Thanks California Farmers!

We are Grateful for the California Farmer


By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

 It’s morning, and as the sun rises over the Sierra Mountains, the California farmer rouses early to plan the day and greet his or her employees alongside their pickup trucks.

Side-by-side, they

  • Walk the orchards of almonds, walnuts or pistachios;
  • Peruse the groves of citrus, peaches, plums, and nectarines;
  • Inspect the vineyards of table, raisin or wine grapes;
  • Survey the fields of lettuce, spinach, broccoli, celery or strawberries;
  • Raise forage to feed their healthy dairy cows.

We are grateful for the dedication of the California farmer:

Who may also be a rancher or dairyman.

Who takes NO days off from caring for their livestock and poultry.

Who follows the legacy of prior generations on the family farm.

Who contributes to our nation’s security by providing abundant, nutritious and safe homegrown food to eat.


We are grateful for the lawful vigilance of the California farmer:

Who checks their email for newly registered crop protection materials to prevent pests and diseases from destroying her crops.

Who adapts to ever-changing, complicated and costly regulations.


We are grateful for the responsible “buck-stops-here” accountability of the California farmer:

Who appreciates the dedication and experience of his employees.

Who follows preventive safety measures, such as providing work breaks, ample water, and shade from the heat.

Who pays her employees well and provides training for them.

Who ensures all equipment is well maintained and furnished with all safety features.

Who follows all best management practices whether industry-recommended or regulator-mandated.

Who adheres to all food safety laws and regulations to prevent food-borne illnesses.

Who tracks her produce every step in the process from seed to farm to fork.


We are grateful for the versatility of the California farmer:

Who farms more than 450 different crops—from artichokes, asparagus, and avocados, to

zucchini—which we all need to eat for great nutrition and vibrant health.

Who raises the wholesome foods that ought to dominate our plates to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases.

Who produces most, if not all, of the nation’s almonds, walnuts, pistachios, processing tomatoes, dates, table grapes, raisins, olives, prunes, figs, kiwi fruit, and nectarines.

Who leads the country’s production of avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums, and strawberries.

Who tends to his fields of stunning and delicate flowers that make so many people happy.


We are grateful for the ambitiousness of the California farmer:

Who produces award-winning, world-renown wine grapes, and vintages.

Who meets consumer demand for organic, gluten-free, low-fat, locally sourced, family-owned and farmed food.

Who increases the contributive value of California agriculture to the economy by stimulating secondary industries and jobs.

Who increases her yields to feed a hungry and growing world population.

Who contributes towards California’s 15% share of all U.S. agricultural exports (2015).


We are grateful for the conservation-minded California farmer:

Who uses drip or micro-sprinklers to conserve every drop of California’s water resources.

Who spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in turnouts and valves to move floodwater onto their land, to build checks around open fields to capture runoff—all in an effort to recharge groundwater basins.

Who uses integrated pest management practices by following regulations and approved crop product directions, with an understanding of residues and the risk of pest and disease resistance.

Who uses fertilizers judiciously at the right time, for the right crop, in the right place, in the right amount, using the right methods.

Who installs solar panels to harness the abundant sunshine to power her operation.

Who floods her rice fields to conserve flyways for migrating birds and water for fish to thrive.


We are grateful for the savvy and social-minded California farmer:

Who advocates for his business and understands financing, accounting, insurance, and business and risk management planning.

Who reaches out to consumers (in her spare time) through social media to reassure excellent quality and safety control of their crops and to share their family’s farming legacy.

Who relays her challenges and achievements—the transparent, complex information that consumers want to know.


We are grateful for the accessible California farmer:

Who answers his phone to give directions on crop pruning, thinning and spraying.

Who responds to employee concerns with mutually beneficial solutions.


We are grateful for the generous California farmer:

Who contributes funding for local school gardens, agricultural curricula, harvest festivals, sports teams, Farm Bureaus, political action committees, and AgSafe.

Who donates to local food banks and homeless shelters.


We are grateful for the intelligent, knowledge-seeking California farmer:

Who regularly attends continuing education training on best practices, pest and disease management, and improved food safety practices.

Who stays current on scientific research and recommendations, and who chooses to fund such endeavors, plus industry associations and trade.


We are grateful for the deeply invested California farmer:

Who sends a text to her PCA to schedule a lunch meeting, then gets out of the truck and grabs a shovel to check soil moisture.

Who knows his field and weather conditions, trade and market variables, and employee concerns on a regular basis.

Who sustains the “California” brand known for exceptional quality, nutrition and safety.


We are grateful for the determination, stamina and perseverance of the California farmer:

Who stubbornly, painstakingly pushes for a good harvest despite growing challenges to his livelihood and way of life.

Who knows when to fallow a field, change a crop, or sell her business.

Who stewards her crop as best she can despite stormy weather, droughts, and floods.

Who relies on one paycheck per year, generally, which may or may not cover the cost of his operations.


We are grateful for the integrity of the California farmer:

Who checks his watch to make sure he arrives on time to his children’s parent-teacher meetings and extra-curricular activities.

Who is dedicated to her family, friends, and community.


We are grateful for the Optimistic California farmer:

Who realizes that hard times don’t last forever.

Who anticipates that next year could be better.

Who never gives up.

Who makes every effort to preserve his soil’s health, so it can produce the crop … for next year.


4-H Members Raise Turkeys for Future College

Photo is of 4-H Turkey Growers Brylee Aubin, left and Yaxeli Saiz-Tapia

4-H Youths Raise Turkeys to Save for College and Learn About Farming


By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach

While most Americans choose their Thanksgiving turkeys from the meat department at the local grocery store, Brylee Aubin and Yaxeli Saiz-Tapia can tell you the life histories of their holiday birds. The Sonoma County teenagers raise heritage turkeys together as part of a 4-H youth development project and sell them for Thanksgiving. For the last two years, Yaxeli’s older brother Uli has joined the project and, between the three of them, they raised 47 turkeys this year.

The Heritage Turkey Project in Sonoma County has about 15 members of the UC Cooperative Extension’s 4-H youth development program and the National FFA Organization growing more than 200 heritage turkeys this year, according to Catherine Thode, who has been leading the project for 15 years.

Brylee Aubin holds a heritage breed Turkey

“Our project leaders are active breeders of heritage turkeys and some of our 4-H and FFA youth are now raising breeding pairs and hatching their own birds,” Thode said. “Each project member raises their small flock of birds on their own property and shoulders the responsibility of providing their feed and care.” 

The Heritage Turkey Project promotes the preservation of heritage turkey breeds, sustainable farming and responsible animal husbandry. While raising the animals, the youths learn life skills and earn money for their work.

“The money I raise from raising and selling turkeys goes towards my college fund and to more 4-H projects like market goats or sheep,” said 15-year-old Brylee, who sells her turkeys for $9.50 per pound.

Three years ago, Brylee’s neighbor, Yaxeli joined her in the heritage turkey project.

“I have learned how to care for animals, the importance of raising organic and the costs involved,” said Yaxeli, 14. “I have gained a firm understanding of how my birds are raised and processed versus corporate methods. Having the opportunity to participate in this project has strengthened my value for the importance of where my food comes from.” 

Consumers benefit by getting turkeys that are farmed organically, fed high-quality grains, and never frozen, said Brylee. 

“There are so many benefits to raising these beautiful birds,” said Uli Saiz-Tapia, 17. “First, you learn the cost of running a business, how to reinvest for the next year, the different stages of turkey growth and how to manage issues that arise such as the turkeys fighting, how they react to fluctuating temperatures, how to keep them safe and nourished properly. Learning about the process of getting our turkeys ready to be purchased has really benefitted my understanding of anatomy, the amount of work it takes in preparing them and the importance of not wasting food.” 

The group sold out of turkeys in early November. 

“Back in March, we really wondered if we should even do the project this year, not knowing what was going to happen with COVID restrictions and the impact on the economy,” Thode said. “We ended up with more project members than we’ve ever had, and over 200 turkeys to be sold for the Thanksgiving market.” 

The 4-H members started the season with more turkeys, but lost some birds to predators. Wildfires seemed to drive more predators to the Sonoma County farms this year, she said. 

“Things are fast and furious right now,” Thode said a week before Thanksgiving as the group prepared their turkeys for processing and distribution to people who placed orders. “I’m about to enter the busiest seven days of our year. It will take all weekend to have the birds processed, weighed, labeled. Then, we hunker down to sort and assign turkeys to our customer list.” 

While selling turkeys, the group encourages customers to meet the farmers and to visit to look up the history and breed characteristics of the turkey they are purchasing. In past years, some customers have taken photos of themselves with the person who raised their bird.

“We not only have a master list of customers and their desired sizes, but we create a spreadsheet for every project member with a list of the turkeys they’ve grown that year,” Thode said. “Each turkey is identified in the spring or early summer with a small metal wing band that lists the grower and an individual number for that turkey. When the turkey is sold, the buyer knows which project number grew their turkey, and the variety of turkey that they are purchasing. We think it’s important that our customers know this. In fact, when they come to pick up their turkey, they write their check to the actual grower of their turkey.”

Jim Costa for Ag Committed Supported

U.S. Citrus Industries Support Congressman Jim Costa for Chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee


 In a letter dated November 11, 2020, to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Citrus Mutual (CCM), Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM), and Texas Citrus Mutual (TCM) formally asked that Congressman Jim Costa, D – Fresno, be appointed as the new chair of the House Agriculture Committee.


As a farmer himself, Congressman Costa understands the industry’s issues, such as pest and disease, trade, water, and immigration. Notably, Congressman Costa was instrumental in securing federal funding to support research to find a cure for the devastating citrus disease Huanglongbing.


Congressman Costa’s track record of support for the citrus industry and specialty crops is indisputable. He has led countless bipartisan efforts on behalf of agriculture and rural America.


“The House Agriculture Committee needs a leader who understands its importance not only for our farmers, but for underserved communities, and national security,” says CCM President/CEO Casey Creamer. “Congressman Jim Costa is that leader, and we are proud to offer our strong support.”


“U.S. agriculture, especially fruit and vegetable growers, are at a crossroad. Increasing production costs coupled with unregulated imports, place the U.S. grower in a desperate situation. I am confident that if appointed Chair, Congressman Jim Costa will be a leader for agriculture in addressing these and other critical issues that affect growers and rural communities across the country,” said  Michael W. Sparks, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual.


“The agricultural industry within Congressman Jim Costa’s district is very similar to specialty crops, including citrus within Texas, making him well versed in many of the issues that affect our growers,” says Dale Murden, President of Texas Mutual. “Citrus Greening is a major concern for the Texas citrus industry, and we know Congressman Costa understands the issue well, and we are proud to support him.”


We trust that Congressman Costa will lead the committee with his years of experience and dedication to agriculture in California and the United States.

FFA Holtville Member David Lopez is National Leader

California FFA Member Elected to National Leadership

By Tim Hammerich with the AgInformati0n Network

For the first time in 93 years, the National FFA Organization held their convention, virtually. Formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, the organization elected a new national officer team as part of the virtual activities. That national officer team includes Holtville, California native David Lopez, who says he hopes to encourage others to get involved in agriculture and the FFA, no matter their background.

“I think for me going through this program as a high school student, sometimes it was hard to identify individuals who looked like myself, just because when we saw individuals in leadership positions, it was a lot of your traditional agriculture production kids, which is awesome,” Lopez said.

“However, now that we see how diverse our organizations are becoming, I think it’s important to recognize that not everyone comes from the same background or has the same story. So when you’re able to identify, you know, what makes you, you, and be proud of that? I think it goes a long way,” noted Lopez.

Lopez was elected the National FFA Western Region Vice President. He hopes to connect individually with as many of the organization’s 760,000 members as possible.

“You know, just making it very clear that people are here rooting for you, regardless of who you are, your story, or where you come from. And just finding ways to elevate individuals all across the country, to be the best version of themselves and see others for the best version of themselves as well,” he said.

David along with his five teammates will dedicate a full year to serve in this capacity for the youth agricultural leadership organization.

Promoting Pistachio Consumption


Increasing Marketing Efforts Ahead of the Billion Pound Pistachio Crop

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the AgInformation Network

American Pistachio Growers are mounting a full court press to market the big crop.

And the APG Marketing team is aware that more families are preparing meals at home due to COVID pandemic so they organized five interact webinars with famous chefs for food writers and other influential people. All webinars featured famous chefs.

Rick Kreps is a new pistachio grower in Eastern Madera County, and he was featured in a video with Chef Wolfgang Puck for audiences in Germany and the US.

“I think they got excited about having someone as excited as I am to have the first crop actually come in after all six years of labor and blood, sweat, and tears to get to market, and then have someone like Wolfgang Puck taking your product and turning it into something special that everyone loves to eat,” said Kreps.

“It’s exciting to drum up some excitement and get more people cooking with pistachios,” said Kreps. “You know, pistachios have been used for centuries in Mediterranean cuisine, but for the most part, it was just kind of a luxury snack in the U S and now that we’ve got production this year, hopefully we’re going to get a billion pounds, we want to let the public know that there’s enough nuts to go out and eat. And it’s not just a luxury nut item, but a healthy snack.”

“Pistachios should be not an alternative, but probably your go-to snack and ingredient item. And especially the fact that we know pistachios have the complete proteins, or it is the most complete protein of any nut. I think people feel a lot better about not only eating a snack, that’s delicious, but also very good for you,” Kreps’s said.

Full Court Press to Market Big Pistachio Crop

American Pistachio Growers Expands Marketing Efforts Ahead of Expected Record 2020 Crop


Trade organization pulls out stops with virtual harvest event and chef cook-alongs


American Pistachio Growers (APG) is mounting a full-court press to market the expected one-billion-pound harvest that is now filling bins in processing facilities. APG’s strategy includes a virtual harvest tour in California’s San Joaquin Valley and a schedule of live, interactive cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs catering to food writers and industry influencers in the U.S. as well as in six other countries.

This unique agricultural virtual tour will take participants from the pistachio orchards of California’s San Joaquin Valley into the kitchens of some of the most celebrated chefs in the country. The harvest segment features grower Rich Kreps, of LARK Farms in Madera, California, as he witnesses his first-ever harvest.

“Watching those delicious nuts falling out of our trees and into the catch frames was a literal dream finally realized. We were truly elated when it all came together in our first harvest,” said Kreps. “After five years of labor and investment in these pistachio orchards, we are finally seeing our first paycheck.”

APG has assembled an All-Star line-up of celebrity chefs who will make U.S.-grown pistachios the star of their dishes. Wolfgang Puck, Nancy Silverton, Gerald Hirigoyen and Martin Yan will guide journalists in the U.S., China, France, Germany, India, Italy and Spain through live, interactive cook-alongs via Zoom. The Zoom events are limited to journalists only. The schedule of chef events runs from Nov. 12 through Nov. 25.

“Our growers have done their part, producing the world’s largest supply of quality pistachios in history. It’s our job at American Pistachio Growers to generate consumer demand around the world,” said Judy Hirigoyen, APG Vice President, Global Marketing. “Given the large number of confirmed journalists we have for these events, we will likely make this an ongoing series.”

Exports of U.S. pistachios are essential to the economic health of the industry as, on average, about 70 percent of the U.S. crop is sold in overseas markets. While growers in three states of California, Arizona and New Mexico are expected to harvest a record crop in 2020, growers in Iran are expected to harvest about 484 million pounds, less than half of the projected U.S. production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

“There’s no bigger time of year than now as American pistachio growers bring in their 2020 harvest, so we created this virtual event to give agricultural reporters, food writers, and other food industry professionals the red carpet treatment to follow pistachios from the orchard to the kitchen,” Hirigoyen said.

Hirigoyen said pistachios have become a highly popular food due to their nutrient-dense, high protein content. Home cooks and professional chefs, alike, have embraced pistachios because of their growing reputation as a healthy, nutritious food for active lifestyles. Earlier this year, pistachios earned status as a “complete protein,” joining other plant proteins such as quinoa, chickpeas and soybeans. In July, a university study underscored the importance of pistachios as part of weight loss programs.

“Our marketing team is keenly aware that more and more families are preparing meals at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and attention is now focused on holiday meal planning in the coming weeks,” said Hirigoyen. “We’re excited to add these unique marketing elements to raise consumer awareness to the large U.S. crop and to the fact that in addition to their popularity as a snack food, pistachios are playing a bigger role in home-prepared recipes, on restaurant menus, and in a growing list of consumer food items.”



Food Facility Registration Renewal Time

Time for Food Facility Biennial Registration Renewal for Processors


Food facilities required to register with FDA must renew their food facility registrations this year during the period beginning on October 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020.  The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), enacted on January 4, 2011, amended the food facility registration requirements of section 415 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).  The registration requirements apply to domestic and foreign food facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States.  FSMA amended section 415 of the FD&C Act to provide that food facilities required to register with FDA must renew their registrations with FDA every other year, during the period beginning on October 1 and ending on December 31 of each even-numbered year. At this time, the updated renewal form has not been published and renewal is only available online through FDA’s website.

You are not required to register as a food facility with the FDA if you are a farm or huller who falls with the FDA’s definition of a farm. If you are a processor and fall within the definition of a farm, you do not have to register with FDA.


If you have any questions about whether your huller or processor is considered a farm by FDA’s definition and therefore do not need to register, please first reach out to our Director of Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety Priscilla Rodriguez at (559) 455-9272.



Kernza Is Recommended for Grain and Forage

UC ANR helps accelerate cultivation, marketing of the perennial grain Kernza

As part of its mission of sustainability in agriculture, the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP) is interested in crops that hold environmental and economic promise — such as moringa, the drought-tolerant “superfood” grown by Central Valley farmers, or elderberry, offering carbon sequestration and pollinator benefits when planted in hedgerows.

In this vein, UC SAREP is part of a recently awarded $10 million grant from USDA focusing on the adoption of a perennial grain, Kernza®, as a means to shift U.S. agriculture towards reduced tillage and increased carbon sequestration.

The Kernza-CAP project is led by Jacob Jungers of the University of Minnesota. The project team includes researchers, farmers, educators, industry leaders, policy experts and climate scientists at 10 universities and 24 non-profit and farm and food organizations nationwide.

Kernza is the trademark name for the grain bred from intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium), a non-native perennial forage grass from Eurasia introduced to the U.S. in the early 20th century.

While intermediate wheatgrass has been grown for decades in the U.S. as a forage crop, its use as a commercial grain crop for human consumption is new. Breeding efforts with Kernza have focused on traits to make intermediate wheatgrass a profitable grain crop, including increased seed yield and seed size. (Kernza is traditionally bred and is not a genetically modified crop.)

Kernza has strong potential to benefit the environment and increase farm income by producing both a premium grain and a high volume of quality straw.

As a perennial, Kernza can be harvested for several years in a row, avoiding the cycle of annual tillage resulting in carbon loss, erosion and soil degradation. The deep roots of the crop — up to 10 feet in depth — is naturally occurring, promoting carbon sequestration and increased water infiltration and mimicking native prairie grasses.

Research and early production trials have shown that Kernza can reduce seed, fertilizer and machinery costs for farmers. And, because its grain is high in protein, fat and fiber, it can be used to make flour, crackers, tortillas, bread, pasta, granola, cereal, beer and whiskey.

Kernza is being strongly promoted to early-adopter growers as a dual-use crop for grain and forage. But because it is a new crop, strong relationships with businesses in various agricultural sectors are needed to expand early adoption of processing, transporting and incorporating Kernza into farmers’ operations and food products.

“A big stumbling block for getting emerging crops like Kernza off the ground is the capacity to build a community of growers, processors and sellers who can form that new supply chain,” says Gail Feenstra, UC SAREP director and Kernza-CAP team member.

“SAREP’s role in the Kernza-CAP project is as something of a ‘matchmaker,’ connecting the market potential in California to the nationwide Kernza coalition. We’ll be convening growers, millers, bakers and brewers to figure out practical steps for adoption,” says Gwenaël Engelskirchen of UC SAREP. “In the later years of the project, we’ll be looking for growers who might be interested in trialing Kernza in California.”

The Kernza-CAP project launched on Sept. 1, 2020. Results from the five-year project will include new cultivars that yield more grain and enhance critical ecosystem services, a better understanding of those ecosystem services, best practices for Kernza growers, supportive policy and educational tools, and multiple operating regional supply chains meeting increased national market demand for Kernza.

More information on Kernza, the project partners, updates and reports on research findings, additional press materials, and field day demonstration information can be found on

The Kernza trademark is owned and managed by The Land Institute, a non-profit research organization based in Salina, Kansas that is playing a critical role in developing Kernza and other perennial crops. This work is supported by AFRI Sustainable Agricultural Systems Coordinated Agricultural Program (SAS-CAP) grant no. 2020-68012-31934 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


Sacramento Valley Pest Management Seminar Dec. 9

3-Hour Seminar To Focus on Pest Mgnt on Rice, Field Crops and Processing Tomatoes

December 9, 2020



University of California Cooperative Extension SutterYubaColusa is holding a 3-hour pest management webinar on Wednesday, December 9th, 2020 to provide pest management information and research updates on some of the major annual crops in the Sacramento Valley. The presentations are relevant to growers throughout California and are primarily focused on pest management of rice, field crops and processing tomatoes with a portion of the webinar devoted to updates on laws and regulation.

The December 9th webinar will feature an hour of rice presentations given by Luis Espino, Rice Farming Systems Advisor in Butte County and Whitney Brim-DeForest, Rice and Wild Rice Advisor in Sutter-Yuba counties. Espino states, “This was a year with severe rice blast in the northern Sacramento Valley; the presentation will cover blast biology and management information. I will also review arthropod issues such as tadpole shrimp and armyworms.” Brim-DeForest says, “The webinar cover the latest weed research in rice, including weedy rice, watergrass species, and the 2019 weed survey”.

Amber VinchesiVahl, Vegetable Crops Advisor in Colusa and Sutter-Yuba counties, will provide information on pest management of processing tomatoes, the dominant vegetable crop in the Sacramento Valley. She states, “I will be providing information on important pest issues in commercial processing tomatoes and the latest research updates on disease and weed management.”

Sarah Light, Agronomy Advisor for Colusa and Sutter-Yuba counties will present information on area field crops. Light says, “My presentation will cover relevant pest management updates related to field crop production in the region.”

The webinar will also include a regulatory update for Sutter County by Scott Bowden, Deputy Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer. This portion of the program will include information on permitting and updates on chlorpyrifos and paraquat.

Enrollment is limited, so register early. The cost is $25 for the 3-hour webinar. For more details or to register, visit DPR CE and CCA credits are pending (2 “other” hours and 0.5 Laws & Regs hours).

If you have questions, contact Sarah Light [ or call the UCCE SutterYuba office at (530) 822-7515].


Adversity Affect Farmers and Ranchers


Pandemic, Wildfires, and Thieves


By Tim Hammerich with the AgInformation Network

Farmers have been faced with all sorts of adversity this year. Here’s a roundup of the most recent happenings around the state courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Hundreds of thousands of acres of scorched rangeland leave livestock ranchers with limited options for finding more feed for their animals. California wildfires have damaged both private and public rangelands, killed animals and ruined fences, corrals, water systems and other equipment. The president of the California Cattlemen’s Association says the loss of rangeland may force some ranchers to sell off their animals early due to lack of feed.

Walnut farmers say they’re confronting two problems this harvest season: low prices for the crop and thieves who trespass into orchards to steal nuts. A number of counties have enacted ordinances to slow thefts by people who may then sell nuts on roadsides, but farmers report ongoing problems. Because of low prices, farmers say they need to sell as many nuts as they can to recoup their costs, and don’t want to lose more of their harvest to thieves.

Closure of restaurants and bars due to the pandemic brought “major hurt” to the lemon business, marketers say, and improved sales at grocery stores have only partially compensated for the losses. Farmers and marketers say lemon sales to food-service customers have improved somewhat since dropping sharply in the spring, and shoppers have bought more lemons at retail. But people in the lemon business say farmers have seen their incomes drop significantly.