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San Joaquin County Agriculture, Food & Gardening Digest

Valley Water Allotment Increased


Following strong February rains, the Bureau of Reclamation announced increases in Central Valley Project water allotments.

New Website Features Information on Care of Backyard Chickens, Sheep, Goats


The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources advisors has published a new website with information resources for small acreage landowners raising livestock.

Building an Edible Empire


The Wence family loves food—and creating new restaurants. So when Jaime and Esther Wence decided to open a new restaurant in Isleton, they had plenty of inspiration.

Beekeeper Offers $100,000 Reward in Brazen Fresno Beehive Thefts


Commercial beekeeper Andrew Strehlow estimates he’s had 1,000 hives stolen over the years. The latest theft, of 96 hives from a Fresno County orchard, was his last straw.

Sacramento Chef a Semifinalist for Prestigious James Beard Award


Buu “Billy” Ngo, a co-owner at the widely adored Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine, has been named as a semifinalist for Best California Chef from the James Beard Awards.

Central California Is Battling a Unique, ‘Growing’ Crime Problem


Beehives, tractors and more are getting stolen from farmers.

Will More Outdoor Drinking Give CA Economy a Buzz?


State Sen. Scott Wiener wants to allow California cities and counties to designate “entertainment zones” where bars and restaurants could serve alcoholic drinks that people can consume on public streets and sidewalks.

California Ranks High Worldwide for Rapidly Depleted Groundwater


In a sign of the ongoing threats to its precious groundwater stores, half a dozen regions in California rank among the world’s most rapidly declining aquifers.

Groundwater Levels Are Falling in Parts of California and Food-Growing Regions Worldwide


Groundwater depletion is worsening in many of the world’s farming regions. But a global study also found that some efforts are helping to boost aquifers.

Invasive Flies Are Inching Closer Toward Ruining California’s Economy


For months, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has been waging war on the oriental fruit fly, a voracious pest that can attack hundreds of types of fruits and vegetables.

Will $20 Minimum Wage Crush Fast Food in California?


Fast food lives in a consumer sweet spot: demand, convenience and relative affordability. And this pay hike—equal to minimum wage increases during the past five years—will create grand economic unknowns.

A Glimpse of the Future of Farming in the Tech-Driven Era


Agtech is not just redefining farming in the San Joaquin Valley, it’s reshaping our approach to the land. Drones, sensors, and data analytics have become indispensable, driving efficiency and economic vitality across the fields.

Newsom Pitches Spending $22M to Fight Fruit Flies


California farmers face challenges posed by multiple types of fruit flies. Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed spending just over $22 million to combat the spread of these flies.

Avian Flu Outbreak Hammers California Poultry Industry


An outbreak of the avian flu that began in California in October has killed 5.5 million birds throughout the Golden State. About 20% of the deaths have come in Sonoma County.

Bright Blue Waves Return to Southern California


Bright blue waves have been spotted in Long Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach. The bioluminescence is caused by organisms known as dinoflagellates and can impact fish populations.

Sierra Nevada Releases Its First Non-Alcoholic Beers


The Chico-based brewer has taken a more traditional approach to creating its non-alcoholic beer.

Galt City Council OKs Housing Development at Historic Lippi Ranch


The site of Galt’s first winery will soon be home to nearly 100 new homes.

Kern County Is Poised to Become Warehousing’s Next Frontier


Farmland is being rezoned for industrial use, and massive warehouses are being built on spec near communities like Buttonwillow and Shafter, so goods coming through the Southern California ports can be shipped quickly throughout the western United States.

California Awards $116.8 Million to Conserve Agricultural Lands


The California Strategic Growth Council approved over $116 million in Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program grants to permanently protect 50,500 acres of croplands and rangelands, as well as lands utilized by Indigenous tribes for the cultivation of traditional resources.

Ranchers, Tribes Clash Over Water, Salmon Ahead of Sweeping New Irrigation Regulations


Salmon populations in the Scott and Shasta rivers have crashed, so state officials are about to restrict irrigation again. And the controversial rules may even become permanent.

Cultivating a Diverse Next Generation of Farmers Through USDA Funding


A third of the country’s farmers are over the age of 65. To bring in new farmers, $500,000 from the California Farm Bureau’s California Bountiful Foundation will be used to train veterans and socially disadvantaged individuals.

Michelin Guide Adds Seven California Restaurants


Three restaurants in San Francisco, three in Los Angeles and one in San Diego have been added to the Michelin Guide. Two of the SF eateries also made Esquire’s list for best new American restaurants in 2023.

Community Garden May Be Model for Future Efforts in Manteca


Manteca’s first community garden will be created in a grassy area adjacent to the fire station on Lathrop Road at the Madison Grove Drive entrance to the Del Webb neighborhood.

State Releases EIR for Delta Tunnel


The California Department of Water Resources released an environmental impact report for a tunnel that the state would like to build through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The report identifies potential impacts to farmland, tribal remains and endangered species of fish.

Thousands of Migrant Farmworker Apartments Sit Vacant for Months


Even though California is facing a crippling housing shortage, one potential source remains untapped. The state allows thousands of apartments used for part of the year by farmworkers to otherwise sit vacant for three to six months.

After Release From Prison in 2013, Lodi Native Has Found Recipe for Success


There is an old adage that everyone deserves a second chance. For Lodi native Sajad Shakoor, that phrase has been his mantra.

Monterey Farmers Try Novel Approach to Replenish Groundwater


Water managers in Pajaro Valley are paying farmers for water they get back into the ground. The move comes as California has grappled with water shortages in recent years.

One of Largest Cannabis Distribution Companies in State Goes Up in Smoke


HERBL, one of California’s biggest cannabis companies, collapsed earlier this year. The company, which sold $700 million of cannabis last year, reportedly shorted the state $17 million in taxes.

Gardeners Aren’t Surprised as USDA Updates Key Map


A newly updated “plant hardiness zone map” from the Department of Agriculture has many of the nation’s gardeners rushing online, Googling what new plants they can grow in their mostly warming regions.

Groups Urge Court to Strike Down Decision Greenlighting Ocean Fish Farming


Center for Food Safety has filed arguments seeking to revoke the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of nationwide permit 56, which authorizes industrial finfish aquaculture structures in ocean waters around the country. CFS represents a coalition of conservation, tribal, and fishing organizations.

A California Ranch Gets Nearly as Much Water as the Arizona City of Scottsdale


The Elmore Desert Ranch gets 22.5 billion gallons of water from the Colorado River, almost as much as is cleared for Scottsdale, Ariz. And that’s just a fraction of the 386.5 billion gallons from the river going to 19 other families in Imperial Valley.


Dairy products are California’s top agricultural commodity, but the industry is often criticized for its impact on the environment.
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