SGMA Survival Meeting, Exeter May 30

Farmers: Learn What Needs to Be Done When SGMA is Implemented in 2020

Don Wright with waterwrights.net along with the Tulare County Farm Bureau and the WET Center at Fresno State will present the second SGMA Survival Tool Kit. Thursday, May 30th from 3:00-6:00 pm at the Exeter Memorial Building 324 N. Kaweah Ave, Exeter, CA 93221.

There is no charge and Gar Tootelian will be providing BBQ beef sandwiches, the American Pistachio Growers Association will provide pistachios,  Don Wright’s 81-year old mother baked 300 homemade cookies and the Tulare Farm Bureau is bringing bottled water.

Don Wright with WaterWrights.net

“This is not a GSA meeting or a DWR or State or Regional Board meeting; there will be some DWR folks to help with the interpretation of the law but not to tell us what to do,” said Wright. “And of course GSAs will be a topic but the message about them will be – they are our neighbors doing some heavy lifting. They are not the enemy and are in need of our support and input.”

This meeting is about what farmers can do to prepare for SGMA before it’s implemented next year. Are wells and irrigation systems operating optimally? Is monitoring and record keeping up to speed? Do they have their legal and real estate ducks in a row? There are experts speaking on these subjects but we will be encouraging growers to speak as well.

CDFA To Hold Good Ag Neighbors Workshops

Workshop Designed for Produce Growers and Livestock Areas to Promote Food Safety

News Release

In order to facilitate dialogue between different sectors of California agriculture about cooperation to prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is partnering with the University of California and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to bring the livestock and produce communities together for a series of workshops.

The workshops, titled Good Ag Neighbors, are designed for fruit and vegetable growers, livestock owners, and others interested in learning about how produce safety and livestock management practices can work jointly to promote food safety.

The workshops will be held in two California locations, with the first scheduled for June 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville. The second workshop is scheduled for June 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Robert J Cabral Ag Center in Stockton.

“Agriculture is complex,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “This is particularly true in California, where diverse agricultural operations often exist side-by-side, with each of them required to comply with a myriad of regulations designed to protect the public, the environment, and the food supply.”

Karen Ross, CDFA Secretary
Karen Ross, CDFA Secretary

Diversity is extremely important to the fabric of California agriculture. Also important is open communication channels between diverse partners. This has become more apparent with the CDFA’s newly created Produce Safety Program, which is working on behalf of the U.S. FDA to enforce produce safety regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The workshops will address lessons learned from recent investigations of produce-related foodborne illness outbreaks, examine key research findings, and consider future research needs.

The workshops are being conducted by the UC Davis Western Institute for Food Safety and Security and will include presentations by researchers and industry representatives. The day-long agenda will focus in the morning on reviewing regulations, laws, and practices already in place to protect food and environmental safety, while the afternoon will be spent in various breakout groups examining how these practices can be leveraged.

Participants should come prepared to share their experiences as well as their produce safety questions.

The workshops are offered free of charge. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.wifss.ucdavis.edu/good-ag-neighbors/.

Consumer Protection Is Top Priority for LGMA

New LGMA Irrigation Requirements Mean Heightened Food Safety Measures

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

As consumer protection continues to be a number one priority for producers, main pathogen routes are of the utmost importance for guaranteeing safety. The California Leafy Green Marketing Agency (LGMA) is a program that works to continually keep the lettuce industry safe and maintain confidence in food safety programs—but as pathogens begin to evolve, it takes a team effort to combat future threats.

Mike Villaneva, LGMA technical director, told California Ag Today, “It’s been a tough 18 months, and it’s the challenge with these outbreaks … we never really have a good answer about what happened and how it happened.”

In the leafy greens industry, water becomes a focal point in pathogen prevention. “We’ve got 12 years of testing water, and we’re pretty confident of water in the deep wells along the Central Coast, but down south is a different ballgame—that’s open surface water,” Villaneva said.

On April 19th, the LGMA board met and voted to strengthen mandatory food safety practices required on farms. One facet included prohibiting overhead irrigation 21 days prior to harvest unless the water is sanitized.

“They’re looking at some other potential testing and data that could lower that down to 14, but right now they’re sticking with the 21 overhead,” Villaneva said.

The California Leafy Green Marketing Agency continues to show their commitment to ensuring a safe, stable food supply through foodborne illness prevention. More information about the program can be found on their website at www.lgma.ca.gov.

Western Growers Statement on California DPR Ban on Chlorpyrifos

Tom Nassif: CA Farmers Face the Most Stringent Regulations in the World

By Cory Lunde, Western Growers

In response to the recent announcement that the California Department of Pesticide Residue (DPR) is acting to ban the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:

“California farmers are universally committed to the safety of their food, the health of their workers and communities, and the sustainability of their land. At every turn, they strive to achieve efficiencies in their use of resources like water, fertilizer, and pesticides and seek to minimize both the human and environmental impacts of these inputs.

immigration reform
Tom Nassif

“California farmers also face the most stringent regulatory environment in the world, one that often limits their access to many of the tools still available to farmers elsewhere in the U.S. and in foreign countries, including certain types of pesticides. Indeed, over the last 20 years, California regulatory actions have removed several of the most important crop protection tools farmers rely on to fight pests and diseases.

“With … [the] announcement that DPR will initiate the cancellation of chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely studied and globally approved insecticides, California farmers now stand to lose yet another arrow in their quiver—without effective and ready replacement tools—making their quest to grow the safest, healthiest and most abundant food supply in the world even more difficult.

“California farmers are resilient, but the long-term viability of our farms in California depends on proper support from the Administration and renewed cooperation of the state’s regulatory agencies, especially in light of the many other unique and expensive regulations that place California farmers at a growing competitive disadvantage.”

UC DroneCamp Coming June 18-20

UC Offers Drone Workshop for Mapping, Research, and Land Management

By Pam Kan-Rice, UC Ag & Natural Resources

People who are interested in using drones for real-world mapping are invited to attend a three-day intensive drone workshop in the Monterey Bay area. The third annual DroneCamp will be offered from June 18 to 20 by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Informatics and GIS Program. No experience with drone technology is needed to participate.

Drone mapping involves taking high-resolution photos with drones and stitching them together with software to make extremely accurate, orthorectified maps. More difficult than videography, it is widely used in agriculture, construction, archeology, surveying, facilities management, and other fields. DroneCamp will cover all the topics someone needs to make maps with drones, including:

  • Technology—the different types of drone and sensor hardware, costs and applications
  • Drone science—principles of photogrammetry and remote sensing
  • Safety and regulations—learn to fly safely and legally, including tips on getting your FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate
  • Mission planning—flight planning tools and principles for specific mission objectives
  • Flight operations—hands-on practice with both manual and programmed flights
  • Data processing—processing drone data into orthomosaics and 3D digital surface models; assessing quality control
  • Data analysis—techniques for analyzing drone data in GIS and remote sensing software
  • Visualization—create 3D models of your data
  • Latest trends—hear about new and upcoming developments in drone technology, data processing, and regulations

On the first day, DroneCamp instructors will discuss drone platforms, sensor technologies, and regulations. On the following two days, participants will receive hands-on instruction on flying safely, using automated flight software, emergency procedures, managing data, and turning images into maps using Pix4D mapper and ArcGIS Pro.

Registration is $900 for the general public and $500 for University of California students and employees. Registration includes instruction, materials, flight practice and lunches. Scholarships are available.

This year, DroneCamp is being held in conjunction with the Monterey Bay DART (Drones Automation & Robotics Technology), which is holding an industry symposium on Friday, June 21. DroneCamp participants get a $50 discount to attend the symposium.

For more information and to register for DroneCamp, please complete the registration form at http://igis.ucanr.edu/dronecamp. Registration fees are due by June 1, 2019.

NASS Predicts Another Record-Breaking Almond Crop

2019 Crop Predicted to be 2.50 Billion Pounds

News Release

For the second year in a row, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is predicting a record California almond crop for the upcoming production year. According to the NASS 2019 California Almond Subjective Forecast issued recently, California almond orchards are expected to produce 2.50 billion pounds of nuts this year, up 8.69% from last year’s 2.30 billion-pound crop.  (1)

This forecast comes just weeks after NASS released the 2018 California Almond Acreage Report, which estimated total almond acres for 2018 were up 2% from 2017 at 1.39 million acres. Bearing acres—orchards mature enough to produce a crop—were reported at 1.09 million acres, up 6% from the previous year. Looking ahead, NASS reported preliminary bearing acreage for 2019 at 1.17 million acres, up 7.3% from 2018.  (2)

Richard Waycott, Almond Board President, and CEO

The first of two reports for the upcoming crop, the Subjective Forecast is based on opinions obtained from randomly selected almond growers located throughout the state via a phone survey conducted in April and May. NASS asked growers to indicate their total almond yield per acre from last year and expected yield for the current year based on field observations. The sample of growers interviewed is grouped by size of operation, and different individuals are interviewed each year, allowing all growers to be represented. NASS then combines the yield estimates obtained from each grower and extrapolates the information to arrive at the numbers reported in the Subjective Forecast.

While the Subjective Forecast provides early estimates of the upcoming crop after it is set, NASS’s 2019 California Almond Objective Report will provide a more precise estimate as it uses a more statistically rigorous methodology to determine yield. The report’s data is based on actual almond counts and measurements gathered from over 850 orchards throughout the state and includes the weight, size, and grade of the average almond sample broken down by both growing district and variety.

The California Almond Objective Report will be released on July 3 at 11:50 a.m. PDT. NASS conducts the Objective Report—the Subjective Forecast and the Acreage Report—in order to provide the California almond industry with the data needed to make informed business decisions.

1 USDA-NASS. 2019 California Almond Subjective Forecast. May 2019.

2 USDA-NASS. 2018 California Almond Acreage Report. April 2019. 

Wastewater Treatment Plant in Delta Causing Problems

Harmful Algal Blooms Impacting Watershed

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board updated its regulations on nutrient discharges into the San Francisco Bay watershed recently to protect the watershed from harmful effects of discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants and other sources.

Although San Francisco Bay is not impaired by nutrients, it is a nutrient-enriched estuary with higher nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations than most estuaries in the world. Too much nitrogen and phosphorous can lead to harmful algal blooms, which can release toxins to the Bay. Harmful algal blooms can also result in low dissolved oxygen or insufficient oxygen in the water to support aquatic life.

In the Bay, nitrogen has the biggest influence on phytoplankton growth, and the Region’s municipal wastewater treatment plants account for 65 percent of the nitrogen discharged to the Bay. Regional population growth will increase these nitrogen discharges.

The regulatory update, in the form of a reissue of the Nutrients Watershed Permit first adopted in 2014, provides a consistent approach for regulating nutrient discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants in the San Francisco Bay watershed.

The first Nutrients Watershed Permit required sewage treatment agencies to: (1) monitor their discharges, (2) support scientific studies to evaluate the Bay’s response to current and future nutrient loads, and (3) evaluate opportunities to remove nitrogen through treatment plant improvements.
This update will increase monitoring and scientific studies. Importantly, it requires treatment agencies to evaluate opportunities to remove nitrogen using “green” solutions, like routing wastewater through treatment wetlands and wastewater recycling.

These types of opportunities may provide water quality benefits beyond nutrient removal, for example, by providing protection against climate change through carbon sequestration and adaptation of the shoreline to address sea-level rise. Green solutions can also remove additional contaminants of emerging concern for water quality.

Preventing Workplace Conflict in Ag

There Are Down To Earth Tools To Lower Stress

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

It’s essential to learn how to navigate agricultural workplace conflict to help keep the workplace safe for all employees.

Dr. Linda Thomas is vice-chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development at West Hills Community College District. She’s also a senior consultant at Linda Thomas Consulting.

She said that anytime you deal with people where you potentially have conflict, some people will get angry and try to power up and deal with it that way, whereas other people try to shy away from it, but neither one of those is the way to handle it.

“There are some down-to-earth tools that you can use to calm yourself and to work through the process. And when you do that, we call it conflict transformation, and you can get to a better place than you were before,” Thomas said.

“People shouldn’t be afraid of it; they should just understand that there’s a way to move through it and they can get to the other side.”

She noted that it’s essential to avoid high-stress situations in the workplace.

“That’s the key, because when the stress gets high, you have a lot of negative effects. There is an increase in insurance costs and high absenteeism and people quit, and you have low productivity and low morale, so you can’t just let conflict simmer,” Thomas said.

“You can’t pretend that it’s going to go away and you can’t, make it go away,” Thomas continued. “You have to work through it. And a lot of people are concerned about working through it. But I think the number one takeaway about working through it is to examine yourself. You need to know what your hot buttons are. You have to know what makes you mad or what makes you stressed out. And you have to understand that.”

Thomas recommended that when you’re engaging constructive discussion about the conflict itself, you have to say, “okay, I’m starting to feel angry now,” and take a step back, timeout, whatever it needs to be.

Thomas said we need to come at it with a logical point of view. Because if you do that, whether you’re a business owner or a manager or a leader, you can have a reasonable point of view on it.

“Ask yourself, ‘what do I need to get out of it?’ You can see your way through it a lot better than you can if you don’t know what to do or how to do it, and your emotions have overwhelmed you,” she explained

For help in conflict resolution click here.

Ian LeMay is New President of California Fresh Fruit Association

Former President George Radanovich Goes Back to Washington 

 News Release

This week, Randy Giumarra, the Chairman of the California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) Board of Directors, announced that Ian LeMay will serve as the new president of CFFA. LeMay will succeed George Radanovich, who has held the position since 2016 and will be leaving CFFA to promote sound ag labor policy in Washington, D.C.

Ian LeMay

Giumarra said, “Ian’s appointment is a reflection of our Board’s commitment to establishing long-term leadership for our industry.”

He continued, “Our board and I have worked closely with Ian over the past four years. We are confident in his abilities and look forward to his leadership. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank George for his time, leadership, and impact that he has made over the last three years. George’s service is greatly appreciated by our entire membership.”

LeMay has dedicated his career to supporting and advocating for the continued success of California agriculture. Since 2015, LeMay has served as CFFA’s Director of Member Relations and Communications.

From 2011 to 2015, LeMay served as the District Director for Congressman Jim Costa, who represents California’s 16th Congressional District. As District Director, LeMay managed the Congressman’s district staff and advised the Congressman on a number of issues, including agriculture, water, and transportation. Prior to working for Congressman Costa, LeMay worked as a California Market Specialist for the Lindsay Corporation. LeMay is a recent graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program (Class 48).

California Fresh Fruit Assocation“I am humbled and appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve the members of the California Fresh Fruit Association in a new capacity,” LeMa said. “I came to the Association four years ago because I believe in its mission, deeply respect its history and see infinite potential in advocating for the permanent fresh fruit growers and shippers of California. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe two great Association leaders in Barry Bedwell and George Radanovich, and thank them for their commitment to bettering our industry. The challenges that face us are many. These have not been easy years for our industry, but I remain confident in the future of California agriculture and our opportunity to advocate for meaningful policy with a unified voice.”

LeMay will begin his tenure as CFFA President on June 1st. Ian and his wife, Molly, reside in Fresno with their two children, Emery Rose and Ellison James, and will welcome their third child this August.

ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION

For more than eighty (80) years the California Fresh Fruit Association has been the primary government relations organization serving the fresh fruit industry. It is a voluntary public policy organization that works on behalf of our members—growers, shippers, marketers, and associates—on issues that specifically affect member commodities: fresh grapes, kiwis, pomegranates, cherries, blueberries, peaches, pears, apricots, nectarines, interspecific varieties, plums, apples and persimmons. It is the Association’s responsibility to serve as a liaison between regulatory and legislative authorities by acting as the unified voice of our members. The challenges are countless for growers, shippers, and marketers as they strive to remain viable in an ever-changing market. Increasing regulatory requirements make it difficult to flourish, regardless of the size of the operation.

The Association’s dedicated staff advocates daily in the best interest of our members to ensure that regulators and legislators are using sound science and accurate information when considering laws or rules that will be imposed on industry members. However, aside from the variety of issues the Association works on, there is an important networking component. As each company has its own business interest, the membership as a whole shares a common, vested interest in the long-term health of tree fruit, fresh grape and berry communities in California.