Rep. Harder Funds Almond Biocarbon Program

Almond Alliance Commends Rep. Harder for FARM Act funding for Pilot Programs to Produce Biocarbon

The Almond Alliance of California today commended Rep. Josh Harder (C-10) for including funding to support ten nationwide pilot programs to convert tree nut by-products into biocarbon products in the Future of Agricultural Resiliency and Modernization (FARM) Act.

Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino explained that in California the funding will help accelerate efforts to develop new biofuels or other biocarbon products derived from almond harvest by-products.  For example, in a process called “pyrolysis” almond harvest by-products can produce biochar, a soil amendment with excellent carbon sequestration potential and syngas and bio-oils, which can be used directly to fire furnaces or more importantly as inputs to produce motor vehicle biofuels and other biochemicals.

Trevino commented, “California’s almond growers are proud to be innovators who remain focused on sustainability and are constantly looking to put everything we grow to its highest and best use.  We expect that biofuels produced using California Grown almond by-products will become a major contributor towards meeting California’s carbon neutral goals.  We appreciate Congressman Harder’s ongoing support of almond growers and especially his inclusion of funding for pilot projects in the FARM Act that will catalyze development of climate-friendly biocarbon and biofuel products.”

2021-07-29T11:09:24-07:00July 29th, 2021|

Big Increase in State Budget for UCANR

Governor Signs ‘Transformational’ Budget for UC ANR Research and Outreach


By Pam Kan Rice, UCANR Assistant Director, New and Information Outreach

The state budget signed by Governor Newsom Monday night [July 12] includes a historic increase for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. The state restored UC ANR’s budget to pre-COVID levels of FY 2019-20 and provided a 5% increase plus an additional $32 million in ongoing funding, bringing total state support to $107.9 million for the division, which contains the county-based UC Cooperative Extension, Integrated Pest Management, and 4-H Youth Development programs.

“This budget increase is transformational and will allow us to rebuild UC Cooperative Extension’s boots-on-the-ground to help Californians cope with wildfire, drought, and climate adaptation,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

Over the past 20 years, state funding for UC ANR decreased by almost 50% (adjusted for inflation), resulting in a significant reduction of UC ANR’s Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists – from 427 positions in 2001 down to only 269 in 2021 – creating vacancies in many critical positions.

“We appreciate UC ANR stakeholders for sounding the alarm,” Humiston said. “And we are immensely grateful to Senator John Laird, chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Education, for recognizing this critical need and for his leadership and dedication to restoring UC ANR’s budget to bring back Cooperative Extension throughout California.”

With this new funding, UC ANR will begin recruiting for 20 UC Cooperative Extension academic positions and prioritizing many more critical positions for hiring during the next several months.

“As in the past, we will be talking to our community partners and other stakeholders to identify the most pressing needs to prioritize the next round of hiring,” Humiston said. “We must identify positions to address California’s emerging and future needs. While this state budget increase will allow UC ANR to hire more people, we will continue seeking funding from additional sources to expand access to our diverse resources for all Californians.”

To learn more about how UC ANR enhances economic prosperity protects natural resources, develops an inclusive and equitable society, safeguards food, develops the workforce, builds climate resilience, and promotes the health of people and communities in California, see the stories in its 2020 annual report at

2021-07-27T11:22:09-07:00July 27th, 2021|

Valadao: Introduces Amendment to Help with Drought

Congressman David G. Valadao Introduces Three Amendments to Alleviate California Drought


Congressman David G. Valadao introduced recently three amendments to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which funds various federal agencies. Each of which would make strides toward alleviating the devastating California drought. The House Committee on Appropriations is responsible for appropriating funding for most of the functions of the federal government.

Congressman Valadao’s first amendment would extend California water storage provisions of the WIIN Act — Subtitle J — for one year. Certain provisions of the WIIN Act are set to expire soon, or have already expired, creating an urgent need for specific extensions. The amendment would also extend the authorization of appropriations for water storage projects that the Secretary of the Interior finds feasible. This language complements the RENEW WIIN Act and NEED Water Act that the congressman introduced earlier this year.

california drought

The WIIN Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2016, directed the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to develop a new operations plan of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project, which was completed in February 2020. The resulting biological opinions (BiOps) provide flexibility and guidance to make use of California’s water to the fullest extent and avoid waste of this precious resource. The second amendment would codify the BiOps. These BiOps were independently peer-reviewed and informed by the most accurate, best available science. The corresponding operations plans for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project employs this science and data to ensure greater water reliability and availability for communities and farms across California, while continuing to protect at-risk species.


Congressman Valadao’s third amendment would provide funding to restore the conveyance capacity of canal infrastructure facilities to move flood flows to groundwater recharge areas in order to help farmers comply with new state laws related to groundwater pumping. Major San Joaquin Valley canals would benefit from this program.


House Appropriations Committee Democrats voted down all three amendments.


“When I meet with my constituents, the same issue arises: the desperate need for water. Today I introduced three amendments to address California’s crumbling water infrastructure, storage issues, and lack of operational flexibility for communities and farmers. Farmers across the Central Valley are being forced to tear up their crops to conserve water—crops that would have fed families across the United States and across the world. Communities in my district’s wells are drying up, if they aren’t already dry,” said Congressman Valadao. “Once again, my colleagues across the aisle refuse to acknowledge the fact that we have a crisis on our hands. I am incredibly disappointed that the Majority rejected my amendments — real people need our help, and it’s clear the Democrats are unwilling to provide it. I will not stop fighting to bring a solution to the Central Valley.”


2021-07-23T14:24:45-07:00July 23rd, 2021|

Study: New Fumigation Stategy

New Fumigation Techniques for Soilborne Diseases

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

Protecting fruit from soilborne pathogens is a big concern for strawberry growers. Researchers at the University of California Ag and Natural Resources are looking to see if a drip application of fungicides might be effective, noted UC Cooperative Extension advisor in entomology and biologicals, Surendra Dara.

“This particular study was based on a request from FMC. They wanted to evaluate if drip application of some fungicides could be supplemental to whatever the growers are currently following to control soilborne diseases. And they also wanted to see if it has any impact on improving the crop health, and potentially other diseases,” said Dara.

Dara noted the results from the first trial were positive, but he didn’t see enough incidence of soilborne disease in the control group to be sure. He’s optimistic though, given drip application of fungicides has been effective on other plant pathogens.

“They do apply fungicides to drip, but not necessarily for soilborne diseases. The management practices are usually obtaining clean transplants and fumigating or crop rotation. These are the typical management recommendations for soil-borne diseases,” explained Dara.

Dara hopes to continue to study the potential for this management practice.

2021-07-23T21:22:40-07:00July 22nd, 2021|

Big Grant for Dairy’s Net Zero Initiative

Dairy’s Net Zero Initiative Gets Boost with $10 million Research Grant

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research has awarded a $10 million grant to support U.S. dairy’s Net Zero Initiative as a critical on-farm pathway to advance the industrywide 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals set through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

In California, UC Davis and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists will collaborate on the nationwide project addressing carbon sequestration, soil health and nitrogen management.

“The Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research grant in partnership with Soil Health Institute and Dairy Research Institute are funding research that will positively impact the future of animal and plant agriculture in a world with increasingly limited natural resources,” said Deanne Meyer, UC Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Davis, who studies livestock waste management.

Working with California dairy forage and almond producers, UC Cooperative Extension scientists and technicians will evaluate and demonstrate the impacts of using manure products as fertilizer in combination with more traditional soil conservation practices.

“With this research, there’s a potential to expand the use of dairy manure products beyond forage crops to crops such as almonds,” said Nick Clark, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Fresno and Tulare counties. “We expect results to demonstrate that groundwater quality and quantity can be protected and preserved, and crop yields can be maintained without increasing net greenhouse gas emissions from crop production.”

Clark added, “We look forward to working with our local producers and connecting with our national partners and collaborators to examine and demonstrate the best practical solutions that science has to offer for farming in tomorrow’s world.”

California dairy operators who would like to participate in the experiment may contact Clark for more information at

Data from the “Dairy Soil & Water Regeneration: Building soil health to reduce greenhouse gases, improve water quality and enable new economic benefits” project will be broadly shared among the dairy community. The six-year project will provide measurement-based assessments of dairy’s greenhouse gas footprint for feed production. It will also set the stage for new market opportunities related to carbon, water quality and soil health.

“Addressing the U.S. dairy industry’s emissions is a critical solution to climate change,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “I know dairy farmers are working hard to decrease their environmental footprint and I’m thrilled to support their efforts by advancing research needed to adopt climate-smart practices on dairy farms across the country.”

Through foundational science, on-farm pilots and development of new product markets, the Net Zero Initiative aims to knock down barriers and create incentives for farmers that will lead to economic viability and positive environmental impact.

“After six years, we will have data that accurately reflect our farms’ greenhouse gas footprint for dairy crop rotations with consideration for soil health management practices and new manure-based products,” said Jim Wallace, Dairy Management Inc. senior vice president of environmental research. “We expect to develop critical insights that link soil health outcomes, such as carbon sequestration, with practice and technology adoption. This will provide important background information to support the development of new carbon and water quality markets.”

The project will be executed across four dairy regions responsible for about 80% of U.S. milk production: Northeast, Lakes, Mountain and Pacific. In addition to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis, collaborators include the Soil Health Institute and leading dairy research institutions, including Cornell University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, University of Vermont, and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research in Idaho.

Dozens of dairies representing climates and soils of these major production regions will participate in a baseline survey of soil health and carbon storage. Additionally, eight farms, including five operating dairies, two university research dairies and one USDA ARS research farm, will participate in the project. These pilots will be used to engage farmers in soil health management practices and monitor changes in greenhouse gas emissions, soil carbon storage, soil health and water quality.

The FFAR grant will be matched by financial contributions from Net Zero Initiative partners such as Nestlé, the dairy industry, including Newtrient, and in-kind support for a total of $23.2 million. The funds will be managed by the Dairy Research Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity founded and staffed by Dairy Management Inc., whose scientists will serve as the project leads to address research gaps in feed production and manure-based fertilizers.

About the partners

FFAR builds public-private partnerships to support bold science that fills critical research gaps. Working with partners across the private and public sectors, FFAR identifies urgent challenges facing the food and agriculture industry and funds research to develop solutions.

NZI is an industrywide effort led by six national dairy organizations: Dairy Management Inc., Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, International Dairy Foods Association, Newtrient, National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council. This collaboration represents a critical pathway on U.S. dairy’s sustainability journey.

For more information about dairy sustainability, visit

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


2021-07-22T16:09:39-07:00July 22nd, 2021|

Center for Land-Based Learning Gets Big Grant

Center for Land-based Learning Awarded $25,000 Bank of America Grant

Grant will support General Operating Funds for the Growing Non-profit


Bank of America has awarded $25,000 to the Center for Land-Based Learning, based in Woodland, to support General Operating Funds for the growing non-profit.

Bank of America has long been a supporter of the Center’s work, with previous grants funding its Green Corps program and a multi-year Neighborhood Builder project. The current funding undergirds the Center’s mission to inspire, educate, and cultivate future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders, and natural resource stewards, through educational programming, job creation, and workforce development efforts.

Lori A. Rianda, Senior Vice President and Local Market Executive for Bank of America Greater Sacramento, remarked of the partnership, “The work that Center for Land-Based Learning does in our community around workforce development within the ag industry and environmental stewardship is truly impactful. We are pleased to partner with CLBL, a true model for what an effective, sustainable community-based organization should be.”

This grant, in providing General Operating Support to the Center, would directly support Workforce Development, specifically through the FARMS Program and California Farm Academy. The Center directly engages in job creation through the internship portion of the FARMS Program, aimed at helping youth ages 16 through 24 to enter the fields of agriculture and natural resource stewardship. The Center also partners with local partners to create and manage paid internships for youth interested in entering these fields professionally.

Mary Kimball, CEO of the Center for Land-Based Learning, expressed her appreciation for the support: “We are thrilled to be funded by the Bank of America Foundation again through this grant. We value our long-term partnership and the investment that the foundation makes in the economic and social well-being of our region through its philanthropic giving.”

2021-07-21T16:59:44-07:00July 21st, 2021|

Converting Food Waste Into Energy

Food Power per Hour

Food Waste Now Generating Power in Many US Cities


Considering that 795 million people around the world go hungry on any given day, it is shocking that many of us throw away food on a daily basis. In fact, one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste each year, amounting to 1.3 billion tons of wasted food with a value exceeding $1 trillion. According to a recently published report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global hunger could be alleviated if just 25 percent of the food wasted each year was saved instead.


While food loss along the production line is a large contributor to waste in developing countries, in developed countries, food wastage tends to occur after it reaches the supermarket. This wastage is driven by affluent consumers who stock up their refrigerators with far more food than they can possibly eat before the recommended “best-by” dates. As a result, a large portion of uneaten food is discarded and simply replaced with even more food (which may later go uneaten).

The amount of food wasted varies from city to city, and with only nine of the top 25 most populated cities mandating food waste legislation, there is a lot of room for improvement. The good news: We do have cities leading the effort to reduce food waste across the country.

California has recently introduced a Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling law that requires all businesses to recycle their organic waste. CalRecycle has online resources that help consumers manage food waste, and it has been conducting workshops in support of a newly proposed Food Waste Prevention Grant Program.

As part of its Zero Waste Initiative, the City of Austin, Texas, recently voted unanimously for a city ordinance that requires all large restaurants (over 5,000 square feet) to separate compostable waste from other waste material.The Home Composting Rebate Program offers consumers a $75 rebate on a home composting system after attending a free composting class.

Businesses in New York City have also heeded the call of a Zero Waste Challenge. Restaurants composted organic waste, trained chefs to improve meal planning, reduced the amount of food produced after peak periods, and donated surplus food to an NGO that provides meals to the city’s homeless shelters. The 31 businesses that participated in the challenge collectively diverted 37,000 tons of waste by increasing recycling efforts, composting over 24,500 tons of organic material, and donating 322 tons of food. Additionally, in July 2016 the city mandated Business Organic Waste program, where qualified business are required to separate their organic waste for composting.

Every year the average person in North America may waste around 231 pounds of food, which if converted to energy, could power a 100 watt light bulb for two weeks. If you extrapolate that for the entire U.S. population, it represents a lot of energy that could be saved right there.

A country with a population of 319 million could waste as much as 74 billion pounds of food a year, which if saved could result in tremendous energy savings that could be put to much better use. But to reduce food waste, these savings need to be implemented from the bottom up rather than the top down, starting in individual homes and businesses in towns, cities, and states across the country. If each and every household and business made a concerted effort to reduce food waste, the collective savings regarding energy would be huge.


For more information visit




2021-07-20T11:00:30-07:00July 15th, 2021|

Chef Finalists Announced for CADairy2Go!

Real California Milk Foodservice Announces Chef Finalist For CADairy2Go

Finalists compete for over $22,000 in prizes for innovative use of California dairy

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today announced chef finalists in the inaugural CADairy2Go foodservice competition – a spotlight on “to-go” meal innovation. The competition, which will award prize money totaling $22,500 for creative use of California cheese and dairy in off premise dishes, will culminate with a live cook off event July 28th at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, Calif.

Inspired by chefs and foodservice operators who made quick, creative pivots to adjust menus for the takeout and delivery model during the pandemic, the Real California Milk Foodservice Team invited 12 culinary professionals to compete in the CADairy2Go preliminary round. This list was winnowed to six finalist chefs and their creations to compete in a live cook-off event July 28th at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia location in Napa, Calif.

During the live event, emceed by “Check, Please! Bay Area” host, Leslie Sbrocco, dishes will be evaluated by a panel of three leading culinary professionals: Barbara Alexander, Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Educator from the American Culinary Association; Neil Doherty, Corporate Executive Chef – Sr. Director of Culinary Development at Sysco; and Duskie Estes, Culinary Personality, Chef and Co-owner of Black Pig Meat Co. and MacBryde Farm.

The 2021 CADairy2Go finalists are:

In the “Cheese+Mac” category, Carrie Baird of Rose’s Classic Americana in Boulder, Colo., preparing Skipjack & Cheesy Mac, a dish inspired by what she cooks for herself with a variety of tastes and textures including four California cheeses, skipjack tuna, charred broccoli, peas and corn along with togarashi, sriracha and furikake seasoning. She will compete against Alex Sadowsky of Twin Peaks in Dallas, Texas, who will showcase California Cacio e Pepe Cheese and Mac, a twist on the classic “cheese and pepper” dish using triple cream California brie and a California manchego.

Under “Cal-Mex”, Gina Galvan of Mood for Food Consulting in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. brings inspiration from family travels to Ensenada to her Surf & Turf Torta entry made with California panela cheese and lobster grilled in adobo butter, skirt steak, chorizo and California cotija cheese fries. Her competitor, Mary Grace Viado of Village Tavern in Birmingham, Ala., will showcase Mexi-Cali Shrimp Scampi, featuring cubes of blackened California panela and served with homemade arepas.

In the “Innovate to Go” category, Marti Lieberman of Mac Mart in Philadelphia, Pa. will be presenting her Rangoon-inspired entry, Mac’n Snax, which brings portability to her five-cheese, ranch mac and cheese made ready for easy snacking or entertaining. She will face off against Brian Mullins of Ms. Cheezious® in Miami, Fla. who marries grilled cheese with fresh California mozzarella, cheesy pesto and a California Dry Jack cheese frico coating in his Frico Pesto Melt, a partnership of cheesy, gooey and crunchy.

The cook off, hosted July 28th at the CIA’s Copia facility in Napa, will be streamed on Facebook live at 10:30 a.m. PT (Cheese+Mac), 12:30 p.m. PT (Cal-Mex), and 2:30 p.m. PT (Innovate To-Go) at Additional details on the competition and the chef competitors is available at CADairy2Go.

“We were inspired by the creations of the CADairy2Go chefs who really pushed themselves to create recipes that not only spotlight the best of California dairy but also hold up to the rigors of takeout and delivery to ensure a positive consumer experience,” said Nancy Campbell, Business Development consultant for CMAB Foodservice. “This is where dairy shines, bringing flavor and functionality to foodservice operators in an affordable package.”

As the nation’s largest dairy state, California boasts a long list of cheesemakers and dairy processors that are further driving to-go dining innovation. California leads the nation in milk production and is responsible for producing more butter, ice cream and nonfat dry milk than any other state. The state is the second-largest producer of cheese and yogurt. California milk and dairy foods can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies they are made exclusively with sustainably sourced milk from the state’s dairy farm families.

California is a reliable, consistent source of sustainable dairy products used by chefs throughout the world. Check out the CMAB’s REAL Makers chefs who rely on California dairy for their dishes.

2021-07-15T10:18:19-07:00July 15th, 2021|

Breeding Drought Resistant Crops Part Two

Drought-Resilient Tomatoes – Part Two

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

As thousands of acres of California cropland are going fallow due to lack of water availability this year, researchers at UC Davis are trying to understand how to breed more drought-resilient crops. Some of that work is being done on tomatoes by Siobhan Brady and her colleagues, who are focused on cells within the plant’s roots.

“For the first time, we actually looked at what’s happening in those individual cells both in a lab, but also in a field environment. And that’s the first time that’s really been done at this resolution, which is really, really exciting. The second really high level of finding is that we’re able to integrate some genetic information from wild populations that are drought tolerant. And to be able to look at how xylem cells are formed,” said Brady.


“So the xylem are basically these long hollow pipes. They’re the ones that are responsible for transporting the water from below ground to above ground. Or transporting the nitrogen, the phosphate, etc. And so we now understand some of the genes that control that. And some of them were the ones that we expected from other species, and some of them were new and really unexpected.”


Brady hopes this work can be applied not only to tomatoes, but to other crops as well.

2021-06-30T20:06:20-07:00June 30th, 2021|

Congressional Leaders Learn About Almond Pollination

Almond Board Briefs Congressional Caucus About Pollinator Coalition

Chief Scientific Officer Josette Lewis highlights coordinated efforts of state’s farm and conservation communities.


Lewis was one of four speakers, and the only representative from agriculture, at the virtual congressional briefing on the status of pollinators convened by Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) during National Pollinator Week. They are co-chairs of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus.

“This hearing, and this week, were extremely valuable because they helped raise awareness about the need to protect all pollinators and their habitats,” Lewis said. “For the California almond industry, every week is pollinator week. This is something we work hard at every day.”

During the briefing, Lewis detailed the steps being taken by the California Pollinator Coalition and why its brand of collaborative conservation is a strong model to both bolster the health of pollinators and to set an example for a range of effective environmental alliances among independent groups.

The pollinator coalition includes more than 20 California organizations and was spearheaded by the Almond Board of California (ABC) along with the Pollinator Partnership and the state Department of Food and Agriculture. It represents the large majority of agricultural acreage in the state and its goal is to expand pollinator health and habitats on working ag lands.

bee protection

Bees pollenating almonds.

“The representatives heard how the coalition represents agriculture putting its best foot forward,” Lewis said. “Given the crucial importance of pollinators to food production and to ecosystems, it’s essential that agriculture be part of the solution. That’s one reason ABC partnered with the Pollinator Partnership to help build this coalition. We know the almond industry and the ag community can continue to help.”

A key subject the congressional leaders wanted Lewis to address was the value of collaborations like the Pollinator Coalition, how they can be built and how they can help in areas ranging from research to shared incentive programs.

One incentive example is ABC’s Bee+ Scholarship program, which pays up to $2,000 of the cost of seeds for pollinator-friendly cover crops and has added 15,000 acres of pollinator habitat in almond orchards in its first year. It will also cover the fees to register as a Bee Friendly Farm.

“The goal is to reduce the risks to growers to try new practices that can benefit pollinators and growers alike. One size does not fit all growers, so this offers a chance to try something new,” Lewis said. “Collaborations are effective because everyone has a stake in healthy ecosystems and healthy food, and together we can help each other take actions and make a difference.”


2021-06-30T12:52:43-07:00June 30th, 2021|
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