House ag committee details spending for massive budget bill

Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee released details of their spending plan on Thursday, including $23 billion to combat wildfires and millions more to battle climate change. The committee is set to mark up the legislation on Friday, part of the budget reconciliation, or Build Back Better bill, expected to total $3.5 trillion.

Three-fourths of U.S. wildland firefighters get a pay raise

More than 14,800 of the federal government's wildland firefighters will see a raise, to $15 an hour, in their paychecks next week, said the Interior and Agriculture departments on Tuesday. The additional pay will cost nearly $32 million.

House panel approves $8.5 billion disaster bill for agriculture

Responding to calamities that range from drought in the West to floods in the Southeast, the House Agriculture Committee approved an $8.5 billion disaster relief bill on Tuesday to cover farm and ranch losses in 2020 and this year. Producers would be eligible for up to $250,000 a year in aid.

Moore will be first Black chief of the Forest Service

Randy Moore, a career USDA employee who now oversees 20 million acres of national forests in California, will be the first Black chief of the U.S. Forest Service in its 116-year history, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday.

Rethinking wildfires at the start of a potentially devastating fire season

California experienced more wildfire last year than any previous year on record, but the severe drought currently strangling nearly three-quarters of the American West threatens to make the 2021 fire season even worse. And while many state and federal agencies are taking extraordinary measures to prevent the further loss of life and property – including prescribed burns, thinning and the deployment of the largest firefighting force in California’s history – some question the efficacy of these increasingly costly measures. (No paywall)

Climate change prompts talk of permanent USDA disaster fund

The government must respond rapidly to the destructive weather that accompanies climate change, said House Agriculture chairman David Scott on Tuesday, so he is working on legislation to create a permanent disaster aid fund at the USDA. “Many of our farms are done away with because we move too …

‘Very dangerous fire year’ is likely, say Biden officials

The government will deploy 15,000 firefighters, 1,600 engines, and 625 aircraft against what is expected to be another dangerous year for wildfires, said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday.

Wildfires rake California’s wine country

The Glass fire “burned rapidly…through Napa Valley’s fame Sliverado Trail, known for its wineries” and claimed the four-decade-old Chateau Boswell Winery northwest of St. Helena, California, said the Los Angeles Times. The wildfire swept over 11,000 acres and threatened thousands of structures as of midday Monday. “Ash could be seen falling from the sky throughout the region.”

When the West Coast wildfires are out, can mushrooms help with the cleanup?

When the worst wildfire season on record in the West finally subsides, it will give way to another potentially devastating environmental crisis: toxins from charred and melted plastics, electronics, and other household materials leaching into watersheds, endangering residents, agriculture, and ecosystems.(No paywall)

Farmworkers on the front lines of coronavirus and wildfires

Few farmworkers in Oregon report getting tested for the coronavirus despite knowing infected people or being directly exposed to Covid-19, according to a survey of 200 workers across the state. And unprecedented wildfires are only make things worse.