Elaine Trevino is Tapped as U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the United States

Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino Nominated as U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator 

Almond Alliance of California President Elaine Trevino has been nominated by President Biden as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the United States Trade Representative. The position is responsible for conducting and overseeing international negotiations related to trade of the nation’s agricultural products – including California almonds.

Almond Alliance Chairman Mike Curry commented, “Although we will miss Elaine’s leadership and energy, we are excited for the almond industry, the Central Valley (where she grew up) and California agriculture to have such a passionate and committed person serving in the Chief Agricultural Negotiator role. We are thrilled to see Elaine nominated for this position and know that her experience with us at the Almond Alliance will carry over into her new role – working for farmers and ranchers, their families and the workers and businesses in the rural communities where we live.”

Curry noted that Elaine’s nomination requires U.S. Senate confirmation. “We assure our members that the Board of Directors of the Almond Alliance will lead a smooth transition in partnership with Elaine to identify and hire her successor. While we’re transitioning, the Board, Elaine and the Almond Alliance team will not skip a beat in our advocacy work on behalf of California almonds, both on the state and federal levels.”

As President of the Almond Alliance of California (AAC), Elaine leads a member-based trade association that advocates on regulatory and legislative issues in areas of international trade, food safety, water quality and availability, crop protection, air quality, worker safety, supply chain and feed quality.

Elaine has worked on advocating for funding for COVID-19 relief, addressing retaliatory tariffs, climate smart farming, public private partnerships for opening new markets and strengthening existing markets and addressing technical sanitary and phytosanitary barriers. Elaine works at the local and federal levels on addressing port congestions and supply chain disruptions and excessive costs.

Elaine served as a Deputy Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Gray Davis.  She was responsible for the oversight of the international export and trade programs, specialty crop block grant funding, division of marketing services, plant health and pest prevention and the statewide county fair network. Elaine serves on USDA’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC).  Born and raised in the Central Valley of California, Elaine has a long history of community service and has a great respect for agriculture and the value of the industry to California’s economy. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California Berkeley and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

2021-09-14T17:05:19-07:00September 14th, 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|

Patrick Cavanaugh Retires as Long-Time Print Editor

Cavanaugh Will Continue as Editor of CaliforniaAgToday.com and Broadcast Radio Reports

 

Following more than 36 years at the editor’s desk, Patrick Cavanaugh decided to end his month-to-month deadlines for Pacific Nut Producer (PNP) and Vegetables West magazines. Since his first stories in 1985, where he felt like an undergrad in a Ph.D. class until the April 2021 editions, Cavanaugh has written more than 2000 feature stories and edited both magazines.

“My career has been a rewarding journey of discovery, an appreciation of the movers and shakers in this innovative industry that feeds the world, and an opportunity to convey the challenges, complexities, and forward-thinking leadership that have shaped this essential industry,” noted Cavanaugh,

“When I first began my agriculture journalism work in California, it was for another publishing company no longer in business. In 1995 I left that company to launch PNP, which I co-owned with Dan Malcolm, Malcolm Media,” said Cavanaugh.  “After the first issues were published, the other publishing company, who published Nut Grower magazine, went out of business. It was time for PNP to take off, and it did.”

Tree nut nurseries were providing new and better varieties, and growers were planting them.  It was great seeing the dynamic industry become the dominant business that it is.

Looking back on those early days of covering the industries, there is a vast difference now. “For example, I remember the early Almond Board Annual meeting that consisted of a long table on a riser with elected handlers and growers sitting in particular seats. It was a half-day meeting. Today, the annual Almond Board Meeting has been expanded to nearly three days with scores of educational talks and a massive trade show,” said Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh in his Tucson office.

“From my vantage point, I have witnessed the incredible growth of this dynamic industry. In 1985, Almonds were on 400,000 acres, Pistachios were on 51,000 acres, and walnuts on about 134,000 acres. Tree nut nurseries have been providing new and better varieties, an increasing number of growers were planting these permanent crops, and tree nut acreage has more than doubled,” he said.

“Among the most important stories I’ve covered for Vegetables West was in 2007.  Following a tragic outbreak of E. coli linked to fresh spinach that sickened more than 200 people,” said Cavanaugh. “California farmers made an unprecedented commitment to protecting public health by creating the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA). The program’s goal is to assure safe leafy greens and confidence in our food safety programs,” he noted.

Cavanaugh grew up in Florida and became very interested in agriculture. He studied agricultural production at the University of Florida. Upon graduating, he moved to Tucson to escape the humidity of the south.

Farmed Jojoba and Table Grapes in Arizona

While in Tucson, he worked for an Ag Management company producing 500 acres of jojoba that we pressed the oil from and sold the oil to cosmetic companies. The farm was near Casa Grande, about an hour north of Tucson. Cavanaugh was the ranch manager, and the company eventually converted the jojoba ranch into table grapes. Once we had Arizona’s Finest crop in cold storage, it would be sold and distributed to grocery stores in Phoenix and Tucson, as well as surrounding areas.

While at the ranch, Cavanaugh began writing freelance articles for the original company.  Eventually, Harry Cline, the company’s editor, made an offer to come to Fresno and work for the company. “That’s what I did.  And Harry became a valuable mentor,” he said.

While his magazine writing career is ending, he will still oversee CaliforniaAgToday.com and broadcast a daily Tree Nut Report for the Ag Information Network. That report is broadcasted throughout the state.

“Two years ago, my wife Laurie and I moved back to Tucson. We love the Southwest and wanted to return,” noted Cavanaugh.

“Lastly, I want to say that I am in awe of farmers, and I am grateful for their work to provide food for all of us. It has been a true joy to know so many growers and being on your farms,” he said.

2021-06-21T15:37:25-07:00June 21st, 2021|

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|

Jeff Dahlberg Retires from KARE

Director of the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center retires

UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jeff Dahlberg, also the director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center (KARE) in Parlier, invoked his 35 years of sorghum expertise to increasing interest in growing the crop in California and to better understanding plants’ ability to tolerate drought. Dahlberg retires Jan. 8.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger in the early 1980s, Dahlberg was intrigued by sorghum, a staple food being cultivated by the country’s vast population of subsistence farmers.

“I was impressed with the fact that sorghum was so drought tolerant,” Dahlberg said. “Nigerien farmers relied solely on rain for their sorghum and millet crops.”

Upon returning to the U.S., he earned a master’s degree at the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M, where his research focused on sorghum. He worked with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Puerto Rico for 7 years and then spent the next 10 years as research director with the National Sorghum Producers in Lubbock, Texas.

When Dahlberg took the helm of the 330-acre UC agricultural research center in 2010, he and colleagues at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center and at UC Davis began conducting sorghum forage variety trials. Sorghum wasn’t new to California. In the past, it had mainly been used for animal feed. But Dahlberg believed the crop’s adaptability – excellent for forage, biofuels and gluten-free human food – offered the grain a rosy future in the Golden State.

“With our research, we have provided California farmers who are thinking about growing sorghum access to locally generated, research-based information to help them make the decision,” Dahlberg said.

In 2015, Dahlberg and UC Berkeley specialist Peggy Lemaux launched a sweeping drought research project at KARE. The five-year study, funded with a $12.3 million grant from the Department of Energy, researched the genetics of drought tolerance in sorghum and how soil microbial communities interacted with sorghum roots to battle drought stress.

A journal article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018 presented the first detailed look at the role of drought in restructuring the root microbiome. The plant switches some genes on and some genes off when it detects water scarcity and access to water.

“That has implications for feeding the world, particularly considering the changing climate and weather patterns,” Dahlberg said.

In recent years, Dahlberg helped reestablish tea research at Kearney, initiated nearly 60 years ago in a study funded by Thomas J. Lipton, Inc. At the time, Lipton was seeking to grow tea for the instant tea market. When the Kearney tea research program was scrapped in 1981, a researcher had a handful of the best tea clones planted in the landscape around buildings at Kearney.

Those shrubs became the basis for a new tea research trial planted at Kearney in 2017 with UC Davis professor Jackie Gervay Hague to determine whether drought stress impacts the production of phenolics and tannins in the tea.

“We know we can grow good tea here and we can grow high tonnage,” Dahlberg said. “We want to determine if we can do that on a consistent basis and whether we can improve tea quality through irrigation management.”

In retirement, Dahlberg plans to relocate to Lake Ann, Mich., to be close to family. UC Cooperative Extension irrigation specialist Khaled Bali will serve as interim director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

2020-12-28T18:21:37-08:00December 28th, 2020|

Blue Diamond Growers Love Cooperative

Growers are Loyal to Blue Diamond Growers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the Ag Information Network

Blue Diamond Growers, is the only cooperative in the almond industry, and it has loyal growers. Charles Crivelli is a Walnut and almond grower in the Stanislaus County area. He’s a member of Blue Diamond Growers and he loves being part of that Cooperative.

“Blue Diamond is the only cooperative and bit is the largest almond processor in the world. It’s been a real leader in the industry working along with the Almond Board of California and a dynamic organization— constantly developing new product lines, and they spend a lot of time on promotion marketing, truly been a leader in the industry,” said Crevelli.

“There’s about a 110- plus independent processors. And then there’s the Blue Diamond Co-op, with 3,000 members give or take. It’s a dynamic organization, and an organization that I have really enjoyed being a part of,” Crevelli said. “And the CEO Mark Jansen has done a fantastic job. Just doing a phenomenal job and leading the organization in the industry.”

And Jansen’s been heading up the co-op for more than 10 years.

 

Blue diamond Growers was founded in 1910, which means the Co-op is 110 years old this year.

2020-12-16T18:19:47-08:00December 16th, 2020|

Jose Dias A New UCANR Agronomy/Weed Advisor

 

Jose Dias Named UCANR Agronomy and Weed Management Advisor

José Luiz Carvalho de Souza Dias joined UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) on Nov. 2, 2020, as an area agronomy and weed management advisor in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties.

Jose Dias

Prior to joining UCCE, Dias was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he worked with Mark Renz and John Grabber on projects focused on identification of management practices and environmental factors to ensure successful establishment of alfalfa interseeded into corn silage; sustainable management of waterhemp in established alfalfa for dairy systems; and weed control, clover selectivity and resulting yield of grass-clover mixed swards treated with florpyrauxifen-benzyl + 2,4-D in Wisconsin.

Dias earned a Ph.D. in agronomy with focus in weed science from the University of Florida and an M.S. in crop protection and B.S. in agronomy from São Paulo State University in Brazil. He is fluent in Portugese.

His Ph.D. research focused on developing and implementing integrated management practices to reduce giant smutgrass populations in bahiagrass pastures. His M.S. research focused on investigating the selectivity of several residual herbicides applied preplanting of prebudded seedlings of different sugarcane cultivars.

2020-12-03T09:05:40-08:00December 3rd, 2020|

Jim Costa for Ag Committed Supported

U.S. Citrus Industries Support Congressman Jim Costa for Chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee

 

 In a letter dated November 11, 2020, to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Citrus Mutual (CCM), Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM), and Texas Citrus Mutual (TCM) formally asked that Congressman Jim Costa, D – Fresno, be appointed as the new chair of the House Agriculture Committee.

 

As a farmer himself, Congressman Costa understands the industry’s issues, such as pest and disease, trade, water, and immigration. Notably, Congressman Costa was instrumental in securing federal funding to support research to find a cure for the devastating citrus disease Huanglongbing.

 

Congressman Costa’s track record of support for the citrus industry and specialty crops is indisputable. He has led countless bipartisan efforts on behalf of agriculture and rural America.

 

“The House Agriculture Committee needs a leader who understands its importance not only for our farmers, but for underserved communities, and national security,” says CCM President/CEO Casey Creamer. “Congressman Jim Costa is that leader, and we are proud to offer our strong support.”

 

“U.S. agriculture, especially fruit and vegetable growers, are at a crossroad. Increasing production costs coupled with unregulated imports, place the U.S. grower in a desperate situation. I am confident that if appointed Chair, Congressman Jim Costa will be a leader for agriculture in addressing these and other critical issues that affect growers and rural communities across the country,” said  Michael W. Sparks, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual.

 

“The agricultural industry within Congressman Jim Costa’s district is very similar to specialty crops, including citrus within Texas, making him well versed in many of the issues that affect our growers,” says Dale Murden, President of Texas Mutual. “Citrus Greening is a major concern for the Texas citrus industry, and we know Congressman Costa understands the issue well, and we are proud to support him.”

 

We trust that Congressman Costa will lead the committee with his years of experience and dedication to agriculture in California and the United States.

2020-11-19T13:45:29-08:00November 19th, 2020|

Ron Fisher, A Veteran in the California Almond Industry

Starting a Major Almond Industry Processing Company

By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Infomation Network

Ron Fisher is the founder and CEO and president of Fisher Nut Company based in the Modesto area. He’s been a veteran of the California almond industry since 1980. Here’s his story.

“I started in 1980, working for a company and agriculture was having a tough time all through the eighties. And I saw an opportunity for an independent packer to come into the business that would offer faster cash flow and competitive prices because in the late eighties, the growers were really hurting with high-interest rates,” explained Fisher

Commodity prices were low as well.

“I launched out on my own and opened up an almond processing company that accommodated what the growers needed. And we were able to utilize some of the faster-paying markets to get some cash-flow to the growers that were hurting, to get them through that tough period,” noted Fisher

“And so at that time, we started growing through the benefit of all that. And we were able to offer the growers a slightly different service than was available at that time,” he noted.

“I believe, at the time, there were about 35 handlers in the business. And from there, we were able to grow from our success of accommodating that. And as the industry changed and morphed into a better economic situation where prices were going up and people were planting, more almonds, where water and labor were available. The almond industry within the Central Valley boomed and with that, our company did as well,” he said.

 

 

2020-09-09T09:12:31-07:00September 9th, 2020|

Help for for Growers and Climate Change Risk

Helping Growers Manage Risk

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

Scientists project climate change will significantly alter the way our food is produced, but what can farmers do about this today? Especially when making decisions such as planting perennial crops that will be in place for decades?

Tapan Pathak is a UCANR Cooperative Extension Specialist based at UC Merced. He is working to develop a tool to translate weather and climate data into management insights for growers.

“It’s a huge effort because we want to be really crop-specific in terms of what type of decisions for we can provide to growers. And so, we’re just getting started on developing this crop-specifically, region-specific tools and the website is going to be Cal Agro Climate,” Pathak noted.

Pathak says they are currently finalizing a prototype in order to share with growers for feedback.

“Since we want to make it a very grower friendly, our next planning is to involve some of the growers and advisory committee to provide some feedback and kind of incorporate their changes. So we are hoping to get those tools up and running by next year or so,” said Pathak.

Once completed, the Cal Agro Climate tool will be able to help farmers reduce weather and climate related risk on their farms.

2020-08-13T10:46:35-07:00August 13th, 2020|
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