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

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

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.

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 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

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.

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

Valley highs peaking in the mid to upper 90s
Slight chance of mountain thunderstorms on Sunday
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:

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

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 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 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.