Blogs

New possibility for labor in the orchards of today and tomorrow

Submitted: Aug 02, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 One of the great advantages to farming almonds and other nut trees has always been the small amount of hand labor required relative to the former preferred monocrop: cling peaches. If anyone does any real work on almond orchards, it has been the bees. But, as we know, those busy workers are themselves in short supply these days.

This situation may open up new horizons of hand labor in the orchards of today. -- blj

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Porgans/Planetary Solutionaries' public comments on latest Delta plan

Submitted: Aug 01, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Badlands Journal has been fortunate to receive the public comments of Patrick Porgans & Associates on behalf of Planetary Solutionaires on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan          and Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement, July 31, 2014. --blj

 

BDCP Doomsday Plan Ends Public Comment Period

 

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT  31 July 2014

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Ah shucks, is that land sinking again?

Submitted: Jul 31, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 "We have a groundwater crisis in California, and if we're not coming up with ways to reduce its use in wet years to allow it to rebound, we are going to be in trouble," said Andrew Fahlund, deputy director of the California Water Foundation, which studies water management issues and supports regulation. "And groundwater storage is exactly the kind of project we need to see more of." -- Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 2014

 

What do growers on the west side of the San Joaquin River, reporters, state legislators and congressmen and their staffs share? I mean the things we can mention in a family website.

 

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OIRA, mother of political slush funds?

Submitted: Jul 31, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 We have noticed that one of the darker, more cunning tools of American politicians is regulation. Regulation can be a beautiful thing for a politician. Say, for example, a US senator writes a resolute and righteous environmental regulation suited exactly to the specifications laid out by expert scientists in the field covered by this particular draft regulation. Let us suppose that the draft is enthusiastically supported in a rare show of unity by all the environmental groups of any possible danger to our politician. Let us say that business opponents of the draft skip load tons of cash on the front lawn of one of her vacation homes in hopes of dissuading her from sponsoring this dreadful abuse of democracy and the American Way of Life.  Yet, after all the public processes are duly followed and completed, suppose the new regulation, like a little salmon smolt in the Delta, is sucked up into a huge pump and disappears.

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Costly luxury crops

Submitted: Jul 20, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The large crop results in part from a rise in almond acreage -- about 860,000 acres this year, compared with 840,000 last year and 570,000 a decade ago. This year's average yield per acre is projected at 2,440 pounds, second only to the 2,540 in 2011. The number of trees per acre also has risen. -- John Holland, Fresno Bee, July 11, 2014.

We believe this figure is much too low, just based on what we see around us. Thousands of acres of seasonal pasture are being converted to almonds with a lesser amount to grapes, and hudnreds of not thousands of acres of stone fruit are still being converted to almonds, with some grapes. Considering that the local land-use authorities in California, the counties, regard conversion of pasture or stone-fruit orchards to almonds an "ag-to-ag" conversion requiring no land-use-authority review, how could the USDA accurately count the number of newly planted acres?

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Snapshot of those who conserve and those who guzzle water in California in May 2014

Submitted: Jul 17, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

We don't know what to make of this list of water districts that have conserved and those that have increased water usage during this great drought. Probably worse and better examples did not respond to the survey. Nevertheless, with the glaring example of San Francisco's 19-percent increase in water use, the largest reported increases came from Southern California while, with the exception of Glendora in LA County, the nine top districts that reduced water consumption came from Northern California.

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We must not be complicit any longer

Submitted: Jul 17, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 We have read a number of reports and opinions on the current Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip but haven't anything that says more about it with less words than Chris Hedges' remarks in Truthdig on Monday. And unlike so many American expressions of helplessness, Hedges has a simple approach, proven effective against apartheid in South Africa: an immediate mass movement demanding boycotts, sanctions and divestment -- blj

If we fail to act we are complicit in the slaughter. -- Chris Hedges, July 14, 2014

7-14-14

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Bugs in Arizxona

Submitted: Jul 16, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 When it comes to the environment, those great "stewards of the land" in the Farm Bureau never fail to surprise with the stupidity of their policies..

 

“We view the tamarisk as a pest,” said Joseph Sigg, the government relations director at the Arizona Farm Bureau. “Water is an expensive input, and to the extent that we can lower it, the beetle can help.”

 

 

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Pesticides, unborn children and bees

Submitted: Jul 15, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

One rainy day, sitting in a shed in an orchard,  an old grower talked about pesticides.

"DDT?" he said. "Best pesticide in the world. Killed everything. Apply it every 28 days or after a rain and we got cleaner fruit than we'd ever seen. It started just after the war (WWII). You didn't have to set vinegar traps to see what kind of bugs you had in the orchard anymore. DDT killed EVERYTHING! So the younger generation of growers didn't have to learn anything about bugs because they didn't have to figure out what spray to use -- copper, arsenic, whatever. But DDT got Rachel Carsoned in the Sixties. That book, Silent Spring, started the environmental movement. Now they're trying to claim every frog, toad and minnow in the county is endangered, and they're winning. But she was right: DDT raised hell with the environment, thinned egg shells, caused cancer, poisoned fresh water and the ocean. But it wasn't as bad on bees and what replaced it.

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Extirpation

Submitted: Jul 14, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board


"To extirpate" means to destroy completely or to extinguish. It is a fancy word used by resource-agency biologists in the past participle, "extirpated," as professional jargon for "extinction". Agribusiness, Southern Californa water agencies and state and federal resource agencies have been working together for years to extirpate the Delta smelt because it is the principle endangered species that obstructs agricultural corporations and urban water agencies from unlimited use of Delta water. Exstirpation of the Delta smelt would render moot the entire ediface of official biological opinion and state and federal judges' rulings that tend to limit the amount of water that primarily corporate agricultural interests (which use 80 percent of California's water) can legally take from the Delta. 

The federal Bureau of Reclamation may be able to guarantee at least some water to junior water-rights holders in the Westlands Water District after the Delta smelt disappears from memory. If so, the gamble that west side growers took -- to plant permanent crops without a guarantee of receiving water in dry years -- will pay off and a new "balance" will be achieved.

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