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|

Almond Alliance Supports Growers Whipsawed by Supply Chains, Water

By Farm Credit Alliance

Almonds may be California’s second-largest crop, bringing in $5.62 billion in sales in 2020, but almond growers feel whipsawed by two factors over which they have no control: water and supply chains.

That’s where the Almond Alliance comes in. A trade association devoted primarily to advocacy in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., the group formed in 1980 as the Almond Huller and Processors Association, but more recently changed its name and focus, said Aubrey Bettencourt, the organization’s new president and CEO – and a third-generation farmer.

“Our mission is to be the advocacy voice for the almond community in California and protect everything we need to create a thriving almond industry,” Bettencourt said. “The Almond Board does an amazing job as the research and development and market development arm for the industry. The Almond Alliance focuses on the advocacy and policy needed to allow us to continue to grow almonds.”

“The decisions made by policy makers at the state and federal level have a profound impact on California agriculture, which is why groups like the Almond Alliance are so important,” President and CEO of American AgCredit Curt Hudnutt said. “Our charitable contributions support advocacy organizations that allow the farmer’s voice to be heard when decisions are being made.”

This year, California’s Farm Credit institutions – American AgCredit, CoBank, Colusa-Glenn Farm Credit, Farm Credit West, and Fresno Madera Farm Credit – will contribute more than $280,000 to nonprofit organizations advocating for agriculture.

And there are plenty of issues affecting the almond industry.

The most recent crisis involves the worldwide supply chain breakdown. Bettencourt explained that shipping companies in China and other hubs are paying top dollar to get ships and their containers back as soon as possible to load up again after they discharge cargo in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“It used to take a container ship 15 days to get to L.A. Now it takes 50, and the same container that was worth $30 empty now is worth $30,000, so they’re not going to Oakland to pick up ag products. Or, if they do, they’ll give us four hours to put products on the ship instead of four days,” she said.

As most almonds are exported, Bettencourt worries that California growers could suffer irreparable harm if the supply chain issues aren’t fixed. The Almond Alliance is working closely with state and federal trade officials to take action to help protect California’s market share.

“The feds can use the influence of the federal government to explore their legal and emergency authorities. For example, the authority to enforce or incentivize foreign carriers to keep their booking schedules and delivery contracts and to take and deliver sold U.S. products in a timely manner, according to contracted agreements and schedules,” she said.

The second critical issue the Almond Alliance focuses on is water. California has experienced drought conditions for all but one year since 2011, and farmers are preparing for the worst in 2022. The lack of water is forcing many almond growers to cut down trees in their prime to allow limited water allocations to be used on the remainder of their orchards. At the same time, almond growers face criticism for the amount of water the trees need.

Farm water experts say almond growers get an undeserved rap for their water usage as most tree crops need about the same amount of water. And Bettencourt points out that growers have reduced the amount of water per pound of almonds by one-third over the past 20 years and are working to reduce the amount used today by another 20 percent by the middle of the decade.

While drought is a reality, Bettencourt argues that much of the problem facing agriculture is due to abrupt changes in how the system is managed, along with a lack of investment in the water infrastructure. No new storage facilities have been built in the past 50 years, and virtually all the $2.7 billion in bond funds approved by voters in 2014 for additional water storage remain unspent.

She said growers need certainty to plan operations.

“Instead of managing the system as part of the solution, it’s been thrown into uncertainty as a result of administrative discretion. Water should be used for environmental purposes while still providing water supplies for all users,” she said.

“The Almond Alliance will put pressure wherever possible at the state and federal level to get back to that certainty. Everyone needs to know the rules and follow them so we can have a viable agricultural community and safe and reliable water for all people.”

Due to worldwide demand, the USDA reports that 7,600 almond growers – mostly small family businesses – actively farm 1.6 million acres in California, and Bettencourt said the future is bright, so long as growers have a functioning supply chain and adequate water supplies.

“From a production standpoint, we are at the beginning of our prime,” she said. “Looking at acreage and production, California almonds are just at the beginning of where we could be, and the potential is exciting.”

As part of its charitable mission, Farm Credit provides donations to organizations focused on different commodity types, including almonds, said Mark Littlefield, President and CEO of Farm Credit West.

“Because of its importance to California agriculture, Farm Credit supports the Almond Alliance, the Almond Board and other organizations each year,” Littlefield said. “We work hard each year to direct support to nonprofits that really do a great job in their efforts to support farming and ranching.”

About Farm Credit:
American AgCredit, CoBank, Colusa Glenn Farm Credit, Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit, and Yosemite Farm Credit are cooperatively owned lending institutions providing agriculture and rural communities with a dependable source of credit. For more than 100 years, the Farm Credit System has specialized in financing farmers, ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives, rural utilities and agribusinesses. Farm Credit offers a broad range of loan products and financial services, including long-term real estate loans, operating lines of credit, equipment and facility loans, cash management and appraisal and leasing services…everything a “growing” business needs. For more information, visit www.farmcreditalliance.com

About the Almond Alliance:
The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community. For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit www.almondalliance.org or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2022-06-29T13:22:12-07:00June 29th, 2022|

California Grower Tells Congress Frozen Food is Important to Increasing Produce Consumption

By American Frozen Food Institute

Testifying on June 14 before the U.S. House of Representatives, Bill Smittcamp, president and CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods and member representative of the American Frozen Food Institute, called on Congress to ensure federal government nutrition programs encourage and incentivize more produce consumption.

During a full Agriculture Committee hearing on U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition programs other than the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Smittcamp urged policymakers to include frozen fruits and vegetables in all produce incentive programs.

“The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consumers eat all forms of fruits and vegetables to meet the recommended daily intake,” said Smittcamp. “Frozen foods offer a cost-effective and pragmatic way to help people meet these nutritional needs.”

Frozen foods serve an important role in helping people increase overall produce consumption and meet recommendations published in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Research shows that when consumers have various forms of fruits and vegetables available in their home, including in frozen form, their produce intake is higher. In addition, frozen foods can be served with minimal preparation requirements and time, which are identified barriers to produce consumption.

“Frozen fruits and vegetables are fresh produce, simply frozen, and they are a complement to the fresh produce market,” added Alison Bodor, president and CEO of AFFI. “Frozen foods meet the needs of those who may lack the time or resources to cook from scratch, help reduce food waste due to their long shelf life, and allow for year-round access.”

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About AFFI: The American Frozen Food Institute is the member-driven national trade association representing all segments of the frozen food supply chain from manufacturers to suppliers and distributors. AFFI advocates before legislative and regulatory entities on the industry’s behalf, serves as the voice for the industry and convenes industry leadership to create an environment where frozen foods are essential in a dynamic marketplace. www.affi.org

2022-06-28T08:32:07-07:00June 28th, 2022|

Advances in Pistachio Water Management Workshop July 7

Join UC Nut Crops Advisor Catherine Mae Culumber, Irrigation Specialists Daniele Zaccaria and Khaled Bali, Irrigation Advisor Blake Sanden, Professional Researcher Elia Scudiero, and other University of California experts in this in-person Water Management Workshop on July 7, 2022 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, CA to learn about the latest research and advances in Pistachio Water Management and Irrigation. CEU credits for Soil & Water Management have been approved for this workshop. 

This workshop will be held at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, CA on July 7, 2022.

Registration includes participation fee, coffee breaks, lunch, and access to workshop presentations.

Topics Include: Pistachio soil-plant-water relations, stress physiology, evapotranspiration and crop coefficients, soil-water budgeting, soil characterization and salinity mapping, tree water status, irrigation scheduling, and strategies for Pistachio irrigation management under limited and impaired water supplies. A set of irrigation-related methods, technologies, and products to help growers schedule and manage irrigation will also be presented during the Workshop. 

Who Should Attend: Pistachio growers and farm managers, representatives from the pistachio production industry, irrigation consultants and practitioners, CCAs, CPAs, water resource managers, water conservation districts’ personnel, irrigation districts’ managers, extension specialists and advisors, professional researchers, university students, and representatives from state agencies. 

To register, click here.

2022-06-22T09:55:46-07:00June 22nd, 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|

Almond Board of California Announces 2022 Election Results

By Rick Kushman, Media Relations Manager, Almond Board of California

The Almond Board of California recently announced the Board of Directors election results, and the names of the following nominees have been submitted to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for selection to terms of office beginning Aug. 1, 2022:

Grower Position One, Member (1-year term):
Paul Ewing, Los Banos

Grower Position One, Alternate:
Katie Staack-Dorsett, Waterford

Grower Position Two, Member (3-year term):
Brandon Rebiero, Modesto

Grower Position Two, Alternate:
To be determined

Handler Position Three, Member (1-year term):
Darren Rigg, Le Grand

Handler Position Three, Alternate:
Chad DeRose, McFarland

Cooperative Handler Position One, Member (3-year term):
Mel Machado, Modesto

Cooperative Handler Position One, Alternate:
Mark Jansen, Sacramento

The ABC board is made up of five handler and five grower representatives. It sets policy and recommends budgets in major areas, including marketing, production research, public relations and advertising, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control and food safety.

About California Almonds:
California almonds make life better by what we grow and how we grow. The Almond Board of California promotes natural, wholesome and quality almonds through leadership in strategic market development, innovative research, and accelerated adoption of industry best practices on behalf of the more than 7,600 almond farmers and processors in California, most of whom are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, ABC is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit Almonds.com or check out California Almonds on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the California Almonds blog.

2022-06-02T13:03:30-07:00June 2nd, 2022|

California Farmers’ Tequila Dreams

By Debra Kahn, Politico

How bad is California’s drought? Bad enough to make farmers turn to tequila.

About 40 farmers and distillers gathered last week at an inaugural agave symposium at the University of California, Davis, to explore the prospects of growing agave in California and making alcohol from it.

Stuart Woolf, who grows almonds, pistachios and tomatoes, has a 1.5-acre test plot of about 900 agave plants at his farm on the southwest side of the Central Valley.

“Can we grow a bigger plant, with more sugar, with drip irrigation just using a little water?” he’s asking. “More distilled spirits per acre than they can in Mexico?”

Agave isn’t an ideal crop — like grapevines and nut trees, it takes several years to mature to the point where it can be harvested. And unlike grapes and nuts, once it’s harvested, that’s it — you have to plant a new one if you want more.

But it uses far less water than those crops. In Mexico it often isn’t irrigated at all. Early estimates are that agave in California can thrive on less than 1.5 inches of water per acre per year, compared with 48 inches for almonds. It could be a good crop for areas that are being taken out of production due to water shortages.

“That’s kind of the excitement, is here’s a crop that generally doesn’t need much water,” said UC Davis grape-growing, wine and chemical engineering professor Ron Runnebaum, who organized the one-day event. “We just need to understand if we can do something similar in California, considering our different growing conditions.”

It’s a sign of the times. The latest drought is entering its third year, right on the heels of another one that ended in 2016.

Southern Central Valley farmers are by now accustomed to receiving little to no water from the system of canals and reservoirs that was built to supply 3 million acres of farmland, but the shortages are spreading further north than usual, affecting rice as well as tree and row crops.

“I think that when we look back at 2021 and 2022, we will determine that it was the two-year period that broke our water supply system, exposing all its shortcomings,” said Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center.

Endangered-species rules that the Trump administration approved to make it easier for farmers to pump more water during wet periods are still in effect, but it’s been too dry for them to apply. Last year’s infrastructure law has billions of dollars for Western water projects, but the biggest storage proposals have been stuck on the drawing board for decades. California farmers are also facing looming restrictions on groundwater pumping that could force half a million acres of irrigated land out of production.

All those factors are driving interest in drought-tolerant crops like agave, particularly as a way to get some value out of the land that’s already being fallowed due to water shortages.

“This is all about adaptation at some level,” Woolf said. “I’m not going to bet on the state to adapt and figure out our problems. I’d rather be making my own decisions on figuring out how to do it.”

To be sure: This is all very nascent. Woolf estimates there are only about 40 acres of agave in California, and only 10 of them old enough for harvesting. Don’t bet on agave just yet.

“I’m rooting for chickpeas myself,” said UC Davis agricultural economist Dan Sumner. “I like them, and they don’t use a lot of water and they have lots of attributes, but they’re not going to be the next pistachio, which is a billion-dollar crop. I suspect agave’s not going to be the next billion-dollar crop, either, but I could be wrong.”

2022-06-01T09:54:26-07:00June 1st, 2022|

Friends of Dixon May Fair Award $11,000 in College Ag Scholarships

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

The Friends of the Dixon May Fair has awarded $11,000 in college scholarships to five Solano County youths majoring in an agricultural-related field. They represent the cities of Vacaville, Fairfield, Dixon and Rio Vista.

Carrie Hamel of Dixon, scholarship chair of the Friends of the Fair, announced the recipients at a recent ceremony at the newly named Friends Plaza by the Leber Stage, Dixon fairgrounds. Since 2000, the Friends have awarded a total of $233,250 to Solano County students majoring in an ag-related field in a California university or community college, she said.

Sam Esperson, a member of the Rio Vista High School Class of 2022, received the top award, the $3000 Ester Armstrong scholarship. He plans to major in agricultural systems management or agricultural engineering at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo.

The $2500 JoAnn Giannoni Scholarship went to Molly Feins, a 2021 graduate of Vacaville High School and a student at Cal Poly. She plans to become an animal geneticist.

Clairese Wright, a member of the Rodriguez High School Class of 2022, Fairfield, received a $2000 scholarship. She will major in environmental engineering at UCLA.

Natalie Victorine, a 2021 graduate of Dixon High School and a Cal Poly student majoring in agricultural business, received a $2000 scholarship.

In the two-year community college category, Jared Tanaka, a 2020 Dixon High School graduate and a student at Modesto Junior College, won the $1500 Jack Hopkins Scholarship. Tanaka plans to become an artificial insemination technician.

The Friends, an all-volunteer organization and the fundraising arm of the Dixon May Fair, raise funds by selling beverages. They use the proceeds for building and grounds improvements, exhibitor awards (including belt buckles and trophies), and college scholarships.

Sam Esperson
Esperson, the Rio Vista student body president, maintains a 4.2 grade point average. The son of a farmer and active in 4-H and FFA, he attributes the Rio Vista FFA with sparking his passion for pursuing a career in agriculture. “In FFA I learned about the global and technological importance of agriculture and its contribution to our well-being,” he wrote in his essay. “Although FFA was primarily the reason I wanted to become involved in agriculture, I also saw the impact of agriculture throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I realized that most things I have in my life are related to agriculture in one way or another. I want to help provide.” He cited the FFA moto, “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live and Living to Serve.”
He attended the 2019 FFA National Convention and the FFA Student Leadership Conference. In athletics, he was named to the Academic All-League Team in three sports: baseball, cross-country and basketball.

Molly Feins
Feins, who is finishing her first year at Cal Poly, is active in the Young Cattlemen’s Association and the Los Lecheros Dairy Club. “I also was able to join a dairy calving enterprise where I would go to the Cal Poly dairy once a week to do chores and process calves born that day,” she wrote in her essay. She plans to pursue a career in animal genetics and reproductive technology, “I want to manipulate the genes of production animals to create the highest quality products,” she wrote. “My involvement in FFA and showing lambs has convinced me to pursue my desired career focusing on sheep production. The sheep industry is underdeveloped with genetic breeding.”

Clairese Wright
Wright, active in the Solano County 4-H program for 13 years, has served as a Solano County 4-H All-Star Ambassador and president of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club, the largest club in the county with 75 members. In her essay, she cited the 4-H motto, “to make the best better.” Much of her 4-activities have focused on the impact of detrimental effects of pollution. For her emerald Star 4-H Award, she completed a project titled “Don’t Make Pollution Be the Solution.” Her project’s main point “was to explain the global problem and offer simple steps—reduce, reuse and recycle—we can all take on a local level to keep litter out of our waterways. On a higher level, I also wanted the students to see that no matter what their ae or how big the program, their actions count, and that they have the ability to make a difference in the future of our world. Wright hopes to work for a company that develops technology to remove litter “from our planet’s waterways.”

Jared Tanaka
Tanaka, active in 4-H and FA, wrote that he “developed passions for the many aspects of the agriculture industry” as a result of his experiences,” which include developing and maintaining a cattle herd. “I have now spent a decade and a half developing a purebred shorthorn herd from which I can raise calves for freezer beef to market locally, grow out heifers as replacements for other youth or ranches, and simply bask in the joy of having cows.” Tanaka aspires to manage at least 30 cows in his herd. He concluded this essay by quoting the FFA creed “…exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.”

The annual deadline to apply for the Friends of the Fair scholarships is 5 p.m., March 1. Applicants must be a Solano County high school graduate with plans to major in agricultural-related field at a California college. More information on the scholarship application rules is available on the Friends of the Fair Facebook site at facebook.com/FriendsoftheDixonMayFair. Applications must be on Friends of the Fair forms and include a personal essay and letters of support. They are to be mailed to the Friends of the Fair, P.O. Box 242, Dixon, Calif.

Applicants are scored on personal, civic and academic experience; academic standing; personal commitment and established goals; leadership potential; civic accomplishments; chosen field in the areas of agriculture, said Hamel. Most applicants have experience in 4-H, FFA or Grange, criteria desired but not mandated.

The scholarship committee, chaired by Hamel, also includes Tootie Huffman, Kathy Keatley Garvey and Linda Molina of Vacaville, and Marty Scrivens of Dixon. Huffman serves as treasurer of the all-volunteer Friends of the Fair, and Scrivens as secretary.

The Friends’ Plaza was dedicated May 5 in honor of legendary volunteer Donnie Huffman of Vacaville, founding president of the Friends; some 18 founding members; and seasonal volunteers. A photo of Huffman, who is battling terminal cancer, appears on the temporary banner. It will soon to be replaced with a bronze plaque.

2022-05-27T11:51:48-07:00May 27th, 2022|

Statement by Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition on the State Water Board Emergency Water Conservation Regulation

By California Farm Water Coalition

“Today’s State Water Board emergency water conservation regulation continues to demonstrate how serious this year’s drought is. Water conservation measures are reaching farther and farther into our communities and now go beyond the water supply cuts felt by California farms and rural communities earlier this year.

“The taps that deliver surface water to the farms that grow the local food we buy at grocery stores were effectively turned off in March and April. Almost half of the irrigated farmland in California has had its surface water supply reduced by 50% or more.

“We live in an increasingly unstable world, but politicians and regulators are not doing the work needed to guard our safe, affordable, domestic food supply during these uncertain times. Failing to act will not only worsen rising food costs, they may permanently disrupt the food systems that many now take for granted.

“California farms produce over half of the country’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables. California foods aren’t just in the produce aisle, but also in the ready-made foods and ingredients we eat every single day. That can’t happen without water and we cannot simply move California production to other states. A safe, affordable, domestic food supply is a national security issue, just like energy. The government must make it a priority.

“Water supply shortages affect families throughout the state and the nation that depend on California farms for the safe, fresh, and locally-produced farm products we all buy at the grocery store.”

2022-05-27T11:16:12-07:00May 25th, 2022|
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