Every week, 330 American farmers leave their land for good. And as an aging population of baby-boomer farmers retire, their jobs aren’t being filled quickly enough. Only six percent of all farmers are under the age of 35. But as the national food movement strengthens, will we see a return to farming? What about the children of these aging farmers — will they love their farm land or leave it?
“The Valley fire demonstrates what can happen when public and private landowners (much of the Valley fire is on private land) fail to manage their property.”
Kevin Herman sees his fig trees as his future. They require very little water and, even amid long-term forecasts of limited rain and increasing temperatures, the trees are likely to produce a comfortable living for the Madera County farmer.
El Nino may likely not end the state’s 4-year drought. Imagine instead a darker scenario, where the weather-changing phenomenon adds another year of dryness in the north while ravaging the south with floods. “What do you say when the governor asks you what to do? ‘You prepare for flood and drought because there is a possibility you can get both,”’ said Mike Anderson, state climatologist.
Agricultural groups and the federal government are actively encouraging growers to improve their irrigation systems to save water, usually by graduating from flooding, and farmers who haven’t upgraded have received stinging criticism. But drip irrigation is not necessarily a panacea for water shortages.
Students representing the university’s 10 campuses have protested and collected petitions urging the school to divest from fossil fuels that include coal and oil sands, a mix of sand, clay, water and a heavy oil called bitumen. Fossil Free UC, a coalition of students, faculty, staff and alumni has asked the university to adopt a five-year plan to freeze new fossil fuel investments.
California Governor Jerry Brown abandoned a plan to cut gasoline use in half as part of an ambitious bill to combat climate change, after oil companies and business groups waged a multi-million dollar campaign against the effort.
After years of drought and increasing government demands to cut water use and allow lawns to fade, the Golden State moniker is taking on new meaning. It has fallen to Felicia Marcus, Gov. Brown’s appointee to the head of the State Water Resources Board, to set the water-use rules for farmers, water districts, homeowners and everyone else. We sat down with the state’s top water cop to better understand the challenges she’s up against and the messages her office is communicating.
California is in the fourth year of an unprecedented drought, with rivers and reservoirs running dry. The energy needed to help grow crops, including about 2 billion pounds of almonds annually, may reach a record this year, and utilities are responding by building new transmission lines and substations to handle the additional electricity.
The sickening, wooden crack of a falling tree can strike fear into the hearts of property owners. Maybe that’s true for anyone within a certain radius of the falling tree, but property owners have a more specific concern: They could be liable for thousands of dollars in damage to cars, or even lives.