Ben Maddox Named Ag and Wine Executive with B of A

Bank of America Names Ben Maddox Western Food, Agriculture and Wine Executive

Bank of America is pleased to announce that Ben Maddox has been named Western Food, Agriculture, and Wine Executive.

Based in Fresno, Maddox and his team will continue to work with local growers, processors, wholesalers, and marketers to provide financing solutions to crop and dairy farmers, cattle ranchers, and feedlots, farm product processors (meat/dairy/produce), grain merchandisers, packaged foods, poultry, pork, and vintners.

Bank of America is one of the largest providers of financial services to the food and agribusiness sectors, with its industry-leading agribusiness group delivering end-to-end banking and finance solutions to agriculture producers and related businesses.

“Ben’s extensive experience providing credit to food and agriculture producers and processers and thorough understanding of the industry dynamics and cycles will position him to lead this critical multi-billion dollar western portfolio ranging from small family farms to global brands into the next decade,” said Kathie Sowa, global banking and markets executive, Central Valley.

Maddox will also continue in his role as Global Commercial Banking Market Manager for the Central Valley, serving companies with annual revenues of $50 million to $2 billion, providing a variety of financial solutions, including treasury, credit, investment banking, risk management, international and wealth management.

With more than 20 years of commercial banking experience, primarily in the Central Valley, Maddox joined Bank of America in 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an option in Finance and a minor in Economics from California State University, Fresno, as well as Series 7, 63, and 24 certifications. Previously, Maddox served for 5 years in the U.S. Navy.  An active member of the community, Maddox currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Central Valley Chapter and coaches youth softball and soccer.

2021-01-20T18:02:10-08:00January 20th, 2021|

Livestock and Soil Health

Regenerative Agriculture Without Animals- Is It Possible?

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

While some consumers are looking for alternatives to animal products, others are becoming increasingly more interested in soil health. This begs the question: can you have regenerative agriculture, which focuses on regenerating the soil, without animal agriculture?

Paige Stanley doesn’t think so. She is a Researcher and Ph.D. candidate studying regenerative practices at the University of California Berkeley.

Stanley states, “If you want to create closed nutrient loops, I don’t see a way to do that without animals. Now, the degree to which you apply animals to any one system, you know, we can argue about all day.”

“I study animal-only systems, but there’s plenty of opportunities to adopt integrated crop-livestock systems in order to make both of those systems more efficient,” Stanley added. “So I’m thinking, yeah, small ruminants, like sheep, goats for brush management, or even bringing chickens in before you plant a cover crop or behind another animal in a cropping system.”

“There’s plenty of ways to introduce fertility without bringing in off-farm inputs and to create a more diversified setup – to stack your enterprises. I think among agroecologists that’s a pretty widely accepted concept, but you know, there’s a whole slew of anti-animal ag people who would not like that answer,” explained Stanley.

Regenerative practices using crops and livestock are being explored to build healthier soils and potentially sequester carbon.

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00August 14th, 2020|

Dairy Restores Riparian Areas

Sonoma County Dairyman Works Hard to Fix Carbon in the Soil

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

Sonoma County Dairyman Jarrid Bordessa has been working with his cooperative, Organic Valley, to develop a carbon farm plan. As part of that plan, he decided to restore a riparian area on his farm.

“The carbon farm plan identified the creek restoration as being the number one impact we can do to fix carbon to our soil per acre,” said Jarrid Bordessa.

“So along that restored area, they’re going to plant 600 trees and per acre that practice had the highest carbon fixing potential. Behind the obvious one when we did our carbon farm plan is applying compost to all our pastures,” Bordessa added.

“Doing it this way is the cheapest way, it gives us the most bang for the buck,”  said Bordessa, adding “It actually benefits us the most.”

“The Creek restoration has other benefits as well, ” explained Bordessa.

“It’s supposed to create wildlife habitat and pollinator habitat, Bordessa added. “I think it’s just going to aesthetically look nice on our farm also.”

Bordessa received help from over 400 students, teachers, and volunteers to plant the nearly 700 trees in the area.

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00August 12th, 2020|

For Many Dairy Families, California is Home

 

Not All California Dairies Want to Move Out of State

 

By Tim Hammerich with the AgInfo.net

Some California dairies have decided to pick up and move their operations out of state due to heavy regulations and high costs of production. But others, like Tony Lopes in Gustine, remain committed to finding a way to profitably sustain their dairy in the state they call home.

“California is home. That’s where my great grandparents immigrated from the Azores Islands, they found a home in this valley, and they were able to raise their family and their businesses here,” said Lopes. “Now, when they were growing their businesses, regulatory environment, the way people viewed agribusiness versus today is very different. But for our family, and myself personally, I look to that almost as the challenge. Of saying, I want to be a dairy farmer in California. So I’m going to figure out how I can sculpt my business into what is necessary in order to be competitive and successful within California.”

Lopes is trying to build a model dairy by using data analytics, improving his employee retention and satisfaction, focusing on genetics, and diversifying. He hopes this will not only keep him ahead of constantly changing regulations, but also that customers will start voting for the types of local agribusinesses they want at the supermarket.

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00August 7th, 2020|

Federal Guidelines Call for More Beef

 

Beef Producers Asked To Submit Public Comments

By Rick Worthington with AgInfo.net

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) announced the launch of a nationwide campaign on July 22 to encourage cattle producers to submit public comments supporting beef’s role in updated federal dietary guidelines.

Americans have until Aug. 13 to submit official comments as the USDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) work to finalize the 2020-2025 guidelines.

“Study after study shows that beef plays an important role in a balanced, healthy diet across the lifespan,” said Marty Smith, president of NCBA. “NCBA has made it a priority to protect the scientific credibility of Dietary Guidelines and promote accurate information about the nutritional advantages of beef as part of a balanced diet.”

Along with making comments, NCBA plans to reach out to cattle producers via e-mail, text messages, social media and traditional media outlets between now and the deadline. It will also start the Twitter campaign of #BenefitsofBeef.

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00August 6th, 2020|

GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH INTO WORKING LANDSCAPES

Protecting California rangeland provides $1 billion in ecosystem services annually, according to new study

(SACRAMENTO) – Working lands conservation by California’s largest land trust annually provides between $900 million to $1.44 billion in environmental benefits — including habitat, carbon sequestration, food and watersheds, according to a new study released today.

The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s conservation easements across the state to explore both the environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s open spaces.

“This study demonstrates the importance of caring for and stewarding California’s land, so that it can serve our communities in return,” said California Rangeland Trust CEO Michael Delbar. “Conserving the state’s open spaces and rangelands isn’t just about ranching. It’s about investing in environmental services that will benefit Californians now and into the future.”

Employing a comprehensive literature review of ecosystem services and a global average of the monetary value of environmental services per acre, the study reports conservation easements—an agreement between a landowner and a qualified land trust regarding the future uses of private property—return up to $3.47 for every dollar invested under current zoning requirements, further emphasizing the long-term benefits of land conservation.

“Our research found there is immense economic value in ecosystem services provided to society through rangeland conservation,” said Lynn Huntsinger, professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley. “The study further underscores how protecting California’s working landscapes provides us with food, clean water, fire protection and many more vital benefits.”

Since 1984, more than 1.4 million acres of land in California have been converted from agricultural to other uses—78 percent of which has been lost to urban development.

The study’s findings estimate that conservation efforts by California Rangeland Trust provide ecosystem services valued at more than $236 million in food and $13.9 million in water annually. Similarly, California Rangeland Trust’s conservation supports $250.6 million in the maintenance of biodiversity, nearly $100 million in habitat lifecycle production, and $28.5 million in recreation opportunities annually to the state.

“The data is clear – conserving rangeland is a smart investment as Californians look for ways to protect our environment,” said Delbar.

Using conservation easements as a tool, the California Rangeland Trust seeks to balance against the demands of urban and land use planning and ensure local food, water, and habitat security in communities across the state.

The California Rangeland Trust is an organization by and for ranchers committed to preserving California’s open spaces and supporting cleaner, healthier communities for Californians. The Trust has permanently protected more than 340,000 acres of land in California since 1998 through conservation easements.

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The California Rangeland Trust, a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, was created to conserve the open space, natural habitat and stewardship provided by California’s ranches. To date, the Rangeland Trust has protected more than 342,815 Acres of productive grazing lands across the state through the use of conservation easements. For more information, visit www.rangelandtrust.org.

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00August 4th, 2020|

UCCE advisor’s Breadth of Experience and Education Support Ranchers’ Economic Viability

By Jeannette Warnert, UCANR Communications Specialist

Livestock and natural resources advisor Dan Macon came to UC Cooperative Extension three years ago with much more than a formal education in integrated resource management and agricultural and managerial economics.

He had years of hands-on experience running a successful foothill sheep operation, toiling long days and often into the night tending animals, irrigating pastures, training livestock guardian dogs and managing forage.

“I came to this position mid-career,” said Macon, who also accumulated skills working for a family auction company and in various capacities for the California Cattlemen’s Association, the California Rangeland Trust and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The love of a rural lifestyle prompted his family to purchase a small ranch in Auburn to raise sheep 15 years ago. Natural communication skills led Macon to become respected local blogger at Foothill Agrarian and, eventually, a social media influencer with nearly 2,000 followers on Instagram @flyingmule.

When Macon bought his ranch, he needed help dealing with invasive Himalayan blackberries. He called Roger Ingram, the UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor in Placer and Nevada counties from 1997 to 2017.

“Roger helped me take care of the problem,” Macon said. “Following his recommendation, I bought goats and they grazed the blackberries into submission. Now the grass can out-compete the invasive plants. We’ve turned the area into grassland.”

Macon began volunteering for UC Cooperative Extension by teaching fellow ranchers about his experiences raising sheep, managing rangeland and raising and training livestock guardian dogs. Macon was a presenter at Ingram’s annual California Multi-Species Browsing Academy.

“I finally recognized that the parts of my earlier jobs that I most enjoyed involved things I’d be doing on a daily basis as a farm advisor – teaching and research,” Macon said. He earned a master’s degree from Colorado State University and applied to succeed Ingram after his retirement. Macon also took on the role in Sutter and Yuba counties, succeeding Glenn Nader.

Livestock production in the Sierra Nevada foothills ranks among the top five agricultural commodities. Economic viability is a major issue. Macon’s research and extension program is focused on ranch economics and business management, drought resilience, predator-livestock coexistence and irrigated pasture management.

At the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in Browns Valley, Macon is conducting research that will help ranchers make decisions about maintaining a cattle herd when faced with impending drought. Even when the weather forecast is dry and forage isn’t growing at a sufficient pace, ranchers can be reluctant to sell off their cattle.

“Science tells us you shouldn’t try to feed your way out of a drought,” Macon said. “Ranchers want everything to stay the same. They want to maintain their genetic potential and keep cows that are familiar with the area.”

The research will compare cows weaned on a traditional weaning schedule with others that are weaned early.

“The cattle will be out on the range from March to early September under different parameters,” Macon said. “We’re also tying in economics, the value of genetic potential and the value of having cows who know the landscape.”

Macon is securing funding to conduct research on livestock guardian dogs in different production settings. Using low-cost GPS technology developed at New Mexico State University, Macon plans to study the relationship between dogs, predators and livestock in terms of space and time.

“One unknown is whether they displace predators or disrupt predatory behavior,” Macon said.

Macon uses livestock guardian dogs on his ranch and will be able to draw on his own experiences in designing the study. He recently wrote a fact sheet on guardian dog selection with UCCE human-wildlife interaction advisor Carolyn Whitesell.

“We’ve had great success with our guardian dogs,” he said. “But not everyone has that level of success. Using scientific tools like remote sensing and GPS technology will give us more details about wildlife-guardian dog-livestock interactions.”

During this year’s shelter-in-place, Macon has become more creative in reaching out with scientific ranching information. He and large-scale sheep producer Ryan Mahoney of Rio Vista created a weekly podcast, “Sheep Stuff Ewe Should Know.” Early episodes cover such topics as risk management, the effects of COVID-19 on the sheep industry and livestock guardian dogs. The podcast is available on Spotify and other mobile podcast apps.

Macon developed a new bi-weekly webinar series, “Working Rangeland Wednesday,” with UCCE specialist Leslie Roche and UC Davis graduate student Grace Woodmansee. Recordings are posted on YouTube.

Traditional, one-on-one farm calls are also a part of Macon’s extension program. He conducts five or six a month. Even so, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Macon to begin remote advising. Soon after Gov. Newsom’s shelter-in-place order was issued, Macon got a call from a woman whose ewes had recently given birth.

“She thought the lambs weren’t doing well and wondered what she could do,” Macon said. “We both had Facetime, so I asked her to show me what the sheep looked like. I was able to assure her that things were normal and suggested bottle feeding. I talked to her several times over the next couple of days, and she was able to save the lambs.”

Most queries from local ranchers center on pasture or grass management, species composition, fencing, paddock design and animal husbandry. Last year, ranchers called with blue oaks suddenly and inexplicably dying on their land.

“The trees had no visible injuries. Ranchers were wondering if it was a lingering effect of drought or due to habitat fragmentation,” Macon said.

Macon contacted UC Cooperative Extension plant pathology specialist Matteo Garbelotto, a UC Berkeley-based tree disease expert. The scientists collected scorched leaves, wood samples and soil near the trunks of the dead or dying trees. They found evidence of fungi Botryosphaeria corticola and B. dothidea in wood chips collected at breast height. However, blue oak is not an official host for the two pathogens in the USDA fungus-host database.

The researchers believe that recent droughts and climate change may be causing an increased and widespread susceptibility of blue oaks or that an unknown pathogen may be increasing the susceptibility of blue oak to the canker disease. The progress made in solving these mysterious blue oak deaths was published in the most recent California Agriculture journal and will be the subject of continuing investigations in the future by Macon and his colleagues.

 

2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00July 30th, 2020|

A Decisive Victory for Small Dairy Farms in California

“This ruling ends a cynical back door attempt to illegally take assets from dairy farmers.” – Niall McCarthy, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy 

SACRAMENTO CA—A decisive victory for small family dairy farms was won this week in what has been called a civil war in the California dairy industry.  In a proceeding before The California Department of Food and Agriculture, Administrative Law Judge Timothy J. Aspinwall issued a much-awaited decision on a petition that could have put hundreds of California family dairy farms out of business.  Fortunately for those farms, the administrative law judge ruled that the petition, which sought to eliminate California’s milk quota system was “not legally valid” and recommends that Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross deny the petition in its entirety.

 
The petition sought to terminate the 50-year-old California milk quota system—a huge asset for the California dairy industry that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and owned by most of the state’s dairy farms, especially smaller family-run farms.  The decision is a huge win for California dairy farms that have invested their revenue to purchase quota, and whose survival hung in the balance.  As dozens of farmers testified at the hearing in June, terminating quota would have robbed them of their and their families’ decades of hard work seized one of their most valuable assets without paying them any compensation, forced them out of business, resulting in huge lay-offs, and thrown the state’s dairy industry into financial chaos.  Examples of the testimony are:
 
Terminating quota would be “financially catastrophic” and is a “matter of life or death for our dairy.”  Maia Cipponeri, a fourth-generation dairy farmer from Merced County
 
“If quota were suddenly terminated, I would be immediately plunged into severe debt that I could not pay . . . . In addition to financial ruin, this would ruin my son’s dream of continuing the family of California dairymen.” – Frank Borges, a third-generation dairy farmer from San Joaquin County
 
A group of farmers who successfully opposed the petition throughout these proceedings were represented by the law firm of Cotchett, Pitre, and McCarthy, LLP.
 
“This ruling ends a cynical back door attempt to illegally take assets from dairy farmers.” – Niall McCarthy, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy
 
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy engages exclusively in litigation and trials and has earned a national reputation for its dedication to prosecuting or defending socially just actions. To learn more about the firm, visit www.cpmlegal.com.
2021-05-12T11:17:06-07:00July 29th, 2020|

Genomic Testing for Healthier Dairy Herds

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

Dairy health is of the utmost importance to the long term profitability of producers like Simon Vander Woude of Vander Woude Dairy in Merced.

Vander Woude… “I’m a huge believer in DWP, I mean, we were one of the early adopters of that.”

The Dairy Wellness Profit Index® (DWP) is based on traits that affect health, performance and profit in both cows and calves to achieve more of their full potential. Vander Woude uses genomic testing to ensure the healthiest herd possible.

Vander Woude… “It makes a big difference in the bottom line. We’re not producing for trophies. I’m not producing to have the highest producing herd. The overall health of the herd is what really feeds into bottom line profitability when the day is over. A healthier herd is going to be more profitable. A low that low somatics, it goes through the entire value of that cow from breeding to conversions to her milking longevity and all those sorts of things. They all kind of tie together.”

Vander Woude and other dairy producers are excited about the future of producing more milk with healthier cows through genomic testing.

2021-05-12T11:17:07-07:00July 10th, 2020|

UCANR’s Deanne Meyer Honored

Meyer receives Bradford-Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach

Deanne Meyer, UC Cooperative Extension Livestock Waste Management Specialist, is this year’s recipient of the Eric Bradford & Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award, given by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis. 

Meyer is being honored for her leadership in substantially improving the sustainability of California’s dairy industry through her research and outreach.

The Bradford-Rominger award recognizes and honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist. 

Meyer has directed the environmental stewardship efforts of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP)—a voluntary partnership between the dairy industry, government and academia—since the program’s inception in 1996. 

Meyer’s dedication to build a bridge between industry and regulatory agencies has paid dividends for California’s air and water quality. With Meyer’s leadership, more than 700 dairy farms have completed an on-site, third-party evaluation of their facility’s manure management. The program has been so successful that it received California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, in 2007. 

Reflecting on Meyer’s work, Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said, “Serving as chair of California’s Water Quality Task Force in the mid-1990s, I had a front row seat to the challenges Deanne faced as she organized CDQAP and brought many unlikely allies to the table. The many successes of that program is a testament to her skills as both a scientist and a diplomat.”

Beyond Meyer’s work with CDQAP, her research in groundwater salinity has provided farmers, agency staff and other concerned stakeholders with unbiased information presented with an understanding of agricultural realities.

“Her efforts, leadership, and dedication are so valued by all the diverse sectors she works across,” said Anita Oberbauer, professor and dean for Agricultural Sciences at UC Davis. “By working closely with regulatory agencies and farmers, she ensures our state’s livestock and dairy producers have the tools that they need to meet the environmental challenges.” 

Learn more about the Bradford-Rominger award on the Agricultural Sustainability Institute website at https://asi.ucdavis.edu/about/awards-and-scholarships/bradford-rominger-award

Past winners of the Bradford-Rominger award include UC Cooperative Extension advisors Rachael Long, Rachel Surls and David Lewis, Sustainable Conservation’s Director of Resources Daniel Mountjoy, UCCE advisor Rose Hayden-Smith, UCCE specialist Ken Tate, UCCE advisor Mary Bianchi, natural resource conservation consultant Kelly Garbach and UC Davis lecturer emeritus Isao Fujimoto. 

2021-05-12T11:17:07-07:00June 15th, 2020|
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