State Funds $9.4 Million in Farm Conservation Projects
The California Department of Food and Agriculture on Tuesday announced it will fund 100 projects to conserve water on farms. The projects will receive a total of nearly $9.4 million authorized by SB 103, an emergency drought bill that became law in 2014.
The funds are being distributed directly to agricultural operations, with an additional $4.6 million coming from private matching funds in many cases. It is the second year for the program, which officials say is so popular that it is “oversubscribed by 300 percent.”
“It is critical to support our farmers and the diverse food supply we have in California, especially during this historic drought,” state agriculture secretary Karen Ross said in a statement.
Projects selected for the program must save both water and energy. As a result, many involve more efficient pumps for water wells, drip or sprinkler irrigation systems, or moisture-sensing devices. The grants range from $150,000 to as little as $10,000. For a full list of the recipients, click here.
Farmers, Ranchers Get Drought Relief from IRS
In a special bulletin released this week, the Internal Revenue Service announced that farmers and ranchers forced to sell livestock because of drought will be granted additional time to account for those losses.
Taxpayers in several states will benefit from the time extension, including several dozen counties in California.
Farmers and ranchers who, because of drought, sell more livestock than they normally would may defer tax on the extra gains from those sales. To qualify, the livestock generally must be replaced within a four-year period.
The IRS is now offering a one-year extension of the replacement period. It applies to capital gains realized on sales of livestock held for draft, dairy or breeding purposes due to drought. Sales of other livestock, such as those raised for slaughter or held for sporting purposes, and poultry, are not eligible.
The IRS is providing this relief to any farm located in a county or other defined region listed as suffering exceptional, extreme or severe drought by the National Drought Mitigation Center during any weekly period between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015. Any county contiguous to a county listed by the drought center also qualifies for this relief.
State to Release August Conservation Numbers on Thursday
The State Water Resources Control Board will release urban water conservation data in a call with the media on Thursday. It will be a telling moment: Have Californians been able to sustain the good progress on water conservation that they achieved in July?
We’ve already heard several stories from water agencies around the state that their progress has slipped in August. One reason may be that average temperatures for the month were significantly above normal across most of California, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some areas, particularly the Central Coast region, set new heat records in August.
The August conservation results could be particularly important because the numbers could determine whether the state decides to fine water agencies that fail to meet their water-saving targets. Previously, the water board stated that there will be fines – potentially as much as $10,000 per day. But the board implied it would wait to see a broader record of conservation effort before proceeding with enforcement actions.
Top image: A farm field under heavy irrigation by sprinklers near Yuba City on July 11, 2015. State officials are funding a number of projects to help farmers conserve water and energy. (Sylvia Wright, [email protected])