California

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In a report released Wednesday, Food & Water Watch found that agricultural corporations have used California's outdated water rights system to their advantage and expanded their most water-intensive operations, even as some rural communities have run out of water completely.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. 

California proposal: Tax rich to pay for wildfires and electric vehicles

Voters in California will decide on Nov. 8 whether to raise the state income tax on millionaires to pay for electric cars, charging stations and wildfire prevention programs. So-called Proposition 30 in California has strong support but the double-digit margin was eroding, according to a poll released early this month.

Piggybacking onto a Supreme Court case over hogs

With varying perspectives, the pharmaceutical industry, the Canadian Pork Council and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker hope to influence the Supreme Court in deciding whether an animal welfare law approved by California voters is an unconstitutional burden on the rest of America. The pork industry and the Justice Department say it is.

More than 47 million birds lost to avian influenza

Bird flu was discovered in a backyard flock in the Albuquerque area, making New Mexico the 42nd state where the viral disease has been confirmed this year, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday.

California farmworker bill will reduce intimidation during union elections, says union official

In a remarkable reversal, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Wednesday that will make it easier for farmworkers to vote in union elections, after indicating that he would veto the bill only weeks before. The governor changed course after facing mounting pressure from union leaders, workers, and political allies, including President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (No paywall)

A historically Black California town fights for water

In the Central Valley, Allensworth holds the distinction as the first town in California founded by African Americans, but it has been battling for water access for more than a century. Now, initiatives are underway that may finally ensure it has access to safe drinking water, reports Teresa Cotsirilos in FERN's latest story, produced in partnership with KQED's The California Report.

Gov. Newsom signs a fast-food labor bill but takes a measured approach toward ag

As he prepares for a possible presidential run, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has burnished some of his progressive credentials with a flurry of new legislation. On Monday, he rattled the fast food industry by signing a bill that could increase fast food workers' minimum wage to as much as $22 an hour, and he has made national news for his aggressive new policies to address the climate crisis.

In wine country, Sonoma tightens limits on farm work during wildfires

After a year of raucous protests and stakeholder meetings, Sonoma County announced it had standardized and reformed its "ag pass" program, which allows farms to bring workers into evacuated areas during wildfires when other residents have been told to flee.The county’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to preserve the program, but also imposed limits on when and how farmers could use it. No paywall

Gov. Newsom won’t support farmworker union voting bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday he “cannot support” a bill that many farmworkers say would prevent their employers from intimidating them during union elections, disappointing the United Farm Workers union, which had launched a weeks-long march to the state capitol in support of the legislation.(No paywall)

In Newsom’s long-term water strategy, ag makes a fleeting appearance

Faced with the worst drought in 1,200 years and a dwindling water supply, Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a new, long-term water strategy for California at a press conference on Thursday. His plan, he said, would prepare the state for a hotter, drier future.

Report: Nut farmers expanded as drought deepened in California

As California declared multiple drought emergencies and imposed mandatory water restrictions on residents in recent years, the state’s almond farmers expanded their orchards by a remarkable 78 percent, according to new research by Food & Water Watch.

Valadao leads Trump acolyte in California primary

With most of the votes still to be counted, California Rep. David Valadao, who voted to impeach President Trump in 2021, was 1,100 votes ahead of the former Fresno city councilman who vowed vengeance for the former president on Wednesday morning. Democrat Rudy Salas held 48 percent of the vote in the "jungle" primary and was assured to advancing to the general election.

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