Placer County sheep ranchers Bob Wiswell, left, and his son Dan say limited rainfall so far this spring has provided green, but very short grasses on their ranch in Lincoln. If conditions don’t improve, they say they may need to sell some lambs early and move the flock to irrigated pasture early.
Photo/Ching Lee
Easter is peak time for lamb sales, but California ranchers say they are losing market share to imports because the stronger dollar has made offshore lamb products cheaper.
Photo/Ching Lee
Drought, imports worry sheep ranchers
A boost in lamb prices before the Easter holiday has helped California sheep ranchers, many of whom are struggling with higher production costs as the ongoing drought has hurt pastures, forcing them to sell animals and feed expensive hay. Read more...

Legislature to act on emergency drought package
By the end of this week, the state Legislature is likely to pass a package of emergency drought legislation intended to provide partial relief to a state feeling the impacts of a fourth consecutive dry year. The package includes more than $1 billion for local drought relief and water infrastructure projects, through a combination of accelerated spending from the governor's budget and money approved by voters in two bond measures. Read more...

Congress tackles waters of the U.S. proposed rule
With a proposed "waters of the U.S." rule set to be finalized sometime this spring, the issue remains an important topic for farmers and ranchers in states including California and for representatives in Washington, D.C. The proposal comes up for discussion this week by the Senate Agriculture Committee and was the subject of a hearing by a House Agriculture subcommittee last week on its potential impact on rural America. Read more...

Commentary: Affordable water matters to farms, environment
At bottom, there are really only three long-term fundamentals that California farmers and ranchers need to sustain our state's agricultural economy, to keep it the most productive and efficient farm mosaic in the world: sun, soil, and water. Read more...

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