Food & Farm News
September 17, 2014
Farm groups react to groundwater bills
Now that Governor Brown has signed a package of groundwater bills, farm groups say they will pay close attention to how the new laws are implemented. The California Farm Bureau opposed the bills, calling them “hastily written.” Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger says his organization and others will watch to make sure that government agencies respect water rights and property rights as they implement the groundwater bills. He added that the state must also work to enhance water supplies.
Water shortages reduce rice harvest
As the California rice harvest begins, lack of water affects farmers in at least two ways. Rice farmers cut plantings by about 140,000 acres because of water shortages, so there will be less rice to harvest. Farmers also worry there won’t be enough water available to decompose rice straw after the harvest. That has implications for wildlife habitat, because migratory birds visit harvested rice fields each winter.
Safflower plantings may increase
Drought has caused California farmers to consider planting more safflower. A field crop grown for its seed, which can be pressed for oil and other products, safflower requires relatively little water to grow. In addition, processors report strong worldwide demand for high-quality vegetable oils. California safflower acreage has declined in the last five years, but the state remains the world’s number-two producer, behind India.
Wine market to become more competitive
For the third straight year, the United States leads the world in wine consumption. People in the California wine business see that as good news, of course—but they also warn that California wineries can’t take the U.S. market for granted. California wine marketers say they expect more competition from foreign winemakers, after U.S. wine consumption rose about 5 percent last year. California wineries make about 90 percent of the wine produced in the United States.