The Nut In Nutritious Says it All

The Word Nut is In Nutrition and Nutritious

By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Information Network

Have you ever noticed the word Nut in the word nutritious? Well, I’ve never noticed it before when it comes to the nut industry, and it took the American Pecan Council to bring it to my attention. Alex Ott is the Executive Director of the American Pecan Council.

“We have a great team, and Weber Shandwick is our PR company that’s there. We work with other folks such as Eat Well Global in the dietitian areas,” said Ott. “And the staff and a lot of the members that participate, both on and off the council as well as the boards, provide a lot of great insight. So we’re very fortunate to have a fantastic team,” he noted.

When you think of nuts, they are nutritious. It’s perfect. The word nut in the first three letters of the word nutrition.

“It’s nice when the industry all comes together with one purpose. Everybody uses their talents to really drive the message.

 I asked Ott if Weber Shandwick, the PR company, came up with that concept.

“They definitely helped out with the website and the messaging, and we’re very fortunate to have Weber as our team, absolutely,” he said.

2022-12-05T08:30:32-08:00December 5th, 2022|

Conversion to Organics Could Increase Food Prices, Shrink Farm Profits

By Peter Hecht, California Farm Bureau

A European Union policy goal to exponentially increase organic farming to 30% of all agricultural production by 2030 is expected to be considered by Gov. Gavin Newsom for next year’s budget. However, a new economic analysis says such a plan would dramatically increase the price of food for many consumers and jeopardize the solvency of organic farms.

California currently has an estimated 7.35 million acres of irrigated cropland, of which 460,000 acres—or 6%—is certified as organic and not all of that is farmed in any given year.

A preliminary analysis by ERA Economics, a Davis-based consultancy specializing in the economics of agriculture and water resources in California, focused on the potential challenges of applying the EU standards to one California crop: tomatoes. The state produces 95% of America’s processing tomatoes and the total annual tomato crop is valued at $1.2 billion.

Only 5% of California’s 228,000 processing tomato acreage is currently needed to meet consumer demand for organic. The study found that reaching 30% organic production by 2030 would cause substantial disruptions to the market. The farmgate price of conventional tomatoes was estimated to rise by more than 11%. And, importantly, the price for organic tomatoes was estimated to fall by 28% at the farmgate level—potentially putting the market price below the cost of production.

That could mean organic farmers would be forced to cease production, sell, or farm something else—a result that could potentially crash the organic market and ultimately drive-up consumer prices. Mandating an increase in organic acreage without a clear connection to consumer demand could result in market disruptions that would hurt farmers, farm employees and consumers alike, the study noted.

Any initial organic price drop would mostly benefit wealthier consumers who purchase organically grown products, with lower-income customers paying more for traditionally grown products. All tomato farmers, organic or not, could see reduced profits, according to the analysis.

“Farming works when we are able to grow what the consumer actually wants and not what government mandates. California consumers are already struggling to afford higher prices for food than other states because of government mandates and these types of proposals just make things worse,” said Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau. “When the government increases the price of food, it acts like a regressive tax, hurting lower- and middle-income families the hardest. At the end of the day, the government needs to let organic markets grow organically.”

The study was funded by Californians for Smart Pesticide Policy, a coalition of farmers and businesses the rely on farmers, focused on educating policymakers on the benefits of modern scientific agricultural tools. It was undertaken on behalf of the California Bountiful Foundation, the 501(c)(3) science and research arm of the California Farm Bureau. The full report may be found at https://www.californiabountifulfoundation.com/research/.

A recently released report (https://www.fb.org/newsroom/farm-bureau-survey-shows-thanksgiving-dinner-cost-up-20) by the American Farm Bureau Federation shows that the average cost of a family’s Thanksgiving dinner—now $64.05—is up 20% from 2021 and nearly 36% from 2020.

The findings by ERA Economics include the following:

• To increase organic acreage for processing tomatoes from an average of 4% to 30% would represent a five- to six-fold increase in current acreage. Tomato growers and processors interviewed for the analysis confirmed industry data regarding consumers’ finite desire to purchase organic tomato products.

• Tomato growers may specialize in organic, non-organic or both, depending on market demands and conditions. By mandating a specific growing method, it could greatly impact the ability of farmers to keep their operation sustainable, both financially and as they encounter other challenges, such as climate change and pests and disease.

• Both conventional and organic farmers of processing tomatoes face risks of economic losses. Conventional growers, with likely reduced acreage, could see a 17% potential downside cost from expected earnings.

• Organic production presents greater risk of crop failure, higher production costs and lower crop yields. As a result, organic farmers are likely to see less stability. They face a potential downside cost of 36% of anticipated net returns, making it potentially unprofitable to grow organic processing tomatoes.

2022-11-23T09:00:36-08:00November 23rd, 2022|

Western U.S. Streamflow Declines Respond Asymmetrically to Seasonal Climate Warming

National Integrated Drought Information System

Although numerous studies have previously explored streamflow responses to annual climate warming, less attention has been given to the differing effects of seasonal (winter vs. summer) warming. It is well-known, for instance, that the seasonal timing of streamflow in snow-affected river basins is strongly affected by warmer winters, which lead to less snow, more rain, and earlier runoff. What has been less understood is how the total volume of runoff changes in a warmer climate, and in particular how the total (annual) streamflow volume responds to warmer winters as contrasted with warmer summers.

To address this gap, UCLA’s Land Surface Hydrology Group examined western U.S. streamflow declines in response to climate warming and found they are expected to be asymmetric depending on the season in which most warming occurs. Cooler river basins (which are especially dependent on spring snowmelt) are more sensitive to warmer warm seasons, while warmer river basins (with less snow) are more sensitive to cool season warming. Funding for the research was provided by NIDIS and the California-Nevada Adaptation Program, a NOAA CAP/RISA team.

The results, detailed in two recent Water Resources Research papers, are based on predictions of annual streamflow changes resulting from warm (April–September) and cool (October–March) season warming in five large river basins, and 616 smaller ones, across the western United States.

“Our research shows that cooler river basins tend to have larger streamflow declines when warming occurs in the warm season than in the cool season, while the changes are reversed in warmer river basins (i.e., those with less snow). This is linked primarily to the basins’ sensitivity of evapotranspiration to temperature,” according to Zhaoxin Ban, the first author of both papers.

In the second paper, the authors analyzed 616 river basins across the western U.S. with drainage areas mostly in the range from 100 to 1000 km2. Of those 616 river basins, 44% are more sensitive to warm season than cool season warming. Those river basins are mainly inland and/or high latitude (north of 37.5°N) and (mostly) at relatively high elevations, many of which are in the northern Columbia River Basin and the Upper Colorado River Basin. About 35% show a larger sensitivity to cool season than warm season warming. They are mainly moist coastal river basins, or low-latitude, and moderately warm.

The remaining basins (about 20%) are either arid (e.g., bordering on the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, or basins that drain into the Great Basin) or cold with long snow seasons. These basins are predicted to experience annual streamflow increases for a variety of reasons, including long-term snowpack declines that result in earlier runoff occurring at a time of year when evapotranspiration is lower, or that will experience more rapid snowmelt that penetrates into the soil and eventually will reach streams rather than evaporating.

Although the study conclusions are based on model simulations, the authors also utilized observation-based estimates to evaluate their model predictions. They find that while the observation-based inferences are generally similar to their model results, the observation-based results indicate somewhat larger streamflow decreases for cool season warming than do the models, especially in moderately warm regions. The observation-based results also reflect somewhat smaller reductions in streamflow due to warm season warming than do the models, especially in cool regions. Despite these differences, the overall spatial distribution of river basins that are more sensitive to warm vs. cool season warming are similar in the model simulations and observation-based analyses.

2022-11-15T13:19:02-08:00November 15th, 2022|

Pitahaya/dragon fruit growers gather to learn from UCCE research and each other

By Saoimanu Sope, UCANR

Once you know what a dragon fruit looks like, you will never forget it. The bright red, sometimes yellow or purple, scaly skin makes for a dramatic appearance. One that will surely leave an impression. The flesh ranges from white to a deep pink and the flavor is often described as having hints of kiwi, watermelon, or pear.

Since 2007, the Pitahaya/Dragon Fruit Production Tour, has united dragon fruit growers of all levels and backgrounds. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, registration for the 2022 tour filled up in less than 24 hours.

A group of 60 participants gathered Sept. 8 at the Wallace Ranch Dragon Fruit Farm in Bonsall to learn the latest research on growing the drought-tolerant specialty crop. Ramiro Lobo, a small farms and agricultural economics advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County, introduced dragon fruit growers and other UC scientists.

“I can’t remember a year where this event was not sold out. So, the need and demand is there,” said Eyal Givon, a long-time participant and dragon fruit grower.

The tour not only demonstrates how to grow the fruit, but it also grants participants access to plant material for varieties that are unavailable elsewhere.

“We have given out about 50,000 cuttings through our festival and some varieties were unique to us because we introduced them to the U.S.,” said Lobo.

During their time at Wallace Ranch, participants heard from the farm’s owner, Neva Day, regarding the growing practices that have shaped her success today. Day has been growing organic dragon fruit since 2013 and has well over 5,000 plants on the ground and more than 20 varieties.

Eric Middleton, UCCE integrated pest management area advisor for San Diego County, talked about managing insects and pests that growers are likely to encounter such as Argentine ants.

According to Middleton, Pecan Sandies are a balanced source of fat, protein, and sugar, making them excellent bait for the sugar-loving insects.

Participants eventually made their way to Dragon Delights Farm located in Ramona. Kevin Brixey, the farm’s owner, has been growing organic dragon fruit for six years.

Although Brixey was hosting this year’s tour participants, he used to be one of them.

“I attended the Pitahaya Festival in 2014 and that’s where I realized dragon fruit was something I could grow. There was a lot of good information being shared and a connection to other growers, so it was a major steppingstone for me,” he says.

Unlike traditional dragon fruit growers, Brixey uses shade to grow his dragon fruit after learning about the method from another grower.

“I was impressed. I liked how the fruit performed under shade and now I use it as a management tool,” Brixey explained. In Inland Valleys, shade can shield fruit from intense sunlight and protect them from unwanted guests that eat the fruit, such as birds.

At the Farm Bureau of San Diego County offices, participants learned about the history of dragon fruit growing in California, food safety, pest management, best production practices and much more.

The presenters included experts like Paul Erickson from Rare Dragon Fruit, Lobo, Middleton, Johanna del Castillo from UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology and Ariana Reyes, a community education specialist from UCCE San Diego.

When reflecting on his time participating in the production tour, Givon, who has been growing dragon fruit for about 20 years and manages a 20-acre farm in Moorpark, said he enjoys reconnecting with other growers the most.

“What others are doing, might be better than what I’m doing,” Givon said. “Or what I’m doing, could be better than what someone else is doing. This time together is good for us to learn from each other.”

Lobo agreed with Givon and added, “I hope that these tours become self-sustained, and that we go back to a research field day at Southcoast REC with regional tours in San Diego and Ventura as we did before, or any other counties.”

The Pitahaya/Dragon Fruit Production Tour is an annual event hosted by UCCE San Diego. To learn more about UCCE San Diego events, visit https://cesandiego.ucanr.edu

2022-10-25T08:08:03-07:00October 25th, 2022|

Franzia Credits SJV Wine Growers

Longtime California vintner Fred Franzia, the co-founder of Bronco Wine Co. best-known for his Charles Shaw brand, aka “Two Buck Chuck,” passed away Sept. 13 at age 79.

Following is a 2017 interview that we did with Franzia

Fred Franzia: SJV Is Critical for Nation’s Wine Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently had an exclusive interview with Fred Franzia the CEO and co-founder of one of the biggest wineries in the nation, Franzia Winery, which is the maker of the famous Two Buck Chuck sold in Trader Joe’s. We asked him how it all started.

“My Grandfather came to America in 1893, arrived in Ellis Island, went to San Francisco, eventually got into the Lodi/Linden area. He saved enough money to buy his first ranch in an area between Ripon and Manteca in an unincorporated community called Atlanta, and that’s where he started with 80 acres – the place where Franzia Winery is today,” he said.

Franzia said the major factor in the U.S. wine industry is the San Joaquin Valley where 76 of the total wine grapes in California are produced.

“There wouldn’t be a wine business in the U.S. if it wasn’t for the San Joaquin Valley. It’s as simple as that,” according to Franzia.

And he explained the reasons behind that pronouncement.

“We have all the right varieties, and they’re priced right, so the consumer can afford to buy them every day and enjoy it. That’s what we’re trying to do with the wines,” he said.

And there is a misnomer among some consumers that quality wine cannot be produced in the San Joaquin Valley.

“All they have to do is have blind tastings with any wines they want, and we’ll win nine out of 10,” Franzia said.

And Franzia Winery, which also owns the Bronco Wine Company, produces a lot of wine.

“We have close to 150 labels. The most famous one, I think, is the Charles Shaw, which is one of the best selling products ever sold at Trader Joe’s. And that wine is affectionately known as Two Buck Chuck,” he said. “It’s sold over a billion bottles so far, so we’re into that one pretty heavy.”

We asked Franzia why Two Buck Chuck is so popular? Of course, we know it’s got a good price and the quality’s there. “Can’t say it any better,” Franzia said.

 

2022-09-14T09:28:12-07:00September 14th, 2022|

Western Agricultural Coalition Warns of Rural Economic Upheaval Without Effective Deployment of Drought Response Funding

Seven organizations offer the federal government immediate assistance in implementing the $4 billion set aside in the Inflation Reduction Act

In a letter sent to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, a coalition of agricultural organizations offered their support, assistance and counsel for the immediate implementation of drought funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Key coalition principles include:

The Bureau of Reclamation should quickly release a Notice of Funding Availability with guidance to water managers currently developing drought response proposals and urgently deploy that funding to address the most critical needs.

As the Bureau of Reclamation develops a plan to deploy drought funding, they should work with local water managers, set goals focused on driving the voluntary participation needed, and keep the process, selection criteria and any necessary agreements simple and transparent.

Any program designed to temporarily reduce agricultural water use must recognize the value of lost production, the extended impact on the rural community and the cost of developing incremental new water supplies. It is also important to avoid any actions that result in permanent disruptions to our long-tern capacity to produce the food and fiber that is relied upon in the U.S. and across the globe.

Agriculture should not be the only sector expected to reduce water use for the benefit of river systems. Urban planners and water users must also seriously address growth and reduce overall use or diversions to protect these systems.

Here is the letter:

Dear Secretary Haaland and Commissioner Touton:

Throughout the Western United States, dire challenges are being faced by agricultural water users in the Colorado River Basin, California’s Central Valley, the Klamath Basin, the Columbia River Basin and its tributaries in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, the Rogue River Basin in southern Oregon, and the Great Basin. We could dedicate reams of pages describing the agonizing plight faced by the farmers and ranchers and the rural communities in these areas. 

As you know, Western water managers are actively responding to extreme drought. This is forcing unprecedented actions by local water purveyors and agricultural producers to react to significant water shortages. In the Colorado River Basin, the Bureau of Reclamation recently declared the first ever Tier 2a shortage and is calling for a total of 2 to 4 million acre-feet to protect critical levels in Lakes Mead and Powell. In recent months, many of our local producers and water managers with senior water rights have been engaged in a thoughtful effort to develop plans to protect the Colorado River system. 

Like you, we were pleased to see that Congress recognized the dire situation by appropriating $4 billion to respond to the ongoing Western drought. We now urge the Biden Administration to move quickly to implement the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and other available drought funding to use on the ground. 

Beyond the urgency of the dire hydrologic situation faced in many Western watersheds, this prompt action is essential for a variety of other reasons. Significant time and effort are being put into the development of response plans. For those to result in meaningful progress, it is essential to understand the key factors that will be considered by the Department in providing any future financial assistance. The ability of agricultural producers to participate in any voluntary, compensated water reduction program becomes much more difficult, if not impossible, if not initiated and implemented soon. This is due to the timeframes associated with contracting, purchasing, and planting of crops for the coming year. This is particularly important in areas like the Imperial Valley in California and Yuma, Arizona, where large-scale winter-time agricultural production occurs. The process and timing for distributing drought response funding must recognize and be responsive to this reality. 

We write today to encourage you, as a first step, to work with our organizations and members to quickly release a Notice of Funding Availability with guidance to water managers currently developing drought response proposals and quickly deploy that funding to address the most urgent needs. As you develop a plan to deploy drought funding, we also encourage you to consider the following:

  • Work with local water managers to articulate the considerations and approaches to utilizing funding so that the modification or development of viable plans results in desired and defensible outcomes for all engaged; 
  • In basins where voluntary water reductions might occur, any program should set goals focused on driving the participation needed to produce measurable volumes of wet water. Local water managers should also be enabled to decide what management actions will be taken to achieve targets;
  • Keep the process, selection criteria, and any necessary agreements simple and transparent. Requiring prescriptive, complicated, or overly restrictive requirements or agreements will slow progress and reduce participation in programs;
  • Any program designed to temporarily reduce agricultural water use must recognize the value of lost production, the extended impact on the rural community, and the cost of developing incremental new water supplies. It is also critical to avoid any actions that result in profound, long-term economic damage to Western communities as well as the long-term capacity to produce food and fiber that is relied upon across the globe. There are a limited number of places where the climate, soil, and open space overlap. We must ensure that any water solution does not lead to a food supply problem for our nation; and Agriculture should not be the only sector expected to reduce water use for the benefit of river systems. Urban planners and water users must also seriously address growth and reduce overall use or diversions, as opposed to per capita reductions, to protect these systems. The government must also reevaluate the true environmental water needs of river systems in light of projected ongoing drought conditions throughout most of the Western U.S.

Adhering to the recommendations provided above will help ensure that agricultural water users can be meaningful partners in our collective effort to manage water supply and protect important supply systems in exceptionally dry times like those we face now, from the headwaters in the upper basin to the last user in the lower basin.

In addition to focusing on critically needed, near-term steps to endure the current drought, it is essential that we also continue to advance solutions that will improve water management in the long-term. These opportunities include forest restoration activities that improve the health and productivity of our watersheds that are severely out of balance, robust conservation and efficiency measures, and augmentation of supply ranging from groundwater development and recycling to new conveyance and storage, where appropriate. To this end, the immediate deployment of IRA drought response funding will perfectly complement longer-term investments made by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), IRA Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Forest Service funding, and other programs. Together, these opportunities present an integrated approach that will boost short, medium, and long-term drought response, preparedness, and resilience for both farms and communities across the West.  

Lastly, we urge you to continue to bring all water users together to develop solutions and ensure agriculture has a place at the table. There has been an unfortunate narrative lately that demonizes irrigation and minimizes the importance of domestic food production. Recent letters and comments by some in the West are clearly designed to encourage moving significant volumes of water offfarm for other uses. These unfortunate portrayals fail to recognize that in many cases their proposals will make senior water rights available as a mechanism to benefit junior water users by preventing cuts that would otherwise be required under water laws. 

This also comes at a time when agricultural water users are busy developing voluntary proposals to help respond to these dire drought conditions that will result in financial losses for many individual family farms, and the rural communities in which they live, if proper compensation is not provided. In addition to the many Western communities and cultures that sustain the American food supply being at risk, we are also jeopardizing the highest labor, crop protection, and food safety standards in the world while simultaneously exacerbating climate change and food insecurity by increasing our avoidable reliance upon imports. 

Protecting the agricultural economy, Western urban and rural communities, and a healthy aquatic environment not only benefits the West, it benefits the entire Nation. For that reason, our members across the West are stepping up, at their own expense, to provide solutions for the viability of their basins and the communities those basins serve. In many cases, that means making senior water rights voluntarily available in order to benefit junior water users. This prevents cuts that would otherwise be required under water laws and, in most cases, would provide immediate measurable protections for the water supply system as a whole. Urban, agricultural, and environmental water users would all benefit from such efforts in the short and long-term. 

Our organizations look forward to working with you further to advance the recommendations included in this letter. 

If you have questions or concerns about this letter, please do not hesitate to contact Dan Keppen (dan@familyfarmalliance.org).

Sincerely,
Agribusiness and Water Council of Arizona
Arizona Farm Bureau Federation
California Farm Bureau
Colorado Farm Bureau
Family Farm Alliance
Oregon Farm Bureau
Western Growers

2022-08-29T15:52:23-07:00August 29th, 2022|

New Orchard Advisor Brings Research Background

By Tim Hearden, Western Farm Press

The central San Joaquin Valley has a new University of California Cooperative Extension orchard crops advisor who once took part in research into the way people pronounce the word “almond.”

Cameron Zuber, a UCCE staff researcher in Merced County since 2016, has been named the orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties.

He will cover a variety of crops in Merced County, including walnuts, almonds and pistachios as well as figs and stone fruit, and will work with walnut growers in Madera County, according to the university.

Among his contributions to UCCE has been to keep alive a project on how Californians pronounce the word “almond” and mapping where they live, color-coding whether they pronounce the “l.”

The website https://ucanr.edu/sites/sayalmond was started by a marketing and social media expert who left the UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources a few years ago, spokeswoman Pamela Kan-Rice said.

Zuber earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and management from UC Davis and a master’s in environmental systems from UC Merced before joining the university as a researcher.

For orchard crops, he has worked on fumigants and other soil pest controls, rootstocks and scion varietals, cultural practices related to tree spacing and whole orchard recycling, according to the university.

He also has experience in water management, having studied flood irrigation for groundwater recharge, irrigation and soil, water and air interactions.

A growing team

Zuber began his new position June 6, joining a growing team of Extension advisors and specialists as UCANR has received increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature.

He was one of seven new advisors recently announced by the university, with others bringing expertise in wildfire, grapes, small-scale farms and youth development.

Among other advisors working with growers, Joy Hollingsworth began as the new table grape advisor serving Tulare and Kings counties on May 16; Kirsten Pearsons started as small farms advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on March 1; and Ricky Satomi joined UCCE Sutter-Yuba on March 15 as an area forestry and natural resources advisor in the Western Sierra Nevada region.

2022-07-28T14:58:19-07:00July 28th, 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|

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|

New Consumer Research Shows Progress in Produce Safety Outreach Efforts

By Alliance for Food and Farming

A new consumer research project conducted by the Alliance for Food and Farming shows a 20% decline in overall levels of concern about produce safety over 2016 survey levels. Concerns specific to pesticide residues have also decreased by 10% since 2016.

“These positive changes are likely the result of increased outreach, information sharing and transparency regarding produce safety as well as consumers being focused on the pandemic and other dominating issues since the survey was last conducted in 2016,” says Teresa Thorne, AFF Executive Director.

This comprehensive consumer research project included a series of virtual focus groups followed by a nationwide survey to determine changes in the levels of concern among consumers about safety issues specific to produce. This research was conducted to help improve overall information-sharing that will reassure consumers about produce safety. The AFF is the only organization that conducts broad-based, national research specific to 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,” Thorne explains.

Consumers Trust Farmers, Government Regulatory System
The survey shows consumers continue to trust farmers when it comes to produce safety. When asked “How confident are you in each of the following groups when it comes to protecting food safety,” farmers ranked highest with 76% of respondents expressing confidence in them.

When asked to “rate how much you trust each of the following sources to give you information about pesticide use and residues on fresh fruits and vegetables,” USDA, farmers, your doctor/health care provider and dietitians/nutritionists topped the list.

The survey also measured trust in the government regulatory systems. When asked: “How confident are you that government regulations and other food safety efforts are working well to protect public health,” 78% responded that they were very to somewhat confident with only nine percent stating they were not confident.

“Dirty Dozen” List
The “Dirty Dozen” list messaging was tested against AFF statements. By a two-to-one margin, survey respondents agreed with the AFF statements about produce safety versus safety claims made by the list authors.

“This two-to-one margin is a significant finding and underscores the importance of the objectives and work of the Safe Fruits and Veggies campaign to reach consumers through more balanced reporting on the list release as well as direct outreach strategies to target audiences and influencers,” Thorne says.

The “Dirty Dozen” list is released annually and inaccurately disparages the most popular produce items in an effort to promote one production method over another.

Information Sharing
A primary focus of the research was to determine what information helps consumers when making purchasing decisions as well as providing those results to members to assist them in their produce safety outreach.

Information was shared with respondents 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.

Research Conclusions

  • While declining produce safety concerns from 2016 survey levels shows progress, residues are still the top safety concern among consumers. Therefore efforts to provide consistent, science-based information to counter disinformation campaigns must continue to further alleviate unfounded safety fears about the more affordable and accessible forms of produce.
  • Continued sharing of regulatory protections and government produce safety data among key audiences is supported by the survey results.
  • Efforts to connect farmers to consumers and other key audiences to share information about their practices and care and commitment to grow healthy foods should remain an important component of outreach strategies specific to produce safety.
    The AFF has developed a new webpage at safefruitsandveggies.com highlighting the research results. The webpage includes a comprehensive white paper about the research project as well as a short, one-page review of the science-based information assessed by survey respondents.
2022-06-30T11:08:48-07:00June 30th, 2022|
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