Food and Farm News

Wildfire burns rangeland

The ongoing County Fire in Napa and Yolo counties has burned thousands of acres of rangeland used for grazing animals. Reports of damage are still being collected, but farmers of irrigated crops in the region say those crops should be safe from fire. Firefighting helicopters have used irrigation reservoirs on farms as sources of water to pour on the flames.

Nutria threaten crops, water systems

Farmers along the San Joaquin River remain on the lookout for nutria--an invasive rodent that damages crops, wetlands and water systems. State wildlife officials have confirmed nutria in six counties and are working to determine the extent of the problem. The rodents burrow into levees and canal banks, causing flooding and other damage. They eat vegetation--about a quarter of their body weight daily.

Malting barley makes a comeback

The popularity of microbreweries has revived production of malting barley in California. Farmers in the Sacramento Valley are harvesting the grain for sale to a malthouse in Alameda, which in turn sells the malt to breweries and distilleries around the state. A variety of barley developed by the University of California suits growing conditions here and has become the preferred strain for farmers growing the crop.

Grants aim to reduce food waste

Three "food rescue" projects in Northern California will benefit from grants announced Tuesday by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. Waste-management agencies in Alameda, Contra Costa and Napa counties will partner with food banks to recover edible food that would otherwise go to waste. The department says diverting food and other green waste from landfills reduces methane emissions.

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