Now, though, a growing number of experts, environmentalists and farmers themselves see their fields as a powerful weapon in the fight to slow climate change, their very soil a potentially vast repository for the carbon that is warming the atmosphere. Critically for an industry that must produce an ever-larger bounty to feed a growing global population, restoring lost carbon to the soil also increases its ability to support crops and withstand drought.
The sophisticated organizations in many cases use high-tech tactics, hacking into trucking companies to steal their identity. Armed with false shipping papers, they pose as legitimate truckers, driving off with loads of nuts such as almonds, walnuts or pistachios valued at $150,000, and some worth $500,000 each.
We tried to make the case that with diesel and gas prices at $1.00 / gal higher then AZ, the higher CARB [California Air Resources Board] standards on sprinkler pumps, higher electrical rates in California, restrictions on insecticides, fungicides and fumigants and a plethora of government agencies capped by one of the highest income tax rates in the nation, all combine to put us at an economic disadvantage.
In another sign that California’s drought has eased but the state’s water system is far from fully recovered, federal regulators announced Friday that Sacramento Valley farmers would get full water deliveries for the upcoming growing season, but many San Joaquin Valley growers would face another year of severe shortages.
California’s 76,400 farms recorded $53.5 billion in sales in 2014, the year Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state in a drought emergency and launched what in 2015 became mandatory conservation for cities and towns. The sales figures are the most recent annual ones released by the state agriculture department.
The farmers and cities that rely on the California State Water Project got some slightly encouraging news Tuesday – the state is raising their water allocation to 15 percent of what they requested.
Despite recent rains and above-normal snowpack, and increasing reservoir levels, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is cautious about this year’s water allocation for California growers.
Gerawan Farming, one of the largest growers of tree fruit and grapes in Fresno County, has alerted its employees and government officials that it is shutting down its table grape operations next year, affecting more than 2,500 workers.
This year, the state allocated just 20 percent of the water requested by California water districts. For the second straight year, the federal government cut off most valley water districts entirely — including the Westlands Water District, which supplies the farms around Mendota.
Land retirement is coming to California agriculture. The drought will end someday, maybe even this winter, but farmers will still face long-term shortages of water. The driving force: a new state law regulating the extraction of groundwater.
California’s historic drought is forcing farmers in the dominant produce-growing state to fallow hundreds of thousands of acres and spend millions of dollars to access water. Yet U.S. grocery shoppers are barely feeling an impact. . . The lack of pain in the produce aisle highlights a tough reality of the produce business: It is difficult for growers and packers to boost prices because the sector is so fragmented, giving retailers and other wholesale buyers many options.
California producers, who pump about a fifth of the nation’s milk supply, say they’re struggling to maintain output as they weather a precipitous slump in the global dairy market and grapple with rising feed costs stemming from yearslong drought. Their travails are prompting at least one large milk processor—California Dairies Inc., a cooperative with nearly $5 billion in annual sales—to limit investments in milk-handling capacity.
“Rice grown in Arkansas and other Southern states has filled much of the void, along with rice from Europe and Australia. It’s likely just a temporary shift. But after back-to-back years of weak crops, some Sacramento Valley growers are starting to worry about their long-term international prospects even if El Niño packs a serious punch this winter, as some forecasters predict.”
“Under the draft, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation would be relieved of its obligation to provide drainage to several hundred thousands of acres of Westlands cropland. The district would permanently retire 100,000 acres of ill-drained fields and agree to a cap on water deliveries that amounts to 75% of its current contract amount.
In return, the reclamation bureau would let Westlands off the hook for the roughly $350 million the irrigation district owes federal taxpayers for construction of a portion of Central Valley Project facilities. The government would also lift limits on the size of Westlands farms eligible for subsidized water deliveries and give the district an open-ended water contract that did not require periodic renewal.”
California growers took in more revenue in 2014 compared to the year before, although their profits declined by about 10 percent, according to new figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and the Pacific Institute, a water policy think-tank.