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Westlands Water District Responds to Disappointing Central Valley Project Water Allocation Update

Courtesy of Westlands Water District 

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) announced an update to water allocations for Central Valley Project (CVP) water users. The revised allocation for South of Delta agricultural contractors, including Westlands Water District (District), was updated with an increase of 5 percent from 35 to 40 percent of the total water contract –another incredibly disappointingly low allocation for District water users.  

 With the state’s reservoirs and snowpack at above-average levels and much of the state out of drought conditions, this meager increase in allocation continues to present unnecessary and unjustified hardships for the hard-working people of our District,” said Allison Febbo, General Manager, Westlands Water District. “Water from the Central Valley Project is the lifeblood of our farms and communities that rely on the crops they grow. If we can’t expect transparency in the process and a robust water allocation reflective of the hydrology during years when our reservoirs are full, then what can we expect for the future of our region?”  

 Since the initial allocation of 15 percent at the end of February, Westlands has noted several conditions that are incongruent with a water supply allocation lower than 50 percent. For instance, in comparison of conditions this year to 2018 where we had a 50 percent allocation, we are now seeing substantially more Delta outflow, better snowpack, and generally equivalent storage in upstream reservoirs. 

 To the best of our understanding, the allocation is being held below 50 percent for two reasons: uncertainty in hydrology and corresponding conservatism in water management; and anticipated operational constraints for the protection of fisheries in the Delta.  We look forward to working with Reclamation, consistent with requests made earlier this spring by congressional leaders, to appropriately balance risks to water supply. With regard to restrictions caused by fisheries concerns, Westlands continues to seek clarification and documentation for these decisions. At present, and based on available information, we believe the decisions will not result in a measurable effect on the populations of the species, despite their significant cost to water supply. We feel this is a missed opportunity to celebrate what appears to be a healthy population of fisheries and does not warrant the high cost or alarmist actions. 

 Perhaps most concerning to Westlands is that this current experience raises concerns for how the regulatory agencies will approach the promised improvements to transparency, science-based decisions, and adaptive management under the pending Biological Opinions and Voluntary Agreements. Westlands remains vigilant in the effort to improve collaborative water supply decision-making and the transparency and accountability for those decisions.  

 We remain hopeful that Reclamation will increase our water allocation so that the District can continue to meet California’s – and the nation’s – food supply and food security needs. 

2024-04-29T09:37:21-07:00April 29th, 2024|

Almond Board of California 2024 Elections Begin April 29

Voting ends May 23

Voting begins today, April 29, to select two independent grower positions and two independent handler positions on the Almond Board of California Board of Directors. Alternate seats for those spots are also on the ballot. Voting ends May 23.

Candidates for the independent grower positions:

Grower Position #1, Member (1-year term):             Grower Position #1, Alternate:

Paul Ewing, Los Banos (incumbent)                         Katie Staack, Hughson (incumbent)

Grower Position #3, Member (3-year term):              Grower Position #3, Alternate

Joe Gardiner, Earlimart (incumbent)                          No declared candidate

Candidates for the independent handler positions:

Handler Position #2, Member (3-year term):             Handler Position #2, Alternate:

Bob Silveira, Williams (incumbent)                            Dexter Long, Ballico (incumbent)

Justin Morehead, Coalinga (petitioner)

Handler Position #3, Member (1-year term):             Handler Position #3, Alternate:

Darren Rigg, Le Grand (incumbent)                           Chad DeRose, McFarland (incumbent)

Ballots and instructions have been mailed to all independent growers and handlers whose names are on file with ABC. Ballots must be received by ABC by May 23. Any independent grower or handler who does not receive a ballot can contact Toni Arellano at tarellano@almondboard.com.

“Every vote is important, and it’s equally important to have as much of the industry as possible represented in the voting,” said ABC President and CEO Clarice Turner. “The Board of Directors represents more than 7,600 growers and 100 handlers. They guide the work of the Almond Board to help the industry build a positive future in these complicated times.”

All details, documents, open positions, timelines and frequently asked questions can be found at Almonds.com/Elections.

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.

Results will be announced June 1 and the new board will start its term Aug. 1.

2024-04-29T09:18:15-07:00April 29th, 2024|

Bearing almond acreage drops slightly – first time in decades

The decrease follows two years of drops in overall almond acreage.

Courtesy of the Almond Board of California

California’s bearing almond acreage decreased slightly over the past year, according to a new report from Land IQ to the Almond Board of California (ABC). It is the first time since at least 1995 that the total of bearing acres has not grown.

Land IQ’s 2024 Standing Acreage Initial Estimate issued Wednesday looked at bearing acreage – orchards planted before 2022 and that have matured enough to produce a crop for the coming 2024 harvest. It estimated that bearing almond orchards at harvest will cover 1.373 million acres across California, a decrease of about 600 acres.

In addition, Land IQ estimates that approximately 71,000 acres of orchards will be removed by the end of the crop year, adding to the 83,000 acres removed in the 2023-24 crop year, according to Land IQ’s estimate issued in November last year.

While the bearing acreage drop may be small – far less than 1 percent – it marks the first time since at least 1995 that bearing acreage has not increased, according to numbers issued previously by the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS), and with the orchard removals continues a trend over recent years of decreasing almond acreage in California.

“The decrease in bearing acreage and continued orchard removals, coupled with drops in overall acreage and non-bearing acreage the last two years, signal a probable trend toward lower overall California almond acreage,” said Clarice Turner, ABC president and CEO. “We continue to see strong shipments this year, so we know global demand for California almonds continues to grow. There is no doubt that almonds will continue to have a very significant role in California and global agriculture and food industries for the foreseeable future.”

The Land IQ report is a snapshot of the coming 2024 harvest but does not offer an estimate on the actual almond yield this 2024-25 crop year. The first look at yield will come on May 10 with USDA-NASS’ Subjective Estimate. A fuller picture of crop size will come with USDA-NASS’ Objective Report in July.

Land IQ’s estimate covers bearing acreage and removals from Sept. 1, 2023 to Aug. 31, 2024. Note that the almond crop year runs Aug. 1-July 31, so this estimate looks at the harvest for the 2024-25 crop year.

Land IQ will issue a final acreage report on the 2024-25 crop year in November that will include total acreage along with bearing and non-bearing acres. Their report in November 2023 found that California’s total almond acreage had dropped two years in a row to 1.56 million acres.

Land IQ’s Initial Estimate and its Final Acreage Estimate in November are commissioned by ABC to provide statistical transparency and a robust picture of California almonds to industry stakeholders around the world. In 2018, ABC first commissioned Land IQ, a Sacramento-based agricultural and environmental scientific research and consulting firm, to develop a comprehensive, living map of California almonds, with the first report issues in 2019. The map is the result of more than a decade of research.

2024-04-24T13:46:18-07:00April 24th, 2024|

FCFB Celebrates Agricultural Journalism Excellence

This evening, FCFB announced the winners of its 30th annual Journalism Awards.

 Serving as judges this year were: California Fresh Fruit Association Director of Government and Public Policy Adam Borchard; public relations specialist Tanya Osegueda; and FCFB President Mark Thompson. 

 Award winners received the coveted FCFB Tractor Trophy, which was generously donated by Fresno Equipment Company.

 The criteria for the awards were: thorough and objective coverage of issues, given time and space limitations; educational element for the agriculture industry or the consumer; and portraying the personal stories of those who make up the food and agriculture industry, making issues relevant to consumers and Valley residents.

 Dozens of entries were received. First place in each of the categories are:

 Audio

Patrick Cavanaugh, Ag Information Network, “Hurricane Hillary Devastates Central Valley Table Grapes,September 2023

Farm Trade Print

Todd Fitchette, Western Farm Press, “California Tree Nuts Under Attack By New Beetle,” October 2023  

General Print

Edward Smith, GV Wire, “Bipartisan Effort from Congress Wants to Lower Tariffs. What Does it Mean for California Ag?” February 2024

Video

Kassandra Gutierrez and Richard Harmelink, ABC30, “Heat Wave Impacts on Ag and How Employers are Protecting Employees,” July 2023

FCFB thanks all the journalists who submitted entries this year and congratulates the awardees.

 

2024-04-19T07:31:47-07:00April 19th, 2024|

UC ANR offers scholarships for agriculture students, May 13 deadline

Courtesy of UC ANR News 

Applications and nominations of outstanding students pursuing careers in agriculture will be accepted through May 13, 2024, for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scholarships and awards.

Students, faculty and colleagues are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to honor academic excellence and provide additional support for undergraduate and graduate students. 

Bill and Jane Fischer Vegetation Management Scholarship is for students enrolled at ANY accredited California university, with preference given to graduate students. The recipient of the $1,000 (multiple awards possible) will be selected from students who are enrolled in fall 2024 pursuing degrees in vegetation management, weed science or agriculture specializations plant science, soils and plant nutrition, agricultural engineering, agricultural botany, plant pathology, plant protection and pest management, or agricultural economics. Students apply directly.

Howard Walton Clark Prize in Plant Breeding and Soil Building is for students enrolled at UC Berkeley, UC Davis or UC Riverside. The $5,000 (multiple awards possible) will be awarded to a promising student who will be enrolled as a senior in fall 2024 in the College of Agriculture and/or Natural Resources with demonstrated scholastic achievement and talent for independent research with reference to either plant breeding (leading to new/improved crops and new/improved varieties using appropriate tools) or soil building (leading to improving soil quality related to soil productivity and sustainability as a resource). Nomination by faculty member required.

Knowles A. Ryerson Award in Agriculture is for students enrolled at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. $2,500 (minimum one award for each campus) given to an international undergraduate student who will be enrolled in fall 2024 in the College of Agriculture and/or Natural Resources, in any curriculum, preferably after completion of the junior year. The award is based on high scholarship, outstanding character and promise of leadership. Nomination by faculty member required.
 
More information about the application process can be found on at https://ucanr.edu/anrscholarships.

For questions, please contact Andrea Ambrose, UC ANR director of advancement, at apambrose@ucanr.edu.

2024-04-17T08:39:47-07:00April 17th, 2024|

California Dairy Innovation Center Announces Q2-Q3 2024 Schedule of Dairy Products & Innovation Training Opportunities

Courtesy of the California Dairy Innovation Center 

The California Dairy Innovation Center (CDIC) will be hosting Spring and Summer training programs for processors, producers, dairy industry professionals, entrepreneurs, educators, and students as well as health professionals. The courses, which have no pre-requisites, will be held at a variety of California locations and are open to all participants.

The schedule of courses includes:

 Dairy Foods Technology 101 will take place May 30, 2024, in Novato, Calif.

This course is a free educational event open to all California dairy processors and end-users, dairy entrepreneurs, producers, faculty and students in food science, agribusiness, and related fields, as well as qualified suppliers to the industry. It is ideal for individuals who are early in their careers in dairy products processing, entrepreneurs, and employees in production, operations, management, sales and marketing, research and development, and quality assurance roles within the industry.

This course aims to educate attendees on the intricate processes behind dairy products creation, from the fundamentals of milk production to key unit operations for fluid milk, cream, butter, cheese, cultured products and concentrated or dried dairy products, as well as sensory science and food safety. Led by industry experts, participants can expect to learn about the science involved in turning dairy milk into classic as well as innovative dairy products, gain a solid understanding of processes and the importance of these steps to ensure quality and safety. Attendees will have the chance to engage in interactive demonstrations, ask questions, and network with fellow participants who share their passion for dairy.

No pre-requisites are required. To receive a detailed program, information on area hotels, and to register, send name (or that of any participating employees), title(s), company name, phone number and email(s) to vlagrange@cmab.net or nvanbuskirk@cmab.net by May 25th. Full program details about the workshop can also be found on the CDIC website at cdic.net.

 Yogurts, Fermented Milks and Probiotic Dairy Products, which will take place June 20-21, 2024, at UC Davis is a collaboration between the CDIC, UC Davis, Dairy Council of California, and the California Dairy Research Foundation. During the course, attendees will learn from leading experts who possess extensive experience and expertise in dairy science, nutrition, and food innovation. This course will not only cover the fundamentals of processing but will also highlight the latest nutrition research and product innovations shaping the sector, market trends and opportunities.

During the course, attendees can expect to delve into such topics as:

  • Latest research on the nutritional benefits of probiotics and fermented milk products.
  • Market trends, types of fermented milks and market opportunities for California processors.
  • Fundamental principles of milk fermentation and yogurt production.
  • Innovations in processing technologies and product development, including lactose-free, clean label and reduced sugar products.

The course is designed for dairy industry professionals, dietitians and nutritionists, food scientists, researchers, educators, and individuals interested in expanding their understanding of fermented dairy products. With a blend of lectures, hands-on demonstrations, and lab tours on campus, participants will gain practical insights and valuable knowledge that can be applied in both academic and industry settings. The event is modular, and registration covers all three sessions, meals and refreshments, and a networking reception. For more information, please contact vlagrange@cmab.net or nvanbuskirk@cmab.net.

There are no pre-requisites required. Registration (free for health professionals) and additional information can be found at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/short-course-yogurt-fermented-milks-and-probiotic-dairy-products-tickets-867978094847.

Save the Date:

Advanced Cheesemaking: July 16-17. This two-day practical, hands-on course will take place at the Dairy Products Technology Center, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Registration: https://dairy.calpoly.edu/short-course-symposia

2nd Annual Innovation Workshop & State of the Industry: September 12, at Fresno State.

Registration: www.cdic.net

Hispanic, Italian and Mediterranean Cheeses: October 8-9. This practical course will feature international cheese varietals and will take place at the Dairy Products Technology Center, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Registration: https://dairy.calpoly.edu/short-course-symposia

Short course and conference programs are co-organized with California Milk Advisory Board’s CDIC, with partial funding and contributions from Dairy Management Inc., the USDA’s Pacific Coast Coalition Dairy Business Innovation Initiative (hosted by Fresno State) and CMAB. Programs are subject to change. For more info about the CDIC and its educational opportunities, contact vlagrange@cmab.net.

 

2024-04-16T14:34:50-07:00April 16th, 2024|

UK suspends tariffs on all raw almonds beginning April 11

Courtesy of the Almond Board 

Almond Board of California thanks industry and government partners for helping reduce obstacles to California almond imports.

The United Kingdom’s government announced it would suspend tariffs for at least two years on raw kernel and inshell almonds from all origins – including the U.S. – beginning April 11, 2024.

The Almond Board of California has been working for many years with the UK’s Nut and Dried Fruit Trade Association (NDFTA), the group that represents the UK processors buying California almonds. This past year, ABC provided factual information and trade data to NDFTA, which they used to officially apply to have tariffs suspended on imported almonds.

“We are grateful for our long-time partnership with the UK’s Nut and Dried Fruit Trade Association and appreciate the UK government’s approval of the application to suspend tariffs on almonds,” said Julie Adams, ABC’s vice president for global technical and regulatory affairs. “This will certainly benefit UK consumers with increased availability of healthy almond products.”

The tariffs – 4% on inshell almonds and 2% on raw kernels – have been in place since the UK left the European Union in 2021.

UK trade officials on March 18 issued a list of commodities, including almonds, that will have tariffs suspended until June 30, 2026. UK officials said there is a possibility they will reassess before that date, possibly to extend the suspension or make a permanent change.

Estimates put the costs of the soon-to-be-suspended tariffs to UK importers at about $4 million a year. The suspension will allow UK importers to offer a more competitive price on raw California almonds to UK processors, and ultimately to consumers.

UK duties of 8-10% still remain on roasted almonds (which includes flavored almonds), 8% on marzipan and almond flour, and 20% on almond paste.

“We plan to work with NDFTA to assess further tariff suspensions in the UK, and with other partners overseas to identify opportunities for additional tariff suspension requests to lower costs for importers and processors and boost demand for California almonds,” said Keith Schneller, ABC’s senior advisor on trade policy.

2024-04-16T08:00:31-07:00April 16th, 2024|

California Citrus Breeding Program Expanding with Congressional Support

Earlier this week, presidents of California Citrus Mutual (CCM) and Citrus Research Board (CRB) issued statements applauding Congressional leaders for recently approving additional funds for the new citrus breeding program in Parlier, California. Congress is allocating an additional $500,000 in federal funding on top of the $1 million granted last year to expand the program into California. The program will now receive $1.5 million in federal funds on an annual basis along with the $500,000 that CRB provides the program with annually.

“CRB was instrumental in developing the concept for the California based program and was also involved in efforts to establish the nationwide program while CCM advocated to secure funding,” said CRB President Marcy Martin. “Our two organizations working together on behalf of the industry has been instrumental in getting this program off the ground.”

“On behalf of the industry, I would like to thank our congressional leaders and the Committee for their continued support of this program, which will help us find solutions to issues specific to our growers located in California,” said CCM President and CEO Casey Creamer. “I would like to specifically extend our gratitude to Congressmen Costa and Valadao and Senator Padilla for championing the need for this program in D.C.”

The California citrus breeding program will focus on fresh market citrus. Funding will go towards research and development of high-quality, superior citrus selections well suited to California growing regions, changing climatic pressures, consumer taste preferences, and resistance to pest and diseases, such as Huanglongbing (HLB).

The California program is an expansion of the existing national USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) citrus breeding program located in Fort Pierce, Florida, which is focused primarily on varieties that are optimized for Florida growing conditions. Work done through the Florida program has resulted in new varieties with higher yields, increased disease resistance, improved color, and a longer shelf life.

The Florida and California breeding programs along with the continued support from the University of California citrus breeding program at UC Riverside will work together to deliver results for California based growers.

The California citrus breeding program is located at the USDA ARS field station in Parlier. Thanks to funds that have already come in, forward progress continues to be made with the addition of a dedicated scientist, developing plans for construction of a greenhouse and laboratory, and securing additional ground for the program.

To view the original press release, please visit CCM’s website or CRB’s websiteand stay tuned to their channels for further updates and related news.–

Patrick Cavanaugh

520-395-0327

2024-04-15T08:10:17-07:00April 15th, 2024|

CDFA ANNOUNCES VACANCIES ON FERTILIZER INSPECTION ADVISORY BOARD’S TECHNICAL ADVISORY SUBCOMMITTEE

Courtesy of Steve Lyle with CDFA

CDFA’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) is announcing four vacancies on the Fertilizer Inspection Advisory Board’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee.

This subcommittee serves as an expert scientific panel on matters concerning efficient use of fertilizing materials and irrigation water. Members assist in setting research priorities for the FREP Grant Program and review and recommend research and outreach proposals for funding.

FREP is funded through a mill assessment on the sale of fertilizing materials, and the program facilitates research, education, and demonstration projects to improve proper use of fertilizing materials and irrigation water in agriculture. The program serves researchers, growers, agricultural supply and service professionals, extension personnel, public agencies, consultants, and the public.

Subcommittee applicants must demonstrate technical, applied and scientific expertise in the fields of agronomy, soil science, plant science, irrigation, production agriculture or environmental issues related to inefficient use of fertilizers and irrigation water in California. The term of office for subcommittee members is three years, beginning January 1, 2025. Members receive no compensation but are entitled to reimbursement of necessary travel expenses in accordance with the rules of the California Department of Human Resources.

Individuals interested in being considered for appointment should complete the Prospective Member Application Packet available on the FIAB TASC webpage and email it to FREP@cdfa.ca.gov with a two-page resume or curriculum vitae. The application deadline is Wednesday, July 31, 2024.

For further information about FREP, please contact FREP staff at FREP@cdfa.ca.gov or visit http://cdfa.ca.gov/go/frep.

 

2024-04-01T08:30:49-07:00April 1st, 2024|

Understanding Cattle Grazing Personalities May Foster Sustainable Rangelands

Courtesy of  Emily C. Dooley  from the UC Davis News and Media Relations 

Matching Herds to Landscape Can Support Animal Growth and Ecological Needs

Not all cattle are the same when it comes to grazing. Some like to wander while others prefer to stay close to water and rest areas.

Recognizing those personality differences could help ranchers select herds that best meet grazing needs on rangelands, leading to better animal health and environmental conditions, according to a new paper from the University of California, Davis, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

“Cattle can actually be beneficial for the rangelands,” said lead author Maggie Creamer, who recently earned her Ph.D. in animal behavior at UC Davis. “Vegetation in rangelands actually need these kinds of disturbances like grazing.”

Ranchers can add elements to the rangeland such as water, mineral supplements and fencing to influence where cattle graze, but little research has been done on how those efforts affect individual cows. Considering personalities could save money.

“If you’re spending all this money to add a management tool in order to change the distribution of your animals, that’s a huge cost to ranchers,” said Creamer. “Thinking about other tools, or selecting certain animals with these grazing traits, might be a better way to optimize the distribution on rangeland rather than spending a bunch of money for something that may ultimately not pan out for all your animals.”

Effects of grazing

Livestock graze on an estimated 56 million acres in California, and healthy rangelands host native vegetation and animals, foster nutrient cycling and support carbon sequestration.

Uneven grazing can degrade water quality, soil health and habitats. Optimizing grazing — including the even spread of cow pies — can improve the ecosystem while also reducing fuel loads for wildfires.

To better understand individual grazing patterns, researchers went to the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in Browns Valley and tracked 50 pregnant Angus and Hereford beef cows fitted with GPS collars.

The research

The cattle, which were tracked from June to August over two years, had access to 625 acres of grasslands and treed areas ranging in elevation from 600 to 2,028 feet. In the second year, a new watering site was added at a higher elevation.

Across the two years, the cows showed consistent and distinct grazing patterns even when water sources changed. Age and stage of pregnancy did not affect patterns, though cattle tended to clump near water and rest sites on hotter days.

The cows that ventured into higher elevations and farther from watering sites had more variability in their grazing patterns than those that stayed at lower elevations near water. That suggests it may be harder for non-wanderers to adjust to some landscapes.

“Thinking about the topography of your rangeland and your herd of cows can benefit both the animals and the sustainability of the land,” said Creamer, who next month begins work as a postdoctoral scholar in North Carolina.

Gauging personalities

Keying in on personality type may sound difficult, but the researchers also found some clues as to how to pinpoint the wanderers and homebodies. Unlike cattle at feedlots, the breeding cow population, especially on rangelands in California and other western states, live largely “wild” lives and are rarely handled, save for vaccinations and weaning.

Research due to be published later this year found that paying attention to individual cow reactions during those events can help determine personalities. The cows that appeared more passive during those handling interactions tended to be nomadic.

“We found that you can maybe predict those hill climbers if you kind of look at how they act when the veterinarian or rancher handle them,” said senior author Kristina Horback, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis.

Informing practices

For ranchers, the findings could be invaluable, said Dan Macon, a livestock and natural resources Cooperative Extension advisor in Placer and Nevada counties for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Any time we can improve our understanding of cattle behavior, particularly at the individual level, it can improve how we handle livestock and manage the landscape,” he said.

Macon said that during the recent drought, it was hard to get cattle into higher country, but if ranchers could have selected the nomads, it may have saved money in terms of ranch labor and other efforts.

“If you ask a rancher who has been attentive to their cattle over many years, they know the personalities,” Macon said.

For Creamer and Horback, the research opens new doors into understanding herd behavior and dynamics, one that could be a cheaper alternative to high-tech solutions.

“Animal science tends to look overlook the mind of the animal when searching for solutions to challenges,” Horback said. “It’s always been a direct line to genetics for immunity or nutrition, but nothing about the mind of the animal. And that’s such a loss. There’s so much we can learn from behavior in the end.”

The Russell L. Rustici Rangeland and Cattle Research Endowment supported the research.

Media Resources

Media Contacts:

Click here to read the paper.

2024-03-28T09:37:00-07:00March 28th, 2024|
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