Steady rain so far this fall has produced a verdant emerald green panorama on California rangeland, reported Capital Press this week.
Livestock producers are elated, said Josh Davy, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Tehama County.
"It's been nice to start the year with some big rains because it fills up the reservoirs, puts some drinking water out there and it helps build deeper soil moisture in case it doesn't rain later," Davy said. "We hope it keeps going until March."
The 2012 rainy autumn has helped much of Northern California emerge from drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Parts of the southern San Joaquin Valley are still in severe drought, but conditions have shown some improvement.
UC Davis olive center to look at ways to reduce wastewater
Melanie Turner, Sacramento Business Journal
The UC Davis Olive Center and USDA-Agricultural Research Service have been awarded a grant to develop innovative ways to reduce the amount of wastewater produced by the olive oil industry. Among the technologies to be evaluated is a “vibrating membrane system” patented by New Logic Research of Emeryville. The company will be providing the system for testing at no cost.
U.S. taxpayers spend about $7 billion a year on crop insurance, the story said.
Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center and professor in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Davis, said he isn't in favor of the government giving farmers subsidies.
Ski resorts suffered last winter when there wasn't a lot of snow. The government doesn't say, "Sorry you didn't have a lot of skiers. Here's a check," Sumner said.
Valley farmers wary of new water rules
Mark Grossi, The Fresno Bee
A UC study released in March says 96 percent of the Central Valley's groundwater contamination problem comes from agriculture, and it threatens the drinking water of 250,000 valley residents. The study suggests better monitoring and management of fertilizers are needed to ease the problem. By using only the amount of fertilizer needed by plants, the nitrates would be controlled. Leaders of water-user groups say farmers already aim for that goal and have become far more efficient. Yet, the state assumes all farmers are discharging to the groundwater, said David Orth, general manager of the Kings River Conservation District and coordinator of a coalition representing farmers in the four-county area. "In other words, everybody is guilty until they prove themselves to be innocent," he said.
Experts: Rinds one reason for salmonella-infected cantaloupe
Scott Kanowsky, WBEZ 91.5
Cantaloupe rinds could be one reason behind a recent salmonella outbreak linked to the fruit. "It's much easier to scrub the surface of a honeydew melon than it is to scrub the surface of a cantaloupe and actually remove microorganisms that are on the surface,” said Linda Harris, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis.
In an op-ed published in the New York Times, Colin Carter, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, and Henry Miller, a physician and a fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at the Hoover Institution, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could divert vast amounts of corn from inefficient ethanol production back into the food chain.
"The price of corn is a critical variable in the world food equation, and food markets are on edge because American corn supplies are plummeting," they wrote. "The combination of the drought and American ethanol policy will lead in many parts of the world to widespread inflation, more hunger, less food security, slower economic growth and political instability, especially in poor countries."
Carter also spoke about the issue on the Capital Public Radio program Insight. He said the rising corn prices will likely have the biggest impact in California on feed lot operators who feed corn and soybean meal to cattle. Dairies will also be hit very hard.
- Author: Brenda Dawson
Reduced water allowances for farmers could mean layoffs and other economic impacts, says an article in the Wall Street Journal by Jim Carlton.
The article reported that some farmers have been told to expect just 30 percent of their allotments. In response to water cutbacks, many farmers must reduce planting and leave some fields fallow.
The article referenced a UC Davis study, co-authored by Richard Howitt, of 2009 water cutbacks that resulted in "285,000 acres going fallow and the loss of 9,800 agricultural jobs, for a $340 million loss in farm-related revenues."
Precipitation that would normally head toward California along the Pacific jet stream has for weeks veered north, burying Alaska in record snow, said an article by San Jose Mercury News reporter Lisa Kreiger. The story appeared yesterday in the Contra Costa Times.
The weather trend has left California drenched in sun this winter, but for many, sunny skies have worn out their welcome.
In the Central Valley, stock ponds are running dry -- and cows drink 10 to 15 gallons a day. Some ranchers are considering trucking in water or culling their herds, said Yuba City-based UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Glenn Nadar. He predicts a surge in milk and beef prices.
Orchardists worry about their almond trees, whose buds are swelling -- but roots are dry. Winter wheat is also parched. To help, some water districts are diverting water into their canals.
"We're irrigating, which is unheard of," said farm advisor Franz Niederholzer, with UC's Cooperative Extension in Sutter and Yuba counties.