Crops Predicted to Yield Average Harvest for Virginia

Despite drought conditions, Virginia crops are likely to produce average yields this harvest season.

Broilers (chickens raised for meat production), cattle and turkeys are the commonwealth’s top farm commodities, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2021. Still, “miscellaneous” crops, including vegetables, barley, mushrooms, sunflowers and other field crops, are the state’s next highest-grossing commodity.

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Drought-Stricken Arizona Grapples with More Residents, Foreign-Owned Farms, Regulations

Arizona, known from its beginnings as the “Desert State,” has long sought new ways to provide water for its residents. But a roughly 19-year drought has created a host of new, urgent problems including how to regulate foreign and out-of-state businesses trying to capitalize on the demand.

“Eighty percent of our water is for agriculture, and a lot of it is unregulated,” community organizer Jacob Martinez recently told Just the News. “A California company can come into Arizona, put in a well and grow crops and go back to California and reap the benefits of that. We have no regulations, which is a problem.”

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Arizona AG Kris Mayes Under Fire for Feuding with Her Client, State Water Department over Water Resources

Democratic Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes may have broken ethics rules after she recently criticized her client, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) over concerns about their handing of the state’s water resources as drought conditions escalate. In a letter to ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke, she said the agency is not reviewing groundwater basins often enough to determine whether the agency should become more heavily regulated. Mayes also expressed concern that water transfers ADWR approves may have “grave consequences.”

But an attorney with substantial experience in government law said, “Mayes had no authority to make those moves and likely violated attorney ethics rules since she is the attorney for ADWR. It’s a violation of attorney-client privilege,” he told The Arizona Sun Times.

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Goldwater Institute Issues Plan to Solve Arizona’s Water Problem That Doesn’t Expand Government

As concerns grow that Arizona and neighboring states may be facing a water shortage due to one of the worst droughts in history, solutions are being proposed in the Arizona Legislature and by water experts.

The Goldwater Institute issued a report on March 15 in conjunction with the Environment Research Center (PERC), outlining reforms in four specific policy areas to deal with the problem. The report asserts that these proposals would not “require a dramatic expansion of the role of government.”

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Colorado River Basin to Receive $4 Billion from Feds for Drought Mitigation

The federal government plans to pay farmers that draw water from the Colorado River to take less, one piece of a multi-pronged plan to reduce usage.

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced a new program that will draw on $4 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funding approved for water management and drought mitigation in the Colorado River Basin. Called the Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program, it will be run by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Through the program’s three components, it will select conservation proposals from Colorado River water delivery contracts and entitlement holders, typically farmers using the water to grow crops.

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China Rations Energy Supplies Amid Severe Drought

China imposed sweeping power cuts to households and factories in Sichuan province, including those belonging to major electronics companies where drought conditions have strained the region’s hydropower-based energy production capacity.

Water levels at hydropower reservoirs that supply the province of 94 million people have fallen by as much as 50% in August as China faces its largest heatwave since 1961, the AP reported, citing data from the Sichuan Provincial Department of Economics and Information Technology. After the provincial government ordered solar panel, cement, electronics and fertilizer factories to reduce power consumption, many shut down or reduced operations.

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Arizona Senate Plan to Address Water Concerns Would Scale Back Governor’s Proposed Arizona Water Authority

Concerns are growing in Arizona that a water shortage may be looming down the road. Gov. Doug Ducey proposed creating an Arizona Water Authority (AWA) earlier this year in his 2022 State of the State address, but now the Arizona Senate majority caucus is suggesting a simpler plan that would use the existing Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA). 

Ducey’s plan to augment water resources, which he forged in partnership with Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa), would cost $1 billion and include integrating new technologies such as desalination, start large scale water augmentation projects, and encourage reuse and efficiency with current supplies.

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Gov. Walz Requests USDA Help During Minnesota Drought

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Due to a severe statewide drought, Gov. Tim Walz sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, requesting assistance to aid Minnesota’s livestock producers by relieving the immediate impacts of drought on grazing land.

“Agriculture is the past, present, and future of Minnesota’s economy. We must do everything we can to address the challenges our farmers and ranchers are facing due to the severe drought conditions plaguing our state. That’s why I’m asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture for assistance,” Walz said in a statement. “The USDA’s ongoing support of Minnesota’s agricultural industry is well-recognized across the state, and with their continued assistance, our livestock producers will have a brighter outlook as we endure these harsh conditions and look forward to a thriving future.”

Walz supported implementing a plan to allow emergency haying and grazing on eligible Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land counties experiencing Level D2 or greater drought conditions, reducing forage pressures on Minnesota’s livestock producers. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor update on July 8 reported nearly 40% of Minnesota is suffering under Level D2 or greater drought conditions.

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