Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Western Growers dismayed by court's compost ruling

A farm group is dismayed that a federal court ruled that it's no longer necessarily OK to use composted municipal green waste on organic farms in California. From Western Growers:

The (USDA) Guidance already prohibited use of compost that was shown to contaminate soil, crops or water, but plaintiffs argued that this was not strict enough under the pre-2011 organic rules. While the court stopped short of agreeing with plaintiffs, the court found that USDA did not gather sufficient comment on the 2011 legal guidance and ordered them back to the drawing board. USDA now has 60 days to issue new Guidance and get comment before the August 22 deadline. Western Growers provided input to the court as an amicus to show that the sudden withdrawal of the Guidance would harm organic agriculture, composting operations and consumers in California.
The Capital Press is following up on this ruling and will have a story up on our website soon.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lawmakers urge no cuts in Shasta releases

Northern California's Rep. Doug LaMalfa is among 15 California lawmakers urging federal agencies not to cut releases from Shasta Lake to leave water for winter-run salmon because it would mean further cuts in water supplies for farmers. From LaMalfa:
Congressman Doug LaMalfa and 14 other members of the California delegation in the House today urged the Obama administration to reject proposals from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), which would drastically cut Californians’ access to water stored in Lake Shasta. The proposals would negatively impact Californians around the state, including in the Sacramento Valley. “Despite our first wet winter in years, misguided federal agencies threaten to cut off the water supplies of millions of Californians. Federal agencies are simultaneously demanding that more water be released from Lake Shasta, but not for human use, and that more water be kept in Lake Shasta, but not for human use,” LaMalfa said. “Neither demand is backed by science, and the only common theme is that both give Californians the short end of the stick.” Despite having concurred with the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) 2016 Shasta Reservoir operations plan, NMFS proposes cutting releases from Shasta by 20% to retain water for environmental use later in the year. At the same time, FWS proposes drastically increasing Shasta releases in order to aid the Delta smelt, with a potential cost to taxpayers in the hundreds of millions of dollars. If these proposals are implemented, barely one-quarter of the 4.1 million acre feet of water stored in Lake Shasta, California’s largest reservoir, would be available to Californians, and crops which have already been planted would die for lack of water. Much of the remaining water stored in the reservoir would be released in efforts to aid Delta smelt or used to provide habitat for winter-run chinook salmon later this year.
Video of LaMalfa's comments on the House floor can be found here. The letter is here. The California Farm Bureau Federation has more information on the issue here. We'll be checking with resource agencies to find out their plans. Check CapitalPress.com soon.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Organic administrator faces backlash. Ag Minute for Oct. 30, 2015

Many organic groups that once praised USDA deputy administrator Miles McEvoy are now fighting his policies in federal court. Click here for full story.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

New Christmas tree checkoff prepares for fee collection. Ag minute for Oct. 29, 2015

Assessments will be collected on Christmas trees for the first time after the 2015 harvest to fund a checkoff program to promote the crop. Click here for full story.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stink bug may meet its match in tiny wasp. Ag Minute Oct. 28, 2015

The spread of a non-stinging Asian wasp has U.S. scientists hopeful that it could control the crop-destroying brown marmorated stink bug. Click here for full story.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Grant will help researchers identify insects causing zebra chip. Ag Minute Oct 27. 2015

Washington State University researcher Bill Snyder has received a $2.7 million grant to research which psyllids may be causing zebra chip. Click here for full story.

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