January 28, 2020

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Experts say SGMA is about collaboration
Groundwater agencies have just three days to submit their plans under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and avoid state control of their basin. Those plans took up most of the conversation yesterday at the annual conference for the California Irrigation Institute.
Derek Williams, a hydrogeologist with Montgomery and Associates, said agencies should aim for equitable, flexible and supportive plans, ensuring farmers and other stakeholders feel they are treated equally and can live with the results. That means having everyone agree to the rules for dividing up the water.
Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition cautioned that water management decisions like this “have a real effect on people throughout California, across the country and in other countries as well.” From the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint, he laid out conveyance options that could move water around the valley more efficiently for both farmers and habitat. This could include new canals or reversing the flow on existing canals.
Fresno State water expert Thomas Esqueda kept it simple: “The Water Resilience Portfolio’s got a lot of cool stuff in there and a lot of words,” he said. “But at the end of the day it’s going to come down to people working with people to get stuff done.”
Keep in mind: Several speakers pointed out that despite the deadline, the plans will continue to evolve over the next 20 years and many basins may not achieve total sustainability in that time.

Mike Wade, executive director of California Farm Water Coalition
One small town inspires statewide regulations on Telone
Staff from the Air Resources Board released recommendations yesterday for an emissions reduction program focused on a seven-mile radius around Shafter, a town of 17,000. The report encourages the Department of Pesticide Regulation to develop statewide regulations on 1,3-D, known as Telone. The suggestions are based on feedback from a local steering committee that includes six environmental justice advocates and 19 local residents.
CARB will consider adopting the recommendations and may approve the proposed emissions reduction plan under AB 617 in a public hearing on Feb. 13 in Shafter.
Remember: In October, DPR shared that its options for further regulating 1,3-D could include 3,500-foot buffer zones, mandatory tarping for 14 days or a 40-acre application cap. The actions are in response to a one-time spike in Parlier of just 1 part per billion above DPR’s screening level, out of more than 3,000 readings.
A farm equity center proposal advances to State Senate
The Assembly yesterday passed AB 838, a two-year agriculture bill that was shelved last spring. The bill proposes a center for providing support to socially disadvantaged farmers.
In testimony last year, UC Farm Advisor Ruth Dahlquist-Willard said: “In Fresno and Tulare counties combined, we have about 8,000 small farms. Many more are in the area between Fresno and Sacramento, where we don't have small farms advisors.”
The Asian Business Resources Center said: “(Hmong farmers) are just one piece of the Central Valley. But there's a huge community up in Merced, Stockton, Sacramento and Yuba that have not been touched.”

The Western Agricultural Processors Association recently hosted State Senators Melissa Hurtado and Bob Archuleta and Asms. Heath Flora and Jim Cooper as part of an Agricultural Presidents Council dinner at The Kitchen in Sacramento. (photo: WAPA) 
USDA officials face questions on conservation
Lawmakers will be taking a look today at how USDA is implementing changes to conservation programs made by the 2018 farm bill. Matt Lohr, chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Richard Fordyce, administrator of the Farm Service Agency, will be testifying this morning before a House Agriculture subcommittee.
FSA is in the middle of enrolling landowners for the Conservation Reserve Program, so the hearing could provide a read on how that is going. It’s the first general signup in four years for CRP, and USDA expects it to be the largest enrollment in nearly a decade.
China vows to speed up subsidy reforms
China is promising to move quickly to change the way it subsidizes its corn, wheat and rice farmers and the U.S. is applauding the effort, according to new World Trade Organization documents.
China only has about two more months to cut its corn, rice and wheat subsidies in order to meet the March 31 deadline it agreed to after losing the WTO challenge filed by the U.S. a little more than three years ago.
Canada’s deputy PM urges quick USMCA approval
The Canadian parliament needs to act quickly to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told lawmakers as they prepared to begin considering the renegotiated trade pact.
USMCA, which goes by the acronym CUSMA in Canada, has come under fire by some politicians there, but Freeland defended the deal as necessary to save the core of the original North American Free Trade Agreement.
Perdue raises biotech issue in Brussels
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who’s traveling in Europe this week, used a stop in Brussels to push European Union leaders to ease restrictions on agricultural biotechnology.
According to a report by EURACTIV, Perdue told reporters Monday that EU policymakers are willing to make decisions based on sound science. But he said there was “some anxiety regarding the ability to counteract some of the NGOs who are out here spreading fear regarding hazard-based rather than risk-based approach.”
Beer wars, part 2: Anheuser-Busch pushes organic
Last year, beer giant Anheuser-Busch angered corn growers and its chief rival by using Super Bowl advertising to attack MillerCoors for using corn syrup to brew its beer.
This year, Anheuser-Busch is getting into the issue of organic agriculture.
On Sunday, the company will be running an ad offering to convert one square foot of farmland to organic agriculture for every bottle of Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold that the company sells. “The ambition of Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold is not only to brew beer in its organic form, but to transform the organic industry,” according to the Michelob web site.
Keep in mind: A beer drinker would have to buy 7,260 six-packs of the organic light lager to convert a single acre of land.
He said it:
“We will see more change in the next five years than anything we’ve experienced over the last 15 years.” – Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association on Monday at the group’s annual Dairy Forum.
He expects to see continued consolidation as well as more public scrutiny on the industry with changing consumer demands and preferences for our products.

Bill Tomson, Steve Davies and Ben Nuelle contributed to this report.

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