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|

Markie Hageman Is New Co-Owner of CaliforniaAgToday.com


Hageman is a Native of Tulare County with a Great Passion for California Agriculture

CaliforniaAgToday.com is pleased to announce that Markie Hageman, a Tulare, California, native with a passion for agriculture, is now a co-owner of the award-winning website and will collaborate with Patrick Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh, along with his wife Laurie Greene, launched the website in 2013. Greene served as the website’s founding editor and has won multiple awards for her coverage of the industry.

The communications coordinator for the Sacramento-based California Rangeland Trust, Hageman has prior experience as a Crop Insurance Adjuster. Hageman has authored articles for AGDAILY, and My Job Depends on Ag Magazine, with features in BEEF Magazine and The Almond Board of California- How We Grow publication.

Hageman had ties to agriculture starting from a young age. She lived on the Vanderwal dairy in Tulare County for a short time, and on a small citrus grove her grandparents owned.

Most of her agricultural experiences came from the horse ranch her mother owned in Fresno County. She showed lambs and hogs and rode horses throughout middle school and into college and was the Miss Woodlake Lions Rodeo Queen in 2014. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas.

Hageman spent a couple years on her family’s small commercial cow-calf operation in Auburn, Alabama, where she fell in love with the beef industry. Since her time in the South, Hageman has been active in the agricultural industry through her work with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Alabama’s Farmer Federation, and multiple Cattlemen organizations. She also recently started her own cow-calf herd with three Hereford heifers.

Outside of agriculture, Markie loves crafts, cooking, kayaking, making wine, hiking, and spending time with her family and two dogs.

“We are thrilled to have Markie on our team—covering California’s $50 Billion production agriculture business,” said Cavanaugh. “She’s passionate about the farm and ranching industries in the state, and we welcome her into the fold of the thriving website.”

“I am excited to continue to make CaliforniaAgToday.com successful on a daily basis,” said Hageman. “I love to write and have always admired the website as being the first site to cover California production agriculture with original reporting.”

2020-07-28T10:20:38-07:00July 28th, 2020|

Research on Citrus Greening Disease Control

Progress is Being Made on Controlling Citrus Greening

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network 

Citrus Greening Disease, also know as Huanglongbing, has devastated farms in places like Florida, and poses a serious threat in California. Researchers at the University of California Riverside are making progress on potential control. Dr. Hailing Jin describes what makes this pathogen so difficult.

“First, this is a very special bacteria, which cannot be cultured in vitro. So it’s very hard to study. Second, they are phloem limited. They only stay in the phloem, the vasculature tissue of the whole tree. So it’s not very easy to detect on. Another important thing is that they are transmitted by flying insects called Asian Citrus Psyllid, so can be spread very quickly,” explained Jin.

Dr. Jin and colleagues have been researching plants that are tolerant to the disease to identify genes that may lead to natural defense. They plan to publish their research in the coming months.

2020-07-24T10:22:23-07:00July 24th, 2020|

UC Davis Doctoral Student Alexandria Igwe Lands Postdoctoral Fellowship


Alexadria Igwe Will Work on Soil Microbial Communities

UC Davis doctoral student Alexandria “Allie” Igwe, advised by community ecologist and assistant professor Rachel Vannette of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, has received a prestigious $138,000 National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on soil microbial communities and develop novel online tools to increase interest in ecology.

Igwe who joined the UC Davis doctoral program in 2015, anticipates receiving her PhD in microbiology in September 2020.  Her thesis: “Microbial Community Contribution to Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance: A Case Study in Serpentine Soils.”  Igwe focuses her research on plant-microbe associations, microbial ecology, environmental microbiology and bioinformatics.

“Plant-microbe associations impact plant phenotype, distribution and biodiversity and range in their effects on a continuum from costly parasitic to beneficial mutualistic interactions,” she wrote in her successful proposal. “These mutualistic relationships also range from loose and facultative to endosymbiotic and obligate. The relationship between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and plants is especially important ecologically. Research into these associations have traditionally focused on endosymbiotic relationships within the nodules of legumes. I propose to explore the impact of strong selective soil pressures on microbial local adaptation and mutualism using free-living nitrogen-fixers and non-legumes.“

“My study,” she wrote, “will utilize serpentine ecosystems because serpentine soils are naturally high in heavy metals and deficient in plant nutrients which contributes to low plant productivity and presents strong selective pressures. The system also includes a free-living nitrogen-fixer, Microvirga spp., and plants that can grow on both serpentine and nonserpentine soils (serpentine-indifferent), allowing tractable manipulations across stress environments. Research with this system can be useful for disentangling the relative influence of soil and plant type on the establishment of mutualistic relationships and its impact on plant performance.”

gwe plans to use “culture-based isolation techniques, qPCR, whole-genome sequencing, and manipulative greenhouse and field surveys to: (1) Quantify the abundance of Microvirga spp. in serpentine and nonserpentine soils and explore the relative influence of edaphic factors, elevation, and climate on bacterial abundance. (2) Identify the presence of ecotypic variation in serpentine- and non-serpentine-isolated Microvirga spp. using functional assays and genome-wide sequencing, and (3) Determine the effect of Microvirga spp. on non-leguminous plant survival and development.”

She seeks a career as an environmental microbiologist to “scientifically and commercially address problems related to environmental degradation and food security.”

 “Allie has initiated exciting research directions during her time in the lab: examining how rhizosphere microbes influence plant survival and growth on serpentine soils,” said Vannette, a UC Davis Hellman Fellow.   “She has funded this work through several successful grant applications during her graduate career at UC Davis. Her creative research suggests previously unrecognized ways that plants are able to successfully establish and grow on harsh soils. She has also found that the composition of soil microbes can affect seedling establishment and also change when plants flower!”

“Her findings are novel and they are already making an impact on the field,” Vannette pointed out. “Allie has published a first-author paper and co-authored two additional papers on how soil microbial communities are shaped by soil characteristics and plant species Allie has taken an active role in mentoring students in our lab. She has worked closely with and trained at least five undergraduate students in techniques ranging from DNA extraction and library prep, isolating and identifying soil bacteria, bioinformatics analysis and root imaging analysis. She has accompanied students to national meetings and supported their career goals even after they had left the lab.“

Vannette, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2015 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s biology department, also praised Allie for “taking an active role in mentoring students in our lab. She has worked closely with and trained at least five undergraduate students in techniques ranging from DNA extraction and library prep, isolating and identifying soil bacteria, bioinformatics analysis and root imaging analysis. She has accompanied students to national meetings and supported their career goals even after they had left the lab.”

“Allie has not only strong academic achievements, excellent leadership ability and but also the ability to translate these skills into meaningful research, impactful mentoring, and effective recruitment and retention of underrepresented students,” Vannette said. “Allie has accomplished a lot here at Davis and I am excited to watch her career unfold. Her achievements have been recognized with a prestigious NSF Postdoctoral fellowship.”

Born in Stockton but raised in Houston, Allie remembers how her mother, a registered nurse, “imparted on me the importance of education from a young age and did a lot to make sure I had access to the best public educational opportunities Houston had to offer.

“I am the first to go to graduate school and will be the first doctor in the family, although not the type they likely expected,” she quipped. “I’ve always been interested in the natural world and participated in science fairs growing up. My first project was a survey of all the bugs in my front yard. My mom and I collected, identified, and mounted them. She told me that she could always find me in some mud or looking under a rock or collecting snails. I always had an interest in the environmental field–it just took a little nudge from amazing mentors for me to pursue it.”

Allie received her bachelor’s degree in biology in 2013 from Howard University, Washington, D.C., where she submitted her honors thesis: “Elemental Defense in Alyssum murale: Effects on Plant-Herbivore Interactions.” She holds a master of science degree in soil science in December 2015 from Texas A&M (TAMU), where she presented her thesis on “Phytoremediation of Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Soil Using Phenolic-Exuding Horticultural Plants.”

At TAMU, Allie designed greenhouse experiment to identify rhizosphere microbial composition of horticulture plants growing in soil contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The UC Davis doctoral student co-authored “Organic Management Promotes Natural Pest Control through Altered Plant Resistance to Insects,” published May 15 in the journal Nature Plants, with Vannette and several other co-authors.

Igwe served as the lead author of the Igwe-Vannette research, “Bacterial Communities Differ Between Plant Species and Soil Type, and Differentially Influence Seedling Establishment on Serpentine Soils,” published June 26, 2010 in the journal Plant and Soil.

At UC Davis, Igwe has helped other students succeed. She served as a teaching assistant from September 2016 to- December 2019 in the UC Davis Career Discovery Group. She mentored a group of 10-20 freshmen in career exploration activities and professional communication. In addition, she recruited industry professionals to participate in student networking events, and coordinated on-site visits with working professionals for career exploration trips. Igwe also was a success coach in the UC Davis Success Coaching and Learning Strategies for a year.

2020-07-23T10:52:09-07:00July 23rd, 2020|

The 2020 Almond Crop Set to Be 3 Billion Meat Pounds



By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Information Network

Three billion pounds! That’s the California almond objective measurement report done by the USDA and the National Agricultural Statistic Service. It’s up 18% from the 2019 crop.

Holly King is a Kern County almond grower and chair of the Almond Board of California. “I’ve always thought, boy, when the stars line up, we are going to blow the doors off the barn with production,” she said. “And this is the year with the acres we’ve got planted, it’s not a surprise that we could get to 3 billion. We just certainly got there a little sooner than we thought, an it’s a big jump from last year, for sure,” said King.

King noted that the crops were down in the last few years when there were pollination problems because of weather. “So this year we did not. It just was picture perfect and the trees are performing and you can sure see it in the numbers. I know the North got hit harder by moisture last year and the trees had a little bit of arrest and boy, you start looking at the nut, count on the trees in northern California, and it’s huge,” said King.

And, globally consumers love almonds. “We are fortunate that they aren’t a very perishable crop, not like growing produce,” King said. And they are heart healthy. They’re nutrient dense. They’re portable, and they’re affordable. So we’re very fortunate that our product has that many attributes that are certainly more in demand. On top of that, people are asking not only is it good for them, but is it good for the planet? And we have a good story to tell,” noted King.

2020-07-22T11:42:53-07:00July 22nd, 2020|

Tulare County Farm Bureau announces 2020 Scholarship Awards

Congrats to All The Great Scholarships Winners

Tulare County Farm Bureau’s Educational and Scholarship charitable trust released in July their 2020 student recipients, this year’s Selection Committee reviewed all applications online, and made their selections increasing the amount of funds awarded in many categories.  Photos of the students are available in the TCFB July 2020 Newspaper edition. 

The TCFB’s education and scholarship trust fund has been awarding scholarships since the trust’s inception in 1990, the scholarship and educational programs of the trust are funded annually through the Spring Gala held in March.  Fortunately this year’s awards were funded by proceeds of the 2019 event, and the COVID pandemic did not impact the award budget for this year.    The 2020 gala was cancelled due to the shelter-in-place orders, but donors have been thoughtful in contributing funds this year, and many have rolled their donations over to the 2021 event in anticipation of it being set for next March. 

Most awards were increased to a $2,000 award, and others increased from $500 to $1,000 awards.   There are also renewable awards offered by the Scott Shannon Memorial fund, and those students may renew the same amount for four years total.  Awards listed below are all awarded by the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s charitable trust.  Certain awards are contributed to by families in memoriam, while others are part of the trust’s permanent endowment. 

Awards are paid after the student provides verification of their college enrollment, and those verifications are due to the Farm Bureau by September 15 or sooner, as available. 

We congratulate all the outstanding students that applied for the awards.  

First NameLast NameAward NameAmountSchool
MariaAguileraScott Shannon Memorial$1,000Mt. Whitney High School
AlissaAmaralFrank Ribeiro Memorial$2,000Tulare Union High School
DaltonBaird2-Year College$1,000Mt. Whitney High School
BryanBerczynskiScott Shannon Memorial$1,000VTEC High School
BryanBerczynskiYoung Farmers & Ranchers$1,000VTEC High School
LaurenDavisMerit Award$500CSU Fresno
RebeccaDuranMerit Award$500CSU Fresno
MadelynFernandesMary Rankin Memorial$2,000Mission Oak High School
ChastineGistTCFB Ag Career$2,000Tulare Western High School
TyceGriswoldScott Shannon Memorial$1,000Central Valley Christian School
GraceGuthrieMerit Award$500Cal Poly, SLO
PaigeKroesMerit Award$500Central Valley Christian School
SelinaLopez CurielStudent of Farm Employee$1,000Woodlake Union High School
RyanMajarianCOS RRS Endowment$1,500Mt. Whitney High School
PiaMartinezMerit Award$500CSU Fresno
JavierMonje Jr.Student of Farm Employee$1,000Tulare Western High School
JavierMonje Jr.Merit Award$500Tulare Western High School
BethanieNegreteYoung Farmers & Ranchers$500Mt. Whitney High School
DafnePamplona QuirozTCFB Ag Career$2,000Dinuba High School
MayalinaPuernerTCFB Ag Career$2,000Exeter Union High School
HunterSeymore2019 Youth Outstanding Participant award$1,000El Diamante High School
AmySwallFred & Marilyn Collison Memorial$2,000Mission Oak High School
KatherineWalkerYoung Farmers & Ranchers$1,000Reedley College
KalinaWeaverKen and Cindy Williams Scholarship$2,500Monache High School
2020-07-20T09:38:11-07:00July 20th, 2020|

USDA, USTR Name New Agricultural Trade Advisors

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer today announced the appointment of 25 new members to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees.

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee is comprised of senior representatives from across the U.S. agricultural community who provide advice to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on trade policy matters including the operation of existing trade agreements and the negotiation of new agreements. Members of the six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs) provide technical advice and guidance from the perspective of their specific product sectors.

The newly appointed advisors will serve until 2024. Each committee will be supplemented by additional appointments over the next four years. Applications are encouraged at any time. A complete list of committee members and application information is available at www.fas.usda.gov/topics/trade-advisory-committees.

Following is a list of the new advisors, by committee:

Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee
Constance Cullman, American Feed Industry Association
David Puglia, Western Growers
David Salmonsen, American Farm Bureau Federation

ATAC for Trade in Animals and Animal Products
Robert DeHaan, National Fisheries Institute
Mallory Gaines, American Feed Industry Association
David Herring, Hog Slat Inc./TDM Farms
James Parnell, Alabama Farmers Federation
Maria Zieba, National Pork Producers Council

ATAC for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables
William Callis, U.S. Apple Export Council
Casey Creamer, California Citrus Mutual
Jodi Devaurs, California Table Grape Commission
Jonathan Maberry, Washington Red Raspberry Commission
Caroline Stringer, California Fresh Fruit Association

ATAC for Trade in Grains, Feed, Oilseeds and Planting Seeds
Peter Bachmann, USA Rice Federation
William Gordon, American Soybean Association
Derek Haigwood, D.I.D. Farms
Patrick Hayden, North American Export Grain Association
Dalton Henry, U.S. Wheat Associates
Edward Hubbard, Renewable Fuels Association
Tina Lyons, Double River Forwarding, LLC

ATAC for Trade in Processed Foods
Kevin Latner, National Industrial Hemp Council
Richard (Denton) McLane, McLane Global Trading
Max Moncaster, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
Bernadette Wiltz, Southern United States Trade Association

ATAC for Trade in Sweeteners and Sweetener Products
(No new members.)

ATAC for Trade in Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts
Karl Zimmer, Premium Peanut

2020-07-17T12:24:02-07:00July 17th, 2020|

California Table Grape Growers Award Scholarships

California’s table grape growers recently awarded scholarships to nine students in grape growing regions of the state. All recipients will be attending California universities or community colleges.

Six field worker scholarships were awarded: three for $25,000 for four years of university study and three for $14,500 for study at a combination of community college and university. Recipients may study any field. Three agricultural scholarships were awarded as well: each for $25,000 for four years of university study in an agriculturally related field.

For 35 years California table grape growers have funded college scholarships through the California Table Grape Commission. More than 160 students have received scholarships to attend college.

$25,000 Four-Year Field Worker Scholarships

Mr. Jared Bautista is a graduate of South High School in
Bakersfield. Jared graduated with a 4.5 weighted grade point
average (GPA) and his SAT score of 1,300 placed him in the 91st
percentile nationally. Jared was a member of the school cross
country and track teams. Jared will attend University of California,
Berkeley in the fall where he will major in civil engineering with a
goal of becoming a civil engineer.

Jared Bautista

Ms. Nerin Delgado is a graduate of McFarland High School in
McFarland. Nerin graduated with 4.4 weighted GPA and her SAT
score of 1,350 placed her in the 94th percentile nationally. Nerin
was a member of the associated student body board and was the
varsity golf captain. Nerin will attend University of California, Los
Angeles, where she will major in human biology with a career goal
of becoming a radiologist.

Nerin Delgado

Ms. Georgina Rodriguez Mendez is a graduate of Robert F.
Kennedy High School in Delano. Georgina graduated with a 4.53
weighted GPA and her ACT score of 31 placed her in the 95st
percentile nationally. Georgina was the senior class vice president
and a co-captain of the girls’ varsity soccer team. Georgina will
attend University of California, Los Angeles, where she will major in
mathematics with a career goal of becoming a math teacher.
California Table Grape Growers Award Scholarships

Georgina Rodriguez Mendez

$14,500 Bridge Field Worker Scholarships

Ms. Glarisa Perales is a graduate of Cesar E. Chavez High School in
Delano. Glarisa graduated with a 3.51 weighted GPA and participated
in the national organization “Family, Career, and Community Leaders
of America.” Glarisa will attend Bakersfield College and will pursue a
career as an elementary school teacher.

Glarisa Perales

Ms. Diana Robledo is a graduate of Bakersfield High School. Diana
graduated with a weighted GPA of 3.83. Diana was the vice president
of the Advancement Via Individual Determination club, a three year
member of Future Farmers of America (FFA), and volunteers at the
Bakersfield Homeless Shelter, preparing and serving meals. Diana will
attend Bakersfield College and has a career goal of becoming a

Diana Robledo

Ms. Rebecca Santoyo is a graduate of Porterville High School. Rebecca
graduated with a 4.11 weighted GPA. Rebecca is a member of the
school concert choir and volunteers many hours in the community for
various groups. Rebecca will attend Porterville College and has a
career goal of becoming a pediatrician or pediatric nurse.

Rebecca Santoyo

$25,000 Agricultural Scholarships

Ms. Alissa Amaral is a graduate of Tulare Union High School. Alissa
graduated with a 4.18 weighted GPA. Alissa was a member of FFA, where
she won numerous awards. Alissa was also the president and a lifetime
member of the California Scholastic Federation and volunteered many
hours in the community including the American Cancer Society and Toys
for Tots. Alissa will attend Fresno State University where she will major in
agricultural business with a career goal of becoming an agricultural
marketing specialist.

Alissa Amaral

Mr. Dale Fransen is a graduate of Selma High School. Dale graduated
with a 4.19 weighted GPA. Dale scored a 1,490 on the SAT, placing him
in the 99th percentile nationally. Dale is a member of the local, state, and
national FFA and is an Eagle Scout. Dale will attend Fresno State
University where he will major in agricultural education with a goal of
becoming an agriculture teacher.

Dale Fransen

Ms. Amy Swall is a graduate of Mission Oak High School in Tulare. Amy
graduated with a 3.83 weighted GPA. Amy is the regional president of
FFA where she has won multiple awards, a member of the Mission Oak
varsity tennis team that won the 2019 California Interscholastic
Federation Divisional title, and a member of the varsity soccer team as
well. Amy will attend Fresno State University where she will major in
agricultural communications with a goal of working in agricultural

Amy Swall
2020-07-09T15:56:42-07:00July 9th, 2020|

Should Farmers Meter Their Pumps Now– in Terms of SGMA?

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

With the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) closing in on growers throughout California, there are many questions. One big one is that should growers go ahead and put a meter on their pumps? Helping the farming industry comply with SGMA is Chris Johnson, who owns Aegis Groundwater Consulting, based in Fresno. He’s recommending that growers put a flow meter on their pumps, but he does understand their hesitation.

“I think they’re concerned about what’s going to happen if they provide a mechanism where someone can come out and actually measure, record and evaluate how much water they’re using, that somehow that’s going to go against them,” said Johnson. “And the reality of it is, is that somebody might very well do that but they’re better off knowing that going in, they’re better off understanding and being able to manage and represent for themselves upfront.”

It may be a good idea to meter pumps now.

Now, currently we have the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, which have finalized the Groundwater Sustainability Plans.  “The Groundwater Sustainability Plans are the deliverable that the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies are tasked with. But you have to understand the scarcity of data we actually have to work with, to actually be able to make decisions,” said Johnson. “And as a consequence, what so many different GSAs are forced to do is to either accept existing data at face value, or they’re having to interpret what the data might be in the absence of actual functional information. And so, it may very well misrepresent what the basin as a whole is having to go through, and they may put restrictions on farmers and growers based on that. And so, that is where having your own data helps you defend your water use, helps you protect yourself.”

<PATRICK: I believe the online version of this article ended here.  I would support that, in that the preceding text focuses on the importance of having specific data for individual wells.  The following text is more a soliloquy on GSP’s and data gathering and validity.

Johnson explains what will happen when the sustainability plans are in place in 2020. “I think what will happen is once the GSPs are filed with the Department of Water Resources, there’s going to be a period of reflection where people are looking at the adequacy of information supporting the plans. There’s going to be outside parties that question the adequacy of the data and plans, and ultimately out of that will come the next step, which is, ‘Okay, now we have these in place, we know there are a lot of shortcomings.’ Let’s go fill in those gaps. Let’s go get this data together,” said Johnson. I think that most of the regulatory agencies recognize there are data gaps. Let’s just work through the process is there thinking.

“Let’s get ourselves to where we can now start collecting the data. So, in theory, what we’re going to see is over the next 20 years a refinement in all of this, as more information is available, as scientists and engineers get to provide analysis to the policy makers, we end up with a better product in the end,” Johnson noted.

But will that product be good for the growers? “That’s a difficult question to answer because better in the end is leading us towards answering a question with, you’ll have as much water as you want. Well, that’s unlikely to happen,” Johnson said.

“I think there’s going to be significant changes in how we grow things in the Central Valley. The consequence of that may be everything from less food coming out of the Central Valley and/or higher food prices as these businesses attempt to maintain some degree of solubility, so to speak, financially, trying to meet these limited resource. Because that’s essentially what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re coming back and saying : Something bad happened. Now, we’re going to limit this resource.”

The agricultural industry throughout California keeps pushing that it’s too important, we have to provide food for the nation and the world. “I think the more important way to look at this is, is that California can’t afford to have ag fail. And as a consequence, we have to find a means to meet all these different demands and do so in a way that helps keep ag moving forward. It just probably won’t look like what it does today,” he said.

2020-07-07T09:18:53-07:00July 7th, 2020|

Farmer Equity Act – Part 2


Farmer Equity Act Build’s Diversity


By Tim Hammerich, with the AgInformation Network

The California Department of Food and Agriculture recently released the first annual report on the Farmer Equity Act that was passed back in 2017. CDFA Secretary Karen Ross explains the importance of this initiative.

“So this is going to be a forever program, as far as I know. It’s a requirement now in statute. It’s something that we at CDFA are eager to do. And I think it’s critically important that we are every day thinking about inclusivity and equity throughout our farming community, and that has never been more evident than this past month in particular, Secretary Ross

And so this is work that we’re eager to do, that anything we can do to help the diversity of our ag community thrive at all scales with all different business models will be successful for all of agriculture. That’s our strength. Diversity is our strength. We know that in our biological systems, that diversity helps bring resilience. And I think that’s an important part for our community of farmers as well,” said Secretary Ross.

For more resources for socially disadvantaged farmers, visit the CDFA website.

2020-07-06T08:20:18-07:00July 6th, 2020|
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