Agricultural losses mount from Thomas Fire
The first estimate of agricultural losses from the huge Southern California wildfire totals more than $171 million. The Ventura County agricultural commissioner reports the Thomas Fire damaged more than 70,000 acres of cropland and rangeland. Damage to buildings and equipment accounted for two-thirds of the initial monetary losses. Among crops, avocados and lemons absorbed the worst damage.
Surveyors to look for Sierra snow
When state snow surveyors conduct their first physical survey of the year Wednesday, there likely won't be a lot to see. After a dry December, electronic readings of the Sierra snowpack show it standing at one-quarter of average for the date. Water managers use the snowpack data to plan for summertime supplies. Due to the heavy precipitation of a year ago, most large reservoirs in the state remain at or above their average levels for early January.
Solar plants needn't displace farmland, study learns
Plenty of places exist to locate new solar energy facilities without putting them on prime farmland, according to a University of California study. Researchers identified opportunities for locating solar plants on Central Valley land not suitable for farming, on rooftops of agricultural facilities and other places. A co-author of the study says it's important to explore such alternative sites for solar development, in order to conserve farmland.
USDA looks at millennials' food-buying habits
The millennial generation will likely be an important driver in the economy for years to come, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which reports on the generation's food-buying habits in a new study. It says millennials--born between 1981 and 1996--demand healthier, fresher food than earlier generations, spend less on food intended to be eaten at home and spend more on prepared foods.