Ag Report: Fighting rural farm crime; banana disease; and ag grant award

Posted at 9:01 AM, Aug 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-16 12:02:33-04

Rural crime continues to be a big issue in Kern County. So the sheriff's office put some farm equipment under surveillance and that helped deputies make an arrest. According to the Kern County Sheriff's Office, electronic surveillance was put in the area of Millux Road and North Rancho Drive in Arvin.

Rural crime detectives were notified the equipment had been stolen and were able to track it to Cadnus Court. Investigators found 32-year-old Michael Pacheco of Arvin at the location and he was arrested on grand theft charges.

In other ag news bananas may soon be harder to find and the prices may not be very appealing. Officials in Colombia confirm a fungus that decimated banana plantations in Asia and Australia is now there. The tropical Race Four strain of Panama Disease infects the soil banana plants grow in. It eventually makes them unable to produce fruit. The fungus led Colombian authorities to declare a state of emergency.

Because the disease generally spreads before it is discovered experts say containment efforts probably won't keep it from migrating across Latin America. A different strain of the fungus decimated bananas in the early 1900s.

The Valley Air District governing board has unanimously approved the addition of $10 million in funding from the EPA to help replace older ag trucks and tractors.

The district was awarded the funding after submitting four proposals in the 2018 targeted air shed grant program which issues only $40 million nationwide. It will receive $5 million to replace 26 older diesel yard trucks with zero-emission trucks. The other $5 million will go toward replacing tractors. According to the district, the project will reduce more than 1,300 tons of pollutants.