Farm Equity Act – Part 1

All California Farmers Must Have Access  to the Same Resources

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

The California Department of Food and Agriculture recently released the first annual report on the Farmer Equity Act. CDFA Secretary Karen Ross explains some of the key priority areas.

“Land tenure, especially for many of these farmers. They’re small scale. They are renting land because we know the cost of land is a barrier for new beginning farmers, regardless of what your ethnicity is, understanding that and what that means,” noted Secretary Ross

“Language: making sure that we’re providing as much of our services and program content in multiple languages if possible. Engagement with the agricultural industry, as well as being engaged with advisory boards and our marketing orders and commissions. And then how do we facilitate access to resources,” Secretary Ross said.

“The vast majority of resources are going to be USDA programs, but we’re an important partner with USDA. So what are we doing to make sure the word is out? And then how do we think through our own resources, especially around climate smart agriculture, as one example. And other grant programs that we might have, or that our sister agencies might have. Are we being very intentional, very thoughtful to make sure that we’re making those connections,” Secretary Ross explained.

2020-07-07T09:43:32-07:00July 3rd, 2020|

Editorial on Delta Tunnel Project

A Social Justice Perspective on the Delta Tunnel Project

By Gary Kremen

As California confronts increasing water challenges, the most equitable statewide solution from a social justice perspective is the single-tunnel project proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, known as the Delta Conveyance Project.

More than 27 million Californians rely on imported drinking water conveyed through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This imported water also serves millions of acres of local agricultural lands and vital wildlife refuges.

The reliability of that imported water supply is threatened by a variety of risks, including climate change, sea level rise, increasing regulatory restrictions, seismic risks and deteriorating ecosystem conditions. The Delta Conveyance Project will help address many of these threats.

The project proposes the construction of a single tunnel that would provide an alternative conveyance pathway for moving water from the north Delta to the existing pumping plants in the south Delta. The addition of intakes in the north Delta would allow operational flexibility to adjust to where fish are at a given time and protect our water supply from saltwater intrusion.

This enhanced flexibility will reduce the number of fish that end up in the existing pumping plants. The project includes state-of-the-art fish screens that minimize the number of fish impacted by water diversions. The project would improve water management for California communities, farms, fish and wildlife.

Scientists have predicted that climate change will result in more spring runoff and less snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. There is not enough storage to capture this additional runoff.  Having the ability to rapidly move water south cushions inevitable climate change effects.

The levees that make up California’s water distribution system in the Delta are not engineered to withstand major earthquakes. There is a high probability of a major earthquake within the next 25 years which could cause catastrophic levee failure, which would result in seawater inundation, interrupting fresh-water deliveries to more than 27 million people.  COVID-19 demonstrates that unexpected disasters happen.

In a catastrophic levee failure, who stands to be hurt the most? Not the affluent, as we have seen in this COVID-19 crisis; they have second homes, alternative sources of food and access to health care. It would hurt poor, working class and middle-class people the worst.

The alternatives to not having a tunnel are grim, especially given California’s excellent record on conservation and its growing population. One viable option is ocean desalination.  However, the same NIMBYs who don’t like the tunnel don’t like desalination. Maybe their ocean views will be impeded? For those few water districts near the ocean, the cost of desalination is at least three times the cost of the water yield from the tunnel.

Why not recycled wastewater? All over California there are ambitious recycling programs. The cost of recycled water, like desalination, is at least three times more expensive than water from the tunnel. Depending on expensive water sources exclusively would disproportionately hurt low-income families.

Reduced water to Central Valley agriculture would mean higher prices for food, higher carbon footprint from food importation and decreased food security. Higher food prices disparately affect those who are poor and vulnerable. It is well documented that the transportation related pollution for importing food especially damages communities of color.

Opponents of a tunnel project never say their position will lead to higher water prices and reduced water reliability, which leads to higher food prices, and can even lead to class-based disparities in health outcomes.  Other opponents seemingly promote the protection of endangered species, while others seek to ocean harvest the same species with fishing practices that kill whales.  Real estate speculation by some opponents of the project isn’t helping the health of the Delta.

Water agencies statewide have done an excellent job of becoming more water efficient while supplying water to a growing state population and keeping the environment healthy. For these reasons, the Delta Conveyance Project will further California’s goal of achieving water justice.

Gary Kremen is elected to the Santa Clara Valley Water District board of directors and is vice chairman of the Delta Conveyance Finance Authority, He wrote this commentary for CalMatters.



2020-06-30T08:08:25-07:00June 30th, 2020|

Should Farmers Meter Their Wells Now for SGMA?

Prepping for SGMA Regulations

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

With the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is closing in on growers throughout California, there are many questions. One big one: should growers go ahead and put a meter on their pumps?

Helping the farming industry comply with SGMA, is Chris Johnson owner of Aegis Groundwater Consulting located in Fresno. He recommends that growers put flow meters on their wells. But he does understand the hesitation.
It’s pretty straightforward. Instrument your wells, and monitor them, including water levels, flow rates, electrical use. It’s good for growers to be able to manage wells as assets

Johnson thinks growers are afraid to put flow meters on their wells. They believe it may provide a mechanism where someone can measure, record, and evaluate how much water they’re using, that’s going to go against them. “And the reality of it 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.

And while the local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies have created the Groundwater Sustainability Plans, Johnson noted that the GSPs are the deliverable that the groundwater sustainability agencies are tasked with.

“But we need to understand that the lack of data that we have to work with and be able to make decisions. And as a consequence, what so many different GSAs are forced to do is to either accept existing data at face value, or they have to interpret what the data might be in the absence of actual functional information,” noted Johnson. And so, it may very well misrepresent what the basin as a whole has to go through, and regulators may put restrictions on farmers and growers based on that. That’s where having your data helps you defend and protect yourself.

2020-06-29T08:42:40-07:00June 29th, 2020|

Almond Alliance– A Big Advocate

The Almond Alliance is Major Advocate For the Entire Almond Industry


By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Elaine Trevino is President of the Almond Alliance. “The Almond Alliance is the trade association and is membership-based for the California Almond Industry,” she said. “We exist to advocate for almond growers, hullers, shellers, handlers and processors. We do the political work and the political advocacy with both state legislators federal agencies, and of course, Congress in D.C.,” Trevino said.

“So we’re very active and making sure that the industry is receiving access to all the programs that it needs to,” said Trevino. “We’re very active in working with state and federal legislators on legislation and policies that impact agriculture, specifically almonds. We’ve been very active to make sure that the USDA and Congress are aware of the damages to the almond industry regarding COVID, and that the almond industry receives their fair share of help through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP),” she said.
The Almond Alliance constantly fights for the almond industry. “And we also tell the story of the almond industry to ensure that, elected officials and stakeholders are aware of the value, both economically, job-wise, tax-wise, nutrition-wise, and food-wise. We want to be aware of the benefit of the industry to the overall economy, to the state, to the world,” she said.


2020-06-25T08:21:03-07:00June 25th, 2020|

UC Lindcove Research Center Gets New Director

El-kereamy named director of UC Lindcove REC


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

Ashraf El-kereamy will be the new director of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Lindcove Research & Extension Center, starting on July 1, 2020. He will continue to serve as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside and based at Lindcove Research & Extension Center.  

“Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell retires this year after 13 years as director of Lindcove REC, California’s premier citrus research center,” said Mark Lagrimini, UC ANR vice provost for research and extension. “We are excited to have Ashraf in place to carry on the tremendous success attributable to the research performed at Lindcove. Ashraf brings a breadth of research, extension and leadership skills.”

El-kereamy has extensive experience with several commodities with research revolving around plant hormones, fruit ripening, plant nutrition, and the responses of different plant species to abiotic stress conditions. 

Since February 2019, El-kereamy has been serving as a UC Cooperative Extension citrus specialist based at Lindcove Research and Extension Center. Prior to the specialist position, El-kereamy was a UCCE viticulture and small fruit advisor for Kern County, where he established a research and extension program serving the San Joaquin Valley table grape industry for four years. Prior to joining UC ANR, he was an assistant/associate professor in the Department of Horticulture at Ain Shams University in Egypt. 

“I am honored and very excited to be the director of Lindcove Research and Extension Center, which plays a crucial role in the California citrus industry,” El-kereamy said. “I am confident that, with the support of our industry, community and the University of California, we will build tomorrow’s Lindcove REC as a center of excellence in research and extension. I am looking forward to leading Lindcove REC and providing our clientele with up-to-date technologies to cope with the challenges facing the California agriculture industry.”

El-kereamy earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and master’s degree in pomology from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, and a doctorate in agriculture with an emphasis in grapevine physiology and molecular biology from Toulouse University in France.

2020-06-24T13:22:34-07:00June 24th, 2020|

AgvisorPro Here to Connect with Farmers


AGvisorPRO Hopes to Connect Farmers with Experts

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network of the West

Farming is complex and it requires deep expertise in a variety of fields. So what can a farmer do to access that expertise especially in a remote environment, especially during COVID-19? Rob Saik of AgVisor Pro has a solution: he calls it the Uberization of agricultural knowledge.

“The number of times through the course of the year, when a farmer could reach out to really talk to people with deep domain expertise that could help the farming operation are numerous, said Saik. “And so the farms that I talked to, many of them have agronomists that are working with them, or many of them have veterinarians that are working with them. But geez, if the market’s moving, you need access to a marketing person.

 “The farmers told me that what they sensed was advisor pro would give them instant access to an entomologist when they needed to talk to an insect guy. Advisor pro would give them instant access to a marketing guy with deep domain marketing experience when they wanted to talk to somebody about marketing. And so it created a way for farmers to, first of all, find these people. And secondly, in some cases, a farmer just wants a second opinion,” explained Saik.

Farmers and experts can download the AgVisor Pro app and connect with each other to give and receive expertise in exchange for money. The experts are both vetted and rated to make sure the level of on-demand service remains high. Learn more at

2020-06-24T08:03:12-07:00June 24th, 2020|

Mia Airsman New CA FFA Secretary

Airsman Found a Passion for Agriculture in the FFA


By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network of the West

Mia Airsman was elected as the new California State FFA Secretary last month. The graduating senior at Galt High School didn’t come from an ag background but developed a passion for the industry through her FFA experience.

“Growing up, I didn’t really have a background in ag. I don’t come from like a farm production or like any sort of ag background. I kind of found that love when I got to high school in our ag program, said Airsman.And so I just dove in headfirst, whether that was ag mechanics, floral, ag biology. I tried it out all my freshman year, and then from there I was able to kind of see that this was something that I could definitely pursue as a career.”

The association had to make an adjustment to elect their officers this year online. Airsman said it was stressful but worth it.

“I didn’t know what to expect originally going into it. This was all completely new to me, and then when everything got switched virtually, it was kind of challenging because you’re running for state office, like essentially from your bedroom, and it’s so anticlimactic, said Airsman.

But I kind of also enjoyed being able to be at home, but there was like a lot of anxiety leading up to it because you’re constantly waiting for your camera to pop on, and then suddenly you’re being interviewed. So I would say it was a little bit stressful and nerve-wracking, but in the end, it was completely worth it.

The FFA organization continues to create passionate leaders for agriculture.

2020-06-16T13:31:26-07:00June 16th, 2020|

Ask an Enviromentalist—An Occasional Series

Ann Hayden of Environmental Defense Fund Shares Her Thoughts on Ag and SGMA

By Don Wright,

This is the first “Ask an Enviro” feature and we have hope it will grow into something profitable for all of us who drink water and eat food – that’s the common link. I’ve heard my entire career farmers are like herding cats and ag does a poor job of telling its story. So, there will also be a feature “Ask a Farmer”. The plan is to run each of these two features once a month. Do you folks working in agriculture have some questions you’d like to ask environmentalists? Here’s your chance. Do you folks who don’t work in agriculture have questions for farmers? Here’s your chance. Send your questions to me and we’ll start this dialog.

I’m very pleased to introduce you to Ann Hayden of Environmental Defense Fund. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ann over the past couple of years and I can tell you she’s not a flame thrower. Likewise EDF recognizes humans are a part of the environment as well. You may contact Ann at

Ask an Enviro is launching this new series, “Ask an Enviro,” to help break down silos, open communication and build a stronger bridge between environmentalists and farmers in our community. I’m Ann Hayden, senior director, western water and resilient landscapes, at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). EDF is an international nonprofit that has spent decades building inclusive environmental coalitions alongside farmers, ranchers, corporate leaders and other unexpected allies — teaming up on projects where we can make the greatest impact. EDF has been working on environmental issues in California since the 1980s and was founded in New York in 1967. I’ve been a member of EDF’s western water team for more than 17 years and met Don Wright at a landowner workshop held by the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District.

  1. Why is EDF working on water issues in California? How would you describe EDF’s approach?


EDF’s been working in California for more than 40 years to ensure that people and our environment have reliable water supply now and into the future. The reason is simple: Water is central to all of us.  It hydrates us, helps feed us, powers our economies, sustains wildlife, and provides recreation on rivers and lakes.  We recognize the critical role that the agriculture sector plays — farmers are literally feeding us — and we have long believed that agriculture has an important role in being part of the water solution, and that rural communities need to have a say in how decisions are made. That’s why we work with farmers, marginalized communities, and other local stakeholders to understand their needs and challenges. We then collaborate with them on designing and implementing sustainable water and land use solutions that balance all interests and protect the most vulnerable.

In some cases these solutions take the form of water accounting and trading programs, like the one we co-developed with the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District and a group of its ag customers in Kern County. In other cases, we work with rural communities to increase local capacity to effectively engage in decision-making and advocate for safe, reliable drinking water, as we did in partnership with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation and the Rural Water Boards Leadership Institute.

  1. How does EDF envision balancing the needs of the farming community with its environmental goals, especially as SGMA requires reducing groundwater pumping?

            We believe that meeting the needs of the farming community and the environment are not mutually exclusive, that it is possible to help agriculture adapt to an uncertain water future while ensuring that environmental conditions improve. Where feasible, EDF supports developing additional water supplies for the Valley, but even with full development of affordable and environmentally responsible supplies, most evidence suggests that land conversion will be required. Balanced solutions will require a mix of different actions. We know that farmers have some tough decisions to make with the limited water supply they have, but without SGMA, the decisions would become even tougher as water scarcity reached a crisis during the next drought or the drought after that. With SGMA, we have the chance to think about the future and plan deliberately for the reductions in water use that have to happen at some point.

If farmers focus on irrigating their most productive lands, then it may be possible to repurpose less productive lands and create other values that farmers and communities can benefit from.  And, we think California should bring some public dollars to bear to help in the transition. Examples of new uses could be low-impact solar, wildlife-friendly groundwater recharge, and restored floodplains to reduce flood risks and restore habitat.  In the case of habitat, farmers could gain a new source of revenue by selling mitigation credits to entities, such as Caltrans or a developer, that need to mitigate environmental impacts.

  1. What projects are you working on that you are most excited about?

I think the groundwater accounting work with Rosedale Rio Bravo will pay dividends for California’s water future.  When farmers have easy to access data about their water use, they can make more informed water management decisions.I’m also very excited about a new project in the Kaweah Sub Basin in Tulare County because it brings together local stakeholders to develop options about how to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in ways that meet the region’s goals. This project will be the first in the Central Valley to use the state’s Regional Conservation Investment Strategies (RCIS) program to help communities respond to the water and land use changes that are expected under SGMA. Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in the region recognize that some amount of acreage will likely be taken out of production as a way to balance groundwater demand with available supply. The RCIS allows stakeholders to identify areas that can be consolidated and converted — on a voluntary basis — to other uses like habitat, groundwater recharge, dry land grazing and low-impact solar, which farmers can be compensated for creating.  Importantly, the process will proactively engage diverse members of the community to have a say on what they want their community’s future to look like.

We were really pleased to see the East Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency awarded $515,000 in February from the state’s Wildlife Conservation Board to develop an RCIS plan. Not surprisingly, the kickoff has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but it’s now scheduled to happen, virtually, in July. My hope is that this process in the Kaweah Sub Basin can become a model for other regions as they grapple with similarly challenging issues.

  1. On a more personal note, how did you end up working on water issues?

            I grew up in a rural part of Yolo County surrounded by farms and small agricultural operations. While my family wasn’t directly involved in farming, my brothers and I got our feet wet raising pigs and sheep and showing them at the annual 4-H festival in nearby Woodland. We were friends with our farming neighbors and shared the same underground water supply as them, so anytime there was a disruption in the operation of our shared well, residents and farmers had to work together to quickly find a solution.

Over the years, the community also came together to figure out how to improve the levee system when roads, properties and farms flooded during wet years. There were also hot, dry summers that seemed to repeat year after year, and I have stark memories of folks coming together to restore nearby Putah Creek, which would completely dry up and strand salmon. So I came to realize over time just how much water connects us all and how collective action can make a huge difference. This appreciation led me to focus my education on better understanding how to manage these systems in ways that can work for people and wildlife.  Shortly after finishing graduate school, I landed my dream job at EDF, where I was quickly working on projects to help improve water supply reliability.

2020-06-16T10:35:34-07:00June 16th, 2020|

Farmer Pedro Schambon Develops Pro Farmer Software


Pro Farmer Software For Farmers by Farmers

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information of the West

Farmers of fresh produce all have to navigate various regulations such as Good Agricultural Practices, Organic and other certifications, and the Food Safety Modernization Act. Pro Farmer software can help.

This is a challenge for farms of all sizes, and particularly for small farms that do not have the staff to help keep things up-to-date. Farmer Pedro Schambon saw an opportunity to help in this area by creating Pro Farmer Software.

“When we were farming organic vegetables and you know, one of the requirements is to get the Good Agricultural Practices Certificate. Comply with a Food Safety Modernization Act, comply with Good Agricultural Practices, and also comply with the organic certification. And every year when we were getting their auditors to come to our farm, it was a lengthy process to be able to comply with everything that is required in those three certifications,” said Schambon.

Schambon used Zoho, which is a low-code platform to build the software himself. Once he had something that managed his farm, he began offering it to other small farmers as well. He still farms himself but sees this as a way to equip the next generation of farmers with the tools they need to be successful.

Learn more about the software at

2020-06-16T08:49:26-07:00June 16th, 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

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|
Go to Top