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Mojave Pistachios Fights for Survival, Seeks to Prevent Groundwater Pumping Shutdown by IWVGA

In a high-stakes battle for its very existence, Mojave Pistachios, a 1,600 acre privately owned pistachio farming operation in eastern Kern County, is asking a California judge to prevent the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) from shutting off the pumps that bring groundwater to its 215,000 pistachio trees. Without this water the trees will die.

 

On Friday, June 14, the Superior Court of Orange County is expected to rule on whether to grant the IWVGA’s motion for a preliminary injunction that, if granted, will directly cause the death of 1,600 acres of trees and shutter a locally owned, private farming operation.

 

Mojave Pistachios purchased and planted its land in the Indian Wells Valley (IWV) starting in 2011 and 2012, respectively, prior to implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and in accordance with applicable laws and local zoning ordinances. The first commercial harvest was completed in 2020, according to a declaration by farmer Rod Stiefvater in opposition to the injunction, and the orchards are expected to produce over 3,000,000 pounds of pistachios this year, with peak production reached in 2030.

 

In a series of ongoing legal battles, agriculture and business groups have argued that the IWVGA’s allocation of zero native groundwater to Mojave Pistachios and the imposition of an exorbitant replenishment fee of $2,130 per acre-foot of water is an intentional move to kill agricultural development in the valley.

 

Mojave Pistachios and other water users in the valley have argued the IWVGA’s unprecedented replenishment fee is unjust because it will only fund the possible purchase of a water right entitlement, not the water importation pipeline project which is required to convey imported water into the Basin. The pipeline cannot credibly be expected to ever be financed or built considering the quarter billion-dollar price tag and the terrain and environmentally sensitive habitats it would traverse.

 

In spite of the question of whether the IWVGA is depriving Mojave Pistachios of its water rights, a California Court of Appeal in Orange County found that this landowner cannot challenge the (lack of) water allocation set by the IWVGA without first paying the pumping fees, which today amount to over $30 million for just three years of irrigating the trees.  

 

No farmer, including Mojave Pistachios, could ever pay this irrigation fee. Now, the court will decide whether to turn off the water. Turning off the pumps will mean the loss of decades of productive life of tens of thousands of trees. There will be no way to undo this decision; no remedy available to the farmer who owns dead trees.

 

As the court readies itself to decide the fate of Mojave Pistachios and its trees, the court must take into consideration several key facts about groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley basin taken from a series of expert legal declarations:

 

Representing Mojave Pistachios, Scott Slater, with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP argues that it is unnecessary for the court to decide whether to stop Mojave Pistachios from maintaining its orchards because no one is being harmed by their current water use, with negligible changes in water levels at their ranch. Further, Mojave Pistachios is making great efforts to satisfy its debt to IWVGA and to propose alternative management solutions.

 

According to Anthony Brown of Aquilogic, the “Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin would not be materially harmed by the continued production of groundwater by [Mojave Pistachios] for at least the next 16 years, whereas a cessation of pumping or payment of exorbitant pumping fees would irreparably and catastrophically harm [Mojave Pistachios].”

 

As the IWVGA argues their views on the limit on available water, it has become evident that the modeling used for their Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) is not an accurate assessment of the basin’s sustainability. A new analysis by a technical working group of experienced hydrologists demonstrates there is more fresh groundwater in storage than Lake Mead and the sustainable annual recharge is conservatively 56% higher than what IWVGA estimated and based its Replenishment Fee upon. With millions of acre-feet of freshwater available for recovery, the plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a pipeline through sensitive desert habitat is unnecessary.

 

In fact, if a water importation system is the goal, the IWVGA has no concrete plan. Rodney Smith, President of Stratecon Inc, says “It is completely implausible to imagine the IWVGA will be able to finance its proposed water project.” Moreover, “The IWVGA has no assured source of financing…Securing $30 million from Mojave does nothing to solve for the more than $150 million in additional project costs.”

 

“As we have offered, the bottom line is that the Court can save 1,600 acres of pistachio trees, while it continues to oversee a solution for the entire basin. For unknown reasons, the IWVGA insists on relying upon its private groundwater model to support the harshest outcomes, rather than submit to a transparent and court evaluation, using best practices. Actual data, including measured water levels tell us there is exponentially more fresh water in the basin than the IWVGA wants to admit, and no risk of harm to the basin. It is no secret the IWVGA wants to end agriculture in the valley; the retribution against farmers by the IWVGA must be stopped,” added Slater.

 

The plight of agriculture in IWV should serve as a warning to agricultural interests across the state. SGMA’s intent was to provide a reasonable, democratic process to address the real need to protect groundwater supplies in balance with the economic realities of farmers and other water users-over the next two decades. In the IWV, where science tells us groundwater supplies abound, agriculture is being killed on a schedule that far outpaces anything contemplated under SGMA.  Experts agree there is a better way to manage groundwater in IWV that brings all interests together in a fair process that has positive outcomes for all parties-hopefully the court will grant Mojave Pistachios the right to keep their trees alive long enough to see such an outcome.

2024-06-13T09:12:37-07:00June 13th, 2024|

Almond Board of California announces 2024 election results

Courtesy of Almond Board of California 

Almond Board of California Announces 2024 Election Results

New board will start its term Aug. 1.

MODESTO, Calif. — The Almond Board of California announced the Board of Directors election results on June 11 and the names of the following nominees have been submitted to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for selection to terms of office beginning Aug. 1, 2024:

Grower Position #1, Member:                                 Grower Position #1, Alternate:

1-year term

Paul Ewing, Los Banos                                                      Katie Staack, Hughson

Grower Position #3, Member:                                 Grower Position #3, Alternate:

3-year term

Joe Gardiner, Earlimart                                                     Garrett Bloemhof, Shafter

Handler Position #2, Member:                                 Handler Position #2, Alternate:

3-year term

Bob Silveira, Williams                                                         Justin Morehead, Coalinga

Handler Position #3, Member:                                 Handler Position #3, Alternate:

1-year term

Darren Rigg, Le Grand                                                         Chad DeRose, McFarland

Co-op Grower Position #1, Member:                      Co-op Grower Position #1, Alternate:

3-year term

Christine Gemperle, Ceres                                                    Lucas Van Duyn, Ripon

The ABC board is made up of five handler and five grower representatives. It sets policy and recommends budgets in major areas, including marketing, production research, advertising, public relations, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control and food safety.

2024-06-11T15:01:14-07:00June 11th, 2024|

MORE THAN 20 DAIRY PARTNERS DISPLAY DAIRY TRENDS, SUSTAINABLE INGREDIENTS IN REAL CALIFORNIA MILK’S STREET OF DAIRY AT 2024 INTERNATIONAL DAIRY DELI BAKERY ASSOCIATION SHOW

Courtesy of the California Milk Advisory Board 

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) will spotlight a variety of innovative, on-trend sustainably sourced dairy products at the 2024 International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) show in Houston, Tex. June 9-11. As a key exhibitor at the event, which brings together 10,000 attendees and more than 800 exhibiting companies at the largest industry-only show for dairy, deli, bakery, and foodservice, CMAB will connect with industry professionals while sharing all that California dairy has to offer through on-trend culinary dishes and more.

An assortment of dairy applications will be sampled throughout the show in CMAB’s booth #3729, including specialty cheese, lassi, desserts, kefir, puffed protein snacks and more. California culinary expert Joe Baird will showcase a selection of trending recipes including Boysenberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Milkshakes, Irish Hand Pies, Honey Yogurt with Vietnamese-style Fried Bananas, Korean-style Mozzarella-filled Croffles, Sushi Salad Wraps, and Walking Tacos in a Bag will be featured in the Real California Kitchen.

California dairy processors in attendance include Angelo & Franco, Arbo’s Cheese Dips, Belfiore Cheese, Cheese Bits, Crystal Creamery, DiStefano Cheese, Dosa by Dosa, Gelato Festival, In Good Hands, Fiscalini Cheese, Lifeway, Karoun Dairies, Marin French Cheese, Moinear Farmhouse Butter, Pacific Cheese, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Rumiano Cheese, Scott Brothers, Sierra Nevada Cheese Co., Super Store Industries, Sweet Craft Dolceria, and Win soon Inc.

California is the nation’s leading milk producer, and makes more butter, ice cream and nonfat dry milk than any other state. California is the second-largest producer of cheese and yogurt. California milk and dairy foods can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies they are made with milk from the state’s dairy families using some of the most sustainable farming practices in the world.

2024-06-05T08:24:05-07:00June 5th, 2024|

Cover crops benefits may outweigh water-use in California

Courtesy of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources 

Additional guidance needed for groundwater management strategies 

Cover crops are planted to protect and improve the soil between annual crops such as tomatoes or between rows of tree and vine crops, but growers may be concerned about the water use of these plants that don’t generate income.

“Cover crops are one of the most popular practices we see farmers employ through our Healthy Soils Program,” said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “Cover crops supply a host of benefits, such as helping to protect against soil erosion, improving soil health, crowding out weeds, controlling pests and diseases, and increasing biodiversity; and they can bring increased profitability as the number of other inputs are reduced. They also provide water benefits such as improved infiltration and reduced runoff.”

These potential benefits are especially salient in the San Joaquin Valley, where groundwater challenges are more acute. A new report evaluates the water implications of cover cropping practices to lay the groundwork for their adoption in the context of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, which is intended to protect groundwater resources over the long-term.

“Yes, cover crops require a nominal amount of water to establish – and sometimes rainwater is sufficient – but the myriad co-benefits are worth it,” Ross said.

Growers, water resource planners and managers, crop consultants, irrigation practitioners and policymakers may find the cover crops report useful.

The report is the product of a convening process jointly developed by the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, CDFA, Natural Resources Conservation Service of California, and University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, and assembled by nonprofit Sustainable Conservation.

The multidisciplinary group of more than 30 individuals has published “Cover Cropping in the SGMA Era.” The literature review, policy analysis and recommendations pertain to the water impacts of cover crop practices in California’s Central Valley under SGMA.

Cover crops and their potential

“Wintertime rain-fed cover cropping does not necessarily significantly increase water losses compared to bare ground in the winter months,” said co-author Daniele Zaccaria, associate professor in agricultural water management for Cooperative Extension at UC Davis. “Cover cropping can significantly improve soil-water dynamics, increasing soil water infiltration and storage and reducing surface runoff.”

To reap the benefits of cover crops using minimal water, Zaccaria said growers will need to know how the plants perform under different conditions.

“We need to develop and implement a coordinated research effort to increase understanding of net water impacts of cover crops under various meteorological conditions – dry, wet, average,” he said.

Report findings and recommendations

To understand the potential of cover cropping under SGMA, the report’s authors came together to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the impacts of cover crops on water cycles (both benefits and use)?
  2. How does SGMA management account for cover cropping and is it capturing cover crop benefits alongside their water use?
  3. How can we ensure that this practice remains available to growers where and when it makes sense?

This report synthesizes the learnings from the collaborative initiative including 100-plus multidisciplinary experts, a policy analysis, interviews with Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) staff and consultants, and the expertise contributed by its 30-plus authors. In light of these findings, the report advances a series of recommendations aimed at bridging critical knowledge gaps, enhancing the integration of cover crops into policies and incentive programs, and bolstering data infrastructure and other mechanisms to support sustainable groundwater management initiatives.

One vital throughline is the need for additional guidance from the state to support local GSAs in facing the complex challenges of developing and implementing groundwater management strategies for their local watersheds. These measures aim to optimize cover crop integration within SGMA frameworks and promote sustainable water management practices crucial for the region’s agricultural resilience and environmental health.

“This report is unique because the university collaborated closely with state agencies and private sector partners to ensure that the different perspectives provided both the best science available as well as viable policy options,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “By taking a comprehensive view, we can advance recommendations for cover crop policy that help us meet multiple goals, manage our natural resources more effectively, and avoid unintended consequences.”

Sarah Light, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy farm advisor, is one of the UC ANR experts who provided science-based information during the convening sessions and co-authored the white paper.

“Cover crops are a valuable soil health practice that can help ensure the resilience of California farms to climate extremes,” said Light. “As we balance the complexities of water and soil management, it is important to understand the role that cover crops play in an annual water budget so that they are not disincentivized in certain parts of the state. This paper can provide guidance to GSAs and policymakers who are charged with implementing SGMA in their regions.”

The report “Cover Cropping in the SGMA Era” can be downloaded for free at https://suscon.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/SC-Cover-Crop-SGMA-Report.pdf.

2024-06-05T08:20:01-07:00June 5th, 2024|

Valadao Calls on Newsom to Suspend Gas Tax Increase

Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-22) led the entire California Republican congressional delegation in urging Governor Gavin Newsom to suspend the state’s upcoming gas tax increase on July 1, 2024. According to Triple A, the national average price for a gallon of gas is $3.60, but in California, the average price is $5.13 per gallon. 

“Governor Newsom has failed to provide relief at the pump for hard-working Californians struggling with rising costs,” said Congressman Valadao. “My constituents are already paying the highest gas prices in the country, and the fact that our prices are about to go up even more because of the state’s policies is unacceptable. I am once again urging the Governor to suspend the gas tax to lower prices for Central Valley families.”

For the last two years, Rep. Valadao has led efforts to suspend the annual July 1st gas tax increase to provide much-needed relief to middle class California families struggling with inflation. The lawmakers also raised their concerns over a recent report from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that signals gas prices are expected to rise by 47 cents per gallon in 2025 due to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard reforms.

Congressman Valadao was joined in the letter by Reps. Ken Calvert (CA-41), Kevin Kiley (CA-03), Young Kim (CA-40), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Tom McClintock (CA-05), Jay Obernolte (CA-23), Michelle Steel (CA-45), John Duarte (CA-13), Mike Garcia (CA- 27), and Darrell Issa (CA-48).

Read the full text of the letter here or below:

Dear Governor Newsom,

We are extremely concerned with two upcoming gas price increases that will impact all Californians. In September 2023, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) reported that gas prices are expected to rise by 47 cents per gallon next year due to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard reforms. This increase does not include the existing gas tax, which is expected to increase gas prices by nearly 60 cents on July 1st. Together, this more than one dollar increase will come at a time when the people of California are already grappling with the high cost of living in our state.

For the past two years, we have urged you to suspend the gas tax, given the ongoing challenges faced by Californians that are forced to choose between filling their gas tanks and putting food on the table. Our concerns have continued to be ignored while Californians suffer the consequences. According to AAA’s state gas price averages, California leads the nation in gas prices at $5.26 per gallon for regular gas, which is already 45 cents higher than the next closest state. Adding another dollar to these already exorbitant prices will be disastrous for California residents.

With the cost of goods continuing to rise across the board, we must act now to pursue all avenues of relief for California families. We urge you to immediately suspend increases to California’s excise tax on gasoline and to work with CARB to ensure that Californians do not suffer unnecessarily.

Sincerely,

2024-05-24T13:37:01-07:00May 24th, 2024|

UC Davis Ends Strawberry Licensing Agreements With Eurosemillas

Courtesy of Bill Kisliuk with the UC Davis News and Media Relations 

The University Will Continue to Work With Nurseries and Growers in 20-Plus Affected International Markets

The University of California, Davis, a leader in the development of world-class strawberry varieties for the California and global markets, is terminating all strawberry licensing agreements with Eurosemillas S.A., which has been a master licensee for older UC Davis strawberry varieties in countries outside of the United States.

The decision to terminate the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program licensing agreements with Eurosemillas does not come lightly. The University of California provided due notice to Eurosemillas of the university’s position that Eurosemillas had defaulted on its agreements, and the university’s concerns were not addressed.

The university is taking steps to provide stability for nurseries and fruit growers during this transition period, and ensure continued access to older UC Davis strawberry varieties. Newer UC Davis strawberry varieties continue to be available throughout the world per licensing agreements with other partners, Fresa Fortaleza and Global Plant Genetics.

“The UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program has been a huge success for consumers, growers, California’s agricultural economy and the global strawberry market,” said Helene Dillard, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “The step the university is taking today is necessary to support our growers and our program, and to ensure the scientific breakthroughs at UC Davis and resources provided by the state of California are cared for, managed and marketed properly.”

UC Davis holds active patents on 20 strawberry varieties, all of which have been licensed to nurseries to sell to strawberry growers.

The university directly licenses strawberry varieties to California nurseries, offering state strawberry growers exclusive access to new varieties for two years and reduced royalty rates to give them a competitive advantage. The university also directly licenses varieties elsewhere in the United States and Canada.

In markets outside North America, the university contracts with master licensees to work with nurseries, farmers and growers. International markets where UC Davis strawberry varieties are grown include the European Union, the United Kingdom and Switzerland; Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay; China; Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Turkey; South Africa; Canada; New Zealand and Australia.

UC has been and will continue to be vigilant about supporting the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program and honoring its obligations to farmers and growers to ensure access to high-quality, affordable varieties in California and elsewhere. As a public research institution, UC diligently protects and promotes its intellectual property to maximize public value, support thriving agricultural economies and ensure reinvestment in university research and education.

About the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program 

Strawberry varieties developed at UC Davis produce about 60% of all strawberries consumed worldwide.

Varieties developed at UC Davis have made California a leading producer, with the state growing more than 87% of North American strawberries.

The UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program is funded primarily by revenue from licensing strawberry varieties. Licensing funds also support patent expenses, campus inventors, the UC Office of the President and UC Davis.

Annually, the University of California generally receives between $8 million and $9 million in licensing revenue from the strawberry breeding program.

UC Davis develops strawberry varieties for greater yield, disease resistance, flavor, adaptation to different growing conditions and other positive characteristics.

UC Davis breeders work collaboratively with industry leaders to produce fruit that meets the market demand and address the needs of growers.

The program also trains students and postdoctoral researchers to be leaders in this vital industry.

Media Resources

Media Contact:

2024-05-21T10:26:02-07:00May 21st, 2024|

UC Master Gardeners empower college students to garden for mental wellness

Courtesy of the UCANR News 

Although training is required to become a University of California Master Gardener, the benefits of gardening can be experienced by anyone and everyone.

“As long as you’re willing to get your hands dirty,” said Laurie Menosky, a UC Master Gardener volunteer in Orange County, “you can learn to grow all sorts of things.”

In early April, Menosky partnered with ETN Medical Infusion (a clinic in Orange County) and the Sustainability Program for Student Housing at UC Irvine to teach students how to grow tomatoes. Menosky welcomed all in attendance, including families with toddlers who seemed fascinated by the 60 tomato plants atop one of the tables in the room.

The UC Master Gardener Program is a part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. During her presentation, Menosky taught participants how to choose varieties that fit their taste and growing environment, how to cultivate a thriving environment, and how to control pests and diseases using integrated pest management practices.

“We have 16,000 residents at UCI and sustainability is one of our values. One of the ways we engage students is through on-campus gardens,” said Rachel Harvey, sustainability program manager for UCI Student Housing and a UC Master Gardener volunteer in Orange County.

UC Irvine has one teaching garden reserved for undergraduate learning, and three gardens operated and maintained by graduate students. “I was on the waiting list for a garden plot for a while, but it was totally worth the wait,” said Johanna Rinaman, a fifth-year Ph.D. student studying physical chemistry.

While the highlight of the event for many people was the opportunity to take a tomato plant home, another important takeaway was how gardening can be a good activity for your mental health. Sarah Nghiem, family medicine specialist at ETN Medical Infusion, who worked closely with Menosky, was instrumental in developing the mental health content for the day, encouraging attendees to attempt gardening with a mental health perspective.

Nghiem and her team received funding from the Orange County Health Care Agency through the Mental Health Services Act to work with transitional aged students (15-24 years-old) on understanding the importance of mental health, which led to the collaboration between UC Irvine, her alma mater, and the UC Master Gardeners of Orange County.

“I didn’t do any gardening during the winter, and I felt a lot more anxious and depressed during that time,” Rinaman said. “I know gardening improves mental health because I’ve immediately felt a difference whenever I spend time with plants.”

Rinaman, whose father taught her a lot of what she knows about gardening, said that having access to a 4 feet by 6 feet plot to grow her own food is one of the many things she loves about UC Irvine.

Like Rinaman, Menosky turns to gardening to decompress, especially during the long days of summer. Teaching others about the physical and mental benefits of gardening gives her an opportunity to share her experience and, hopefully, help others find new ways to manage stress.

“We often have attendees come back years later telling us how our information has helped them and how much more they are enjoying their time in their gardens,” she said.

To conclude her presentation, Menosky instructed participants to line up for their own tomato plant. Attendees took their plants outside to transfer them from a small pot to a grow bag – a type of container that helps root structure development.

Cassie Ekwego, a third-year transfer student studying civil engineering, couldn’t hide her excitement after carefully lifting her plant. “I don’t think I realized how attentive you need to be when working with plants,” said Ekwego, reflecting on what she learned from Menosky’s presentation.

Now that she has her own plant to care for in her own home, Ekwego is eager to put her new knowledge to the test. “I love tomatoes, but this is going to be a huge responsibility for me,” she said.

Randy Musser, UC Master Gardener program coordinator for Orange County, said that while he enjoys talking to avid gardeners, bringing gardening to new people in the community is special to him. “This tomato workshop is particularly exciting for me because it is an opportunity for the UC Master Gardeners to grow our connection to UCI and young people just starting off on their gardening journey,” said Musser.

With a generous contribution from UC Master Gardener volunteer Sheila Peterson, Musser was able to purchase enough supplies to help attendees, like Ekwego, jumpstart their gardening experience.

Students, whose stress levels can skyrocket throughout the school year, value opportunities to be outdoors, try something new and be in community. “The garden is a different type of classroom. It’s a place where students can learn and experiment, hopefully in a way that reduces stress,” said Harvey of UCI Student Housing.

Ekwego, who tried gardening for the first time while volunteering at UC Irvine’s teaching garden, is just one of the many students inspired by their experiences. “Gardening reminds me that it’s OK to get my hands dirty,” Ekwego said.

2024-05-15T08:24:50-07:00May 15th, 2024|

SUSTAINABLE CALIFORNIA DAIRY SPOTLIGHT AT 2024 REAL CALIFORNIA MILK NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION BOOTH

Courtesy of the California Milk Advisory Board 

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) will spotlight a variety of innovative and sustainably sourced dairy products at the 2024 National Restaurant Association show in Chicago, Ill. May 18-21, 2024. As an exhibitor at the show, an event bringing together more than 55,000 foodservice professionals from 107 different countries and representing over 900 product categories, CMAB will connect with industry professionals while sharing why sourcing California dairy is a winning strategy for foodservice operators.

CMAB will highlight an assortment of dairy applications through sampling including cheese, lassi, yogurt, kefir, ice cream, a variety of desserts, whey-based spirits and more. California dairy processors in attendance will include Angelo & Franco, Bellwether Farms, dosa by Dosa, Double Rainbow, Lifeway Foods/Glen Oaks Farms, Marin French Cheese Co., Petit Pot, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Super Store Industries, Sweet Craft, and Wheyward Spirit. Attendees can visit the CMAB booth #10002 to learn more about products made with sustainability sourced milk from California dairy families.

“The National Restaurant Association show is a fantastic opportunity for California dairy to reach new audiences within the hospitality and foodservice industries. California is a reliable, consistent source of sustainable dairy products used by chefs and enjoyed by consumers throughout the world,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “As the nation’s largest dairy state, California boasts an impressive lineup of award-winning cheesemakers and dairy processors, that are helping to drive dining innovation.”

California is the nation’s leading milk producer, and makes more butter, ice cream and nonfat dry milk than any other state. California is the second-largest producer of cheese and yogurt. California milk and dairy foods can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies they are made with milk from the state’s dairy farm families.

2024-05-15T08:19:01-07:00May 15th, 2024|

Industry Pioneer Jack Wilkey and his Wife Pat Honored

Courtesy of the Western Agricultural Processors Association 

In 2004, the Ag One Foundation formed a Stanislaus County Alumni and Friends committee to deepen the outreach between the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (JCAST) at Fresno State, graduates, and the agricultural industry. Each year a dinner is held, and the Dean of the Jordan College, students, faculty, and staff go to Stanislaus to meet with alumni and friends. Each year someone from the Stanislaus area is honored for their involvement and many contributions to the community, education, and agriculture. They are inducted into the Ag One Stanislaus County Hall of Fame.  A perpetual plaque hangs on the wall in Durrer’s Barn in Modesto where the dinner was first held. This year, the committee recognized Jack and Pat Wilkey, Wilkey Industries, of Turlock. They are both champions of higher education and have deep connections to Fresno State where several of their family graduated. The proceeds from the dinner are added to the Stanislaus County Alumni and Friends endowment fund which provides scholarships to deserving students, with preference to students from Stanislaus County. To date nearly $75,000 has been added to the Stanislaus endowment and another five endowments have been created by some of the honorees. In total this event has helped raise about $200,000 in permanent funds in support of students and programs in the Jordan College. Current Ag One Foundation President Roger A. Isom (also WAPA President/CEO) was supposed to speak at the event but ended up in a car accident on Highway 99 when he was rear-ended in stop and go traffic en route to the event. Isom commented afterwards “The only thing to keep me away from being there was an accident that totaled my car.  Jack is a pioneer in the tree nut business and a staple in Stanislaus County.  This recognition of Jack and Pat is truly deserved and so appropriate for Ag One to recognize the Wilkeys’ contributions to the community. Congratulations!”

2024-05-13T10:26:50-07:00May 13th, 2024|

USDA Forecasts Larger Almond Crop

Courtesy of the Almond Board of California 

Harvest 2024 is estimated to be up 21% percent from last year after solid bloom.

The 2024 California Almond Forecast published Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) estimates that the crop harvested in 2024 will come in at 3 billion pounds, 21 percent above last year’s 2.47 billion pounds.

Forecasted yield is 2,170 pounds per acre, 380 pounds from the 2023 harvest.

“This larger crop estimate is what the industry expected after a productive bloom this spring, but it is also a testament to the hard work done by almond farmers throughout California during difficult times,” said Clarice Turner, president and CEO of the Almond Board of California. “Demand for California almonds around the globe continues to grow and our almond farmers constantly deliver on producing high quality California almonds to meet that demand.”

The report said, “The 2024 almond crop experienced fluctuating, but mostly favorable weather for the first half of the growing season. The bloom began the second week in February for the early varieties. There were a handful of storms that brought rain, wind, and hail to some areas, but overall mild temperatures and excellent weather from the end of February into early March helped boost pollination. Bee hours were reported to be significantly higher than last year … There was minimal to no threat of frost damage and water allocation is not an issue for the second year in a row.

This Subjective Forecast is the first of two production reports from USDA-NASS for the coming crop year. It is an estimate based on opinions from a survey conducted from April 19 to May 5 of 500 randomly selected California almond growers. The sample of growers, which changes every year, is spread across regions and different sized operations, and they had the option to report their data by mail, online or phone.

On July 10, USDA-NASS will release its second production estimate, the 2024 California Almond Objective Report, which will be based on actual almond counts in approximately 1,000 orchards using a more statistically rigorous methodology to determine yield. If the 3.0 billion pounds holds, it would be the second largest crop on record.

This Subjective Forecast comes two weeks after Land IQ’s 2024 Standing Acreage Initial Estimate found that bearing almond acreage in California has decreased about 600 acres from the previous year to 1.373 million acres.

USDA-NASS conducts the annual Subjective Forecast and Objective Report to provide the California almond industry with the data needed to make informed business decisions. These reports are the official industry crop estimates.

 

2024-05-10T11:38:53-07:00May 10th, 2024|
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