California Farm Bureau Reacts to Initial 5% Water Allocation

By Peter Hecht, California Farm Bureau

The California Department of Water Resources on Thursday announced an initial allocation of just 5% of requested 2023 water supplies from the State Water Project. This comes after this year and 2021 both yielded final water allocations of 5%.

“Here we go again,” said California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson. “This means that 23 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland are facing another year of uncertainty and economic hardships. California has failed to act on critical projects to provide additional water storage, stormwater capture and groundwater recharge that are needed to protect our farms and cities from water shortages in dry years.

“California’s dismal leadership in safeguarding our water resources harms our food production as consumers face rising prices at the grocery store. It also undercuts healthy crop production, which helps reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. California must have a more coherent water plan. Our drought strategy cannot solely be a policy of managing scarcity.”

2022-12-02T15:54:36-08:00December 2nd, 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|

Farm Bureau President Responds to Signing of AB 2183

By Peter Hecht, CAFB

California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson today responded to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 2183.

“The California Farm Bureau is deeply disappointed in Gov. Newsom’s decision to sign the misguided union organizing legislation, Assembly Bill 2183. Farm Bureau stands with California’s agricultural employees and will continue to defend their right to make uncoerced choices about union representation. However, the governor’s unfortunate decision to sign this bill will create a mail-in balloting system that threatens the integrity of secret ballot elections and leaves farm employees vulnerable to intimidation by union organizers with an obvious interest in the outcome. It also forces California’s farmers and ranchers to choose to give up free speech and private property rights in a dubious trade to allow their employees a real voice in a union election.”

2022-09-30T08:41:28-07:00September 30th, 2022|

California Farm Bureau Sues Water Board on Proposed Water Grab

Farm Bureau Sues to Block Flows Plan for Lower San Joaquin River

By David Kranz, Manager, Communications, California Farm Bureau Federation

A plan for lower San Joaquin River flows misrepresents and underestimates the harm it would cause to agricultural resources in the Central Valley, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation, which filed suit recently to block the plan.

Adopted last December by the State Water Resources Control Board, the plan would redirect 30 to 50 percent of “unimpaired flows” in three San Joaquin River tributaries—the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers—in the name of increasing fish populations in the rivers. The flows plan would sharply reduce the amount of water available to irrigate crops in regions served by the rivers.

In its lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, the Farm Bureau said the flows plan would have “far-reaching environmental impacts to the agricultural landscape in the Central Valley,” and that those impacts had been “insufficiently analyzed, insufficiently avoided, and insufficiently mitigated” in the board’s final plan.Tuolumne River-Modesto Irrigation District

“The water board brushed off warnings about the significant damage its plan would cause to agricultural resources in the Central Valley, labeling it ‘unavoidable,’” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “But that damage can be avoided, by following a different approach that would be better for fish and people alike.”

The Farm Bureau lawsuit says the water board failed to consider reasonable alternatives to its flows-dominated approach, including non-flow measures such as predator control, food supply and habitat projects for protected fish, and said it ignored “overwhelming evidence” that ocean conditions, predation and lack of habitat—rather than river flows—have been chief contributors to reducing fish populations.

The water board’s analysis of impacts on agricultural resources “is inadequate in several respects,” the Farm Bureau said. The lawsuit says the board plan fails to appropriately analyze its impact on surface water supplies and, in turn, how cutting surface water would affect attempts to improve groundwater under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—all of which would cause direct, indirect, and cumulative effects on agricultural resources.

“California farmland is a significant environmental resource, providing food, farm products and jobs for people throughout the state, nation and world,” Johansson said. “Before cutting water to thousands of acres of farmland for dubious benefit, the state must do more to analyze alternatives that would avoid this environmental harm.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.

2019-02-08T17:06:50-08:00February 8th, 2019|

California Farm Bureau Federation Honors Paul Wenger

Former CFBF President Paul Wenger Gets Distinguished Service Award

News Release From California Farm Bureau Federation

Citing his passion for agriculture, his tenacity, and his decades of service to Farm Bureau, the California Farm Bureau Federation presented its Distinguished Service Award to former CFBF President Paul Wenger. Wenger accepted the award during the organization’s 100th Annual Meeting last night in San Diego.

A third-generation farmer who grows almonds and walnuts on a family farm in Modesto, Wenger served as CFBF president from 2009 to 2017, ending his term after serving the maximum eight years in office. He has been a Stanislaus County Farm Bureau member since 1980, serving as county farm bureau president before being elected to the CFBF board and then as a statewide officer beginning in 1997, when he was elected the organization’s second vice president. Wenger also served on the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

Current CFBF President Jamie Johansson described his predecessor as “tireless” in his work on behalf of the farm bureau and California agriculture.

“In his speech to our Annual Meeting last year, Paul reminded us that those who work the hardest, the longest, and invest the most are probably going to be successful. Although he was referring to Farm Bureau, the words certainly apply to Paul himself. He has remained actively involved in Farm Bureau and agriculture, and we look forward to his continued contributions,” Johansson said.

In nominating Wenger for the award, the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau pointed to his “lifetime in leadership roles in agriculture,” starting as a state Future Farmers of America officer in 1973, and cited “his passion for the industry and his tenacity to resolve problems and get things done.”

The Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau volunteers from California. In addition to the award to Wenger, CFBF presented the Distinguished Service Award to longtime Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau leader James Marler.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.

2018-12-06T16:04:58-08:00December 6th, 2018|

President’s Order Restores Western Water Supplies

Farm Bureau, CA Farm Water Coalition, Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers Support Order

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

Last week, President Trump provided welcome relief to Western farmers, cities, rural communities and wildlife refuges that have struggled under water supply rules that are long overdue for an update. Prioritizing national interest and the value of California food production, the president’s order requires the re-consultation of the biological opinions to be completed and fully implemented by August 2019.

The deadline will bring to a close the review of rules governing the long-term operation of the federal Central Valley Project and California State Water Project. The review has been underway since August 2016, a process the order requires to be concluded by Aug. 31, 2019.

The president’s action fulfills his campaign commitment to help solve the state’s water supply shortages and will greatly benefit Central Valley communities and the environment. Since 1992, water supply restrictions have caused severe economic consequences for farms and the people who depend on them for work. Many of the state’s most disadvantaged communities have suffered due to scarce water supplies.temperance flat dam

Wildlife refuges that are a critical component of the Pacific Flyway have had insufficient water to meet the needs of millions of ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds and endangered animals in large parts of the Central Valley and the Klamath Basin. An ongoing review of the rules governing these critical water supplies only delays the ability of these important areas to recover.

This action will also help address water shortages that have occurred across the West as the result of federal regulations overseen by multiple agencies. It offers hope to farmers and ranchers served by federal water projects in the Pacific Northwest, including the Columbia Basin and the Klamath Basin. The president’s order places the responsibility of operating the federal water projects with the Department of the Interior, to be supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The action prohibits any impacts to threatened or endangered species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

This issue has been scrutinized by the Executive Branch as far back as 2011. At that time, President Obama observed that the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in freshwater, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. Those overlapping jurisdictions have only slowed efforts to help the fish.

A committee convened by the National Research Council also studied this matter a few years ago. The NRC found that the lack of a systematic, well-framed overall analysis between the two services is “a serious scientific deficiency, and it likely is related to the ESA’s practical limitations as to the scope of actions that can or must be considered in a single biological opinion.”

Improved coordination between federal agencies will promote more efficient, effective and coordinated management of all ESA responsibilities for anadromous and freshwater fish in Western watersheds, from the highest reaches of our headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.

“This action is an important and common-sense move that will benefit Western farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods depend on federal water projects,” said Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance. “It’s a practical and assertive change to Western water management and species recovery that our membership strongly supports.”

California’s GOP congressional delegation from the Central Valley played an important role in identifying the problems in the state’s water system and worked closely with the Trump administration to produce a solution that is consistent with federal law and will improve the water delivery system.

“There’s no question that the Central Valley has lagged behind the economic recovery experienced in other parts of the state. We’re optimistic that these changes will not only help improve water supplies for farms, farm-related businesses, and disadvantaged rural communities, they will provide the incentive to put science-based solutions to work to help recover iconic native fish species that have suffered under the existing regulatory approach,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

“This is a common-sense improvement to a process that has been abused in the past by regulatory agencies seeking to impose a scientifically-unsound regime on water users that ultimately, by design, de-irrigates some of the highest quality farmland in the world. This move by the Administration simply ensures that the process of revising the rules governing Delta water operations will be less vulnerable to regulatory abuse,” said Tom Nassif, president of the Western Growers Association.

“Implementation of the Endangered Species Act can be better for both species and people, and the president’s action moves us in that direction,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said. “It’s time to grow beyond the culture of conflict that has governed California water for too long. We need streamlined solutions that benefit species and that benefit both the farmers who provide California-grown food and farm products and everyone who depends on those products.”

2021-05-12T11:05:09-07:00October 26th, 2018|

Agriculture Grads in High Demand

Many Grads are Interested in Day-to-Day Farming

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

There is a big demand for college graduates with agricultural degrees, especially in plant and crop sciences. California Ag Today spoke with Shannon Douglass, first vice president of the California Farm Bureau Federation and a recruiter for CalAJobs, about the need for agriculture grads.

CalAgJobs

Shannon Douglass, First VP of California Farm Bureau Federation and recruiter for CalAgJobs

“I often encourage people to minor in crop science,” Douglas said.

If you are a business major, having some background in crop science is beneficial. As a farm manager, understanding the crops are going to be vital.

“I encouraged animal science majors to think about getting a minor in crop science to understand what we are feeding those animals that they are studying, because that is a huge piece of California agriculture,” Douglass said.

Everything from agronomy and soil science to irrigation and pest control management are vital. Many college graduates are interested in being involved in the day-to-day farming operation.

“I talked to a class at Chico State a couple of weeks ago, and there are a lot of young people that they really want to be in the farming,” Douglass said.

Many students do not want to be in sales, but a large majority would like to be the farmers themselves.

“I really encourage them that you can absolutely be a day-to-day farmer and not necessarily a farm owner,” she said.

Douglass is also a recruiter for CalAgJobs.

“It is a private company, and we work with internships as a grant-funded project. In fact, it is completely free for both the employer and the student to use,” she explained.

These internships are a tool in helping to get those that are in college to look at these ag careers, particularly in specialty crops and crop science overall. Internships can be a wonderful gateway into long-term careers.

“The second part of our website is a classified type job-posting service,” she said.

CalAgJobs uses social media and targeting along with a weekly email.

“Another part of our business is the recruitment services that we offer. We work with employers who need more help on some of these really tough to fill jobs,” Douglass said.

CalAgJobs does their best to help fill those employment opportunities to help others run their farms.

For more information on internships or job postings, visit CalAgJobs.com.

2018-06-27T16:27:37-07:00June 27th, 2018|

California Agriculture’s Future in the Hands of New Tariffs

There Is Worry that Some Companies May Lose Ground on Exports to China

By Mikenzie Meyers, Associate Editor

California growers are on edge due to newly imposed tariffs that could cause the state’s agriculture to suffer. After China recently retaliated against the United States’s steel and aluminum tariff by pushing its own on U.S. imports, they have good reason to be worried. California Ag Today recently spoke to Shannon Douglass, first vice president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, who is heavily involved in this conversation.tariffs

“No matter what you’re growing, so much of our products are exported, and so it’s a really vital concern to many of our farmers,” Douglass said.

She explained that it isn’t just a concern for those involved with fresh produce—which might be the first affected—but also any farmer who depends on sales to foreign markets.

One of the biggest concerns is losing the progress made in growing the foreign market, but Douglass seemed hopeful as CFBF has continued working with those driving legislation,

“We certainly don’t want to lose that ground that we worked so hard to develop,” she said.

Agriculture has always been a winner in the trade arena, and although the climate of foreign markets may be uneasy, Douglass and the California Farm Bureau Federation are continuing the conversation to make progress toward a hopeful future for all farmers.

2018-06-26T14:41:07-07:00June 26th, 2018|

Chinese Customers Hurt with Increased Tariff

Not Just California Farmers Hurt with Added Trade Tariff

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The extra tariff that China is putting on California agricultural products is an added frustration for the customers in China, said Jamie Johansson, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

“It’s not just the extra 15 percent being levied by that country. But for our nut crops and wine guys, we already have 15 or 20 percent tariffs,” Johansson explained. “This is nothing new to us in California. California agricultural products excel in the Pacific Rim. We know we can compete with anyone in a global market. We know that no one’s better than the California farmer in terms of serving the Pacific Rim nations, and no one can get their product to the market faster in those Asian countries than California.”

Jamie Johansson, CFBF

Customers are affected the most when tariffs are implemented.

“I say when we have these trade talks and trade negotiations—and even now China [is] threatening the trade tariffs or has current tariffs on California products—it isn’t just the farmers that suffer,” Johansson said.

“We need to remind China that it is their consumers who are demanding our quality milk, our cheeses, our wine, pistachios, and almonds as well. Their consumers will suffer just like the California farmer. And we need to remind them of that because we only sell to the countries with consumers who demand it, and that’s who decides what we grow and where we ship to,” Johansson said.

2018-05-15T15:30:20-07:00May 15th, 2018|

Agricultural Guestworker Act Won’t Help California

Proposed Legislation Long Way from What State Needs

By Joanne Lui, Associate Editor

Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Agricultural Guestworker Act is moving forward for the full Ag Committee to consider it, but according to Paul Wenger, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation, it’s a long way from what California needs.

“They did something with the H2C proposal. It’s a long, long, long ways from what we need here in California. We’ve been very clear on that … with Kevin McCarthy’s office, being the leader of the Republicans and really our key architect for all things that go through the Legislature, and so we’re in constant contact with Congressman McCarthy,” Wenger said.

The ag leaders in California are pretty astounded that Congress is doing anything about labor.

“We’re glad we finally got something to discuss, but there’s a long ways to go,” Wenger explained. “As it’s written, as it came through the subcommittee, there’s really nothing there that would work for our employees here in California and give us the kind of flexibility that we need, but we need a vehicle to start the discussion. … Talking to Congressman [David] Valadao’s office, Jeff Denham and others on the Republican side because it’s really got to be led by the Republicans.”

“We  now need a lot more that will allow for some portability of our workforce, in order to get legal documentation for those folks that don’t have good documentation that are already here in our state working without touchback, because we know folks aren’t going to go back and stand in line for 20 years waiting for some kind of a work authorization.”

 

2017-11-07T21:47:30-08:00November 7th, 2017|
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