New Orchard Advisor Brings Research Background

By Tim Hearden, Western Farm Press

The central San Joaquin Valley has a new University of California Cooperative Extension orchard crops advisor who once took part in research into the way people pronounce the word “almond.”

Cameron Zuber, a UCCE staff researcher in Merced County since 2016, has been named the orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties.

He will cover a variety of crops in Merced County, including walnuts, almonds and pistachios as well as figs and stone fruit, and will work with walnut growers in Madera County, according to the university.

Among his contributions to UCCE has been to keep alive a project on how Californians pronounce the word “almond” and mapping where they live, color-coding whether they pronounce the “l.”

The website https://ucanr.edu/sites/sayalmond was started by a marketing and social media expert who left the UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources a few years ago, spokeswoman Pamela Kan-Rice said.

Zuber earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and management from UC Davis and a master’s in environmental systems from UC Merced before joining the university as a researcher.

For orchard crops, he has worked on fumigants and other soil pest controls, rootstocks and scion varietals, cultural practices related to tree spacing and whole orchard recycling, according to the university.

He also has experience in water management, having studied flood irrigation for groundwater recharge, irrigation and soil, water and air interactions.

A growing team

Zuber began his new position June 6, joining a growing team of Extension advisors and specialists as UCANR has received increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature.

He was one of seven new advisors recently announced by the university, with others bringing expertise in wildfire, grapes, small-scale farms and youth development.

Among other advisors working with growers, Joy Hollingsworth began as the new table grape advisor serving Tulare and Kings counties on May 16; Kirsten Pearsons started as small farms advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on March 1; and Ricky Satomi joined UCCE Sutter-Yuba on March 15 as an area forestry and natural resources advisor in the Western Sierra Nevada region.

2022-07-28T14:58:19-07:00July 28th, 2022|

State Water Board delivers $3.3 billion to California communities to boost drought resilience and increase water supplies

By State Water Resources Control Board

Seizing a generational opportunity to leverage unprecedented state funding to combat drought and climate change, the State Water Resources Control Board provided an historic $3.3 billion in financial assistance during the past fiscal year (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022) to water systems and communities for projects that bolster water resilience, respond to drought emergencies and expand access to safe drinking water.

The State Water Board’s funding to communities this past fiscal year doubled compared to 2020-21, and it is four times the amount of assistance provided just two years ago. The marked increase also comes as a result of last year’s $5.2 billion three-year investment in drought response and water resilience by Governor Newsom and the legislature under the California Comeback Plan, voter-approved Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 funds, and significant federal dollars invested through the state revolving funds.

“The accelerating impacts of climate change have given us all a sense of urgency,” said Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Board. “Bold investments by the administration and legislature, plus $2 billion in federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dollars expected over the next five years, are evidence that California has the kind of leadership and support it needs to respond to climate change and focus our collective attention on securing a common water future. For our part, the board is proud to have its Division of Financial Assistance serve as the engine for that response through efficient and responsible funding.”

About 90% of the assistance provided this fiscal year took the form of loans to major water‑resilience and drinking water projects. The board provides loans with terms and interest rates that applicants could not receive from a traditional lender, making capital-intensive projects more affordable for communities. This past fiscal year, the board funded 30-year loans at rates between 0.8% and 1.2%.

Almost $270 million in grants were also distributed for drinking water and wastewater projects in disadvantaged communities. Those grant funds will not have to be repaid.

The board has launched an online dashboard that breaks down this fiscal year funding across several categories, including county, disadvantaged status, type of project, and assembly or senate district.

Building sustainable supplies through water recycling

The board prioritized funding for recycled water, which can be generated from wastewater or stormwater and is a sustainable and energy-efficient water source. Direct potable reuse regulations set to come before the board next year expand the potential of recycled wastewater as a source of drinking water, and will help the state reach its goal of increasing recycled water use to 2.5 million acre-feet per year, enough to supply 833,000 three-person households, by 2030.

The board distributed over $1.2 billion across 15 funding agreements for recycling projects, accounting for nearly 40% of the board’s total financial assistance for the fiscal year. Funding recipients include:

  • Pure Water San Diego, a phased, multi-year recycled wastewater program, which received $664 million in low-interest loans from the board as well as about $734 million from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure and Innovation Act program. The city of San Diego estimates that the Pure Water program will provide more than 40% of San Diego’s water supply by the end of 2035.
  • The City of Morro Bay, which received over $45 million to construct a new wastewater facility with advanced treatment, conveyance pipeline and injection wells. The facility will allow the city to replenish the groundwater basin and increase supply reliability.
  • Inland Empire Utilities Agency, which received over $16 million across three projects to increase stormwater and dry-weather runoff to help recharge the Chino, Jurupa, Wineville and Montclair Basins.
  • Coachella Valley Water District, which received over $27 million to increase the use of non-potable, recycled wastewater for irrigation to reduce groundwater overdraft.

Taken together, all 15 projects will produce an additional 75,000 acre-feet of water per year for the state by 2030, or enough to sustain 225,000 households annually.

Assistance for drought emergencies and drinking water infrastructure

Over the past 12 months, the rapid progression of the state’s drought has exposed vulnerabilities in aging drinking water infrastructure and caused nearly 1,400 wells to go dry as water tables dropped. The board responded to numerous communities suffering water outages throughout the state with expert support from Division of Drinking Water staff and over $26 million for emergency repairs, bottled and hauled water deliveries, and technical assistance.

Drinking water emergencies are often symptoms of systemic problems, especially for failing water systems that frequently serve disadvantaged communities. In the case of the city of Needles, a severely disadvantaged community of just over 5,000 residents in eastern San Bernardino County, a burst pipe and lightning strike caused the water system, already contending with contamination issues, to fail completely in 2020. Through its Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) drinking water program, the board provided immediate funding for emergency repairs and technical assistance to help the city define its project needs and apply for funding. This past fiscal year, the board approved a grant for over $13 million in additional funding to construct vital water system infrastructure to address source capacity issues, poor water quality and aging facilities.

“It would have been impossible for us to fix our 80-year-old water system by ourselves,” said Needles city manager Rick Daniels. “Our median household income is only $40,000 per year, and we cannot raise water rates to pay for improvements. We are 140 miles away from the next California town and temperatures here can hit 120 degrees, so the water outage in 2020 threatened our very existence. The technical and financial assistance the state provided gave our city a future.”

Established in 2019, the SAFER program utilizes a set of tools, funding sources and regulatory authorities to establish sustainable drinking water solutions in collaboration with water systems and communities. In just the first three years of a 10-year program, SAFER has reduced the number of Californians impacted by failing water systems by 40%, or 650,000.

This past fiscal year, the board provided $984 million, including $118 million through the SAFER program, to advance access to safe and clean drinking water throughout the state. This support funded construction projects, benefitting nearly 8.6 million people, and technical and planning assistance, benefitting 465,000 people

In addition to the water recycling and drinking water assistance described above, the board also provided over $1.1 billion to wastewater and stormwater projects during the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

More information about the Division of Financial Assistance can be found on the board’s website.

2022-07-22T13:41:17-07:00July 22nd, 2022|

UC ANR Adds More Farm, Fire and Forestry Expertise to More Communities

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

With increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is continuing to hire scientists and staff to better serve California communities. The most recent people hired for UC Cooperative Extension bring expertise in wildfire, orchard crops, grapes, small-scale farms and youth development.

Satink Wolfson hired as newest fire advisor

Barb Satink Wolfson began in her role as UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties on June 30.

Her primary responsibilities include wildland fire-related research and outreach for the Central Coast region, while building trust, strong partnerships and collaborative relationships within both professional and non-professional communities.

Satink Wolfson earned her B.S. and M.S. in forestry from Northern Arizona University, and brings to UC ANR more than 20 years of fire-research and outreach experience in Arizona. Her favorite job, though, was working as a backcountry ranger in Yosemite National Park during her undergraduate years.

In her new role, Satink Wolfson hopes to address some of the questions behind the use of prescribed fire in a variety of ecosystems (such as coastal prairies and oak woodlands), and help all Central Coast communities build resilience to wildland fire so residents can live safely within fire-adapted landscapes.

Satink Wolfson, who will be based at the UCCE office in Hollister starting Aug. 1, can be reached at bsatinkwolfson@ucanr.edu.

Zuber named UCCE orchard crops advisor

Cameron Zuber has been named UC Cooperative Extension orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties. For Merced County, he will cover orchard crops such as stone fruit, walnuts and almonds, not including pistachios and figs. For Madera County, he will work with walnuts.

Zuber joined UC Cooperative Extension in 2016 as a staff researcher in Merced County. In his education and professional career, he has worked in understanding environmental and agricultural systems and their interactions with people, society and governance. Specifically with orchard crops, he has worked on fumigants and other soil pest controls, rootstocks and scion varietals, cultural practices relating to tree spacing and whole orchard recycling. He has also studied flood irrigation for groundwater recharge, irrigation and water management and soil, water and air interactions.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and management from UC Davis and a master’s degree in environmental systems from UC Merced.

Zuber is based in the UC Cooperative Extension office located at 2145 Wardrobe Ave, Merced, CA 95348 and can be reached at cazuber@ucanr.edu and (209) 385-7403.

Hollingsworth named UCCE table grape advisor

Joy Hollingsworth began working as the new UCCE table grape advisor serving Tulare and Kings counties on May 16.

Prior to becoming a table grape advisor, Hollingsworth served for three years as the UCCE nutrient management/soil quality advisor for Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. In that position she worked on research and extension projects in a variety of agricultural systems, including work on dairy manure, cover crops and biostimulants in raisin grapes.

Previously, Hollingsworth spent six years working as a research associate for the University of California on agronomic cropping systems, including sugar beets, canola and sorghum.
She earned a master’s degree in plant science from California State University, Fresno, and a bachelor’s degree in communication from UC Davis.

Hollingsworth is now based in Tulare and can be reached at (559) 684-3313 or joyhollingsworth@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter @ucce_joy.

Carmignani joins UCCE as fire advisor

Luca Carmignani joined UCCE as a fire advisor for Orange and Los Angeles counties May 2. His research interests include image analysis, computer programming and scientific outreach.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Carmignani was a postdoctoral researcher in the Berkeley Fire Research Lab at UC Berkeley. His research has focused on fire and combustion applications, from wildland fires to material flammability.

He earned his Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the joint doctoral program between UC San Diego and San Diego State University after obtaining his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Pisa in Italy.

Carmignani is based at South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine and can be reached at carmignani@ucanr.edu and (949) 237-2956. Follow him on Twitter @l_carmignani.

Pearsons joins UCCE as small farm advisor

Kirsten Pearsons joined UC Cooperative Extension on March 1 as a small farm advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. She is developing research and extension programs focused on integrating soil health practices and pest management strategies for small-scale farmers and specialty crops.

Prior to joining UC ANR, Pearsons was a postdoctoral researcher at the nonprofit Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where she focused on studying and promoting organic and regenerative agriculture. She worked on Rodale’s long-term Farming Systems Trial, studying how organic and reduced-till field crop production affects long-term farm economics, soil health and water quality compared to conventional practices.

She earned a Ph.D. in entomology at Pennsylvania State University and a B.S. in environmental toxicology at UC Davis.

Pearsons is based in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at kapearsons@ucanr.edu and (805) 788-9486. She will be posting event information and resources for small-scale farms in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on Instagram @ucceslosmallfarms.

Satomi moves to UCCE Sutter-Yuba

Ricky Satomi joined UCCE Sutter-Yuba on March 15 as an area forestry and natural resources advisor in the Western Sierra Region (Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Nevada and Placer counties). He specializes in forest management with a focus on new technologies and wood products.

Prior to moving to UCCE Sutter-Yuba, Satomi served as a UCCE area forest advisor working on forestry and youth education issues for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.

Satomi earned a Master of Forestry looking at the cost efficiency of forest mastication treatments, and a B.S. in forestry & natural resources and society & environment, both from UC Berkeley. He has also worked as a field forester working on various inventory and timber management programs throughout California.

In the coming year, he hopes to offer workshops for forest landowners and professionals around novel GIS tools, climate-smart silvicultural practices, reforestation best practices, and workforce development opportunities.

Satomi is based in Yuba City and can be reached at (530) 822-6213 or rpsatomi@ucanr.edu.

Armstrong joins 4-H in Tuolumne County

Erika Armstrong has joined the UCCE Central Sierra team as 4-H Youth Development Program representative for Tuolumne County.

Armstrong, who has spent her career working with nonprofit agencies and managing volunteer programs, worked with United Way Monterey County and the Alliance on Aging. She also was a campaign manager for a candidate for the Board of Supervisors of Monterey County. Her most recent job was stay-at-home mother for her daughters.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in collaborative health and human communication from California State University Monterey Bay.

Armstrong is based at the Tuolumne office and can be reached at (209) 533-6990 and elarmstrong@ucanr.edu.

2022-07-14T09:12:55-07:00July 14th, 2022|

UC Davis Distinguished Professor Walter Leal Inducted as Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

By Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology

UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Soares Leal of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former chair of the Department of Entomology, was inducted as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) at a June ceremony in Phoenix, Ariz.

A leading global scientist and inventor in the field of insect olfaction and communication, Leal was elected an NAI Fellow in 2019 for his impact in the fields of molecular, cellular biology, and entomology, but due to the COVID pandemic, the organization cancelled the 2020 Phoenix ceremony. Travel restrictions prevented him from attending the 2021 ceremony in Tampa, Fla. Elected Fellows are required to attend the induction ceremony within two years of election in order to receive their award.

NAI singles out outstanding inventors for their “highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society.” Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. The NAI Fellow program has 1,403 Fellows worldwide representing more than 250 prestigious universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes.

“I attended with my wife, Beatriz, and daughter Helena and son Gabriel – both have co-authored papers in the lab, so they represent all visiting scholars, collaborators, postdocs, project scientists, graduate students, and undergraduate students in my lab,” Leal said.

UC Davis chancellor emerita Linda Katehi, an NAI fellow inducted in 2012, nominated Leal for the honor for his “novel, sustainable and continued contributions to the field of entomology and for their greater implications in molecular and cellular biology and the understanding of disease and prevention.” At the time, Leal held 28 Japanese and two U.S. patents.

Leal is the second faculty member affiliated with the Department of Entomology and Nematology to be selected an NAI fellow. Distinguished professor Bruce Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, received the honor in 2014.

Leal, an expert in insect communication investigates how insects detect odors, connect and communicate within their species; and detect host and non-host plant matter. His research, spanning three decades, targets insects that carry mosquito-borne diseases as well as agricultural pests that damage and destroy crops. He and his lab drew international attention with their discovery of the mode of action of DEET, the gold standard of insect repellents.

Leal was recently elected chair of the International Congress of Entomology Council, which selects a country to host the congress every four years and which supports the continuity of the international congresses of entomology. Leal succeeds prominent entomologist May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, editor-in-chief of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and a 2014 recipient of the National Medal of Science.

“I have big shoes to fill,” he said.

Ironically, COVID derailed the 2020 NAI ceremony, and Leal–recipient of the Academic Senate’s 2022 Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award for his series of four global webinars educating the public about COVID-19–contracted the disease while in Phoenix for the 2022 ceremony.

“I was treated with Paxlovid, rebounded, and am now fully recovered,” Leal said.

Leal’s name is currently on the ESA ballot to become an Honorary Member, the highest ESA honor. The Royal Entomological Society named him an Honorary Fellow in 2015.

A native of Brazil, educated in Brazil and Japan, and fluent in Portuguese, Japanese and English, Leal received his master’s degree and doctorate in Japan: his master’s degree at Mie University in 1987, and his doctorate in applied biochemistry at Tsukuba University in 1990. Leal then conducted research for 10 years at Japan’s National Institute of Sericultural and Entomological Science and the Japan Science and Technology Agency before joining the faculty of the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2000. He chaired the department from July 2006 to February 2008.

Leal co-chaired the 2016 International Congress of Entomology meeting, “Entomology Without Borders,” in Orlando, Fla., that drew the largest delegation of scientists and experts in the history of the discipline: 6682 attendees from 102 countries.

Among his many other honors, Leal is a Fellow of ESA, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the California Academy of Sciences. He is a past president of the International Society of Chemical Ecology and corresponding member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. In 2019, ESA selected him to present its annual Founders’ Memorial Lecture, the first UC Davis scientist selected to do so.

2022-07-13T10:20:22-07:00July 13th, 2022|

DPR Announces Second Year of Enhanced Funding for Grant Opportunities to Accelerate Transition to Safer, More Sustainable Pest Management Practices

By Department of Pesticide Regulation

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced $4.65 million in upcoming grant opportunities to increase the speed and the scale at which safer, more sustainable pest management practices are adopted across the state. The enhanced funds for the 2023 DPR Grants Programs cycle were allocated by the state budget and represent an increase of more than five times the amount in available funding opportunities compared to historical funding levels. Grant applications will open Monday, July 11, 2022.

“Our Grant Programs and their increased funding levels continue to play a key role in the state’s mission to advance the development and implementation of systemwide, sustainable pest management,” said DPR Director Julie Henderson. “Ongoing research, education and outreach are critical to protecting public health and preserving our environment as we accelerate the transition to safer pest management practices.”

DPR offers two grant programs focused on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) research, outreach, and implementation.

  • The Research Grants Program: $3.15 million to fund research into sustainable pest management practices in agricultural, urban, or wildland settings that reduce pesticide use or provide alternative methods or practices that could replace pesticides that present a risk to public health and the environment. Examples of past Research Grant projects include evaluating drone-based releases of biocontrol organisms and testing non-chemical entrapment surfaces for monitoring and control of bedbugs.
  • The Alliance Grants Program: $1.5 million to fund projects that promote or increase the implementation, expansion and adoption of effective, proven and affordable IPM systems or practices in agricultural, urban or wildland settings. Examples of past Alliance Grant projects include providing land managers with the best available information regarding invasive plant management through the use of an online decision support tool, as well as driving the adoption of mating disruption among small almond, pistachio and walnut growers within field clusters.

Last year’s DPR Grants Programs cycle represented the first year of increased funding allocated by the state budget. The department awarded $3.75 million in Research Grants to fund 10 research projects that explore IPM tools for urban, non-agricultural and agricultural pest management. DPR expects to award an additional $1.8 million in Alliance Grants funding later this month.

In addition to enhanced funding, DPR’s 2023 Grants Programs application process has been updated and will now offer an extended solicitation period and a streamlined application process.

The 2023 Research Grants Program solicitation period will open Monday, July 11, 2022. Applications will be accepted through Thursday, September 22, 2022.

Once the solicitation period has opened, application information, links to virtual information sessions and application materials will be available on the department’s Research Grants Program webpage.

The 2023 Alliance Grants Program solicitation period will open Monday, July 11, 2022. Applications will be accepted through Thursday, December 8, 2022.

Once the solicitation period has opened, application information, links to virtual information sessions, and application materials will be available on the department’s Alliance Grants Program webpage.

For questions or clarification concerning the DPR Grants Program, please contact DPRpmGrants.Solicitation@cdpr.ca.gov.

2022-07-07T15:08:59-07:00July 7th, 2022|

New Research: Consumers Have Confidence in Farmers to Protect Produce Safety

By Alliance for Food and Farming

Consumers continue to trust farmers when it comes to protecting the safety of their fruits and vegetables. In a new survey conducted by the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), 76% of consumers said they have confidence in farmers to protect produce safety.

Government agencies are also trusted by consumers, according to the survey. Despite media reports and public statements to the contrary, 78% percent of survey participants responded they were confident in regulatory systems in place to protect public health.

The confidence shown in farmers is not unique to this research project. Consumers recognize that farming is hard work and it takes passionate and committed people to grow and nurture fruits and vegetables. For those of us who represent farmers, it is incumbent on us to continue to share information about farming practices, government safety requirements and regulations as well as the care farmers and farm workers take every day to produce these healthy foods.

Why is this so necessary? Because there are well-funded, well-connected groups that disparage the work of farmers and attempt to evoke unfounded fears about the safety of the food they grow. But it is gratifying when surveys like this show that those efforts may be failing. In fact, produce safety concerns have decreased by 20% since the AFF’s last survey in 2016. Concerns about residues have also dropped by 10%.

The AFF conducted this research to help improve overall information-sharing that will reassure consumers about produce safety. With only one in 10 of us eating enough of these nutrient-dense foods every day, it is important to understand consumer concerns as well as what science-based safety information helps them make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families.

A primary focus of the research was to share with participants safety information specific to pesticide residues as well as regulations and practices on pathogen prevention. This information generated strongly positive results with 76% to 83% of survey respondents stating they were confident in the safety of produce after reading each statement. A complete list of the science-based statements can be found here.

The AFF has developed a new webpage highlighting the research results. The consumer research project included three virtual focus groups followed by a nationwide survey with a 3.1 margin of error.

2022-07-05T11:01:30-07:00July 5th, 2022|

New Consumer Research Shows Progress in Produce Safety Outreach Efforts

By Alliance for Food and Farming

A new consumer research project conducted by the Alliance for Food and Farming shows a 20% decline in overall levels of concern about produce safety over 2016 survey levels. Concerns specific to pesticide residues have also decreased by 10% since 2016.

“These positive changes are likely the result of increased outreach, information sharing and transparency regarding produce safety as well as consumers being focused on the pandemic and other dominating issues since the survey was last conducted in 2016,” says Teresa Thorne, AFF Executive Director.

This comprehensive consumer research project included a series of virtual focus groups followed by a nationwide survey to determine changes in the levels of concern among consumers about safety issues specific to produce. This research was conducted to help improve overall information-sharing that will reassure consumers about produce safety. The AFF is the only organization that conducts broad-based, national research specific to produce safety.

“With only one in 10 of us eating enough of these nutrient-dense foods every day, it is important to understand consumer concerns as well as what science-based safety information helps them make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families,” Thorne explains.

Consumers Trust Farmers, Government Regulatory System
The survey shows consumers continue to trust farmers when it comes to produce safety. When asked “How confident are you in each of the following groups when it comes to protecting food safety,” farmers ranked highest with 76% of respondents expressing confidence in them.

When asked to “rate how much you trust each of the following sources to give you information about pesticide use and residues on fresh fruits and vegetables,” USDA, farmers, your doctor/health care provider and dietitians/nutritionists topped the list.

The survey also measured trust in the government regulatory systems. When asked: “How confident are you that government regulations and other food safety efforts are working well to protect public health,” 78% responded that they were very to somewhat confident with only nine percent stating they were not confident.

“Dirty Dozen” List
The “Dirty Dozen” list messaging was tested against AFF statements. By a two-to-one margin, survey respondents agreed with the AFF statements about produce safety versus safety claims made by the list authors.

“This two-to-one margin is a significant finding and underscores the importance of the objectives and work of the Safe Fruits and Veggies campaign to reach consumers through more balanced reporting on the list release as well as direct outreach strategies to target audiences and influencers,” Thorne says.

The “Dirty Dozen” list is released annually and inaccurately disparages the most popular produce items in an effort to promote one production method over another.

Information Sharing
A primary focus of the research was to determine what information helps consumers when making purchasing decisions as well as providing those results to members to assist them in their produce safety outreach.

Information was shared with respondents specific to pesticide residues as well as regulations and practices on pathogen prevention. This information generated strongly positive results with 76% to 83% of survey respondents stating they were confident in the safety of produce after reading each statement. A complete list of the science-based statements can be found here.

Research Conclusions

  • While declining produce safety concerns from 2016 survey levels shows progress, residues are still the top safety concern among consumers. Therefore efforts to provide consistent, science-based information to counter disinformation campaigns must continue to further alleviate unfounded safety fears about the more affordable and accessible forms of produce.
  • Continued sharing of regulatory protections and government produce safety data among key audiences is supported by the survey results.
  • Efforts to connect farmers to consumers and other key audiences to share information about their practices and care and commitment to grow healthy foods should remain an important component of outreach strategies specific to produce safety.
    The AFF has developed a new webpage at safefruitsandveggies.com highlighting the research results. The webpage includes a comprehensive white paper about the research project as well as a short, one-page review of the science-based information assessed by survey respondents.
2022-06-30T11:08:48-07:00June 30th, 2022|

California Pollinator Coalition Reports Increasing Cooperation Among Ag, Conservation Groups

Members note successful projects in celebration of National Pollinator Week

By Almond Board of California

A year after coming together to help make the agricultural landscape more friendly to pollinators, members of the California Pollinator Coalition say they’re gaining momentum, building stronger relationships between agriculture and conservation groups that are already increasing habitat on the ground.

The coalition – created in April 2021 and including more than 20 agriculture, conservation and government organizations – says it’s building a stronger network among these groups that has already led to new projects to expand on the success of the efforts of its individual member organizations.

“Thanks to the individual and collective efforts of our coalition members, we’ve seen a lot of positive developments over the past year,” said Laurie Davies Adams of Pollinator Partnership, one of the coalition’s founding members. “The State has also provided $30 million in new funding for pollinator projects, and we’ve seen more and more projects like cover crops and hedgerows installed among the state’s orchards, vineyards, rangelands and croplands.”

As the Coalition celebrates National Pollinator Week, June 20-26, it is assessing the progress its members have helped spur, which includes:

  • More than 65,000 acres of pollinator forage added throughout the state on over 400 farms in the past 18 months.
  • Approximately 340 acres of new and enhanced habitat installed in California for monarch butterflies, with another 40,000 milkweed plants planned this year.
  • $30 million over two years earmarked by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature for sharing costs and providing incentives for farmers, ranchers and vineyard managers to create pollinator habitat on working lands.
  • Working with researchers to advance guidance of habitat placement on farms and working lands.
  • New partnerships built that launched current projects, including creating more California-specific guidance for growers and finding new funding.

“Pollinators are small, but they’re mighty,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “If you want to know how much California agriculture relies on pollinators, look no further than the broad coalition of agricultural organizations that we’ve already built, and the diverse acreage they represent. These partnerships are bearing fruit, with hundreds of farmers and thousands of acres adding forage and habitat to support both managed and native pollinators.”

One example of those partnerships is the diverse group of Coalition members – including Pollinator Partnership, the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the Wine Institute, the Almond Board of California, Blue Diamond, California Dairy, Inc., the California Cattleman’s Assoc., California Farm Bureau Federation, and Project Apis m. – that worked together to apply for a partnership agreement through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service for regional farmer-to-farmer collaboration in 10 California counties on habitat installation and adoption of integrated pest management.

“We are determined to be part of the solution,” said Almond Board of California Chief Scientific Officer Josette Lewis. “Pollinators are crucial for our food production and for our entire ecosystem. All of us in agriculture understand that the most productive path we can take is to work together toward a common solution of protecting pollinators and the working lands of California.”

Lewis briefed Congress in 2021 about the Coalition’s brand of collaborative conservation. She detailed the ways it can be used as a model for protecting pollinators and for a range of other of effective environmental alliances among independent groups, including those who have not always been aligned.

“We need all hands on deck for monarchs and pollinators,” said Monarch Joint Venture Executive Director Wendy Caldwell. “That, of course, includes the agricultural community. I grew up on a farm and know firsthand the hard work, dedication and care farmers put into their land. At MJV, we recognize agricultural stakeholders as instrumental partners in reaching monarch habitat goals.”

Another achievement of the Coalition has been to send the strong reminder that everyone in California agriculture is a stakeholder in protecting pollinators.

“As part of the efforts of California winegrape growers and vintners to increase the sustainability of their vineyards and wineries, they have planted cover crops and hedgerows on thousands of acres,” said Allison Jordan, Executive Director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. “Those acres provide habitat to vital pollinators while building soil health. Even though winegrapes are self-pollinating, all of us in California wine recognize the importance of pollinators to the state’s agriculture and food systems. That is why we’re partnering with likeminded organizations in the Coalition to increase resources to benefit even more pollinators.”

Entering Pollinator Week, the Coalition continues working to get the word out to more and more farmers about pollinator protection, funding, benefits and programs, including:

The Coalition continues to recruit partners who understand the urgency and share the common goal of supporting the health of both pollinators and agriculture. Current California Pollinator Coalition membership includes:

  • Agricultural Council of California
  • Almond Alliance of California
  • Almond Board of California
  • California Alfalfa and Forage Association
  • California Association of Pest Control Advisers
  • California Association of Resource Conservation Districts
  • California Cattlemen’s Association
  • California Citrus Mutual
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • California Farm Bureau Federation
  • California State Beekeepers Association
  • California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Monarch Joint Venture
  • Monarch Watch
  • Pollinator Partnership
  • Project Apis m.
  • University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Western Growers
  • Dr. Neal Williams, University of California, Davis

About the California Pollinator Coalition
The California Pollinator Coalition, convened by Pollinator Partnership, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Almond Board of California, is made up of a diverse group of agricultural and conservation organizations with the shared goal of providing enhanced habitat for pollinators. The Coalition and its members work to increase habitat for pollinators on working lands. Additionally, the group promotes research and tracks its progress toward healthy and abundant habitats.

2022-06-21T08:23:10-07:00June 21st, 2022|

The Ocean Shipping Act Reform Act Signing Is A Big Win For American Workers, Farms, and Supply Chain

By Almond Alliance of California

Aubrey Bettencourt, President/CEO of the Almond Alliance of California, will be attending the signing of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

“After a year and a half of supply chain problems, a massive trade imbalance, challenges at ports this bipartisan and bicameral legislation will take key steps toward easing current supply chain challenges by expanding the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission to promote U.S. exports through a maritime system that is transparent, efficient, and fair,” said Aubrey Bettencourt. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will bring American Grown goods to market, preserve America’s reputation as a trade partner, and show that we can come together to meet challenges.”

After two years of effort by agriculture exporters, retailers, and others, Congress approved S.3580, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, sending it to the President for his signature.

Specifically, this legislation:

• Expands safeguards to combat retaliation and deter unfair business practices;
• Clarifies prohibited carrier practices on detention and demurrage charges and vessel space accommodation;
• Establishes a shipping exchange registry through the FMC;
• Expands penalty authority to include a refund of charges; and
• Increases efficiency of the detention and demurrage complaint process.

Bettencourt continued, “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is a big win for American workers, farms, businesses, and supply chain, providing the tools to modernize our policies and practices to support American exports and our reputation as a worldwide trade partner. Thank you to the California delegation and President Biden for your continued leadership.” To schedule an interview with Aubrey Bettencourt during her visit to Washington, D.C. for the bill signing, please contact Hector Barajas at hector@amplify360inc.com or Mike Vallante at mike@amplify360inc.com.

2022-06-16T11:15:50-07:00June 16th, 2022|

Famed UC Davis Apiculturist Eric Mussen Passes

Honey Bee Authority Dr. Eric Mussen Passes

Celebrated honey bee authority Dr. Eric Carnes Mussen, an internationally known 38-year California Cooperative Extension apiculturist and an invaluable member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, died Friday, June 3 from liver cancer. He was 78.

Dr. Mussen, a resident of Davis, was admitted to a local hospital on May 25. He was diagnosed with liver cancer/failure on May 31 and returned to the family home June 1 for hospice care. He passed away the evening of June 3.

“Eric was a giant in the field of apiculture,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “The impact of his work stretched far beyond California.”

Dr. Mussen, known to all as “Eric,” joined the UC Davis entomology department in 1976. Although he retired in 2014, he continued his many activities until a few weeks prior to his death. For nearly four decades, he drew praise as “the honey bee guru,” “the pulse of the bee industry” and as “the go-to person” when consumers, scientists, researchers, students, and the news media sought answers about honey bees.

“Eric’s passing is a huge loss,” said longtime colleague Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. “He was always the go-to person for all things honey bee. He worked happily with hobbyists, commercial beekeepers and anyone just generally interested.”

Colleagues described Mussen as the “premier authority on bees and pollination in California, and one of the top beekeeping authorities nationwide,” “a treasure to the beekeeping industry,” and “a walking encyclopedia when it comes to honey bees.”

Norman Gary, a noted UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology who served as a faculty member from 1962 to 1994, described Eric as “by far, the best Extension apiculturist in this country.”

“Eric’s career was so productive and exciting that a book would be required to do justice for his many contributions to his profession as extension entomologist specializing in apiculture, better known as beekeeping,” Gary said. “His mission basically was facilitating productive and reciprocal communication between beekeeping researchers at UC Davis, commercial beekeeping as it affects California’s vast needs for the pollination of agricultural crops, providing helpful information to hobby beekeepers, and educating the general public concerning honey bees. His great professional successes in all areas have been recognized around the world. He has received numerous awards, especially from the beekeeping industry. He was by far the best Extension apiculturist in this country!”

“In addition to professional duties, he enthusiastically tackled other projects for entomology faculty,” Gary said. “For example, he critically reviewed most of my publications, including scientific papers, books, and bulletins. He worked diligently to help create the Western Apicultural Society and later served as president. (Mussen served six terms as president, the last term in 2017.) I especially appreciated his volunteering to moderate a video that historically summarized and recorded my entire 32-year career at UC Davis. And his tribute would not be complete without mentioning that he was one of my favorite fishing buddies.”

2022-06-14T10:20:05-07:00June 14th, 2022|
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