s report of a nearly $400 million decline in revenue last month. Now, more than ever, is the time to put more money in the Rainy Day Fund to prepare for the anticipated ‘mild recession.’”

NWS: Wet weather to return this weekend, next week


From the National Weather Service:
Weather Summary
Confidence is increasing in a wet weekend for Norcal. Although model timing is in better agreement regarding the onset of rain and mountain snow beginning Saturday and continuing on Sunday, precipitation amounts continue to vary. Showers could linger into Monday. After a break, another weather system may arrive on Wednesday potentially affecting pre-holiday Thanksgiving Day travel.

Impacts
Slick roads from valley/foothill rain and mountain snow
Roadway spin outs & accidents
Chain controls & travel delays over Sierra Nevada passes

Forecast Confidence
High for wet pattern
Medium for snow levels, rain and snowfall amounts
Medium for timing of weekend system

Timing and Strength
Rain: See Precipitation Forecast
Snow levels: 4000-4500 ft Shasta County mountains Saturday rising to 6000 ft Sunday. 6500-7000 ft Sierra Nevada passes.
Snow amounts: See Snow Forecast
Wind: Southwest mountain wind gusts 50 mph or higher this weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

California Citrus Mutual welcomes Trump administration

As California Citrus Mutual continues to oppose what it sees as government overreach, the group is praising a potential ally in that effort in President-elect Donald Trump.

From the CCM:
Please see the following statement by California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen regarding the election of President Elect Donald J. Trump.

"Like many in America, we at California Citrus Mutual were surprised at the outcome of our National election. The election of President Elect Donald J. Trump and the promise of a new Administration offers hope for a more balanced approach on environmental regulations, water policy and, yes, immigration reform.

"Too many focused on the negative during the campaign and chose to misrepresent the President Elect's statements.

"He is not against trade, but he does desire better trade agreements. He is not against immigration or immigration reform, but he is for secure borders. He is for economic growth and job creation via many pathways. We in California agriculture believe the oppressive regulatory environment will improve under the Trump Administration. I believe a more balanced approach to water infrastructure and water creation is in our future.

"He hasn't built a successful business, run a successful campaign and raised a loyal family by being immune to the environment in which he operates. He struck a chord that America responded to. I think President Elect Trump will be a President for all America and will create paths that will make us great again."
As I reported in June, Trump met with growers and other ag representatives during a swing through the San Joaquin Valley before California's primary.

LaMalfa votes to continue Iran sanctions, ding Syria

From the north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa:
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) supported measures to authorize continued sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and impose sanctions on those who support attacks on civilians in Syria. H.R. 6297, the “Iran Sanctions Extension Act”, extends authorization for the President to impose sanctions through 2026; the authorization would otherwise expire at the close of 2016. H.R. 5732, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”, directs the Departments of State and Commerce to impose sanctions on officials of the Syrian government and any individuals or entities which provide financial or material support to Syria’s attacks on civilians.

“For too long, the Obama administration has stood idly by while rogue nations develop weapons of mass destruction and perpetrate war crimes on innocent civilians,” LaMalfa said. “Today we provided the tools that President-elect Trump will use to end that complacency, beginning on January 20, 2017.”

“We acted today to ensure that the President-elect is able to fulfill his pledge to the American people to reject this administration’s dangerous agreement with Iran and to prevent a state sponsor of terror from ever acquiring nuclear weapons,” added LaMalfa. “We’ve also acted to cut off the financial and material lifelines that the Assad regime relies upon to continue its attacks on innocent Syrian civilians.”

H.R. 6297, the “Iran Sanctions Extension Act”, passed on a 416-1 vote, while H.R. 5732, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”, received unanimous support.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.

Today in the Times: Millville Days to return

Among the latest headlines from the East Valley Times:
Millville Days returns—Committee meets for second time, invites community partication
Millville Days is returning with a new name and a new look! The Millville Days Planning Committee is forecasting October 2017 as the debut of the “new” Millville Days. The MDPC is looking for additional members to take on various aspects of the event, such as coordinating the 5K and searching out entertainment. Read more.
In other headlines:

Redding man arrested for attempting to carjack Palo Cedro victim with knife
Haven Humane Society runs adoption special to put animals into homes for the holidays and give toys to community children
Foothill High School athlete signs with Simpson University to play volleyball
Mental Health Services Act program offers hands-on training, education and work experience

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Inaugural North State Precision Ag Expo begins in Orland


The first-ever North State Precision Ag Expo and Farm Business Forum got underway this morning at the fairgrounds in Orland and will feature two days of speakers on new ag technology and business management techniques as well as a trade show.

In the photos, from the top: Bob Myre (left) of Myre Distributing talks with grower Cameron Jantz about a computerized tractor steering system; Jim Bell of AgVision in Willows cues up an aerial photograph of a rice field, which can be seen on the screen behind him; Joe Richter of AgVision makes a presentation; Steve Vance (left) of PBM Supply and Manufacturing in Chico shows a herbicide sprayer to a customer; and sales representative John Ray demonstrates a bankout used in nut harvests for Thomas Manufacturing in Chico.

I'll have multiple stories from the conference. Keep watch for them at CapitalPress.com.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Could a Trump presidency boost trade deals' chances?

Perhaps so, posits Daniel Sumner, a University of California-Davis agricultural economist.

Sumner believes trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership have a better chance of being implemented by President-elect Donald Trump despite his campaign rhetoric.

While Hillary Clinton would have been beholden to unions and other interests that inherently resist trade deals, Sumner believes Trump could renegotiate the TPP and get it passed in much the same way that then-President Bill Clinton did with the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"He did just enough to claim it was his own and said 'lets do this deal,'" said Sumner, director of the UC's Agricultural Issues Center. "(President) Obama did that with Korea ... He did just enough to claim it was his own."

Sumner imagines a scenario under which someone within the Trump administration used back channels to obtain concessions in the TPP so the president could claim he improved it.

Sumner's thoughts came as numerous commodity groups put out statements on Nov. 9 reiterating their support for the 12-nation TPP, which would write rules for global trade the Obama administration argues would increase American-made exports and grow the U.S. economy. Trump argued it was poorly negotiated and would cost U.S. jobs.

It's understandable that commodity groups are nervous, said Eric Houk, director of the Agricultural Business Institute at California State University-Chico.

"Trade plays a significant role in California's agricultural economy," Houk said in an email. "It makes sense that some agricultural commodity groups might be concerned about the results of this election and the uncertainty of future trade deals."

The total value of U.S. agricultural exports has been steadily increasing, peaking in 2014 at $152 billion while U.S. farm imports were $109 billion, Houk said. Ag exports decreased last year because of decreased world demand, lower commodity prices and a stronger U.S. dollar.

However, the U.S. agricultural trade surplus last year was still $25 billion, he noted.
"A decline in U.S. agricultural exports can impact U.S. net farm income," Houk said, noting that domestic net farm income decreased from around $93 billion in 2014 to $81 billion in 2015.

When it comes to voter perceptions about trade, Sumner wishes he and other economists had put more effort into educating people that trade deals help the buyer as well as the seller, he said.

"Both of these candidates played up the notion that there must be something wrong with trade in general," Sumner said. "Mr. Trump certainly had emphasized during the campaign that when it comes to trade, there are winners and losers. But they are both winners; otherwise they wouldn't have made the deal."

The conversations were for my portion of a comprehensive reaction story on the election, for which I was joined by my Capital Press colleagues Mateusz Perkowski and Dan Wheat. The full story is here.

Rain, snow to return to Northern California next week


From the National Weather Service:
Weather Summary
A pattern change arrives Tuesday as a cold frontal system impacts Northern California Tuesday through Wednesday night. The primary impacts will be snowfall related. Steadier precipitation may begin Tuesday and turn more showery and colder Wednesday behind the cold front. Periods of heavier snowshowers Wednesday may make travel more dangerous over the mountains. Strongest winds may late Tuesday and overnight, but do not appear to pose a significant risk at this time.

Impacts
Slick roads from valley/foothill rain and mountain snow
Roadway spinouts & accidents...especially Wednesday commutes

Forecast Confidence
High for wetter pattern
Medium for snow levels and amounts

Timing and Strength
Rain: 0.10-0.60" across the Valley, up to 2" over the mountains
Snow levels: Lowering to pass levels Tue night...down to 4000-4500 feet Wed & Wed night
Snow amounts: Elevations above 5500 feet will total 3-5 inches, except 9-12 inches over Lassen Peak
Wind: Southwest mountain wind gusts 40-45 mph, strongest late Tue and Wed night

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Western Growers reacts to the election of Trump

From Western Growers:
Following the results of the 2016 presidential election, Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers, issued the following statement:

“Western Growers congratulates President-elect Donald Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and the Republican Party on well-earned victories in the 2016 general election. In the aftermath of a historically-divisive political season, we encourage our elected leaders to mend broken fences and redouble their efforts to solve the many challenges facing our country.

Like the silent majority of voters who turned out at the polls all across the country, our members – the farmers who grow more than half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables – want a government that functions, one that is responsive to the needs of our nation and industry. We are optimistic that President-elect Trump, the administration he installs and the 115th Congress will work together to pursue pragmatic solutions to key agricultural issues, including immigration reform, water supply, environmental regulations, international trade and the farm bill.

I am proud of my personal endorsement of President-elect Trump during the early stages of his campaign. As a co-chair of his agricultural advisory team, I had the opportunity to advise President-elect Trump on subjects critical to the fresh produce industry, including water, immigration and environmental reform.

In the coming months and throughout his administration, Western Growers will continue to stand at the forefront of the fresh produce industry and provide President-elect Trump with the support he needs to help enact policies that will ensure the long term viability of Arizona, California and Colorado family farmers.”

California Farm Bureau to seek reforms with new leaders

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
Facing urgent issues including water supply, trade, immigration and regulatory reform, the California Farm Bureau Federation said today it looks forward to working with the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump and with the 115th Congress.

“California farmers and ranchers have seen, on many occasions, how federal government policies can affect their ability to provide food and farm products to customers around the state, nation and world,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said. “We will provide the Trump administration and the new Congress with our best advice on how federal policies can benefit the economy and environment in rural California.”

Wenger noted that President-elect Trump has spoken frequently about both trade and immigration.

“We’ll make the case to the Trump administration and the new Congress about how reducing trade barriers benefits the rural economy,” he said, “and we’ll discuss ways to assure that farmers and ranchers who depend on an immigrant workforce remain able to provide jobs to those who want them.”

Wenger said the elections renew hope for reform of estate taxes to assure family farms and ranches can be passed smoothly from one generation to the next, and for appointment of federal judges who administer laws fairly in the interest of all Americans. He said Farm Bureau will also ask the new administration and Congress to reform regulations that constrict water supplies and place unnecessary burdens on land management.

“Regulations must be flexible enough to encourage continued production of food and farm products while maintaining the stewardship of our land, air and water that farmers and ranchers pursue every day,” he said. “For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has overreached with a ‘waters of the United States’ rule that greatly expands its authority over farmland, and we hope that regulation will now be withdrawn.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 53,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.
Pictured are Wenger with then-regional rep Ned Coe, from a Red Bluff dinner several years ago.

Groups reiterate TPP support in wake of election

Reactions from farm groups are trickling in regarding yesterday's historic election of Donald Trump to the presidency, and they tend to have one thing in common -- continued calls for the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

From the National Cattlemen's Beef Association:
Statement by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tracy Brunner following the 2016 national election:

“Although it is still too early to determine what exactly this election will mean for our priorities, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association remains committed to expanding access to foreign markets, fighting burdensome federal regulations and ensuring the continued health of our herd and industry. I am proud to see that across the nation, the majority of candidates and incumbents we, and our state affiliates supported through the NCBA Political Action Committee, were elected or re-elected.

“In the coming weeks, we will continue to work with Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, defund EPA’s flawed “waters of the United States” rule, and pass the National Defense Authorization Act which includes language to mitigate the sage grouse stubble height requirements and other restrictions on grazing based on flawed science. In the year ahead, we look forward to working with a new Congress and Administration to ensure the priorities of cattlemen and women nationwide are met.”
The National Potato Council didn't mention the election, but it's message was clear: Get it done before Trump gets in.
The National Potato Council supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and believes that passage is necessary during the final days of the 114th Congress.

TPP includes tariff reductions that are critical to growth in exports of fresh, dehydrated and frozen potato products. Without those tariff reductions, competitors that have or are currently negotiating deals with the TPP trading block have a strong competitive advantage. “The U.S. potato industry can compete with worldwide growers, processors and distributors if the playing field is level,” said NPC Vice President for Trade Cully Easterday. “The TPP tariff reductions in our key markets, including Japan and Vietnam, allow us to go head-to-head with our foreign competitors and successfully win the business.”

The International Trade Commission’s report this summer confirmed that lower tariffs on exports would allow potato growers and exporters to meet the rising demand in the Asia-Pacific region by making U.S. potatoes and potato products more competitive in those markets.

NPC applauds the hard work done by U.S. trade officials to complete this landmark trade deal. The potato industry will benefit greatly from the opportunities the agreement provides. “The time is now to finally approve this historic agreement. Let’s not allow the work done to this point to fade away,” said NPC Executive Vice President and CEO John Keeling.
I am among several Capital Press reporters who are getting thoughts and reactions from the ag community about the election results. Look for our comprehensive report at CapitalPress.com soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Today in the Times: Update on missing mom

Here are today's headlines, courtesy of the East Valley Times.
Sheriff’s Office gives update on missing person Sherri Papini
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office continues to actively investigate the suspicious disappearance of Sherri Papini, which occurred on Wednesday, November 2, 2016. Detectives with the Major Crimes Unit, continue to sort through approximately 150 tips that have been generated from the public. Read more.

Local record label announces new children’s themed album to be released in time for holidays
Community Foundation posts scholarship opportunities online
A Very Triple Creek Ranch Christmas Workshop coming soon

Monday, November 7, 2016

North state workshops to tackle wolf-livestock conflicts

From the California Cattlemen's Association:
Over the next two weeks, the Working Circle, a collaborative of ranchers, wildlife advocates, and wolf specialists, will host a series of workshops in Northern California and Southern Oregon focused on addressing challenges relating to wolf/livestock coexistence. The workshops follow a similar series sponsored in April by the California Wolf Center.

According to the Working Circle, "The essential relationship between stockmanship and stewardship will steer discussions about people, wolves and livestock in Northern California and Southern Oregon. With a focus on the importance of merging ranchers' expertise about their livestock, their land and surroundings with science-based and practical experience about wolf biology and behavior, we will work together to craft solutions that benefit livestock producers while reducing large carnivore-livestock conflict."

Among the topics addressed at the workshops will be "understanding depredation investigations," and speakers will include The Working Circle's Timmothy Kaminski, ranch manager and cow boss, Joe Engelhard, and wolf specialist, Carter Niemeyer.

Each of the workshops will run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., as follows:
Fort Jones, Nov. 11 at the Fort Jones Library
Yreka, Nov. 12 at the Holiday Inn Express
Ashland, Ore., Nov. 14 at the Holiday Inn Express
Bonanza, Ore., Nov. 15 at the Bonanza Community Center
McCloud, Nov. 16 at the McCloud River Mercantile Hotel
McArthur, Nov. 17 at the Inter-Mountain Fair & Event Center, Heritage Room
Quincy, Nov. 18 at the Plumas Sierra Country Fair, Serpilio Hall
Here is my advance story on the workshops for the Capital Press.

Share a favorite family dish or recipe, go to prison

At least if you live in San Joaquin County.

From the Media Research Center:
You can all rest easy because the streets of San Joaquin County are now safe from hardened criminals who sell homemade food to their Facebook friends.

Fox 40 reports that to keep you safe, San Joaquin County police conducted a sting operation against members of 209 Food Spot, a Facebook group dedicated to exchanging recipes and sharing food. Now, a single mother of six faces up to a year in jail after she sold some of her homemade ceviche to a Facebook group member who happened to be an undercover cop.

According to Fox 40, Mariza Ruelas and a dozen others were cited with two misdemeanors for "operating a food facility and engaging in business without a permit.” [...]

For those wondering if the cops in San Joaquin County have nothing better to do than nark on single mothers sharing food photos, according to AreaVibes, a website dedicated to determining the "livability" of an area, San Joaquin County has a crime rate 11 percent higher than the national average. In fact, Forbes listed Stockton, where Ruelas lives, as the 8th most dangerous city in the United States in 2012.
This is even worse than Shasta County harassing a Millville 4-H group that wanted to deliver meals to the homeless.

Welcome to 2016's Amerika, land of the fee and home of the slaves.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

October rainfall: The record month that was

Many areas in Northern California obliterated their average rainfall totals for October, according to National Weather Service precipitation totals. Redding sopped up 7.78 inches for the month -- well above its normal 2.1 inches.

The Northern Sierra had its second wettest October on record, netting 12.6 inches of precipitation, according to the weather service. That's 393 percent of its normal precipitation and one-quarter of what it averages for the year.

Meanwhile, the reservoirs got a boost. From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
As California ends the first month of its rainfall season, reservoir storage has improved, compared to a year ago. Figures from the California Department of Water Resources show the state’s largest reservoir, Shasta, holds just more than average, as do Don Pedro Reservoir and Millerton Lake. Many other reservoirs remain below average for the date, despite a wet month, but hold more water than they did at the end of October last year.
Here are the October rainfall totals and comparisons to normal for selected California cities, according to the National Weather Service. Totals are as of Oct. 31. (Note: the water year now begins Oct. 1.)

Redding: 7.78 inches (normal 2.1 inches)
Eureka: 10.92 inches (normal 2.24 inches)
Sacramento: 4.72 inches (normal 0.95 inches)
Modesto: 2.05 inches (normal 0.68 inches)
Salinas: 1.61 inches (normal 0.58 inches)
Fresno: 0.67 inches (normal 0.63 inches)

Watch for my complete weather outlook at CapitalPress.com.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Today in the Times: Bluegrass and Open Mic

Speaking of independent local news sites, Judy La Russa's now-exclusively online East Valley Times updates almost daily with a great mixture of local event coverage and serious news stories. I used to subscribe to the Times when it published every other week in print, to keep up on happenings in rural areas east of Redding. Now they'll deliver a free newsletter to your inbox.

The Times as of this moment doesn't have an RSS feed, or I'd include them among the news sites listed in the sidebar. So I'll occasionally post a roundup of their stories here.

Today's newsletter leads off with an advance of an Old Time Fiddlers concert coming up on Sunday:
The Old Time Fiddlers will present a free Old Time Fiddle & Bluegrass concert performance on Sunday, November 6, 201 at St. James Lutheran Church, 2500 Shasta View, Redding. The Jamming will start at 1:00 p.m. Additional band to be announced. The concert will then followed by an Open Mic session.
Among the Times' other headlines:

Food and Farm News — Compared to last year, wet October helps reservoir storage
McConnell Foundation gives gift of new lights for iconic bridge
Cattlemens Steakhouse offers veterans a sirloin steak dinner in honor of service
Churn Creek Road closed to replace pole sheared off in traffic collision
Weekly Sheriff’s Log Oct 24-31

Independent news outlets should be supported. If you find one that you like and trust, spread the word.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Congratulations, Doni Chamberlain and A News Cafe

Today is the nine-year anniversary of the launch of A News Cafe, A Redding-based news website started by former Record Searchlight reporter and columnist Doni Chamberlain.

As I told Doni beneath her article on the site's birthday, she should be congratulated for creating a truly independent and vibrant web-based news outlet. She is a model for any journalist whoever strikes out on his or her own, showing that it can be done successfully.

I believe sites like A News Cafe are the future of media. The site does in-depth stories on issues such as the homelessness crisis that start valuable community conversations, all while providing a local flair and flavor that others can’t match. So here’s to another nine years and beyond.

Senator responds to local concerns over monument

I queried Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, one of the proponents of an expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, with regard to locals' concerns that it would put an end to timber and grazing allotments and injure the area's economy. Here is his office's response, via spokeswoman Martina McLennan:
"It’s important to Senator Merkley that all interested Oregonians are able to weigh in on a potential Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion, including the agriculture community and especially any producers who believe their operations may be affected. Local residents can submit written comments through Senator Merkley’s office, which will be shared with the Administration to help inform the President’s decision. It's important to understand that if the President decides to designate a monument, it is only the first step, and would only set broad management objectives. If the Monument is expanded, there will be additional opportunities for public input on how the area would be managed. Senator Merkley will continue to work with local communities, including the agriculture community, and the new Administration to make sure Southern Oregonians' voices are heard and taken into account."
You will find my complete story at CapitalPress.com soon and very soon, as the old hymn goes.