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Munk, ‘pivotal’ in cotton success, retires after 36 years in Fresno County

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

Daniel Munk, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, retired from a 36-year career with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources on July 1. 

“Dan has played a pivotal role in the success of cotton that has been grown in California, especially his work on drought-related growing conditions and how best for cotton to overcome those conditions and thrive,” said Roger Isom, president and CEO of California Cotton Ginner & Growers Association and Western Agricultural Processors Association in Fresno.

“And while I know he has been involved most recently in reduced tillage research, it is his irrigation work that he will be remembered for,” Isom said. “Dan put on numerous irrigation workshops and grower meetings over the years, and he was the cotton industry’s ‘go to guy’ on deficit irrigation and related topics.” 

As a youngster, the Bay Area native was interested in the natural sciences so he earned a B.S. in soil and water science and an M.S. in soil science from UC Davis. 

“I never had an idea of becoming a farm advisor until I worked with Donald Grimes,” Munk said. In 1986, Munk took a job assisting the now UC emeritus water scientist with research on water penetration problems. It was while working with Grimes at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center south of Fresno, Munk said, “I got an understanding of the importance of agriculture.” 

In 1990, he became a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Fresno County.

“Dan has been helpful,” said John Diener, a Five Points farmer who began working with Munk in the 1990s. “If I needed anything, he was helpful, bringing information like for lygus bug or diseases or new varieties.” 

To solve a salinity problem, Diener consulted Munk. “Dan was an irrigation guy and worked with USDA ARS and NRCS. This was bigger than what a local farmer can do,” Diener said, adding that Munk brought UC technical knowledge and resources from USDA Agricultural Research Service and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to the West Side of Fresno County to build a tile system for managing the salinity in drainage water. “It took a whole group of people to make it happen,” Diener said.

When Munk joined UC Cooperative Extension, California was growing over 1 million acres of cotton, mostly Acala varieties. During the state’s six years of drought spanning the 1980s and 1990s, growers began planting the higher priced extra-long staple Pima cotton varieties instead of Upland cotton types.

In response, Munk began studying ways to improve irrigation management for Pima cotton. He and colleagues also studied plant growth regulators and found that by treating vigorously growing Pima cotton plants with plant growth regulators following first bloom, cotton yields improved by 60 to 120 pounds per acre, which translated to a $50 to $100 per-acre increase in crop value, with higher cotton quality and fewer problems with defoliation. 

As water became increasingly limited in California, the state’s cotton acreage plummeted and Munk turned his research to producing crops with less water using reduced tillage systems. In one study, he and his research collaborators found that they could improve water use efficiency by 37% by growing cotton in wheat residue versus conventional tillage. In other research, Munk and colleagues showed that reduced till cotton systems could reduce fuel use by more than 70%, increase soil carbon by more than 20%, and reduce dust emissions by more than 60%, relative to conventional till approaches. Another of Munk’s projects suggests that garbanzos and sorghum can be grown under no-till practices in the San Joaquin Valley without loss of yield.

“He has also been helpful in issues related to nitrogen uptake and air and water quality,” Isom said.

Because of Munk’s expertise in nutrient and water management practices, he was asked to serve on the state’s Agricultural Expert Panel in 2014 to assess agricultural nitrate control programs. They developed recommendations for the State Water Resources Control Board to protect groundwater.

One of the recommendations was to develop a comprehensive and sustained educational and outreach program. As a result, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and UC California Institute for Water Resources created the Irrigation and Nitrogen Management Training Program, for which Munk helped develop curriculum and train growers and farm consultants on best farm practices for nitrogen and water management. Leading the program’s southern San Joaquin Valley courses, he helped certify more than 300 growers, consultants and farm advisors in protecting groundwater.

“I hope these more recent programs will have lasting impacts on farm economic viability and improved groundwater quality,” Munk said.

The farm advisor also extended his irrigation knowledge beyond farms. Working with fellow UCCE advisors and specialists, Munk conducted hands-on training for school landscape staff in 2012-2013. The staff learned how to measure irrigation output, sample soil and manage water to avoid runoff and improve water quality. 

“He has had a huge impact, and his work will remain instrumental in the cotton industry’s survival in California as we deal with ongoing drought issues,” Isom said. “His departure will leave an empty spot in the cotton world today without a doubt!”

2022-07-20T11:51:59-07:00July 20th, 2022|

Robert Verloop Named Executive Director and CEO for the California Walnut Board and California Walnut Commission

By The California Walnut Board

The California Walnut Board (CWB) and the California Walnut Commission (CWC) announced that Robert Verloop has been named executive director and chief executive officer, effective July 11, 2022.  The CWB and CWC represent over 4,500 California walnut growers and nearly 90 handlers, producing over 1.4 billion pounds of walnuts in 2021 that ship to more than 50 countries around the world.

“We are excited to bring onboard an experienced strategic leader such as Robert, his background will well serve the California walnut industry. He has the unique background of leadership roles as a grower/shipper of highly perishable produce and in commodity organizations. Robert understands the challenge to ‘move the crop.’  In addition, he has extensive knowledge and creativity as a marketer working in complex domestic and international markets,” said Bill Tos, the California Walnut Board’s Executive Committee Chairperson.

Mr. Verloop recently held the position of COO for Coastline Family Farms, a family-owned vegetable grower/shipper.  Previously, he held executive/ leadership roles with Naturipe Farms/Naturipe Brands, Sunkist Growers Inc., and the California Avocado Commission.  In those capacities, Robert worked in such areas as marketing and sales promotions in retail, foodservice and ingredient channels in domestic and global markets; issues management; strategic planning; and government relations, working with various state and federal agencies, including USDA, FAS/ATO, CDFA, and FDA.

“When he was a member of the then-Produce Marketing Association Board of Directors, Robert showed a true drive to help find and create solutions for the global produce and floral community. His focus on disciplined marketing and uncovering the implications in challenges and opportunities helped us immensely, and I expect the walnut industry will realize these same leadership benefits,” said International Fresh Produce Association CEO Cathy Burns.

“I am looking forward to working with the staff, the two Boards (CWB and CWC), and the growers and handlers that make up the California walnut industry.  Walnuts are highly versatile and nutritious, ideal for plant-based eating.  In collaboration with the growers and handlers we must respond to rapidly evolving market conditions with a sense of urgency and purpose and continue to build an ongoing dialogue with key customer segments in order to drive sales in all market segments,” added Verloop. “I am also keenly aware of the multi-generational nature of an industry dating back more than a century.  The new generations are inheriting a dynamic industry that continues to evolve through innovation, starting with new advances in orchard management practices, post-harvest management, and developing exciting new consumer products that showcase the versatility and delicious taste of nutritious California walnuts.”

The CWB and the CWC play a vital role in expanding walnut usage occasions and understanding walnuts’ health benefits, solving for production and post-harvest challenges, protecting the industry against burdensome regulations, and building demand for California walnuts globally.  Despite current supply-chain challenges, there is rising demand for walnuts given their versatility and wide range of studied health benefits.  Interest in plant-based eating around the globe is an opportunity for walnuts, which contain protein and fiber, and are the only nut that is an excellent source of essential plant-based omega-3 ALA.[1]

“We look forward to Robert and the CWB and CWC staff working in collaboration with the industry to address the near-term challenges in supply chain logistics, port congestion and rising costs.  At the same time, we will refresh and refocus our long-term strategies given the evolving marketplace and not waiver our focus on the mission of market development and increasing consumer demand globally for our future crops,” added Tos.

About the California Walnut Board

The California Walnut Board (CWB) was established in 1948 to represent the walnut growers and handlers of California. The CWB is funded by mandatory assessments of the handlers. The CWB is governed by a Federal Walnut Marketing Order. The CWB promotes usage of walnuts in the United States through publicity and educational programs. The CWB also provides funding for walnut production, food safety and post-harvest research.

About the California Walnut Commission 

The California Walnut Commission, established in 1987, is funded by mandatory assessments of the growers. The Commission is an agency of the State of California that works in concurrence with the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The CWC is mainly involved in health research and export market development activities. For more industry information, health research and recipe ideas, visit www.walnuts.org. 

2022-07-18T08:15:02-07:00July 18th, 2022|

Congressman Valadao: Fewer Truckers on the Road will Worsen Supply Chain, Raise Costs

Today, Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-21) joined Congresswoman Michelle Steel (CA-48) and members of the California Republican congressional delegation in a letter to Governor Newsom urging him to take immediate action to prevent Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) from devastating the California trucking industry and further crippling nationwide supply chains.

“Central Valley families are paying more for just about everything, and they desperately need relief,” said Congressman Valadao. “The last thing we need is more burdensome regulations that will restrict the ability of truckers to move goods throughout our state. Fewer truckers on the road will worsen our supply chain bottlenecks and raise costs for Valley families.”

Read the lawmakers’ full letter here.

Congressman Valadao has been a strong voice in supporting balanced legislation to alleviate these supply chain backlogs:

  • Co-sponsored the TRANSPORT Act, which would temporarily waive operating standards should those standards be more stringent than the federal standard, allowing U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant trucks and drivers from other states to relieve ports and transport goods across the country.
  • Co-sponsored and voted in support of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which became law in June 2022.
  • Demanded vessel operating common carriers be held accountable when their practices intentionally harm farmers from the Central Valley.
  • Hosted a bipartisan roundtable with industry leaders on the ongoing supply chain crisis and the Ocean Shipping Reform Act.
  • Visited the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and discussed lack of container access for agriculture exporters, significant backlogs and congestion, and burdensome trucking restrictions.
  • Led a letter to President Biden alerting the administration to the severe impact supply chain backlogs were having on agriculture exporters and urging immediate action to address the supply chain.

Background:

Inflation this week reached a record breaking 9.1% thanks in part to supply chain backlogs. The lawmakers sent the letter after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up California Trucking Association v. Bonta, a case challenging AB5. AB5 was enacted by state lawmakers in 2019 and reclassifies many independent contractors as “employees,” subjecting them to stricter regulations and increasing costs of operations. The law had been stayed pending appeal, but will now go into effect, potentially shrinking the number of critical independent truckers, further worsening the backlogs at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and exacerbating the supply chain crisis.

2022-07-15T14:31:28-07:00July 15th, 2022|

UC ANR Adds More Farm, Fire and Forestry Expertise to More Communities

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

With increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is continuing to hire scientists and staff to better serve California communities. The most recent people hired for UC Cooperative Extension bring expertise in wildfire, orchard crops, grapes, small-scale farms and youth development.

Satink Wolfson hired as newest fire advisor

Barb Satink Wolfson began in her role as UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties on June 30.

Her primary responsibilities include wildland fire-related research and outreach for the Central Coast region, while building trust, strong partnerships and collaborative relationships within both professional and non-professional communities.

Satink Wolfson earned her B.S. and M.S. in forestry from Northern Arizona University, and brings to UC ANR more than 20 years of fire-research and outreach experience in Arizona. Her favorite job, though, was working as a backcountry ranger in Yosemite National Park during her undergraduate years.

In her new role, Satink Wolfson hopes to address some of the questions behind the use of prescribed fire in a variety of ecosystems (such as coastal prairies and oak woodlands), and help all Central Coast communities build resilience to wildland fire so residents can live safely within fire-adapted landscapes.

Satink Wolfson, who will be based at the UCCE office in Hollister starting Aug. 1, can be reached at bsatinkwolfson@ucanr.edu.

Zuber named UCCE orchard crops advisor

Cameron Zuber has been named UC Cooperative Extension orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties. For Merced County, he will cover orchard crops such as stone fruit, walnuts and almonds, not including pistachios and figs. For Madera County, he will work with walnuts.

Zuber joined UC Cooperative Extension in 2016 as a staff researcher in Merced County. In his education and professional career, he has worked in understanding environmental and agricultural systems and their interactions with people, society and governance. Specifically with orchard crops, he has worked on fumigants and other soil pest controls, rootstocks and scion varietals, cultural practices relating to tree spacing and whole orchard recycling. He has also studied flood irrigation for groundwater recharge, irrigation and water management and soil, water and air interactions.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and management from UC Davis and a master’s degree in environmental systems from UC Merced.

Zuber is based in the UC Cooperative Extension office located at 2145 Wardrobe Ave, Merced, CA 95348 and can be reached at cazuber@ucanr.edu and (209) 385-7403.

Hollingsworth named UCCE table grape advisor

Joy Hollingsworth began working as the new UCCE table grape advisor serving Tulare and Kings counties on May 16.

Prior to becoming a table grape advisor, Hollingsworth served for three years as the UCCE nutrient management/soil quality advisor for Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. In that position she worked on research and extension projects in a variety of agricultural systems, including work on dairy manure, cover crops and biostimulants in raisin grapes.

Previously, Hollingsworth spent six years working as a research associate for the University of California on agronomic cropping systems, including sugar beets, canola and sorghum.
She earned a master’s degree in plant science from California State University, Fresno, and a bachelor’s degree in communication from UC Davis.

Hollingsworth is now based in Tulare and can be reached at (559) 684-3313 or joyhollingsworth@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter @ucce_joy.

Carmignani joins UCCE as fire advisor

Luca Carmignani joined UCCE as a fire advisor for Orange and Los Angeles counties May 2. His research interests include image analysis, computer programming and scientific outreach.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Carmignani was a postdoctoral researcher in the Berkeley Fire Research Lab at UC Berkeley. His research has focused on fire and combustion applications, from wildland fires to material flammability.

He earned his Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the joint doctoral program between UC San Diego and San Diego State University after obtaining his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Pisa in Italy.

Carmignani is based at South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine and can be reached at carmignani@ucanr.edu and (949) 237-2956. Follow him on Twitter @l_carmignani.

Pearsons joins UCCE as small farm advisor

Kirsten Pearsons joined UC Cooperative Extension on March 1 as a small farm advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. She is developing research and extension programs focused on integrating soil health practices and pest management strategies for small-scale farmers and specialty crops.

Prior to joining UC ANR, Pearsons was a postdoctoral researcher at the nonprofit Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where she focused on studying and promoting organic and regenerative agriculture. She worked on Rodale’s long-term Farming Systems Trial, studying how organic and reduced-till field crop production affects long-term farm economics, soil health and water quality compared to conventional practices.

She earned a Ph.D. in entomology at Pennsylvania State University and a B.S. in environmental toxicology at UC Davis.

Pearsons is based in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at kapearsons@ucanr.edu and (805) 788-9486. She will be posting event information and resources for small-scale farms in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on Instagram @ucceslosmallfarms.

Satomi moves to UCCE Sutter-Yuba

Ricky Satomi joined UCCE Sutter-Yuba on March 15 as an area forestry and natural resources advisor in the Western Sierra Region (Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Nevada and Placer counties). He specializes in forest management with a focus on new technologies and wood products.

Prior to moving to UCCE Sutter-Yuba, Satomi served as a UCCE area forest advisor working on forestry and youth education issues for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.

Satomi earned a Master of Forestry looking at the cost efficiency of forest mastication treatments, and a B.S. in forestry & natural resources and society & environment, both from UC Berkeley. He has also worked as a field forester working on various inventory and timber management programs throughout California.

In the coming year, he hopes to offer workshops for forest landowners and professionals around novel GIS tools, climate-smart silvicultural practices, reforestation best practices, and workforce development opportunities.

Satomi is based in Yuba City and can be reached at (530) 822-6213 or rpsatomi@ucanr.edu.

Armstrong joins 4-H in Tuolumne County

Erika Armstrong has joined the UCCE Central Sierra team as 4-H Youth Development Program representative for Tuolumne County.

Armstrong, who has spent her career working with nonprofit agencies and managing volunteer programs, worked with United Way Monterey County and the Alliance on Aging. She also was a campaign manager for a candidate for the Board of Supervisors of Monterey County. Her most recent job was stay-at-home mother for her daughters.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in collaborative health and human communication from California State University Monterey Bay.

Armstrong is based at the Tuolumne office and can be reached at (209) 533-6990 and elarmstrong@ucanr.edu.

2022-07-14T09:12:55-07:00July 14th, 2022|

UC Davis Distinguished Professor Walter Leal Inducted as Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

By Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology

UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Soares Leal of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former chair of the Department of Entomology, was inducted as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) at a June ceremony in Phoenix, Ariz.

A leading global scientist and inventor in the field of insect olfaction and communication, Leal was elected an NAI Fellow in 2019 for his impact in the fields of molecular, cellular biology, and entomology, but due to the COVID pandemic, the organization cancelled the 2020 Phoenix ceremony. Travel restrictions prevented him from attending the 2021 ceremony in Tampa, Fla. Elected Fellows are required to attend the induction ceremony within two years of election in order to receive their award.

NAI singles out outstanding inventors for their “highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society.” Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. The NAI Fellow program has 1,403 Fellows worldwide representing more than 250 prestigious universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes.

“I attended with my wife, Beatriz, and daughter Helena and son Gabriel – both have co-authored papers in the lab, so they represent all visiting scholars, collaborators, postdocs, project scientists, graduate students, and undergraduate students in my lab,” Leal said.

UC Davis chancellor emerita Linda Katehi, an NAI fellow inducted in 2012, nominated Leal for the honor for his “novel, sustainable and continued contributions to the field of entomology and for their greater implications in molecular and cellular biology and the understanding of disease and prevention.” At the time, Leal held 28 Japanese and two U.S. patents.

Leal is the second faculty member affiliated with the Department of Entomology and Nematology to be selected an NAI fellow. Distinguished professor Bruce Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, received the honor in 2014.

Leal, an expert in insect communication investigates how insects detect odors, connect and communicate within their species; and detect host and non-host plant matter. His research, spanning three decades, targets insects that carry mosquito-borne diseases as well as agricultural pests that damage and destroy crops. He and his lab drew international attention with their discovery of the mode of action of DEET, the gold standard of insect repellents.

Leal was recently elected chair of the International Congress of Entomology Council, which selects a country to host the congress every four years and which supports the continuity of the international congresses of entomology. Leal succeeds prominent entomologist May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, editor-in-chief of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and a 2014 recipient of the National Medal of Science.

“I have big shoes to fill,” he said.

Ironically, COVID derailed the 2020 NAI ceremony, and Leal–recipient of the Academic Senate’s 2022 Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award for his series of four global webinars educating the public about COVID-19–contracted the disease while in Phoenix for the 2022 ceremony.

“I was treated with Paxlovid, rebounded, and am now fully recovered,” Leal said.

Leal’s name is currently on the ESA ballot to become an Honorary Member, the highest ESA honor. The Royal Entomological Society named him an Honorary Fellow in 2015.

A native of Brazil, educated in Brazil and Japan, and fluent in Portuguese, Japanese and English, Leal received his master’s degree and doctorate in Japan: his master’s degree at Mie University in 1987, and his doctorate in applied biochemistry at Tsukuba University in 1990. Leal then conducted research for 10 years at Japan’s National Institute of Sericultural and Entomological Science and the Japan Science and Technology Agency before joining the faculty of the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2000. He chaired the department from July 2006 to February 2008.

Leal co-chaired the 2016 International Congress of Entomology meeting, “Entomology Without Borders,” in Orlando, Fla., that drew the largest delegation of scientists and experts in the history of the discipline: 6682 attendees from 102 countries.

Among his many other honors, Leal is a Fellow of ESA, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the California Academy of Sciences. He is a past president of the International Society of Chemical Ecology and corresponding member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. In 2019, ESA selected him to present its annual Founders’ Memorial Lecture, the first UC Davis scientist selected to do so.

2022-07-13T10:20:22-07:00July 13th, 2022|

NASS Forecasts Smaller Almond Crop for 2022

Objective Forecast predicts harvest 2022 will be down 11 percent from last year.

By The Almond Board of California

The 2022 California Almond Objective Measurement Report published Friday, July 8, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimates that the crop harvested in 2022 will come in at 2.6 billion meat pounds, 11 percent below last year’s 2.9 billion pounds.

The estimate is down 7 percent from NASS’s subjective forecast in May and comes in a complicated year. Some growers were impacted by frost in spring while the entire almond industry, and all California farmers, have been navigating a difficult water year and continued logistical issues impacting the ability to ship almonds to meet consumer demand around the world.

“Growers have been working hard in the face of challenging circumstances and it demonstrates their dedication to improving stewardship practices and meeting the demands of consumers,” said Brian Wahlbrink, chair of the Almond Board of California (ABC) Board of Directors.

The forecast for the average nut set per tree is 4,082, 12 percent down from 2021. The Nonpareil average nut set of 3,966 is also 12 percent lower than last year. The average kernel weight for all varieties sampled was 1.47 grams, up less than 1 percent from the 2021 average weight. The Nonpareil average kernel weight was 1.55 grams, up slightly from last year.

“Despite the shipping and logistical logjams, recent shipment numbers have set monthly records, which demonstrates the demand for California almonds continues to increase in the U.S. and around the world,” said Almond Board President and CEO Richard Waycott. “Almond growers are putting what resources they can afford this year into producing their crop, and their efforts show. Although there was a drop from last year, the forecast reflects the efforts of growers to meet global demand and ensure a steady supply of high quality California almonds.”

ABC’s April and May 2022 Position Reports showed that almond exports set records for both months, even while facing shipping and logistical obstacles, and total almond shipments in May also set a record.

NASS conducts the annual Subjective Forecast, Objective Report and Acreage Report to provide the California almond industry with the data needed to make informed business decisions. Of the crop estimates, the 2022 California Almond Objective Report is considered the more accurate and is based on actual almond counts using a statistically rigorous methodology.

2022-07-11T11:16:45-07:00July 11th, 2022|

Organic Farmers to get Technical Assistance From CDFA and UC ANR

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is awarding $1.85 million to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources to increase technical assistance for California’s organic farmers.

CDFA’s State Organic Program is executing $850,000 in contracts with UC ANR to run through September 2024, while CDFA’s Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation is awarding a $1 million grant to run from July 2022 to June 2025.

“California farmers provide 36% of all organic production in the United States,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “This funding expands technical assistance to growers transitioning to certified organic agriculture and supports our strong California community of organic farmers and consumers by conducting field trials and demonstration projects with farmers to improve organic practices.”

California organically farms just over 2 million acres, which is about 8% of the total agricultural acreage in the state, and will likely continue to expand over time as long as consumer demand continues to rise, according to Houston Wilson, director of UC ANR’s Organic Agriculture Institute.

“Demand for organic agriculture has consistently grown every year for the past two decades,” Wilson said. “Organic currently accounts for 5.8% of domestic food sales.”

“We are excited to see CDFA increasing support for organic agriculture as part of a broader climate-smart agriculture strategy,” said Wilson. “As demand for organic continues to rise, California growers need increasingly targeted technical assistance in all areas of organic production and marketing.”

The CDFA funds will allow UC ANR to hire two academic coordinators, which are currently being recruited.

“The academic coordinators will work directly with growers, as well as develop research and extension projects that will involve existing UC Cooperative Extension personnel,” Wilson said. “One of the coordinators will specifically focus on connecting our efforts with small-scale and historically underserved growers through our partnership with the UC Small Farms Program.”

The organic practices can be used by conventional farms as well as organic farms.

“Just as organic farmers benefit from UC ANR’s pest management, irrigation and crop production research, the new knowledge developed on organic practices by the UC Organic Agriculture Institute will be useful for all California farmers,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

Some of the key UC ANR project objectives include:

  • Conduct research on soil health management, carbon sequestration and crop rotations in organic systems
  • Create new extension and training opportunities for organic growers across California
  • Provide technical assistance to both certified and transitioning organic growers
  • Review and summarize organic acreage and practices in California
  • Develop economic analysis of organic production and markets

The 2022-2023 state budget signed last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom includes $5 million in funds for CDFA to assist farmers with transitioning to organic operations, and the USDA recently announced an investment of up to $300 million for the same purpose.

2022-07-08T10:24:12-07:00July 8th, 2022|

DPR Announces Second Year of Enhanced Funding for Grant Opportunities to Accelerate Transition to Safer, More Sustainable Pest Management Practices

By Department of Pesticide Regulation

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced $4.65 million in upcoming grant opportunities to increase the speed and the scale at which safer, more sustainable pest management practices are adopted across the state. The enhanced funds for the 2023 DPR Grants Programs cycle were allocated by the state budget and represent an increase of more than five times the amount in available funding opportunities compared to historical funding levels. Grant applications will open Monday, July 11, 2022.

“Our Grant Programs and their increased funding levels continue to play a key role in the state’s mission to advance the development and implementation of systemwide, sustainable pest management,” said DPR Director Julie Henderson. “Ongoing research, education and outreach are critical to protecting public health and preserving our environment as we accelerate the transition to safer pest management practices.”

DPR offers two grant programs focused on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) research, outreach, and implementation.

  • The Research Grants Program: $3.15 million to fund research into sustainable pest management practices in agricultural, urban, or wildland settings that reduce pesticide use or provide alternative methods or practices that could replace pesticides that present a risk to public health and the environment. Examples of past Research Grant projects include evaluating drone-based releases of biocontrol organisms and testing non-chemical entrapment surfaces for monitoring and control of bedbugs.
  • The Alliance Grants Program: $1.5 million to fund projects that promote or increase the implementation, expansion and adoption of effective, proven and affordable IPM systems or practices in agricultural, urban or wildland settings. Examples of past Alliance Grant projects include providing land managers with the best available information regarding invasive plant management through the use of an online decision support tool, as well as driving the adoption of mating disruption among small almond, pistachio and walnut growers within field clusters.

Last year’s DPR Grants Programs cycle represented the first year of increased funding allocated by the state budget. The department awarded $3.75 million in Research Grants to fund 10 research projects that explore IPM tools for urban, non-agricultural and agricultural pest management. DPR expects to award an additional $1.8 million in Alliance Grants funding later this month.

In addition to enhanced funding, DPR’s 2023 Grants Programs application process has been updated and will now offer an extended solicitation period and a streamlined application process.

The 2023 Research Grants Program solicitation period will open Monday, July 11, 2022. Applications will be accepted through Thursday, September 22, 2022.

Once the solicitation period has opened, application information, links to virtual information sessions and application materials will be available on the department’s Research Grants Program webpage.

The 2023 Alliance Grants Program solicitation period will open Monday, July 11, 2022. Applications will be accepted through Thursday, December 8, 2022.

Once the solicitation period has opened, application information, links to virtual information sessions, and application materials will be available on the department’s Alliance Grants Program webpage.

For questions or clarification concerning the DPR Grants Program, please contact DPRpmGrants.Solicitation@cdpr.ca.gov.

2022-07-07T15:08:59-07:00July 7th, 2022|

American Farm Bureau Drought Survey

By American Farm Bureau Federation

With the West and a growing number of Midwest states continuing to experience severe drought conditions, American Farm Bureau Federation has released a third iteration of their Assessing Western Drought Survey. The survey is open to all members; both those who took previous versions of the survey as well as those who did not. The data collected from this survey will be aggregated and summarized by American Farm Bureau Federation staff economists and be utilized to inform short-term disaster relief needs as well as long-term policy proposals aimed at assisting agriculture with drought preparedness, resilience, and response.

Please consider responding today here.

2022-07-06T14:37:29-07:00July 6th, 2022|

New Research: Consumers Have Confidence in Farmers to Protect Produce Safety

By Alliance for Food and Farming

Consumers continue to trust farmers when it comes to protecting the safety of their fruits and vegetables. In a new survey conducted by the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), 76% of consumers said they have confidence in farmers to protect produce safety.

Government agencies are also trusted by consumers, according to the survey. Despite media reports and public statements to the contrary, 78% percent of survey participants responded they were confident in regulatory systems in place to protect public health.

The confidence shown in farmers is not unique to this research project. Consumers recognize that farming is hard work and it takes passionate and committed people to grow and nurture fruits and vegetables. For those of us who represent farmers, it is incumbent on us to continue to share information about farming practices, government safety requirements and regulations as well as the care farmers and farm workers take every day to produce these healthy foods.

Why is this so necessary? Because there are well-funded, well-connected groups that disparage the work of farmers and attempt to evoke unfounded fears about the safety of the food they grow. But it is gratifying when surveys like this show that those efforts may be failing. In fact, produce safety concerns have decreased by 20% since the AFF’s last survey in 2016. Concerns about residues have also dropped by 10%.

The AFF conducted this research to help improve overall information-sharing that will reassure consumers about produce safety. With only one in 10 of us eating enough of these nutrient-dense foods every day, it is important to understand consumer concerns as well as what science-based safety information helps them make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families.

A primary focus of the research was to share with participants safety information specific to pesticide residues as well as regulations and practices on pathogen prevention. This information generated strongly positive results with 76% to 83% of survey respondents stating they were confident in the safety of produce after reading each statement. A complete list of the science-based statements can be found here.

The AFF has developed a new webpage highlighting the research results. The consumer research project included three virtual focus groups followed by a nationwide survey with a 3.1 margin of error.

2022-07-05T11:01:30-07:00July 5th, 2022|
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