Food & Farm News
April 22, 2015
Farm groups track water legislation
As Californians struggle with drought and water shortages, legislators have offered dozens of bills aimed at addressing various aspects of the state’s water problems. Many of the measures focus on groundwater, which has become more important as surface-water supplies have dwindled. The California Farm Bureau Federation says it supports several of the bills, including one that would make adjudication of groundwater rights more efficient.
Ranchers help conserve sagebrush habitat
Conservation work by ranchers along the California-Nevada border has helped keep a bird off of the federal endangered-species list. Federal officials said Tuesday they have decided that the bi-state population of the greater sage grouse does not require protection. In announcing the decision, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell credited work by government and private partners to conserve sagebrush habitat needed by the grouse.
Closures of biomass plants slow tree disposal
When farmers remove orchards because of water shortages or other reasons, they can find themselves unable to dispose of the dead trees as quickly as they’d like. In recent years, farmers have provided trees to biomass power plants that burn wood chips to create energy. But biomass plants have been closing. The energy they generate proves relatively expensive, and utilities have chosen not to renew contracts for biomass power—leaving farmers looking for alternatives.
Farmers’ actions enhance air quality
Technical experts have met a scientific threshold for showing that voluntary actions by farmers are improving air quality in the San Joaquin Valley. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says specialists from its Natural Resources Conservation Service successfully made the case to federal environmental regulators. Programs to replace diesel engines on farms with lower-emission engines have offset the emissions from 1 million cars, the department says.