Think tank says SNAP time limit would hit California the hardest
One in six of the older Americans targeted by an expansion of SNAP work requirements in the debt ceiling bill negotiated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden lives in California, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Wednesday.
In California’s Central Valley, the ‘Big Melt’ might be less catastrophic than feared
California’s historic snowmelt is refilling the Central Valley’s Tulare Lake Basin and reviving what was once the largest lake west of the Mississippi, but state officials now expect the flooding will be less devastating than previously feared.
As climate disasters worsen, researchers push for farmworker safety net
In the last few weeks, academics and labor advocates have released a flurry of studies and surveys with the same urgent finding: Climate disasters are wreaking havoc on the health, safety, and economic stability of farmworkers, and well-funded government programs are the best way to provide workers with relief. (No paywall)
Override Supreme Court on livestock regulation, say meatpackers
The meat industry encouraged farm-state lawmakers on Wednesday to legislatively override the Supreme Court ruling that gives states the power to set animal welfare standards and regulate meat sales. The Supreme Court decision upholding California’s Proposition 12 “opens the door to chaos,” said Bryan Burns of the North American Meat Institute.
A California peach farmer rediscovers his family’s past
David "Mas" Matsumoto says he farms with ghosts, says producer Lisa Morehouse. On his family’s organic peach, nectarine and grape farm south of Fresno, he points out pruning scars from long-time workers, and walks down rows of trees he planted with his father. He says the labor and lessons of his ancestors are in the soil and the grapevines and orchards, and he’s passing these on to the next generations, Morehouse says in FERN's latest audio report produced in collaboration with KQED's The California Report. No paywall
Supreme Court upholds animal welfare law in blow to pork industry
In a 5-4 decision on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California law that regulates the treatment of sows and other farmed animals and prevents the sale of meat products from other states that do not meet its requirements. The Humane Society of America has called it “the strongest law in the world addressing animal confinement,” while farm interests claim that it interferes with interstate commerce protected by the U.S. Constitution. (No paywall)
Texas and California lead in recent EQIP spending
By one yardstick — dollars spent under the 2018 farm bill — the cost-sharing Environmental Quality Incentives Program is the largest working lands conservation program at the USDA, said two University of Illinois economists on Thursday. They created an interactive map of EQIP spending that showed Texas and California were the leading states for outlays.
Researchers link glyphosate to liver and metabolic disease in children
Researchers looking at health records and blood, urine and saliva samples found "an association between early-life exposure to glyphosate and liver inflammation and metabolic disease in young adults" in California's Salinas Valley, according to the lead scientist Brenda Eskanazi. Glyphosate is the most widely used weedkiller in the world.
California again rejects groundwater protection plans as inadequate
Farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley didn’t stop over-pumping groundwater when doing so contaminated local water supplies with arsenic, and they didn’t stop when the valley’s floor began sinking underneath them, by a foot per year in some places. State officials have long hoped to stop them with regulations—and last week, they decided that several local regulatory plans weren’t strong enough. (No paywall)
California orange crop twice as large as Florida’s, says USDA
California, for decades the No. 2 grower, is roaring into the lead as the largest orange-producing state in the nation, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. It forecast an orange crop of 1.84 million tons in California this season, more than double Florida’s projected hurricane-damaged harvest of 720,000 tons.
Report: ag corporations boom despite California’s historic drought
In a report released Wednesday, Food & Water Watch found that agricultural corporations have used California's outdated water rights system to their advantage and expanded their most water-intensive operations, even as some rural communities have run out of water completely. (No paywall)
Organic sales climb 13 percent in two years
California leads the nation with $3.55 billion in sales of organic agricultural products, one-third of the U.S. total, said the USDA on Thursday. The 2021 Organic Survey listed total organic sales of $11.2 billion, an increase of 13 percent in two years.
California’s water scarcity upends politics of powerful farm district
For decades, the Westlands Water District in California — the largest district in the nation — has led the fight against environmental rules that restrict the flow of water from California’s rivers to its farmers. It sued the government, lobbied friendly politicians and took on critics wherever …
Study: In California’s Central Valley, repurposing farmland could save communities
As the water crisis in California’s Central Valley intensifies, farmers are fallowing fields, slashing jobs and hemorrhaging money. But according to a study released this week, some rural towns might be better off abandoning agriculture entirely and repurposing farmland to create better-paying jobs, ease water usage, decrease pollution and preserve landowners’ revenue streams.
Prop 12 enforcement will wait in California for Supreme Court ruling
A California judge has extended his ban on enforcement of voter-approved Proposition 12 until July 1, to allow time for the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the animal welfare law. Justices heard arguments on the farm-group challenge of Prop 12 in October and a decision is expected by the end of June.
Colorado passes universal school lunch
Colorado voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure to make free lunches available to all public school students. But voters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, rejected a proposed ban on new slaughterhouses, and California voted down a proposed tax on the ultra-wealthy to pay for electric vehicle programs and wildfire prevention.
From a meat-processing ban to free school lunch, food and ag are on the ballot
In Tuesday's elections, voters will decide several ballot initiatives on food and agricultural issues, including a ban on meat processing facilities in a South Dakota city and the expansion of universal school lunch to Colorado. California voters will determine the fate of a tax on high income earners to pay for green energy and for fighting wildfires, which have cost the state’s agricultural sector tens of millions of dollars.