February 6, 2020
Cox and Costa introduce water infrastructure bills
Calif. Rep. TJ Cox wants to invest $800 million over the next five years in “badly needed projects” for surface and groundwater storage as well as conveyance. Cox called it “one of the trickiest parts of fixing our supply crisis.”
Calif. Rep. Jim Costa, meanwhile, introduced a bill this week to allocate $400 million to fixing the California Aqueduct and the Delta-Mendota Canal on the westside.
Remember: Congress has already been debating Cox’s other bill proposing $200 million to fix the Friant-Kern Canal.
Rep. Costa, with Rep. Cox (in blue), announcing the bill package at Friant Dam
DPR campaigns for pollinator protection
The Department of Pesticide Regulation held a seminar yesterday to spread awareness for new regulations and tools relating to bee health.
Honeybees add a value of about $220 billion a year globally, according to DPR Director Val Dolcini. Yet colonies are taking a hit from a variety of factors, including mites, pathogens, habitat loss and pesticide applications.
CDFA rolled out its BeeSafe progam in 2018, focused on training and education. It’s $1.5 million will soon run out.
A coalition of 17 organizations then launched BeeWhere and BeeCheck to map and track hives and streamline notifications.
BeeWhere had more than 900,000 registered colonies in 2019. CDFA scientist Patricia Bohls considered that “pretty successful” for the first year, which was about half of the USDA’s estimate of 1.6 million colonies. More than 2,000 beekeepers registered, with about 6,000 applicator BeeCheck reports.
The Pollinator Partnership also said their Bee Friendly Farming certification now extends to almond, table and wine grape, strawberry and blueberry growers. It is also working with the solar, cannabis and forestry industries.
CDFA Environmental Scientist Patricia Bohls
Censky to visit Santa Barbara County ag forum
USDA Deputy Sec. Steven Censky will deliver the keynote today for the EconAlliance Ag Forum, an economic development event for the region.
CDFA Sec. Karen Ross will follow on stage and a panel of local ag leaders will discuss food safety, water, housing and labor issues – all before lunch.
On that note: The State Board of Food and Ag will hold its monthly meeting next week at the World Ag Expo. They will cover CDFA’s new farm-to-school conference, farmworker challenges and dairy and citrus updates, among others.
MFP could leave hole in farm income
The latest farm income numbers are out from USDA, and they show that farm earnings could take a hit this year unless commodity markets can make up for the potential loss of Market Facilitation Program payments.
USDA is projecting that net cash farm income will drop by 9% this year, and that government payments will be down by $8.7 billion without a continuation of MFP payments.
“That’s a pretty big hole in terms of farm profitability, but ERS is indicating their expectations are to be made up by crop and livestock sales,” said the American Farm Bureau Federation’s chief economist, John Newton.
Although there’s optimism in the livestock sector, he’s not sure that crop sales can make up for the loss of MFP, in part because we don’t know when China will significantly increase its imports.
The silver lining for California: Vegetable and melon cash receipts are expected to fall 1.8 percent, while fruit and nuts may rise $1.8 billion, or 6.3 percent. Milk will grow by 5%.
USDA research plan sets climate as priority
Reducing the impact of the changing climate on agriculture is a priority for future research, but agricultural systems also must “adapt to the changing weather patterns and temperature regimes to ensure food security,” USDA says in a five-year research plan.
The document, which will be officially unveiled today, contains five themes: sustainable ag intensification; climate adaptation; value-added innovations; ag science policy leadership; and food and nutrition translation, which involves reducing foodborne illnesses and providing nutritious food.
He said it:
“You can sequester a lot more carbon in Brooklyn, Iowa, than you can in Brooklyn, N.Y.” - former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, on the potential for carbon sequestration in agriculture. He was speaking at the Foundation for Food and Agriculture’s “Foster our Future” forum.
Ben Nuelle, Spencer Chase (in San Antonio), Bill Tomson and Steve Davies contributed to this report.
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