California Grower Tells Congress Frozen Food is Important to Increasing Produce Consumption

By American Frozen Food Institute

Testifying on June 14 before the U.S. House of Representatives, Bill Smittcamp, president and CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods and member representative of the American Frozen Food Institute, called on Congress to ensure federal government nutrition programs encourage and incentivize more produce consumption.

During a full Agriculture Committee hearing on U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition programs other than the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Smittcamp urged policymakers to include frozen fruits and vegetables in all produce incentive programs.

“The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consumers eat all forms of fruits and vegetables to meet the recommended daily intake,” said Smittcamp. “Frozen foods offer a cost-effective and pragmatic way to help people meet these nutritional needs.”

Frozen foods serve an important role in helping people increase overall produce consumption and meet recommendations published in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Research shows that when consumers have various forms of fruits and vegetables available in their home, including in frozen form, their produce intake is higher. In addition, frozen foods can be served with minimal preparation requirements and time, which are identified barriers to produce consumption.

“Frozen fruits and vegetables are fresh produce, simply frozen, and they are a complement to the fresh produce market,” added Alison Bodor, president and CEO of AFFI. “Frozen foods meet the needs of those who may lack the time or resources to cook from scratch, help reduce food waste due to their long shelf life, and allow for year-round access.”

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About AFFI: The American Frozen Food Institute is the member-driven national trade association representing all segments of the frozen food supply chain from manufacturers to suppliers and distributors. AFFI advocates before legislative and regulatory entities on the industry’s behalf, serves as the voice for the industry and convenes industry leadership to create an environment where frozen foods are essential in a dynamic marketplace. www.affi.org

2022-06-28T08:32:07-07:00June 28th, 2022|

California Pollinator Coalition Reports Increasing Cooperation Among Ag, Conservation Groups

Members note successful projects in celebration of National Pollinator Week

By Almond Board of California

A year after coming together to help make the agricultural landscape more friendly to pollinators, members of the California Pollinator Coalition say they’re gaining momentum, building stronger relationships between agriculture and conservation groups that are already increasing habitat on the ground.

The coalition – created in April 2021 and including more than 20 agriculture, conservation and government organizations – says it’s building a stronger network among these groups that has already led to new projects to expand on the success of the efforts of its individual member organizations.

“Thanks to the individual and collective efforts of our coalition members, we’ve seen a lot of positive developments over the past year,” said Laurie Davies Adams of Pollinator Partnership, one of the coalition’s founding members. “The State has also provided $30 million in new funding for pollinator projects, and we’ve seen more and more projects like cover crops and hedgerows installed among the state’s orchards, vineyards, rangelands and croplands.”

As the Coalition celebrates National Pollinator Week, June 20-26, it is assessing the progress its members have helped spur, which includes:

  • More than 65,000 acres of pollinator forage added throughout the state on over 400 farms in the past 18 months.
  • Approximately 340 acres of new and enhanced habitat installed in California for monarch butterflies, with another 40,000 milkweed plants planned this year.
  • $30 million over two years earmarked by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature for sharing costs and providing incentives for farmers, ranchers and vineyard managers to create pollinator habitat on working lands.
  • Working with researchers to advance guidance of habitat placement on farms and working lands.
  • New partnerships built that launched current projects, including creating more California-specific guidance for growers and finding new funding.

“Pollinators are small, but they’re mighty,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “If you want to know how much California agriculture relies on pollinators, look no further than the broad coalition of agricultural organizations that we’ve already built, and the diverse acreage they represent. These partnerships are bearing fruit, with hundreds of farmers and thousands of acres adding forage and habitat to support both managed and native pollinators.”

One example of those partnerships is the diverse group of Coalition members – including Pollinator Partnership, the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the Wine Institute, the Almond Board of California, Blue Diamond, California Dairy, Inc., the California Cattleman’s Assoc., California Farm Bureau Federation, and Project Apis m. – that worked together to apply for a partnership agreement through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service for regional farmer-to-farmer collaboration in 10 California counties on habitat installation and adoption of integrated pest management.

“We are determined to be part of the solution,” said Almond Board of California Chief Scientific Officer Josette Lewis. “Pollinators are crucial for our food production and for our entire ecosystem. All of us in agriculture understand that the most productive path we can take is to work together toward a common solution of protecting pollinators and the working lands of California.”

Lewis briefed Congress in 2021 about the Coalition’s brand of collaborative conservation. She detailed the ways it can be used as a model for protecting pollinators and for a range of other of effective environmental alliances among independent groups, including those who have not always been aligned.

“We need all hands on deck for monarchs and pollinators,” said Monarch Joint Venture Executive Director Wendy Caldwell. “That, of course, includes the agricultural community. I grew up on a farm and know firsthand the hard work, dedication and care farmers put into their land. At MJV, we recognize agricultural stakeholders as instrumental partners in reaching monarch habitat goals.”

Another achievement of the Coalition has been to send the strong reminder that everyone in California agriculture is a stakeholder in protecting pollinators.

“As part of the efforts of California winegrape growers and vintners to increase the sustainability of their vineyards and wineries, they have planted cover crops and hedgerows on thousands of acres,” said Allison Jordan, Executive Director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. “Those acres provide habitat to vital pollinators while building soil health. Even though winegrapes are self-pollinating, all of us in California wine recognize the importance of pollinators to the state’s agriculture and food systems. That is why we’re partnering with likeminded organizations in the Coalition to increase resources to benefit even more pollinators.”

Entering Pollinator Week, the Coalition continues working to get the word out to more and more farmers about pollinator protection, funding, benefits and programs, including:

The Coalition continues to recruit partners who understand the urgency and share the common goal of supporting the health of both pollinators and agriculture. Current California Pollinator Coalition membership includes:

  • Agricultural Council of California
  • Almond Alliance of California
  • Almond Board of California
  • California Alfalfa and Forage Association
  • California Association of Pest Control Advisers
  • California Association of Resource Conservation Districts
  • California Cattlemen’s Association
  • California Citrus Mutual
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • California Farm Bureau Federation
  • California State Beekeepers Association
  • California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Monarch Joint Venture
  • Monarch Watch
  • Pollinator Partnership
  • Project Apis m.
  • University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Western Growers
  • Dr. Neal Williams, University of California, Davis

About the California Pollinator Coalition
The California Pollinator Coalition, convened by Pollinator Partnership, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Almond Board of California, is made up of a diverse group of agricultural and conservation organizations with the shared goal of providing enhanced habitat for pollinators. The Coalition and its members work to increase habitat for pollinators on working lands. Additionally, the group promotes research and tracks its progress toward healthy and abundant habitats.

2022-06-21T08:23:10-07:00June 21st, 2022|

Hoobler, Machado Join Farm Land Trust Board

Bill Hoobler and Mike Machado Appointed to California Farmland Trust’s Board of Directors

California Farmland Trust is proud to introduce well-respected industry professionals and community members, Bill Hoobler and Mike Machado, as new board members.

Hoobler and Machado have been active supporters of CFT for several years and bring a wealth of institutional knowledge and deep-rooted passion to the organization.

“Bill and Mike both offer a talented skillset and valuable expertise to the board, and their combined knowledge in policy and finance will be tremendous additions to our organization,” said Charlotte Mitchell, executive director at California Farmland Trust. “We are thrilled to have such accomplished individuals join the board and look forward to working towards continued success, in service to our critical mission.”

Since 2018, Hoobler has served as a CFT committee member and dedicated his professional life to the agriculture industry. He worked in the Farm Credit system for over 39 years, specializing in lending and crop insurance, before retiring in 2016 and starting his own crop insurance agency in Patterson.

“Being involved with CFT since 2018 has been rewarding,” Hoobler said. “California farmland needs to be protected and CFT is just one way to assure that farmland will remain farmland, forever.”

Machado, a Linden native, grew up on his family’s over-100-year-old farming operation and returned to the family business after serving in Vietnam. Machado also served 14 years to the California State Legislature, where he focused on water, banking, insurance, and budget accountability. In 2015, Machado and his family placed an agricultural conservation easement on their family farm, and later in 2021, Mike protected an additional two parcels.

“Without agriculture, we don’t eat,” Machado said. “Without farmland, we don’t have agriculture. That is why the work of California Farmland Trust is so important.”

Hoobler and Machado join the existing 11 members of CFT’s board of directors and will both serve on the Budget, Finance, and Risk Management committee.

2022-05-09T11:13:42-07:00May 9th, 2022|

Water Measurement and Reporting Courses Offered by UCCE May 26

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

California water-rights holders are required by state law to measure and report the water they divert from surface streams. For people who wish to take the water measurements themselves, the University of California Cooperative Extension is offering a virtual training to receive certification on May 26.

At the workshop, participants can expect to

  • clarify reporting requirements for ranches.
  • understand what meters are appropriate for different situations.
  • learn how to determine measurement equipment accuracy.
  • develop an understanding of measurement weirs.
  • learn how to calculate and report volume from flow data.

“We are limiting the number participants for the water measurement training to 30 people per session,” said Larry Forero, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor. “If you need this training, please register soon.”

The scheduled trainings will be held Thursday, May 26, at two locations:

  • Redding at Shasta College Farm.  Registration is required and costs $25. To register visit https://ceshasta.ucanr.edu. For more information, contact Larry Forero (lcforero@ucanr.edu) or Sara Jaimes (sbjaimes@ucanr.edu) or by calling the UCCE office in Shasta County at (530) 224-4900. Training will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at 11:30 am.
  • Woodland at the UC Cooperative Extension at 70 Cottonwood Street. Registration costs $20. To register, visit https://cecapitolcorridor.ucanr.edu. For more information, contact Morgan Doran at mpdoran@ucanr.edu or the UCCE Yolo County office at (530) 666-8143. Training will begin at 2:30 p.m. and conclude at 5:30 pm.

Background:

Senate Bill 88 requires all water right holders who have previously diverted or intend to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year (riparian and pre-1914 claims), or who are authorized to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year under a permit, license or registration, to measure and report the water they divert. Detailed information on the regulatory requirements for measurement and reporting is available on the State Water Resources Control Board Reporting and Measurement Regulation webpage. The legislation requires that installation and certification of measurement methods for diversion (or storage) greater than or equal to 100-acre feet annually be approved by an engineer/contractor/professional.

California Cattlemen’s Association worked with Assemblyman Frank Bigelow on a bill that allows a self-certification option. Assembly Bill 589 became law on January 1, 2018. This bill, until Jan. 1, 2023, allows any diverter who has completed this instructional course on measurement devices and methods administered by the University of California Cooperative Extension, and passes a proficiency test, to be considered a qualified individual when installing and maintaining devices or implementing methods of measurement.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources brings the power of UC to all 58 California counties. Through research and Cooperative Extension in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition, economic and youth development, our mission is to improve the lives of all Californians. Learn more at ucanr.edu and support our work at donate.ucanr.edu.

2022-04-27T13:22:26-07:00April 27th, 2022|

Today’s World is Full of Uncertainties. Your Food Supply Shouldn’t be One of Them

By Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition

The war in Ukraine and all the global unrest it is causing has focused American’s attention on just how uncertain a world we inhabit.

Inflation was already wreaking havoc on family budgets and now gas prices are also skyrocketing.

Which is exactly why our government should be doing everything it can to reduce reliance on foreign sources for our basic needs, especially food.

Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what is happening.

Through out-of-balance regulatory policies and a failure to prioritize western farming, our government is putting our safe, affordable, domestic food supply at risk.

Over 80% of our country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown west of the Rockies and simply cannot be moved elsewhere. Without that supply, Americans will see shortages at the store, even higher prices, be forced to rely more heavily on increasingly unstable foreign sources, or all of these at the same time.

Learn More

When you make a salad, have fruit for breakfast, eat a hamburger with cheese, or put tomato sauce and garlic on a pizza, odds are that at least some of those products came from California.

But without a reliable water supply, that farmland simply cannot produce what our country needs.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In some western states, the government is holding on to existing water supply, rather than release it to farms to grow food. In California, we must move more quickly to build and repair infrastructure that will help us store more water in wet years for use in dry ones like this one. And in general, water policy has become unbalanced in ways that penalize the farms trying to produce our food supply.

California farmers are doing their part and have reduced water use by double digits since 1980. Throughout the West, farms are also important in the battle against climate change because crop production helps remove carbon dioxide from the air. If things continue the way they are, our government is essentially creating deserts instead of food production, which will only perpetuate the cycles of drought and wildfires we’d like to avoid.

Food price increases in 2022 are now expected to exceed those observed in 2020 and 2021. Without changes in water policy, it will continue to get worse.

It has never been more important that U.S. consumers insist on domestically grown food in our stores.

2022-04-21T15:58:13-07:00April 21st, 2022|

Quality Walnuts Are Grown in California

California Walnut Growers Produce Higher Quality Products

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the Ag Information Network

Walnuts are grown in many countries around the world but California walnuts really shine when it comes to quality. Pam Graviet is a Senior Marketing Director International for the California Walnut Commission. Graviet said it comes down to those growers and the processors.

“It’s really what the growers do. I mean, they spend so much care in the orchard, and then when it gets to processing there’s all the extra steps that are taken,” said Graviet. “What they do is partially regulated and partially because of their desire to have a superior product. And that’s actually recognized around the world,” noted Graviet.

“You can get a walnut from Moldova, China, Italy or Australia. There are so many countries that produce them but they see the value that our industry delivers and they want our product,” noted Graviet.

But Graviet said the challenge, and it’s a big challenge, is the price that the growers receive.

“Just like almonds, you have a large supply and you have to develop that demand. And over time that happens, but in the meantime, the price will fluctuate depending on what the supply is on any given year,” she said.

2022-03-16T10:46:05-07:00March 16th, 2022|

The Story of Rising Fertilizer Prices

High fertilizer prices in the past year have increased costs for farmers, but for some crops more than others. Multiple potential causes could explain these price increases, stemming from both supply and demand factors. If farmers respond to high prices by using less fertilizer per acre, it will provide an environmental benefit in the form of less nitrogen and phosphorus in streams, rivers, and lakes.

By Aaron Smith, DeLoach Professor of Agricultural Economics in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.

https://s.giannini.ucop.edu/uploads/pub/2022/02/24/v25n3.pdf 

Fertilizer prices approximately doubled between the summer of 2020 and the end of 2021. Prices had been relatively stable in the prior five years at around $500 per ton for phosphate products (phosphorus) and just below $400 per ton for potash (potassium) and urea (nitrogen). In January 2022, phosphate products hit $900 per ton, and potash and urea prices were $800 per ton (see Figure 1).

What caused these price increases, and how much do they matter?

Agricultural Fertilizers

Most fertilizers deliver one or more of the following macronutrients to plants: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), or potassium (K).

Nitrogen makes up three-quarters of the air we breathe and is essential in plant growth. However, atmospheric nitrogen needs to be converted to ammonia (NH3) before it is accessible to plants. This conversion process, known as fixation, occurs naturally through bacteria and archaea that live in the soil or in the roots of some plants. Animals also produce ammonia by eating nitrogen-laden plants and excreting manure.

These natural processes typically do not produce enough ammonia for crops to reach their maximum potential. The invention of the Haber-Bosch process in 1909 enabled the production of synthetic ammonia by reacting nitrogen with hydrogen under high heat and pressure. U.S. nitrogen producers use natural gas as an energy source in this process.

Phosphorus helps plants grow by promoting photosynthesis and other functions important for development. Phosphorus fertilizers are typically produced by mining phosphate rock and treating it with sulfuric or phosphoric acid, causing a chemical reaction that converts it to a form that can be absorbed by plants.

Potassium strengthens plants, making them resistant to disease and higher in quality. Potassium fertilizers are created by mining potash from deep underground, similar to table salt. Chemical reactions convert it into a form usable by plants.

It is impossible to apply the exact amount of fertilizer that plants require, and there is a perception that many farmers over-apply fertilizer because they fear yield and profit losses from applying too little. This extra fertilizer is sometimes called “insurance nitrogen.”

Nitrogen and phosphorus that are not taken up by plants often end up in waterways, where they can cause a massive overgrowth of algae, known as an algae bloom. Certain types of algae emit toxins that are absorbed by shellfish. Consuming these tainted shellfish can lead to stomach illness and short-term memory problems. Drinking or coming into contact with toxins from algae blooms can cause stomachaches, rashes, and more serious problems. Algae blooms also reduce the recreational value of lakes and rivers.

U.S. Fertilizer Consumption

Nitrogen fertilizer use increased by a factor of four from 1960–1980, as shown in Figure 2. This increase coincided with dramatic increases in crop yields. In the 1970s, high agricultural commodity prices created a farm boom in which farmers planted more acres to crops and increased fertilizer applications.

After a slight drop during the farm crisis of the early 1980s, nitrogen fertilizer use has increased steadily, but at a slower rate than in the 1960s and 1970s. Phosphate and potash use has been relatively constant since 1985. Use of all fertilizers dropped substantially in 2009 after fertilizer prices increased fivefold during the 2008 commodity boom—a much larger increase than in 2021.

Nitrogen is by far the most used agricultural fertilizer by weight. It now makes up almost 60% of all fertilizer used, whereas phosphate and potash each comprise just over 20%. However, the trends in phosphate and potassium use mirror those in nitrogen, perhaps because many farmers apply multi-nutrient fertilizers.

Two facts provide insight into the role of fertilizer in the U.S. farm economy. First, corn uses about 45% of each fertilizer type, yet it takes up only a quarter of all cropland—90 out of about 390 million cropland acres in the nation. Second, in 2020 fertilizer made up 35% of operating expenses for corn growers—more than any other crop. Fertilizer is a major expense for the biggest crop in the nation, so the 2021 fertilizer price increases will significantly raise the cost of growing it.

As Figure 3 shows, fertilizer makes up more than 25% of operating expenses for several other major crops, including barley, oats, sorghum, and wheat. Between them, these crops use an additional 50 million acres each year.

In percentage terms, fertilizer is a much smaller expense for major California crops than the major national crops. It makes up about 10% of the cost of growing almonds, less than 2% of the cost of growing wine grapes, and 11% of the cost of growing processing tomatoes.

These percentages are useful for understanding the salience of fertilizer price increases for farmers. A jump in the price of one of your largest expense items will be noticed.

However, these percentages obscure the amount of fertilizer used on each crop because major national crops such as corn are relatively inexpensive to grow. Most corn is grown without irrigation, which saves the cost of acquiring and pumping water. Corn also requires little labor, especially now that tractors practically drive themselves.

According to cost and return studies by the University of California, bearing almonds cost $3,000–$4,000 per acre per year, which is about 10 times as much as growing corn in Illinois. So, although they spend a smaller percentage of their budget on fertilizer, California almond growers spend about three times as much per acre on fertilizer as Illinois corn growers, including about 25% more on nitrogen and multiple times more on potassium.

Fertilizer Production 

Fertilizers are produced throughout the world and traded heavily between countries. Figure 4 shows that the United States currently produces about 85% of the ammonia it uses, most of which becomes nitrogen fertilizer, and it produces 90% of the phosphate rock it uses, most of which becomes phosphate fertilizer. It imports 90% of its potash.

Most U.S. ammonia production capacity is in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas—close to natural gas fields. Natural gas constitutes about 80% of the cost of producing ammonia. Domestic production declined substantially from 2000 to 2010, a period when U.S. natural gas prices were historically high. In the latter part of this decade, two major producers merged as part of a period of consolidation in the industry.

After 2010, the deployment of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) increased the supply of natural gas and thereby lowered the cost of production dramatically. Fertilizer prices, however, remained high in this period and U.S. firms enjoyed large margins. In the last five years, production has rebounded, as more plants were built to take advantage of cheap natural gas.

Ammonia imports have mirrored domestic production, increasing as production declined between 2000 and 2010 before declining when production rebounded after 2016. Two-thirds of U.S. imports come from Trinidad and Tobago, and most of the remainder comes from Canada.

U.S. potash production has declined by 80% since 1965. Most of the remaining U.S. production comes from deep mines in southeastern New Mexico. Most potash imports come from Canada, which is the world’s largest producer by a significant margin.

Most domestic phosphate is mined in Florida and North Carolina, although there is also some production in Idaho and Utah. U.S. phosphate production declined steadily from 1980–2019, but phosphate fertilizer use in U.S. agriculture remained relatively constant over this period.

Each year between 1980 and 2019, the  U.S. exported about half its phosphate production, mostly to Canada and Mexico. As production declined, the U.S. maintained domestic consumption by increasing imports, mostly from Morocco, Russia, and Israel. In March 2021, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that imports from Morocco and Russia had affected the U.S. producers adversely, and they imposed countervailing tariffs ranging from 9% to 47%.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is an excellent source for data on mineral commodities, and I use this source for ammonia and potash in Figure 4. For phosphate, USGS reports data on phosphate rock, which is the product that is extracted from mines. Production and consumption of phosphate rock shows an incomplete picture of the phosphate fertilizer market. Each ton of phosphate rock generates about 0.2 tons of fertilizer. The U.S. imports some phosphate rock, mostly from Peru, which domestic firms make into fertilizer. In addition, the U.S. imports a significant amount of phosphate fertilizer. Thus, Figure 4 presents phosphate fertilizer data from FAO rather than phosphate rock data from USGS.

Prices

So, why have prices increased? To answer this question, I consider supply- and demand-side factors.

On the supply side, U.S. natural gas prices doubled between the summer of 2020 and the end of 2021, which significantly raised the cost of nitrogen production. Energy is also a component of phosphate and potash mining costs, but it is much less important in the production of these products than for nitrogen. For this reason, the increasing price of natural gas cannot fully explain the fact that all fertilizers increased in price by a similar percentage.

Weather events also disrupted nitrogen supply, including the freeze in Texas in February 2021 and Hurricane Ida in August 2021. There were also some supply disruptions due to COVID-19. However, these events caused only a temporary reduction in production and so do not explain a sustained price increase. Moreover, these events did not hit phosphate and potash production regions.

Also on the supply side, shipping costs increased dramatically in 2021, especially on shipments from Asia to North America. However, most fertilizer imports to the U.S. come from the Americas and would be less affected by shipping costs.

On the demand side, crop prices are high. Corn, soybean, and wheat prices increased by 60% from the summer of 2020 through the end of 2021. High crop prices incentivize farmers to apply more fertilizer per acre, which would place pressure on fertilizer prices.

The high crop prices did not spur a substantial increase in acreage in 2021, and it is too early to know whether we will see an acreage increase in 2022. However, an increase in demand from farmers planning to expand acreage in response to high crop prices is a plausible factor behind rising fertilizer prices.

Conclusion 

Predicting commodity prices is a fool’s errand. When natural gas and agricultural commodity prices come down, I would expect fertilizer prices to also come down.

When the price of a pound of fertilizer exceeds the expected increase in revenue from spreading it on the field, it is not profitable to use that pound. Fertilizer prices have increased by more than most crop prices, so in 2022 producers have an incentive to apply less fertilizer per acre. If farmers do apply less fertilizer per acre, it will provide an environmental benefit in the form of less nitrogen and phosphorus in streams, rivers, and lakes.

Moreover, to the extent that farmers apply more than the recommended amount of fertilizer as insurance against low yields, reducing use in 2022 provides an opportunity to experiment and to learn how much such insurance is necessary.

 

2022-03-14T16:07:26-07:00March 14th, 2022|

California Agricultural Mediation Program Helps Farmers

As Farming Population Ages, New Partnership Offers Support and Tips for Transition Planning

Nearly 40 percent of producers in California are over the age of 65 according to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture, slightly higher than the national average. The stability of California agriculture, the backbone of U.S. food production, is largely dependent on the successful change of hands to the next generation.

As a result, many non-profits are instituting holistic succession planning programs to help farm families with the transition process. In California, California FarmLink offers a 12-month long program, The Regenerator: A Year of Farm Succession Planning, which addresses all aspects of transition, including tax and estate planning, business structure and valuation, as well as financing strategies.

California FarmLink recently partnered with the California Agricultural Mediation Program (CALAMP) to set the stage for productive farm transition conversations and help participating families with any communication related issues.  CALAMP is a nonprofit organization that provides free mediation and facilitation to those working in agriculture.

CALAMP and California FarmLink offer these five tips for successful farm transition planning, an often overlooked but critical part of farm operations.

Have a Champion & Prioritize the Discussion
Have someone at the farm who is dedicated to moving the process forward. Often transition conversations are put on the back burner because people get too caught up in the day-to-day.

Recognize Each Other’s Point of View
It’s common for family members and stakeholders to have different visions for the future. It’s important to listen and recognize each other’s point of view as valid, whether you agree or not.

Understand the Financial Picture
The next generation should have access to the finances for the best chance of success. For example, unknowns can cause issues and prevent a successful transfer.

Write Down Your Rough Draft for Transition of Assets and Management
Write down your vision or ideas to ensure everyone is on the same page. This draft will help you finalize it with a professional.

Get Help as Needed from a Facilitator
A facilitator or mediator with experience in family coaching and succession planning helps create a sense of fairness. They’ll help set the agenda at family meetings, ensure nothing is missed, and help reluctant participants become more involved.

“We provide free mediation services on a variety of issues facing farmers, including farm transitions.” said Matt Strassberg, CALAMP Program Director. “CALAMP’s services helped many families reach agreements about how to manage the farm going forward.”

CALAMP offers both on-site mediation sessions and teleconferencing sessions so that everyone has access to this service no matter where in California they live.

“Farm transition discussions don’t have to be limited to only family members. Some may want to involve long-term employees in future ownership or young farmers outside the business,” Strassberg said.

For more information on FarmLink’s program, visit: https://www.californiafarmlink.org/succession. Or email Liya Schwartzman at liya@cafarmlink.org.

For more information or to sign up for free mediation with CALAMP visit www.CALAMP.org where you can fill out an online request form. Or email Jenna Muller at jennam@emcenter.org or Mary Campbell at maryc@emcenter.org.

2022-02-03T09:12:41-08:00February 3rd, 2022|

New Grower Liaison for American Pistachio Growers

Campbell Gilkey Will Make Contact with Growers

By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Information Net

The American Pistachio Growers Association has brought on a grower liaison to help build up the voluntary association and to retain current members. Campbell Gilkey, a fifth- generation farmer with Gilkey Farms, a diversified farming operation, including pistachios in the Corcoran area of Kings County.

“I’ll be reaching out and making new contacts all along the west side of south Kern County, throughout Fresno County and up north near Sacramento and occasionally reaching out to our Arizona and New Mexico growers,” said Gilkey.

American Pistachio Growers has the majority of growers within its ranks, but more is better.

“Yes, more is better, said Gilkey. “I’ll be working all throughout Central, Northern and Southern California, trying to make new contacts, create retention with some of our older loyal customers and spreading our message and helping with their marketing and promotion in the whole pistachio industry,” he noted.

Gilkey describes his family’s legacy operation. “It started with my Great grandfather, and then  my two grandfathers, Don and Charles Gilkey helped to expand the company and eventually their sons took over, and it’s three sons and two cousins of mine now are operating the company,” Gilkey said.

2022-01-31T21:28:08-08:00January 31st, 2022|

Farmers Invited to Tour Cover Crops in Sacramento Valley March 3

Farmers and ranchers are invited on a tour to learn how to use cover crops to build soil health. A full-day tour of several cover crop sites in orchards and annual crop fields in the Sacramento Valley is being offered on March 3 by the Western Cover Crop Council’s Southwest Region Committee.

“The goal of this tour is to demonstrate ways to use cover crops effectively in annual crops and orchards in the Sacramento Valley,” said tour organizer Sarah Light, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor.

“This tour will cover a range of topics, including cover crop selection, equipment needed to manage cover crops, considerations for cover cropping in the region, and the importance of building soil health,” said Light, who is also chair of the Western Cover Crop Council’s Southwest Region Committee and a board member of the Western Cover Crop Council.

Cover crop species, cultivars and mixes including legumes, grasses and brassicas will be showcased in Colusa County, with farmers, UC Cooperative Extension specialists and researchers giving presentations.

The tour bus will depart from the Colusa County Cooperative Extension Office at 100 Sunrise Blvd., Suite E, Colusa, CA 95932 at 8 a.m. and return at 7:30 p.m.

Priority registration is limited to farmers and ranchers until Feb. 1. Other interested people may join after Feb. 1. ​The $50 registration fee includes morning refreshments, transportation, lunch and dinner. To register or to see the agenda, visit https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=36190.

Source: UCANR

2022-01-25T08:28:47-08:00January 25th, 2022|
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