Thanks California Farmers!

We are Grateful for  California Farmers

Thank You!

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

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

Side-by-side, they

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

We are grateful for the dedication of the California farmer:

Who may also be a rancher or dairyman.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Who appreciates the dedication and experience of his employees.

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

Who pays her employees well and provides training for them.

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

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

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

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

 

We are grateful for the versatility of the California farmer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

We are grateful for the ambitiousness of the California farmer:

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

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

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

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

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

 

We are grateful for the conservation-minded California farmer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

We are grateful for the accessible California farmer:

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

Who responds to employee concerns with mutually beneficial solutions.

 

We are grateful for the generous California farmer:

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

Who donates to local food banks and homeless shelters.

 

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

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

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

 

We are grateful for the deeply invested California farmer:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

We are grateful for the integrity of the California farmer:

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

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

 

We are grateful for the Optimistic California farmer:

Who realizes that hard times don’t last forever.

Who anticipates that next year could be better.

Who never gives up.

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

 

2021-11-25T05:58:39-08:00November 25th, 2021|

2019 Biological Opinion Lawsuit Grows

Ag Groups Weigh in on 2019 Biological Opinion Lawsuit

American Pistachio Growers, along with agricultural organizations, signed a letter to the Honorable Deb Haaland, Secretary U.S. Department of Interior, and the Honorable Wade Crowfoot, Secretary Natural Resources opposing new court filings in California’s lawsuit challenging the 2019 Biological Opinions on water projects.

The joint agricultural letter reads as follows:
We are opposed to new court filings in California’s lawsuit challenging the 2019 Biological Opinions for coordinated operations of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP). These filings include an unprecedented and unvetted interim operations plan for the upcoming water year in California.

As we have known – and has been highlighted over the last year and a half – facts and findings grounded on science need to be followed.  That ethos should also apply to the coordinated operations of the CVP and SWP.

We support continued efforts by your respective departments to work collaboratively to manage the operations of California’s major water infrastructure.  California communities are in desperate need of relief.  Many of our most disadvantaged communities are lacking reliable, clean drinking water.

In addition, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies are expediting enforcement actions to minimize negative impacts resulting from groundwater overdrafts.  We implore you to work together to alleviate these extreme circumstances, rather than exacerbate them.

We are willing to help provide solutions, along with bringing interested parties together to help the communities where we live, work, and grow to stay alive. Only by fostering partnership among all levels of government and among interested parties can we resolve California’s short- and long-term water issues.

2021-11-23T14:00:33-08:00November 23rd, 2021|

UC Davis Student Danielle Rutkowski Wins Top Honors At ESA Meeting

Danielle Rutkowski, UC Davis doctoral student, is framed by the award she won at the Entomological Society of America meeting. (Photo by the Entomological Society of America,

UC Davis Doctoral Candidate Wins High Honors at ESA Meeting

Doctoral student Danielle Rutkowski of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology received the  President’s Prize in her category for her research presentation at the recent Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting in Denver.Rutkowski delivered her 10-minute presentation on “Fungicide Impacts on Bumble Bees are Mediated via Effects on Bee-Associated Fungi” in the category, Plant-Insect Ecosystems: Ecology 3.” She studies with community ecologist Rachel Vannette, associate professor, and is also advised by community ecologist and professor Rick Karban.

At the ESA’s annual meetings, students are offered the opportunity to present their research and win prizes. They can compete in 10-minute papers (oral), posters, or infographics. First-place winners receive a one-year free membership in ESA, a $75 cash prize, and a certificate. Second-winners score a one-year free membership in ESA and a certificate.

Rutkowski’s abstract:

“Native bees including bumble bees are important pollinators but face threats from multiple sources, including agrochemical application. Declining bumble bee populations have been linked to fungicide application, which could directly affect the fungi often found in the stored food and GI tract of healthy bumble bees. Here, we test the hypothesis that fungicides impact bee health by disrupting bumble bee -fungi interactions.

Using two species, Bombus vosnesenskii and B. impatiens, we test the interactive effect of the fungicide propiconazole and fungal supplementation on the survival, reproduction, and microbiome composition of microcolonies (queenless colonies). We found that both bee species benefitted from fungi, but were differentially affected by fungicides.

In B. vosnesenskii, fungicide exposure decreased survival while fungal supplementation mitigated fungicide effects. For B. impatiens, fungicide application had no effect, but fungal supplementation improved survival and offspring production. Fungicides altered fungal microbiome composition in both species, and reduced fungal abundance in B. vosnesenskii microcolonies, but not in B. impatiens, where instead fungal addition actually decreased fungal abundance.

Our results highlight species-specific differences in both response to fungicides and the nature of fungal associations with bees, and caution the use of results obtained using one species to predict the responses of other species. These results suggest that fungicides can alter bee- fungi interactions with consequences for bee survival and reproduction, and suggest that exploring the mechanisms of such interactions, including interactions within bee-associated fungal communities, may offer insights into bumble bee biology and bumble bee conservation strategies. (Paper co-authors are associate professor Rachel Vannette, Eliza Litsey and Isabelle Maalouf)

Rutkowski completed her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University, where she studied how the relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and their host plants impacts insect herbivores. She currently studies  “how bumble bees interact with the microbes, particularly fungi, in their environment, and how these relationships impact bee health.”

Two other UC Davis graduate students won second-place honors in their respective categories.

Maureen Page with the lab of pollinator ecologist Neal Williams, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology  and Nematology, scored second place for her presentation, “Optimizing Pollinator-friendly Plant Mixes to Simultaneously Support Wild and Managed Bees.” She competed in the category, Plant-Insect Ecosystems: Pollinators.

Kyle Lewald, with the College of Biological Sciences and the Integrated Genomics and Genetics Graduate Group, but a member of the lab of molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won second in his category, Systems, Evolution and Biodiversity: Genetics and Molecular Biology, with his speech on “Assembly of Highly Contiguous Diploid Genome for the Agricultural Pest, Tuta absoluta.” 

ESA, founded in 1889 and headquartered in Annapolis, Md., is the world’s largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and others in related disciplines. Its 7000 members are in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. 

2021-11-22T02:48:33-08:00November 22nd, 2021|

UC Educates Public on Cattle Production Cycles

New UC ANR Publication Educates Public on Cycles of Cattle Production, Grazing and Economics

By Mike Hsu, UCANR Senior Public Information Representative

 

The pandemic has brought more people into nearby parks and public lands for hiking, biking and other recreational activities. In areas like the East Bay Regional Parks – a San Francisco Bay Area park system totaling more than 120,000 acres where about 65% of the land is grazed by livestock – visitors might see goats, sheep and, most likely, cattle.

Those encounters with animals (or their manure) represent a prime opportunity for members of the public to learn about agriculture and the ecological benefits of rangelands, according to Larry Forero, a UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor.

“In addition to supporting the raising of meat and other by-products, rangelands provide a variety of ecosystem services, including vegetation and watershed management, fire fuel control, and, increasingly, management of habitat for rare and endangered species,” Forero explained, noting that working rangelands cover around 40% of California’s land area.

As livestock grazing (mostly by beef cattle) constitutes a significant portion of land use across the state, Forero – along with fellow UCCE advisors Sheila Barry and Stephanie Larson – recently authored a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources publication summarizing the mechanics of cattle production.

“Beef Cattle on California Annual Grasslands: Production Cycle and Economics,” published in October and available as a free download on the UC ANR Catalog, describes the seasonal phases of cattle production and the factors that impact ranchers’ financial calculations and management decisions.

“This concise publication walks through annual stock flows and calendar of operations and gives tables for estimating costs, return over cash, and gross income under various scenarios,” said Forero.

By covering care practices, infrastructure needs, grazing management and economics, Forero said the publication offers a succinct overview of beef cattle production and rangeland use for land managers, decision makers and the park interpreters (such as docents and guides) who educate visitors as well as the interested public.

“Even if only a relatively small percentage of park goers are interested, you still touch a lot of people with a document like this,” Forero explained.

He said he hopes park signage and QR codes will direct visitors to the publication for more information about the cattle and their seasonal movements.

“People often wonder where the cattle go when they leave the park and when they will return,” co-author Sheila Barry said. “The cattle may go to grass or feed yards in other places in California or even out of state.”

But, as this new UC ANR publication explains, the cattle production cycle turns over anew.

“There will be more cattle next fall, I promise,” Barry said.

2021-11-18T18:01:19-08:00November 18th, 2021|

Pistachios Crop Is Big for and Off Year

Pistachios Off-Year Crop Comes in Big this Season

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

  Pistachios are alternate bearing, meaning one year a heavy crop, the next year a lighter crop. But this year, an off-year came in very strong, according to Richard Matoian,  President of American Pistachio Growers. “It came as a surprise to everyone that this crop for 2021 is as large as it is. We certainly don’t have the final numbers in, but everyone is expecting it to end up somewhere between 1.15 to 1.2 billion pounds, which would be larger than the record crop we had in 2020, which was just over a billion pounds,” noted Matoian.

Matoian said they’ll have a better picture of this new crop in the next few weeks. And we asked Matoian what the theory is, what could cause this off-year crop to be such an on-year volume of crop? “So, what we saw in 2021 is that the individual nut size is smaller, and that has to do with the warm spring that we had and in some of the hot weather conditions, probably the lack of water in many of the growing areas as well. But despite the smaller-sized nuts, the trees produced at a pretty high level,” explained Matoian.

Matoian said he’s been talking to growers about it. “Growers in the on-year in 2020, didn’t have as large an on-year crop, and so that’s why we think that the trees just had enough capacity to produce at pretty high levels this year,” he noted. And of course, adding to the increased production was thousands a new acres of pistachio crop coming into production this year.

2021-11-17T06:25:27-08:00November 17th, 2021|

Ag Equipment Upgrades Funded $215 Million

Legislature Approves $215 million in Agricultural Equipment Upgrades

 

With only a few days left in the 2021 legislative session, the California State Legislature voted to approve a budget proposal that included over $215 million dollars dedicated to incentive programs. These programs focus on the replacement of Tier 0’s, 1’s and 2’s level equipment, and pay a percentage of the cost for a Tier 4 piece of equipment.

The popular FARMER Funding program will receive $170 million for this next year, with that chunk of money being split amongst all agricultural representative Air Districts. An additional funding allocation of $45 million was provided to the Carl Moyer Program. The Carl Moyer program is split amongst several funding programs that all target older, diesel-fired equipment. The FARMER Funding has been instrumental in helping the San Joaquin Valley replace a massive amount of older diesel equipment.

The San Joaquin Valley faces a mandatory rule to replace all Tier 0, 1 and 2 tractors and would require tractor fleets be reported to CARB similar to the Truck and Bus Regulation.

This proposed regulation is avoided if the agricultural industry is able to replace 12,000 tractors, or reduce emissions by a proposed 11 tons/day. CARB staff has recognized the extensive work that agriculture has been able to achieve, CARB has recommended supporting future incentive funding efforts to help achieve this goal. If you need any assistance in your incentive program application, please feel free to reach out to the Association for help.

2021-11-16T07:14:38-08:00November 16th, 2021|

Albert Keck is New Western Growers Chairman

From Western Growers

Albert Keck is Elected New Western Growers Chairman of the Board

Albert P. Keck II, President of Hadley Date Gardens, Inc., will serve as the Western Growers Chairman of the Board of Directors for a one-year term.

Keck, a third-generation Californian and farmer, is a lifelong native of the Coachella Valley. He is Chairman of the California Date Administrative Committee and the California Date Commission. He was elected to the Western Growers board in 2015, and previously served as Senior Vice Chairman.

“Our industry is grappling with issues and challenges more daunting than ever, and it seems the perfect time for a happy warrior to step into the role of Chairman of the Western Growers Board of Directors,” said Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia. “Albert Keck is indeed a happy warrior, always looking to get after the toughest industry issues with a limitless supply of creative energy and imagination. I look forward to working with him to press forward against, or around, the obstacles confronting our members.”

Outgoing Western Growers Chairman Ryan Talley passed the gavel to Keck during the Western Growers 2021 Annual Meeting in San Diego. “I have been fortunate beyond words to serve my first two years in this position alongside Ryan Talley, who led us as Chairman through a historic pandemic with calm confidence and wise counsel,” Puglia said. “As the only person to serve two years as WG’s Chairman, Ryan has given far more time and effort for the greater good than could be anticipated. We are enormously grateful to him and to his family.”

Keck sat down for a Q&A to explain what he sees as the biggest issues he will face under his Chairmanship.

Where does the agriculture industry stand amid this difficult pandemic transition period?

We’ve been in this surreal spin cycle for going on two years. It’s nice to think we’re coming out of this malaise that we’re in. That’s our hope, but we’ve had these false starts plenty this past year, right? I refuse to accept this new normal as the new reality – no, it’s not. It’s still surreal and dystopic. It’s not our new normal. It’s messed up, and we are desperately needing to get out of it. That being said, the challenges we face are no less than what they’ve always been.

And what do you see as the top challenges?

Labor and water are neverending. They’ve always been there. It’s bad because it seems like they are becoming white noise. It’s like, what’s new in the last 20 years? Labor and water are always going to be some of the most important issues that we’re grappling with. But coming out of this COVID time in our country, what we’re really starting to see is real threats to our supply and distribution channels. We’re starting to realize how vulnerable we all are in our industry and our individual businesses.

How can we translate this problem to a wider audience?

I think we have a good story to tell, and I think people are becoming much more aware of the essentials in their lives. I think we’re supplying them with an essential need in food, and I think there is a huge opportunity there that is going to elevate our message that we matter. We are a key part of everyone’s lives, and there are a lot of vulnerabilities in the supply chain that can affect everyone here in our country. There’s going to be some interesting things that come from that, and that may be a shifting of our awareness as a society and as a culture. I think Western Growers is in a good position to capitalize on that.

Besides Keck, the other newly-installed members of the 2022 Western Growers Executive Committee are: Western Growers CEO and President Dave Puglia; Senior Vice Chairman Stuart Woolf, President and CEO of Woolf Farming & Processing; Vice Chairman Rob Yraceburu, President of Wonderful Orchards; Treasurer Neill Callis, General Manager of Turlock Fruit Company; Executive Secretary Don Cameron, Vice President of Terranova Ranch; Talley, in his role as Past Chairman, and Ron Ratto, President of Ratto Bros. in his role as Past Past Chairman.

2021-11-12T08:57:07-08:00November 12th, 2021|

California Dairies Get Big Award!

California Receives $1.8 Million Dairy Business Innovation Initiative Award from U.S. Department of Agriculture for “Pacific Coast Coalition”

 The California State University, Fresno Foundation, in partnership with the California Dairy Innovation Center (CDIC), today announced the receipt of a $1.8 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service to create a “Pacific Coast Coalition” to support dairy businesses in California, Oregon and Washington in the development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products. Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives provide direct technical assistance, educational support, and grants to dairy businesses.

The Pacific Coast Coalition will be led by host California State University, Fresno and will implement programs in partnership with CDIC and collaboration with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, the University of California, Davis, Humboldt State University and Oregon State University. The CDIC, and its steering committee, will serve as an advisory board to the Coalition, bringing a comprehensive business perspective, and assisting with a sub-awards program which will make $300,000 in grant funding available to regional dairy businesses for innovation-related investments annually for three years.

Through this program, Fresno State and collaborating institutions will deliver hands-on technical assistance to dairy businesses, providing access to laboratory space and equipment to facilitate development and innovation. The Coalition has a strong focus on education as well and will offer learning opportunities on technical topics and related areas of interest such as supply chain innovation, distribution, packaging, marketing, and branding strategies.

Developing the regional workforce by offering online and bilingual programs will be key to offering opportunities for growth to the region’s diverse population while meeting the dairy industry’s needs. Recognizing the necessity of collaboratively addressing the significant issues facing the Pacific Coast region’s dairy industry, Fresno State will leverage its technical expertise and research capabilities in value-added dairy innovation with a remarkable set of academic and business partners.

John Talbot, CEO of the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) said, “This collaboration is why the CDIC was created, to support collaboration and attract investment in California’s dairy industry. We’re pleased to join the group of existing coalitions in Wisconsin, Vermont and Tennessee, in to advance our industry nationwide.”

California leads the nation in milk production and milk is the number one agricultural commodity in the state. California also is a leading exporter of dairy products. The Pacific Coast region is home to hundreds of dairy businesses that are well-positioned to serve the needs of growing markets in Asia and Latin America.

“The Pacific Coast Coalition will contribute to our competitive advantage in global markets and directly benefit our regional businesses. It will be instrumental to stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship, strengthening the development of our workforce pipeline, and ultimately leading to the increased use of our milk in value-added products,” added Talbot.

The USDA Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiative supports dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products. DBI Initiatives provide direct technical assistance and grants to dairy businesses, including niche dairy products, such as specialty cheese, or dairy products derived from the milk of a dairy animal, including cow, sheep, and goat milk.

2021-11-22T02:46:12-08:00November 11th, 2021|

PMA and United Fresh Join Forces for International Assoc.

 

PMA and  United Launch International Fresh Produce Association

 

PMA and United Fresh leaders provided a series of updates for the new association named International Fresh Produce Association. Co-CEOs of the new association Cathy Burns and Tom Stenzel were joined by executive committee members to share details, including the board of directors. Selecting and recruiting the board of directors was one of the first responsibilities of the newly announced executive committee.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to lead and collaborate with this board of directors,” said Bruce Taylor, chair of the new organization and CEO of Taylor Farms. “This group, in partnership with staff, will help set the strategic tone and direction as we deliver against the seven strategic priorities shared when the new organization was announced in March. I can’t wait to get started.”

Building on a combined history of strong volunteer leadership, the board of directors will work in partnership with an experienced staff at the new association to provide guidance and expertise for industry members across the produce and floral supply chains.

“In assembling this board of directors, we sought to strike a balance of those individuals who had strong prior experience from serving on United and PMA volunteer groups as well as emerging leaders who will bring new perspectives and insights to drive the new organization forward and create solutions to address industry challenges,” said Danny Dumas, UFPA chair and president of Courchesne Larose USA Inc.

When the new association was announced, PMA and United Fresh also shared the strategic commitments that will be the core priorities of the new association launching in January 2022.  Developed by board leaders from both associations, these priorities include a commitment to all sectors of the fresh produce and floral supply chains; a commitment to growing demand and profitability; and a commitment to global engagement.  These priorities also were key to driving the selection and organization of the new board.

“Because the new organization will reflect global fresh produce and floral communities, the new board is organized to represent the many businesses we’ll serve in coming years as we work together to help our members prosper,” said Dwight Ferguson, PMA chair and president and CEO of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation.

2021-11-10T08:53:30-08:00November 10th, 2021|

Farm Credit: Water for Food is Critical

Cultivate California Educates Residents About Farms’ Need For Water

Exceptional drought conditions mean Farm Credit’s support is crucial, as reminding people about link between water and their food is more important than ever

California is in the middle of one of its worst droughts on record. The federal government reports that showed that nearly half of the state – including the entire Central Valley – is in an exceptional drought as of mid-October. Overall, 2021 has been the ninth driest year in California since accurate records began being kept 127 years ago. Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, is at 23% of capacity and Lake Oroville, the second-largest reservoir, is at 22% of capacity.

No one knows how long these dry conditions will last, but the most recent drought lasted for 376 weeks, from December 2011 to March 2019. And the National Weather Service currently forecasts that drought conditions are likely to continue in California as a weak La Niña effect will likely see storms diverted to the Pacific Northwest this winter. And all of that is bad news for California agriculture.

Which is why Cultivate California’s program aimed at educating Californians about the connection between consumers, the food they love and the water needed to grow it is so important as its messaging reaches 16 million people a year.

Mike Wade, the program’s executive director, said getting out early this year with messaging about water was essential to counter messaging from other groups.

“Californians continue to get inundated with negative messages about farming,” Wade said. “The Cultivate California program was designed to help bolster the natural support people have for agriculture and farms and to continue providing them with facts and information about the connection between their food and the water supply.”

The need to counter misinformation about farmers’ use of water is why Farm Credit has been one of the program’s largest donors since 2018, said Curt Hudnutt, president and CEO of American AgCredit.

American AgCredit, along with CoBank, Colusa-Glenn Farm Credit, Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit, Golden State Farm Credit and Yosemite Farm Credit, collectively contribute $100,000 a year to help Cultivate California inform Californians. The organizations are part of the nationwide Farm Credit System – the largest provider of credit to U.S. agriculture.

“This year, many California farms had just 5% of their water supply this year to grow our food,” Hudnutt said. “Cultivate California is one of the most successful groups we have to educate people about the impacts the drought has on our food supply, and the need to improve our water storage to protect all of us in future droughts, and we are proud to help support them in their efforts.”

Wade said one important message this year is that farmers and irrigation districts need to have flexibility to transfer water supplies to areas in greater need without burdensome red tape. And he said improving the state’s water supply system is crucial.

“We need to look long-term, which we should have done after the last drought,” he said. “Eighteen trillion gallons of water fell in February 2019 when the last drought ended, but we didn’t have the facilities to capture it and recharge our groundwater so we would have more supply available now. Hopefully our leaders will act so next time a drought occurs we will be better prepared.”

Rob Faris, President and CEO, Golden State Farm Credit, said it’s essential that more Californians are exposed to one of Cultivate California’s key messages – that the state’s farmers are producing more food but using much less water.

“The value of the state’s farm production increased by 38% between 1980 and 2015 while our farmers used 14% less water,” Faris said. “Farmers continually invest in irrigation technology, such as new drip and micro-irrigation systems, soil moisture monitoring, remote sensing, and computerized irrigation controls. Today, nearly half of our 8.4 million acres of irrigated farmland use drip, micro or subsurface irrigation, and more savings are on the way. Farm Credit is committed to help our members finance these improvements.”

Wade said Farm Credit’s support has been invaluable.

“The support we get from Farm Credit is amazing and critically important,” he said. “It has helped attract other supporters as well, and the support and leadership we get from Farm Credit has been instrumental in helping this program succeed.”

2021-11-09T17:50:30-08:00November 9th, 2021|
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