Apr 29 2010
Frost is water; but water can also be used to protect crops from frost, especially highly sensitive crops such as wine grapes.
From a California Farm Bureau report on disputes over use of Russian River water in protection of grapes from frost:
A government agency letter announcing plans to conduct unannounced, predawn inspections of farm properties marks the latest development in an ongoing controversy related to use of Russian River water to protect grapevines from frost.
Winegrape growers with vineyards along the river received the “access notification” letter, which warns farmers that the State Water Resources Control Board, National Marine Fisheries Service or state Department of Fish and Game may conduct the unannounced inspections unless the farmer sends formal notification in advance, denying permission.
The letter, signed by water board Deputy Director for Water Rights Victoria A. Whitney, states in part: “Because diversions for frost protection are weather-dependent and occur irregularly, mostly during early morning hours, initial contact prior to a site visit would be impracticable. Therefore, by this letter, you are being requested to provide reasonable access to your property. We will assume, unless informed otherwise, that you are allowing…access to your property.”
Devon Jones, executive director of the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, said she has been hearing an overwhelming negative reaction from farmers, who express concern about the potential dangers of such unannounced inspections in the dead of night.
“In terms of the property access letter, participants in the Russian River Frost Program are concerned with the liability issues that could arise if regulatory agencies perform unannounced visits during the early morning hours when frost events typically can occur,” Jones said. “We are recommending a cooperative approach with the regulatory agencies, but do not see the terms that the SWRCB put forth in the access letter as being a reasonable method for performing inspections.” Continue Reading »