Butte County tree crop farmer Rich McGowan, left, tells a legislative tour about challenges growers face as they work to produce crops, manage with water shortages and comply with a growing number of local, state and federal regulations. Those asking questions include 39th Assembly District field representative Ricardo Benitez, seated left, and Assembly members Patty Lopez, Travis Allen, James Gallagher and Jay Obernolte.
Photo/Kate Campbell
Michael McDowell
Employees at Omega Walnut in Orland sort walnuts during a tour for state legislators. The facility’s sales and marketing manager told legislators how a slowdown at West Coast ports affected employees, creating a backlog of shipments the facility is still trying to clear.
Photo/Kate Campbell
State legislators take a close look at agriculture
Seven members of the state Assembly, most from Southern California, got out and about in Glenn and Butte counties to learn about growing nut crops, rice and processing walnuts. Sponsored by Butte County Farm Bureau, last week’s tour was hosted by rice farmer and Assembly member James Gallagher, R-Nicholas, and offered new members a firsthand look at food production in Northern California. Read more...

Congress tries to rein in EPA ‘waters’ proposal
The proposed federal "waters of the United States" rule, which agricultural groups say would increase the authority of government agencies and redefine and expand the scope of waters protected under the federal Clean Water Act, was at the center of debate in Washington, D.C., last week. Read more...

Commentary: Drought offers chance to explain farms’ importance
A recent survey by the California Farm Water Coalition indicated that 41 percent of California's irrigated farmland will lose 80 percent of its surface water in 2015 due to cutbacks because of the drought. Add that to a reduction of more than 30 percent last year and it's obvious that farmers and ranchers have suffered the brunt of drought-related losses, so far. Read more...

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