Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lawmakers urge Brown to intervene to fund levee repairs

From a news release:
Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba) today asked Governor Brown once again to directly intervene to fund urgent levee repair needs. Below is an excerpt from the letter to Governor Brown:

“In the aftermath of the recent spring storms, levees throughout the region saw significant damage. Having toured the Feather River and personally witnessed the long stretches of crumbled river banks and levees as a result of the drastically fluctuating water releases from the Oroville Dam, we can attest to the critical need for $100 million in additional funding for serious infrastructure repairs for flood control.

“A break in any of these critical repair sites along the levee system have the potential to devastate the region and require hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of emergency repairs. In addition, the state bears liability for avoidable catastrophic damage as a result of levee repairs (see Paterno v. State of California).

“The current funding, touted by your staff, is woefully inadequate. Moreover, the $50 million re-purposed from last year has largely already been accounted for.

“California’s levees protect millions of lives, farmland and wildlife habitat. With the fall rainy reason only a few months away, Northern California desperately needs an additional $100 million in funding to avert further damage to the state’s levees.

“We respectfully ask you to directly intervene and fund the bi-partisan request of $100 million in this year’s budget to shore up our levees.”

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

LaMalfa calls for unity, announces 2018 re-election bid

A statement from Rep. Doug LaMalfa:
We have seen some rocky times in DC and around the country since my January swearing in and the Inauguration of President Trump. We have much to be optimistic about, but I also notice a very deep division in our country that seemed to play out today in the horrendous shooting that occurred at this mornings practice for a bi-partisan charity baseball game. I give thanks and prayerful hopes of healing for the victims of the shooting and our brave Capitol Police who were there this morning.

Hopefully we can learn from this in time to curb the division and come back to the unity that helps America to be its best. We can accomplish so much more when we are united in purpose.

I've always been results oriented. This year my focus is on water storage, highways, putting in place a health insurance system where people have choices and can afford them, improving America’s necessary military strength around the world and bringing jobs back here to Northern California.

In making my decision to run for re-election in 2018, I see so much potential in what can be achieved for the American people and the North State in parallel with the Trump White House. We are pushing a roll back of crushing regulations that are stealing our water and property rights. As well we must achieve needed tax reform so American businesses can be competitive and families can keep more of what they have worked hard to earn.

So many of you have expressed your prayers and support for me and for what my colleagues are working to achieve back in Washington DC. The optimism of January may have been tempered in some peoples minds by the headlines of the day and deep division. Yet I still hold that optimism, knowing that even if we have tough times, that we together are tougher and can push through.

For today, please know I am doing okay and will remain undaunted in pushing forward for the goals I’ve been proud to champion. Soon I’ll be calling on you for your endorsement and support I will need to move forward and seek re-election in 2018.

Thank you again for your support and encouragement. I ask also for your prayers for Congress for safety, wisdom and discernment. Please keep our law enforcement in your prayers, who protect us here at home and our Military, who protect us abroad.

God Bless America[.]

We're having a heat wave: What to expect as 100s arrive

As it appears now, the summer of 2017 will be ushered in by the first protracted heat wave of the season. Here is the outlook from the National Weather Service:
High pressure builds across northern California this week, continuing into the weekend. High temperatures Friday and into the weekend will increase heat related illnesses for those exposed to prolonged outdoor heat, especially the elderly, children, and other sensitive groups.

Impacts
Long outdoor exposures will increase chances for heat related illness, especially for sensitive groups
Heat stress to livestock with limited relief from heat overnight
Area waterways running very cold & fast, increasing risk for hypothermia, water rescues

Forecast Confidence
Medium

Timing and Strength
Near to above normal across interior northern California Today-Thursday.
High temperatures going much above normal with increasing risk for heat related illnesses late this week and into the weekend.
Valley highs reaching the 100 degree mark Friday, hotter Saturday-Monday
Very warm overnight temperatures, 70 or above for many locations
Farmers are being advised to prepare. Bryan Little, director of employment policy for the California Farm Bureau Federation and chief operating officer of Farm Employers Labor Service, advises that CalOSHA will be enforcing the Heat Illness Prevention standard for outdoor employment. According to Little, the standard includes the following requirements:
--Water must be "fresh, pure, suitably cool" and located as close as practicable to where employees are working, with exceptions when employers can demonstrate infeasibility.
--Shade must be present at 80 degrees, and must accommodate all employees on recovery or rest periods, plus those on site who are taking meal breaks.
--Employees taking a "preventive cool-down rest" must be monitored for symptoms of heat illness, encouraged to remain in the shade and not ordered back to work until symptoms are gone. Employees with symptoms must be provided appropriate first aid or emergency response.
--High-heat procedures, triggered at 95 degrees, have been tightened. Employers must ensure "effective" observation and monitoring, including a mandatory buddy system and regular communication with employees working by themselves. In a provision exclusive to agriculture, employees must be provided with a minimum 10-minute cool-down period every two hours during high-heat periods.
--Emergency response procedures must include effective communication, response to signs and symptoms of heat illness, and procedures for contacting emergency responders to help stricken workers.
--Acclimation procedures must include close observation of all employees during a heat wave—defined as temperatures of at least 80 degrees. New employees must be closely observed for their first two weeks on the job.
As I reported yesterday, the heat wave may hasten snowmelt into reservoirs that are in many cases already more than 90 percent full. Shasta Lake, for instance, is at 95 percent of its capacity and 113 percent of its historical average.

Keep watch at CapitalPress.com for updates on weather impacts as the summer gets going.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Public meetings to discuss Shasta Dam fish passage

From a news release:
The Bureau of Reclamation will hold two public scoping meetings to gather information from other agencies, interested parties, and the public on the scope of alternatives for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Shasta Dam Fish Passage Evaluation (SDFPE) project. The SDFPE project evaluates the near-term actions of reintroducing Federally-listed endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and potentially spring-run Chinook salmon to tributaries above Shasta Dam. The near-term goal is to increase the geographic distribution and abundance of the listed fish. The long-term goal is to increase abundance, productivity, and spatial distribution, and to improve the life history, health, and genetic diversity of the target species.

The public scoping meetings on the EIS are scheduled for:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825, Federal Building, Cafeteria Room C-1001.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., 20814 Mammoth Drive, Lakehead, CA 96051, Lakehead Lions Club.

The EIS will assess impacts associated with the implementation of the near-term activities identified under Action V in the National Marine Fisheries Service Reasonable and Prudent Alternative from the 2009 Biological Opinion and Conference Opinion on the Long-term Operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. Action V includes a Fish Passage Program to evaluate the reintroduction of Federally-listed Chinook salmon and steelhead to three dams operated by Reclamation: Shasta, Folsom, and New Melones.

In 2016, Reclamation released a Draft Pilot Implementation Plan. This Pilot Plan provided a general overview of winter-run Chinook Salmon reintroduction to historical habitats in the Study Area. In 2017, Reclamation prepared a Preliminary Draft Environmental Assessment as part of the planning process to evaluate and disclose potential environmental effects associated with the SDFPE’s implementation of a Pilot Study to assess the feasibility of the reintroduction of Federally-listed Chinook salmon in tributaries above Shasta Lake. These documents can be found at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/BayDeltaOffice/shasta-dam-fish-pass.html.

Written comments are due by close of business Friday, July 28, 2017, and should be sent to Carolyn Bragg, Bureau of Reclamation, Bay-Delta Office, 801 I Street, Suite 140, Sacramento, CA 95814. You can also submit public comments at the public scoping meetings, email cbragg@usbr.gov or faxed to 916-414-2439. For additional information, please contact Bragg at 916-414-2433 (TTY 800-877-8339).

Farm Bureau takes a look at Sites Reservoir proposal

The California Farm Bureau Federation's AgAlert is doing a three-part series on water projects applying for Proposition 1 funds. This week, reporter Christine Souza highlights the planned Sites Reservoir. She writes:
In the middle of a severe drought in November 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond that set aside $2.7 billion for the public benefits of new water storage projects. Now, project proponents have less than two months to finalize applications for bond funds, which can be used for attributes such as ecosystem improvements, water quality improvements, flood control, emergency response and recreation.

Among the projects competing for bond funding is the proposed Sites Reservoir, an offstream storage project that has been studied for close to 40 years. To be located west of Maxwell in Colusa and Glenn counties, Sites would provide a storage capacity of 1.8 million acre-feet of water and an annual yield of 500,000 acre-feet—additional surface water for cities, farms and the environment that proponents say would also help relieve pressure on groundwater. It carries an estimated construction cost of $4.4 billion.

Project proponents say Sites Reservoir offers a number of advantages.

"Sites Reservoir is well placed to provide significant benefits both to the Sacramento Valley in terms of our agriculture economy, as well as provide public benefits to the fisheries such as to the Sacramento River for our four runs of salmon and water for wildlife and birds in the Pacific Flyway," said Thad Bettner, general manager for the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District.
Her full story is here.

Here is my latest update on the state's process for vetting proposed water bond projects.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Industry applauds as U.S. beef trade with China finalized

From the USDA:
As part of the U.S.-China 100-Day Action plan announced on May 11, 2017 by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, the Trump Administration today has taken important steps toward commercial shipment of U.S. beef and beef products to China for the first time since 2003. These shipments are results of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue co-chaired by Secretary Ross and Secretary Mnuchin for the United States and Vice Premier Wang Yang for China. Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reached agreement with Chinese officials on final details of a protocol to allow the U.S. to begin the beef exports to China. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the posting of technical documents related to the beginning of shipments.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement:
“Today is a great day for the United States and in particular for our cattle producers, who will be regaining access to an enormous market with an ever-expanding middle class. Since he was elected, President Trump has brought momentum, optimism, and results to American agriculture families that we haven’t seen in years and this agreement is a great example. I commend the hard work of Secretary Ross, Secretary Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and our USDA representatives. Without their dedication and persistence, this would have not been possible. I have no doubt that as soon as the Chinese people get a taste of American beef they’ll want more of it.”

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued the following statement:
“President Trump is doing more to improve the U.S.-China relationship than any president in decades, and this final beef protocol agreement represents even more concrete progress. As we clear away long-standing issues like this one, focusing on near-term, verifiable deliverables, we are building a sound foundation for further discussions. I look forward to engaging with our Chinese counterparts as we address more complex issues to the benefit of both our nations.”

Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin issued the following statement:
"The ‎reopening of China's market to American beef is an example of the results-oriented approach this Administration has taken in our engagement with China. We will continue to work toward a more fair and balanced economic relationship with China by expanding opportunities for U.S. workers and businesses."

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer issued the following statement:
"I welcome China taking this important step to start allowing U.S. beef imports after shutting them out over 13 years ago. The President's firm commitment to fair trade that benefits the United States has made this new U.S. beef export opportunity possible. I encourage China and all countries to base their requirements on international standards and science. America's ranchers are the best producers of beef in the global economy, and they can compete and succeed wherever there is a level playing field."

Background:
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted the requirements for its Export Verification program for U.S. establishments shipping to China, which will enable packers to apply for approval to export to China. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has also updated its online Export Library specifying China’s requirements for certifying U.S. beef being shipped there.

China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. However, the United States has been banned from China's market since 2003. The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion in 2016. Until the ban took effect, the U.S. was China’s largest supplier of imported beef, providing 70 percent of their total intake.
Beef industry groups are pleased. From the National Cattlemen's Beef Association:
Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) announcement that it has reached a final agreement with Chinese officials on a deal that will allow U.S. producers to begin beef exports to China for the first time since 2003:

"NCBA commends the leadership of President Trump and our skilled negotiators who were able to restore U.S. beef access to China, something that has been a top priority for NCBA for 13 years. NCBA worked closely with USDA throughout the entire process. In recent years, China has become one of the largest import markets for beef, and these terms are a reflection of China's trust in the safety and quality of U.S. beef. We hope that by getting our foot in the door we can develop a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with China."
From the U.S. Cattlemen's Association:
The United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) concluded its annual fly-in to Washington, D.C. this week. With over 30 producers from across the country making the trip out to discuss issues of importance to the U.S. cattle industry, a main talking point throughout the week’s meetings was trade, notably the importance of reestablishing trade with China.

Today’s announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a significant moment for producers across the country. Market access to China, for chilled or frozen beef, processed under the age of 30 months, has now been granted.

The provisions of the agreement include specific mention to hormones, trace residue, and overall herd health; and a mandate on origin information for any product entering the market. U.S. producers and the industry must work together to ensure these criteria are met, thereby securing this needed market access for years to come.

USCA President Kenny Graner commented on the news, “We were briefed by the Administration during our fly-in on the status of the agreement and it comes as welcome news to all producers that we have once again secured this important market.”

“USCA would like to thank the Administration and staff at USDA who have remain committed to securing this access for producers since the ban was put in place in 2003. The individuals who have led on these negotiations have never wavered and for that, U.S. cattle producers will now enjoy the potential of an ever growing, and ever demanding marketplace for U.S. beef.”

“Today’s announcement serves as a fitting end to a week spent in Washington, D.C. bringing issues from the industry to the Hill and Administration. Market access affects the bottom line of all producers and USCA thanks the work of all of those in the previous and current Administration who worked so diligently to make beef access to China a reality.”

For more information on specific export requirements, please click HERE.
Here is our latest report on the negotiations. For more details and reactions, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Lawmakers to push measure to reorganize state Senate


Two Assembly members are reportedly moving forward with a proposed state constitutional amendment to reorganize the state Senate to provide more rural representation, which I blogged about in February.

Republican Assemblymen James Gallagher of Yuba City (top photo) and Brian Dahle of Bieber want to create eight Senate districts statewide based on region, with five senators from each district. As it is now, there are a dozen senators from Los Angeles County alone.

Gallagher and Dahle want to push a bill through the Legislature to put such a measure on the ballot.

Dahle unveiled the plan during a panel discussion at the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference in Anderson. Asked then how he plans to get the bill passed, Dahle said he and Gallagher will appeal to lawmakers and their constituents from places like the Inland Empire, the Central Valley and the Bay Area, which would get more representation under their proposal, and hope enough voters from coastal Southern California agree that a more equitable system is needed.

He points to the makeup of Congress, where House districts are based on population but two senators are chosen from each state.

The proposal was to be rolled out in February but was tabled because Gallagher, who is leading the effort, was busy dealing with the Oroville Dam situation.

Interestingly, Dahle was asked during the panel discussion if he supported the State of Jefferson movement, and he said he didn't believe such a break from California was possible. But I wonder if it would be more possible for the Jefferson region to achieve statehood, perhaps as a tradeoff for District of Columbia statehood, than for it to persuade Los Angeles to give the region five of its state senators.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Exodus from the old bundled cable TV model escalates

Evidence continues to come in showing more and more people are walking away from the Big Media's bundled cable TV model and are instead paying for content from streaming services that they actually want to watch.

First, from Rasmussen Reports:
Americans still watch a lot of television, but they’re doing more of it through streaming services these days.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 56% of American Adults say, in a typical week, they watch television every day or nearly every day. That’s pretty much unchanged from 2016, but has been on the rise from 52% since 2013.
People are rediscovering television because they're now finding things they want to watch. For instance, amid a news release about the streaming service PureFlix hiring a new executive, there's this:
The hiring comes amid continued growth for the streaming service, whose subscriber base continues to rise along with the number of titles available to subscribers. As of early June, more than 6,500 titles are available, including original content like the "Pure Flix Comedy All-Stars," movies, documentaries and kids programming.
I have at least a dozen apps on Roku that specialize in streaming family-friendly, faith-based or classic movies, and they're all in the mix as more and more consumers divest themselves of the major corporate media's narrow, agenda-driven offerings.

Corn growers' group likes Trump's infrastructure push

A corn growers' group is praising President Donald Trump's infrastructure push, presumably because it could improve conditions for shipping. From a news release:
The National Corn Growers Association applauded President Trump’s pledge today to make rebuilding America’s infrastructure a national priority and committed to work with his Administration on the issue.

“It's time to recapture our legacy as a nation of builders, and to create new lanes of travel, commerce, and discovery,” President Trump said at a speech in Cincinnati on the backdrop of the Ohio River.

Ken Hartman, chair of the NCGA Market Access Team, thanked the President for calling attention to infrastructure issues.

“Farmers rely on our national infrastructure every day to get our products to market quickly, safely, and efficiently. Waterways, roads, and bridges are central to farmers' efforts to feed and fuel the world, and we must invest in all of them,” said Hartman, a farmer from Waterloo, Illinois.

In his remarks, President Trump specifically called for upgrading the nation’s aging system of locks and dams—making him the first modern president to focus on this critical piece of the infrastructure puzzle.

“These critical corridors of commerce depend on a dilapidated system of locks and dams that is more than half a century old, and their condition… is in very, very bad shape. It continues to decay,” Trump said.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. grain exports are transported to port via the U.S. river system, but most of the nation’s locks and dams have outlived their intended 50-year lifespans. Breakdowns in the river infrastructure add to transport costs, some of which are passed on to farmers. Meanwhile, rural areas rely disproportionately on federal funding for infrastructure projects, underscoring the need for robust federal investment.

“We especially appreciate the President's interest in inland waterways and in the unique infrastructure challenges facing rural areas,” said Hartman. “We look forward to working with the Trump Administration to invest in our nation's waterways, roads, and bridges, and we thank the President for making this issue a top priority.”

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

NWS forecast: Rainy season isn't quite over yet

From the National Weather Service:
High pressure will bring warm and dry conditions for northern California through Wednesday, with Valley highs in the 90s today. Wet weather returns starting Wednesday evening [...] with precipitation spreading across the area through Thursday afternoon and continuing into Friday. Confidence is high that this will be relatively wet system for June, but the system is looking weaker and rainfall totals have decreased. Possible afternoon/evening thunderstorms on Friday, mainly in the mountains and foothills. Valley high temperatures will drop into the 70s for the Valley by Thursday and continue below normal through the weekend.

Impacts
Slick roads late in the week will bring longer commute times Thursday into Friday morning

Forecast Confidence
High for cool, wet pattern change
Medium for rain amounts and for thunderstorms

Timing and Strength
Wet weather returns late Wednesday and into Friday, potentially into the weekend
Heaviest precipitation Thursday into Friday morning
Snow levels well above pass levels
Thunderstorms possible Friday afternoon and evening

Karen Pence installs beehive to boost bee awareness

Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, is drawing attention to the plight of pollinators in the United States. From the USDA:
Second Lady Karen Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today unveiled a newly-installed beehive on the grounds of the Vice President’s residence, drawing attention to the plight of pollinators whose numbers are in decline. Together, the two urged Americans to do their own part to help reverse the population trend among the creatures, which are essential to producing much of the nation’s food.

“All types of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, birds and bats, are critical to providing our nation’s food, fiber, fuel and medicine,” Mrs. Pence said. “However, our beekeepers have been losing colonies for many years. This presents a serious challenge to our ability to produce many of the agricultural products that we enjoy today. The bees at the Vice President’s Residence will provide an added bonus to the vegetable and flower gardens by making them well pollinated and taste even better at harvest.”

Perdue released a proclamation he has signed declaring June 19-25, 2017 as “National Pollinator Week” (Proclamation can be viewed online here). Perdue noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency led efforts to create a National Pollinator Health Strategy. The two agencies are working with a number of other federal departments to implement that strategy, which includes significant USDA research.

“Most farmers and consumers have no better friends and few harder workers than the honey bee, as more than one-third of all U.S. crop production requires insect pollination,” Perdue said. “But our honeybee population has been losing ground at an alarming rate. The problem represents a diverse mix of challenges requiring a wide range of solutions. And at USDA we are leading the way in research to help out our pollinator friends.”

Honeybees are the nation’s primary pollinators, adding at least $15 billion a year in value to about 90 crops by increasing yields and helping to ensure superior-quality harvests. Those crops include nuts, fruits, berries and vegetables, which add color, taste and texture to our diet.

The number of honeybee hives in the U.S, has declined from 6 million during the 1940s to only about 2.5 million today. Those losses have been attributed to a number of factors, ranging from a syndrome known as “colony collapse disorder” to stress caused by factors such as parasites and pests, transportation of bees, sub-lethal exposure to pesticides, and poor nutrition.

Mrs. Pence and Secretary Perdue pointed out that a lack of supportive habitat near hives also contributes to the declines. Even if people don’t set up their own hives, they can help by planting bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in their yards and gardens. Honeybees particularly love wildflowers, lilacs, poppies and Black-eyed Susans, as well as herbs and vegetables like mint, sage, squash, tomatoes, oregano, and rosemary. In addition, bees get thirsty, and that placing birdbaths and small basins of water could help relieve their thirst.

Mrs. Pence installed a beehive in the Indiana governor’s residence in 2014, when Vice President Mike Pence served as the state’s governor. She said more than 80 percent of the land in Indiana is dedicated to agriculture, and its crops are very dependent upon pollinators.

The hive unveiled today is located on the grounds of the Vice President’s Residence. It is a triple-deep “Langstroth” beehive that holds traditional frames and was obtained from Eco Honeybees of Falls Church, VA. The hive contains almost 20,000 bees and continues to grow.
Here is the AP story at CapitalPress.com. Perhaps all those bees buzzing around his house will prepare Mike Pence should he ever become president and have to deal with the Washington press corps.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bill enables citrus industry to collect more fees for ACP

From California Citrus Mutual:
The California State Assembly approved a bill this week that will allow the citrus industry to increase spending for activities to protect residential and commercial citrus trees from the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and the deadly plant disease it can carry, Huanglongbing (HLB).

SB 243 by Senator Galgiani (Stockton) allows for an additional $9.6 million in grower assessments to be spent by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for ACP and HLB control programs.

Because assessment funds are collected by the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program which is managed by CDFA, the spending authority level for the program is granted by the legislature.

SB 243 was passed unanimously by the Senate last week and the State Assembly followed suit on Monday. The Governor is expected to sign the bill by the end of the month.

HLB-infected trees are being found at an alarming rate in residential areas in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. In the past 12 months, the number of detections has more than tripled. "If ACP is left unchecked and HLB is allowed to take hold, it will be a death sentence for California's $3 billion citrus industry," says California Citrus Mutual (CCM) President Joel Nelsen.

"Our Central Valley Senators and Assembly Members were instrumental in moving this legislation," says Nelsen. "In particular, CCM would like to thank Senator Galgiani and Assembly Member Mathis for championing the bill and communicating to their urban colleagues the seriousness of this issue to all citrus trees in California."

The grower-funded Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program was created through legislation in 2009 and authorized an assessment on growers. Growers have since invested over $100 million into the program, over 95% of which go to trapping, treatments, and surveys in urban areas in order stop ACP and HLB from devastating the California citrus industry as it has in other parts of the country and world. The program receives federal funding to augment HLB detection analyses and public communications efforts. The Governor and Legislature, however, have repeatedly denied industry requests for State funding.

"Year after year, the issue has expanded and yet the State has remained a silent partner despite the industry's investment and generous support from the federal government," comments Nelsen.

"With every new detection of HLB in the urban areas, California is one step closer to succumbing to the same fate as Florida, where their citrus industry has all but collapsed due to HLB.

"California still has an opportunity to stop HLB, but the State must be a partner if we are to be successful."

California Citrus Mutual is currently seeking a state funding in the 2017-18 budget.

"The State has until June 15th to pass its budget and we're doing everything we can to make sure funding for ACP and HLB control is included," concludes Nelsen.

Rancher calls on Congress to stop 'sue and settle' abuse

From the National Cattlemen's Beef Association:
If family ranching operations and rural economies are going to survive another generation, Congress must address the problem of so-called “sue and settle” abuse. That’s the message that Darcy Helmick, Land Manager for Simplot Land & Livestock, stressed to Congress in subcommittee testimony [Wednesday].

Helmick testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment during its hearing to examine how environmental advocacy groups and federal agencies regulate through consent decrees using citizen lawsuit provisions in environmental laws, which is known as “sue and settle.”

“In my extensive experience dealing with the federal grazing system and western land use in general, offensive litigation tactics by outside activist groups have served to totally derail business operations,” said Helmick. “While it is critical that we maintain the right of citizens to litigate when necessary, reform is needed to prevent that right from being abused or exploited.”

It is critical that permitted public lands users have a role in any settlement agreements, and that federal employees at a local level have input, Helmick said. She added that while unreasonable timelines have become the norm, once imposed during settlements, they are rarely reached.

“The repercussions of the missed timelines heavily impact the permitted public lands users and result in a level of uncertainty that is prohibitive in any business environment. Unfortunately this is often the goal of these litigants,” said Helmick.

Helmick concluded her testimony by explaining how the sue and settle tactics used by radical environmental groups also serve to limit young producers from entering the industry, which will inevitably lead to further erosion of the footprint of ranching in the West.

“As a fourth generation cattle producer it is in my blood to continue with my family business,” said Helmick. “As my parents age and need more help, my brother and I are working with financial advisors on how to transition the business. How does one budget for litigation, how does one calculate the expense of the stress and time used to work through litigation?” she asked.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CFBF: Trump budget reduces farm and food spending

From the California Farm Bureau Federation's Food and Farm News:
Discussions of federal spending on food and agricultural initiatives has opened, with the release of the Trump administration budget proposal. The plan proposes a $228 billion reduction in federal farm and nutrition spending over 10 years. The American Farm Bureau Federation expressed concern about the proposal, and said it will ask Congress to maintain programs that are vital to farmers and rural communities.
We have a couple of reporters seeking reactions and analyses of the budget proposal. For our coverage, keep watch at CapitalPress.com.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ag labor shortage looks more severe in California this year

This year's agricultural labor shortage in California is shaping up to be more severe than previous years, industry representatives told me this week.

While the Golden State has yet to enter its peak season for labor, growers already report as much as a 20 percent to 30 percent shortage of workers. In the central San Joaquin Valley, that number is closer to 40 percent.

"I'm telling folks it's looking like the tightest it's been in five or 10 years, at least in this area," said Ryan Jacobsen, president of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. "We're hearing some reports this early on, which is not typical.

"We're hearing early indications that some folks … are only seeing 60 percent of what they would consider to be an adequate labor force," he said. "That's substantially down."

Such shortages have been a "chronic concern" in recent years but have received significantly more attention this year because of President Donald Trump's immigration policies, noted Dave Kranz, a California Farm Bureau Federation spokesman.

In an email, Kranz writes:
The long-term, chronic shortage of employees can be traced to a number of factors, including increased border security dating back to Sept. 11, 2001; economic improvements in Mexico that have compelled fewer people to leave the country in search of work; the aging of the migrant employee population in Mexico and elsewhere; and similar economic, educational and demographic factors.

We’ve seen farmers respond to the long-term shortages in a variety of ways, including increased wages, greater use of the existing H-2A agricultural guestworker program offered by the federal government, and continued advocacy on behalf of an improved immigration system that allows people to enter the U.S. legally to take on-farm jobs. In some cases, farmers have switched crops in favor of crops that require less manpower and/or have looked for ways to mechanize additional harvest and other on-farm work. The push toward mechanization is propelled not only by employee shortages but by recent California laws that will ratchet up the minimum wage and expand agricultural overtime pay.

As the 2017 harvest season picks up, we’ll have a better idea of how farmers will do in coping with the shortage. Peak agricultural employment typically occurs in late summer/early autumn, when harvests of a number of crops overlap in Central and Northern California. Planting and development of a number of crops was delayed this spring by the aftermath of the rainy winter; as the year goes on, we’ll see how that affects harvest timing, which can either worsen or lessen the ongoing problems with employee availability.
My inquiries were part of a comprehensive project I'm doing with Capital Press reporters from Washington, Oregon and Idaho on farm labor availability in the West. Look for our centerpiece story in next week's issue and at CapitalPress.com.

Farm groups: Don't jeopardize NAFTA's benefits for ag

The Trump administration's effort to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement has farm groups' close attention. First, from the USDA:
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue issued the following statement today after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress that President Trump intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

"While NAFTA has been an overall positive for American agriculture, any trade deal can always be improved. As President Trump moves forward with renegotiating with Canada and Mexico, I am confident this will result in a better deal for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers. When the rules are fair and the playing field is level, U.S. agriculture will succeed and lead the world. It's why we recently announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade at USDA, because as world markets expand, we will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture. As I have often said, if our people continue to grow it, USDA will be there to sell it," said Secretary Perdue.

Background:
Last week, Secretary Perdue announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the USDA, a recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international trade to American agriculture. The new undersecretary will work hand in hand with Commerce and the USTR and help open up even more markets to American products.

Agricultural trade is critical for the U.S. farm sector and the American economy as a whole. U.S. agricultural and food exports account for 20 percent of the value of production, and every dollar of these exports creates another $1.27 in business activity. Additionally, every $1 billion in U.S. agricultural exports supports approximately 8,000 American jobs across the entire American economy. As the global marketplace becomes even more competitive every day, the United States must position itself in the best way possible to retain its standing as a world leader.
From cattlemen's groups:
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today joined its cattle-industry partners in Canada and Mexico in sending a joint letter to the presidents of those two nations and to President Trump, urging the three leaders to not “jeopardize the success we have all enjoyed as partners of the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

The letter to President Trump, President Justin Trudeau of Canada, and President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico was signed by NCBA President Craig Uden, Dan Darling, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, and Oswaldo Chazaro Montalvo, president of the Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas.

“Recent statements about the possible dissolution of NAFTA or potential renegotiation of NAFTA are deeply concerning to us because of the unnecessary risk it places on our producers,” the letter states. “While there may be general agreement among the countries to improve some parts of the NAFTA trade framework, we urge you to recognize that the terms of the agreement affecting cattle producers are strongly supported as they currently exist and should not be altered.”

The groups also urged Presidents Trump, Trudeau, and Nieto to “reject efforts to use NAFTA as a platform to resurrect failed policies, especially the misguided mandatory country-of-origin labeling policy that was the law of the United States for over seven years.”

“MCOOL failed to deliver its proponents’ promise to increase consumer demand or consumer confidence,” the groups said. “Instead, it created massive disruptions in live cattle trade that hurt beef producers across North America and jeopardized the jobs of American workers that depend on processing those cattle.”

NCBA has worked for years to expand access to foreign markets for America’s cattle and beef producers and in a February op-ed on CNN.com Uden called NAFTA “one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the U.S. beef industry.”

“Since NAFTA was implemented in 1993, exports of American-produced beef to Mexico have grown by more than 750%, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation,” Uden said. “In addition, exports now account for as much as 13% of overall U.S. beef production -- and it's more likely to be higher-quality cuts that bring in higher revenues for the hundreds of thousands of American families in the beef community.”

Click here to read the full letter.
Watch for our continuing coverage of this issue at CapitalPress.com.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Triple-digit heat to make its season debut next week

From the National Weather Service:
Valley heat this weekend into early next week could peak into the low 100s for the Northern Sacramento Valley. This would be the first triple digit heat event of 2017 so we encourage people to follow heat safety tips to prevent heat related illness. Avoid seeking heat relief in mountain streams and rivers as they are running cold and swift from snow melt. Hypothermia can set in very quickly and cause drownings. From Sunday into much of next week, a low pressure system will linger offshore that may trigger mountain thunderstorms.

Impacts
Increased potential for heat related illness this weekend into early next week
Snow melt will cause mountain rivers and streams to run very cold and very swift
Localized lightning, gusty winds, small hail possible if mountain thunderstorms develop

Forecast Confidence
High in temperatures
Low in thunderstorms

Timing and Strength
Saturday-Sunday

Valley highs peaking in the mid to upper 90s
Slight chance of mountain thunderstorms on Sunday
Monday-Tuesday
Valley temperatures peaking in the upper 90s to low 100s
Tuesday expected to be the hottest day for northern Sacramento valley (delta breeze may bring cooling to Sacramento Metro region)
Slight chance of mountain thunderstorms persist

Friday, May 12, 2017

Comey and New York Times just proved Trump's point

After three days of seeking out intelligent commentary on the James Comey firing and avoiding the media garbage, two main points are clear to me: 1) Comey had become a grandstanding loose cannon with his own political agenda who had appointed himself judge, jury and executioner, and his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation last year cost the FBI the respect and trust of a majority of Americans; 2) President Trump was going to end up firing him, many (possibly including he himself) think he should have done it on Jan. 20, and the only thing that was special about this week is that now is the time he decided to take the inevitable political heat. But that heat will pass, to be replaced by the next outrage (whether faux or real).

Yesterday, Comey proved his untrustworthiness by apparently working with the New York Times to put out selected details of a private dinner with Trump. So much for being beyond reproach.

Reports Charlie Spiering at Breitbart News:
Former FBI Director James Comey is now leaking details of a private dinner with President Donald Trump to the media, through some of his close associates.

According to the New York Times, the FBI director had dinner with Trump in January after the inauguration, citing private details of the meeting that portray Comey as a martyr.

Comey’s people, “who have heard his account of the dinner” and spoke anonymously, insist that Trump asked the director to pledge his personal loyalty to him, but he declined. They added that Comey was wary about dining with the president, but believed he couldn’t turn him down.

The White House, however, disputed the report.

“We don’t believe this to be an accurate account,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary. “The integrity of our law enforcement agencies and their leadership is of the utmost importance to President Trump. He would never even suggest the expectation of personal loyalty, only loyalty to our country and its great people.”
Whatever Comey may or may not have said to Trump, U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein and independent journalists have confirmed that Trump has not been a subject of the Russia investigation.

As Breitbart reports, one of the reasons Comey was fired was his inability to control leaks out of the bureau. This episode just proves he's a willing and deliberate vehicle for such leaks.

The last two years have been full of defining moments in the downfall of the major corporate news media as an institution, and this week has provided another one. Blogger Sundance details the latest examples of what would be embarrassments if any of these media folks were capable of being embarrassed:
Almost every broadcast network and print media has pushed ridiculous stories only to have them completely debunked and called nonsense within a few hours of their publication. WaPo: Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein threatened to quit. – Um, no he didn’t. NY Times: Director James Comey asked for more funds. – Um, no he didn’t.
For Trump, political fallout was going to be inevitable no matter when he chose to pull the trigger. But so far, according to Rasmussen Reports, his approval rating is still within the range it was in before the firing. Could it be that news consumers are learning to ignore or avoid the noise, making it basically irrelevant? One can only hope.

Left-wing north state group calling for 'revolution'

Former tea party organizer Erin Ryan, a field representative for Rep. Doug LaMalfa, sent out a message alerting folks to the actions of a new group on Facebook that calls itself Our Revolution Northstate.

The site -- which boasts 1,785 members -- is apparently a clearinghouse for political organizing in the 1st Congressional District, much of it targeting LaMalfa.

Erin writes:
It looks like the left is mobilizing in the 1st congressional district. Lots of negativity and plans to disrupt our ability to represent the people here. Even my office hours up in Yreka are now a target. UGH
She's fighting information with information, asking folks to message her on Facebook or post photos or videos of the group's doings.

As I've reported here, there are several left-wing groups in the north state that are organizing protests and other activities designed to gather media attention. This Our Revelution page gives people advice on how to get their point across and even what to say.

Here's one post from group member Teri Wo:
***CALL TO ACTION - NOW !!! *

LaMalfa's Oroville office phones are "ringing off the hook". CALL and let's try to burn the phone lines down!

RE: ACHA Today I'm asking why House didn't wait for CBO (Congressional Budget Office) financial scoring when total health care in U.S. = 7% of total budget.

And I'm asking why LaM didn't publically also call for open hearings.

Oroville: 530-534-7100
Redding: 530-223-5898
She also tells people how to make one or two people seem like many:
Let it keep ringing till you get recording, then call back immed. and let it ring again till recording, rinse and repeat.
Hey, all's fair in love and (political) war -- as long as it doesn't put people's lives at risk. That's what happened in Tennessee, where one unhinged woman actually chased down a congressman's vehicle, ran it off the highway and started beating the car. Then she posted her attack on Facebook.

But as you see and hear reports of a few dozen people protesting at LaMalfa's office or on the street, or people "flooding their congressman" with phone calls, here's what you need to remember: It is all organized, scripted and hand-delivered for media consumption.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Farm's project near Redding to create salmon habitat


The California Farm Bureau Federation is highlighting a farm's north state project to create new habitat in the Sacramento River to benefit chinook salmon.

Christine Souza reports at AgAlert:
Twenty-five salmon shelters called "refugios"—made of large tree trunks and root wads, bolted to 12,000-pound limestone boulders—have been lowered into the Sacramento River near Redding. A Northern California farm partnered with state and federal agencies in what's considered a first-of-its-kind project to benefit chinook salmon in the river.

"The overall goal is to improve the ecosystem," said Roger Cornwell, general manager at River Garden Farms, a diversified farm in Knights Landing that is leading the project. "This is our opportunity to get involved and to improve salmon numbers in the Sacramento River. A healthy ecosystem makes the whole river better for everybody."

The project won't directly help secure water supplies, Cornwell said, "but by having a healthy ecosystem, it definitely helps the regulators and water users work together."

River Garden Farms, state and federal agencies and others completed installation of the refugios in the river last week. The idea is to increase the likelihood young salmon will be able to grow in size and strength, to prepare for their journey to the Pacific Ocean.
Her full story is here.

In the photo, courtesy of the CFBF, a crane stationed on a barge and maneuvered by a tugboat hoists a salmon structure into the Sacramento River near Redding. The structure, called a “refugio,” is made of a large tree trunk and root wad that is bolted onto a limestone boulder. Once lowered into the water, these are designed to give young salmon a place to hide from predators.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Almond industry expecting 2.2 billion pound crop in 2017

Almond producers in California think they'll harvest a 2.2 billion pound crop this summer, an increase of 2.8 percent from last year's production of 2.14 billion pounds, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service in Sacramento.

Nut set has reportedly been good despite stormy weather during the bloom in February, producers told NASS in a survey.

For more on this, including what the expectations are for the market going forward, watch for my coverage at CapitalPress.com.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Red Bluff workshop to discuss new water reporting regs

From the California Cattlemen's Association:
The Resource Conservation District of Tehama County in partnership with the Tehama County Farm Bureau invite you to attend an informational workshop on recent reservoir and diversion reporting requirements as a result of SB 88 on Wednesday, May 24 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Tehama County Farm Bureau located at 275 Sale Lane in Red Bluff.

Attendance is free and lunch will be provided. Discussions will include an overview of the requirements, monitoring methods and resources for compliance. Guests will hear from featured speakers Kirk Wilbur, California Cattlemen's Association and Sawn Pike, Right to Water Engineering.

RSVP to Lindsey Affonso at (530) 737-5180 or via e-mail at lindsey@tehamacountyrcd.org. Respond quickly as space is limited.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Cattlemen's groups break down Trump's tax package

Ranchers' groups are offering an analysis of President Donald Trump's tax reform proposal. This is from a legislative bulletin published by the California Cattlemen's Association. The analysis was mainly produced by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Last week top officials in the Trump Administration released their proposal for comprehensive tax reform, calling it the "biggest tax cut in US history." The plan is designed to serve as the starting point as Congress and the Administration work to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year. Highlights of the plan include:

A full tax repeal of the death tax. During the press briefing announcing the tax package, one reporter asked if the White House proposal repealed the death tax immediately or if the tax would be phased out over a period of time. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn responded that right now, the plan would eliminate the death tax immediately upon enactment.

It is similar to the House GOP Blueprint for tax reform, but does not include the border-adjustment tax which paid for a number of reforms in the House proposal by imposing a new tax on imports.

The plan lowers the tax rate to 15 percent for corporations, small businesses and partnerships of all sizes, and restores a 20 percent rate on capital gains.

On the individual side, it proposes condensing the existing seven income-tax rates to just three, cutting the individual top rate to 35 percent from 39.6 percent. The plan also repeals the alternative minimum tax and would end a 3.8 percent net investment income tax that applies only to individuals who earn more than $200,000 a year.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated, "We are determined to move as fast as we can and get this done this year." Throughout the month of May the Administration will hold stakeholder listening sessions and will continue working with House and Senate leadership to develop a detailed plan that can pass both chambers of Congress.

Moving forward, NCBA and CCA will continue to engage with the Administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to ensure that any comprehensive tax reform package includes a full, permanent repeal of the death tax. We will also work to safeguard provisions in the tax code which currently help to ease the financial challenges facing US livestock producers (stepped-up basis, cash accounting, like-kind exchanges, tax deductions for interest expense, etc).

Friday, May 5, 2017

Local sheriffs blast California's 'sanctuary state' bill

Local sheriffs are speaking out about California's "sanctuary state" bill. From LifeZette:
Sheriff’s departments across the state of California are urging their communities to resist California Senate Bill 54, currently being debated [in] the California Assembly. The bill, which passed the upper chamber in the state legislature in April, would turn the Sunshine State into the Sanctuary State.
The full story is here.

Obamagate update: Intelligence reports raise questions

Nationally known attorney John Hinderaker of the blog PowerLine has pored through a little-noticed intelligence report that reveals that thousands of Americans were surveilled by the National Security Agency in the final year of President Barack Obama's administration.

He writes:
At the end of April, the Director of National Intelligence released a report titled Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities. The report, which is mandated by statute, conveys basic data about the intelligence community’s use of the FISA process and other intelligence-gathering techniques.

Like most such reports, it raises more questions than it answers. It describes the National Security Agency’s sweeping up of international electronic communications, and describes minimization procedures that are designed to keep confidential the identities of Americans whose communications are caught up in the dragnet. It also describes the unmasking procedures whereby bureaucrats can be allowed to identify “U.S. persons.”

The report indicates that in 2016, there were 5,288 occasions when some or all of the database of international communications collected by NSA under Section 702 of FISA was searched to find information on a known U.S. person, using, e.g., his email address or phone number as an identifier.
Using a series of charts, Hinderaker reports a "rapidly increasing pattern of searches" by the Obama administration.
The number more than tripled between 2013 and 2016, the election year when the Obama administration is suspected of spying on Trump associates.
Further, Hinderaker notices that of the 2,964 Americans whose names were originally "masked" or redacted in NSA reports in 2016, 1,934 were later identified "in response to specific requests" from other federal officials. That's nearly triple the 654 U.S. persons who had their names revealed in 2015, lending credibility to the idea that the election had a lot to do with last year's number of people who were "outed."
The data in these two reports cry out for witness testimony. Only witnesses familiar with the processes described in the reports, and who know which Obama officials requested “unmasking” of American citizens, and why, can shed meaningful light.
This explains why former national security adviser Susan Rice has refused to appear before the subcommittee investigating the matter. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Congress may subpoena her.

The Obama folks apparently cast a wide net. Sen. Rand Paul told Breitbart News today that several sources have told him that the Obama administration spied on his presidential campaign.

One New Media outlet wants President Donald Trump to blow the doors wide open. From Circa, a five-year-old online news and entertainment service:
Circa has formally requested that the Trump administration declassify records showing how often government officials have searched National Security Agency intercepts for intelligence on U.S. presidential candidates, members of Congress, journalists, clergy, lawyers, federal judges and doctors and how often such Americans had their identities unmasked by the intelligence community after Barack Obama made it easier to do so in 2011.

The request follows an exclusive Circa report on Wednesday that revealed that the Obama administration conducted more than 35,000 searches on NSA intercepts seeking information about Americans during the divisive 2016 election year.

“The law makes President Trump the ultimate declassifying authority, and we believe the president can answer many troubling questions by declassifying this information, including how often First Amendment protected professionals had their privacy impacted by NSA intercepts and why some of Trump’s own aides were unmasked in NSA data by the prior White House,” said John Solomon, the chief operating officer of Circa and the author of Wednesday’s story.
If you want to see abject white-knuckle panic not only in the halls of the administrative state but also in newsrooms at places like the New York Times and Washington Post, start declassifying these documents. It wouldn't be more than a matter of minutes before people started connecting the dots of who requested which names to be "unmasked" and with whom in the major corporate media they were conspiring.

I have a hunch that even the most cynical Americans would be shocked at the degree to which some media outlets are tied to all of this. As an example of how coordination of a message works: Hillary Clinton gives a speech on Tuesday blaming FBI director James Comey for her election loss; Comey tells Congress on Wednesday that he's nauseated by the thought that he may have cost her the election; and within hours ABC News correspondent and New York Times blogger Nate Silver unveils a detailed and lengthy report on how Comey's decision in October to reopen the investigation into Clinton's emails supposedly swung the election. He just happened to have it ready to go.

This has all the appearance of people at the levers of power in Washington coordinating with people in major media to create a political narrative. And if you still have cable television, you are footing the bill.

That's why it would take outlets like Circa and PowerLine and Breitbart and probably a few others we haven't heard of yet to blow the lid off this story, if it were to ever happen. That and continued political pressure from voters to keep Congress on the trail.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

LaMalfa calls health care bill's passage 'a positive step'

From a news release:
Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the House passed an amended version of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act.

LaMalfa said: “Here’s what we know: Obamacare is collapsing. Insurance providers are pulling out of the exchanges, premiums are continuing to skyrocket, and choices for Americans are dwindling – and it will only get worse. Unfortunately, the reality is that too many young and healthy individuals are deciding they’d rather pay the penalty than sign up for care, citing financial barriers and lack of choice. A 28 year old making $45,000 a year with no major health concerns is not going to pay upwards of $400 a month for a plan that does not even work for them. And they are not alone. In fact, in 2015, 7.5 million people chose to pay the penalty rather than purchase coverage. That same year, over 12 million filed for hardship exemptions. That’s nearly 20 million people that actively are not in the market today. This causes premiums in the individual market to continue to rise, leaving middle income families struggling to afford their monthly payments, while providers continue to drop out, citing costs, and leaving residents with even fewer choices. Premiums are up 25% nationally and predicted to continue to rise, while one third of counties will have just one insurer this year.

From my very first day in Congress, the constituents of Northern California have pleaded that we get this law repealed and replaced with something that actually works for them. We also know that there will be no help from Democrats, forcing us to use the budget reconciliation process which requires only 51 votes in the Senate as opposed to 60 - Republicans have 52 votes. The Senate Parliamentarian requires every measure to have a budgetary effect. Without budget reconciliation, this bill would need 60 votes to pass and would be dead upon arrival in the Senate – sticking Americans with the high costs of Obamacare for another year. This was our one and only shot to get this done using the budget reconciliation process.

The rules of reconciliation force the House to be cautious not to exceed parliamentary guidelines, but the Senate will have significantly more flexibility in their own chamber to test parliamentary limits. Simultaneously, we passed legislation today that will ensure Members of Congress and staff are subject to the same healthcare options as the constituents they serve. This bill is not a finished product, but it’s a start. The American Healthcare Act is a positive step that will ultimately return the freedom of choice back to the patient.”

The Budget Reconciliation Process
The Senate requires 60 votes to waive a point of order, as compared to the 51-vote threshold for a budget reconciliation bill. Reconciliation measures are intended to implement budget resolutions, and the “Byrd rule” allows Senators to raise a point of order against any provision that is “extraneous” to reconciliation legislation. This includes measures that do not have a budgetary effect, measures where the budgetary effects are “merely incidental” to the policy objective, or measures that involve the jurisdictions of committees without reconciliation instructions. The Senate Parliamentarian may determine that a base bill that contains a substantial number of Byrd violations is not privileged and thus must be considered under a 60-vote threshold. The Senate Parliamentarian does not rule on the parliamentary inquiries of Members of the House, but the House has attempted to comply with the Byrd rule based on guidance from the Senate Budget Committee, among others.
Ø Helps to expand our economy and create jobs by providing relief from the employer mandate that California small businesses have been asking for since the ACA became law.
Ø Repeals the individual mandate, currently forcing Americans to pay skyrocketing premiums for a plan they may not even want or pay a steep penalty.
Ø Repeals job killing, and costly taxes such as the medical device tax, prescription drug tax, health insurance tax, and Cadillac tax.
Ø Provides refundable tax credits, designed to give people in the individual market who don’t receive employer sponsored care the same tax benefits as those who do. This way, individuals and families receive an advanceable credit, meaning they have the money when they need to purchase a plan, valued from $2,000 to $14,000 based on age, household, and income, so they can afford coverage that meets their needs.
Ø Expands tax-free Health Savings Accounts, a tool that gives Americans the opportunity to save their money pre-tax then also have control over how they spend these health care dollars, such as for medication or co-pays. This bill nearly doubles the contribution limit to $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families.
Ø Authorizes $100 billion in grant funding for states under the Patient and State Stability Fund to help lower costs and increase access to care. States can determine how the funds are used to meet the needs of their residents, including providing financial assistance for high cost individuals, reducing out of pocket costs, incentivizing insurer participation in rural areas to drive up competition, reducing the cost of insurance, and promoting access to preventives services.

Facts of the American Health Care Act
Ø Will ensure that those receiving Medi-Cal benefits continue to receive them.
Ø Protects individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Ø Allows young adults under 26 to remain on their parents’ healthcare plan.
Ø There will be no reductions for children’s healthcare in California.
Ø H.R. 2192 ensures coverage options for members of congress and their staff should be on the same basis as what is available to their constituents.

Charter loses 100,000 cable TV subscribers in 1st quarter

The exodus from the old and outdated bundled cable-TV model continues. Charter Communications shed 100,000 pay TV subscribers from January through March, the company announced. That's akin to losing the entire Redding basin.

It's also more cancellations than the company expected, Breitbart News reports.

Charter claims it made a $155 million profit for the quarter as it added 428,000 broadband subscribers. I would submit that the revenue increase is at least partly due to another increase in rates, which happened recently. Also, the company stopped bundling internet and phone, so the only way you can get a bundle discount is if you include television.

But rate increases are fool's gold for these cable companies because the time will come soon when people will refuse to pay them even for high-speed internet. That's because the streaming technology is improving to the point that you no longer need a coaxial cable to get decent internet. I had the special opportunity recently to listen to radio programs on a Verizon cell phone while on one of my road trips, and even in a rainstorm so heavy that some drivers pulled to the side of the road, the stream continued unabated. I don't have Verizon on my own phone because I refuse to sign a contract, but the point is that the days of walking around a room saying, "Can you hear me now" are rapidly ending.

In any event, people are walking away from the major corporate media outlets' constant barrage of divisiveness and vulgarity.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Education day highlights logging's high-tech advances


Yesterday and today, hundreds of elementary through high school students from around the north state gained an understanding of how high-tech the logging industry is becoming.

In the photos, from the top: Students from Corning High School watch a delimber take bark and small limbs off a log; hot saw operator Loren German talks to fifth-graders from Cottonwood Creek Charter School; Shasta College heavy equipment program students Patty Franks and Heather Boswell show off a frontline fire dozer; a log loader moves logs; a logger prepares to fell a tree with a hand saw; and a tree masticator creates mulch.

The photos were taken at a working Sierra Pacific Industries timber harvest site east of Shingletown. The Sierra Cascade Logging Conference hosts the education days in the woods each spring to counter some of the negative images of the timber industry created by some environmental organizations and their friends in the media.

Lately, a big focus of the field trips has been how computerized and automated each of the tasks have become. They also learn about the many jobs still available in timber. From a news release by the event's organizers:
Students from area middle schools and high schools will be taken through an actual logging operation during which they will be exposed to all the on site jobs and auxiliary occupations that are coordinated within timber harvesting.

Students can expect to see how science and computer technology are integrated into forestry and how vocational education in this industry can lead to rewarding careers.
This event is always a magnet for local and regional media because of the great opportunities for photos and video, and not only of the teaching sessions. Because it's an actual logging site, a news outlet can gather enough stock photos or video to run with timber industry-related stories for the next year.

For my story on the educational sessions and on students' reactions, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Hearing on monuments includes O&C Counties group

From a news release:
The Association of O&C Counties (AOCC) presented testimony to a congressional panel on the expansion of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument (CSNM). The House Natural Resources Committee's Federal Lands Subcommittee held a hearing on May 2 to discuss national monuments designated without significant local input or support, or that included excessively large or restricted areas of land.

AOCC informed the subcommittee that President Obama's expansion of the monument offered no opportunity for the public to speak on the proposed expansion of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument until October 2016. By then, the association says it was clear the administration was already committed to granting the request of environmental groups to expand the national monument. In addition to AOCC, both Jackson and Klamath Counties opposed the national monument's expansion within their boundaries as did hundreds of private individuals and groups.

Further, Douglas County Commissioner and AOCC president Tim Freeman says the expansion is illegal because it prohibits timber production on 17,000 acres of Western Oregon O&C lands that were in the harvestable land base under current BLM plans, and prohibits harvesting on an additional 18,500 acres of timber land that were eligible harvesting under future plans. All O&C timberlands are intended by Congress to be managed to benefit counties that host these federal lands. For that reason, AOCC is pursuing litigation in a federal District Court over the expansion.

"Local concerns were ignored. Worse yet, the law was ignored. Commercial timber harvesting is specifically forbidden within the CSNM, a prohibition that is directly contrary to the mandate of Congress for management of O&C lands," Freeman said.

The O&C Act requires the Bureau of Land Management to produce timber under the principles of sustained yield forestry. Counties depend on the 50 percent of revenues they receive from O&C timber harvests to pay for essential public services of all kinds, from public safety to public health programs and libraries. When O&C lands are withdrawn from sustained yield management, there is a direct financial loss to county governments and a loss of services to local citizens.

"The O&C Counties are already reeling from two decades of federal mismanagement if the O&C lands and a reduction of almost 90 percent in revenues from shared timber harvest receipts. Counties struggle to provide even minimally acceptable levels of public services. It can only be described as indifference or even arrogance to add to these woes by Presidental actions taken under the Antiquities Act," Freeman says.
Here is our recent centerpiece story on the controversy surrounding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Station broadcasts vulgar anti-gay slur amid Trump slam

Another for the "Media is Detrimental to Society" file: Our CBS affiliate, KHSL-TV, on Monday night beamed a vulgar, borderline homophobic rant against the president of the United States into every home in the north state -- including the TV in your child's bedroom.

From Breitbart News:
Stephen Colbert unleashed a blistering, profanity-laced barrage of personal insults against President Donald Trump during Monday’s broadcast of The Late Show.

Colbert couched his attacks on the president as an attempt to defend his CBS colleague and Face the Nation host John Dickerson, whose show the president “loves” and jokingly called “Deface the Nation” in an interview this week. [...]

“Mr. President, I love your presidency. I call it ‘Disgrace the Nation,'” he began. “You’re not the POTUS; you’re the ‘BLOTUS.’ You’re the glutton with the button. You’re a regular ‘Gorge Washington.’ You’re the ‘presi-dunce’ but you’re turning into a real ‘prick-tator.'”

“Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine,” Colbert continued. “You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head.”

“In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c*ck holster,” Colbert said, as the audience erupted in laughter and applause.
Whatever happened to George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say On Television? Lucian Wintrich writes at the Gateway Pundit:
Stephen Colbert’s disgusting 12-minute homophobic rant against President Donald Trump cannot be taken lightly. Too many times, people on the right are attacked for even the smallest social infraction (like Bill O’Reilly’s “hot chocolate” situation) and yet liberals don’t bat an eyelash after Colbert’s vile and obscene anti-gay ‘joke’. [...]

Colbert’s actions demand a response and CBS, as a network, is complicit as they allowed for this to happen. The audience had no problem laughing along, either. It goes to show that if it comes out of the mouth of someone “on their team” it is not a problem, but if the right says it there will be boycotts, rallies, and riots.
If CBS is complicit, so, too, is every one of its affiliates, which actually broadcast the vulgar content. Their signal is the one that invaded your home. It used to be that affiliates had a lot of sway with networks, and if they heard from viewers and local advertisers about something, they'd pass it along. But now the affiliates are major corporate networks themselves, and they could give a rip what you think. Channels 12 and 24 are owned by a company based in Atlanta, Ga., which has network affiliates from New York to California. Their company bigwigs have probably never set foot in Redding, or Red Bluff, or Burney, and wouldn't if somebody asked them to.

That's why the issue of funding is so important to many consumers. These stations and the garbage they transmit are funded by 1) cable subscribers who pay carriage fees directly to the stations as well as to the networks, and 2) advertising dollars, including from local businesses. Thus, it's possible for consumers to shop accordingly.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Final DWR snow survey finds water-rich snowpack

From a news release:
Today’s manual snow survey by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada found a Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) of 27.8 inches, 190 percent of the May 1 long-term average there (14.6 inches).

Electronic measurements indicate the water content of the statewide snowpack today is 42.5 inches, 196 percent of the May 1 average. The SWE of the northern Sierra snowpack is 39.9 inches (199 percent of average); the central and southern Sierra readings are 47.1 inches (202 percent of average) and 37.6 inches (180 percent of average), respectively.

Today's readings will help hydrologists forecast spring and summer snowmelt runoff into rivers and reservoirs. The melting snow supplies approximately one-third of the water used by Californians.

"California’s cities and farms can expect good water supplies this summer,” said DWR Acting Director Bill Croyle. “But this ample snowpack should not wash away memories of the intense drought of 2012-2016. California’s precipitation is the most variable in the nation, and we cannot afford to stop conserving water.”

Snowpack water content is measured manually on or near the first of the month from January to May. The Phillips snow course, near the intersection of Highway 50 and Sierra-at-Tahoe Road, is one of hundreds surveyed manually throughout the winter. Manual measurements augment the electronic readings from about 100 sensors in the state’s mountains that provide a current snapshot of the snowpack’s water content.

The first of April is normally when snowpack water content is at its peak.

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, conducted DWR’s survey today at Phillips and said of his findings, 2017 has been “an extremely good year in terms of the snowpack.”

Gehrke said the snowpack is encouraging in terms of surface water supplies. “The thing we’re looking out for is primarily the southern Sierra, where we have full reservoirs and in some cases a huge snowpack,” he said. “We want to make sure that we prudently manage that so we don’t cause any downstream issues.”

California's reservoirs are fed both by rain and snowpack runoff. A majority of the state's major reservoirs are above normal storage levels for today’s date. Lake Oroville in Butte County, the State Water Project's (SWP) principal reservoir, is 91 percent of average for the date (74 percent of its 3.5-million acre-foot capacity). Shasta Lake north of Redding, the federal Central Valley Project's largest reservoir with a capacity of 4.5 million acre-feet, is at 109 percent of average (94 percent of capacity).

Earlier this month, DWR increased its estimate of this year’s SWP supply to 100 percent of requests for contractors north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and 85 percent of requests for other contractors, the highest since the 100-percent allocation in 2006.