California Almond Acreage Drops in 2022 – First Time in Decades

By Rick Kushman, Almond Board of California

Bearing acreage grew but there were fewer new plantings and increased orchard removals

California’s almond acreage decreased for the first time in more than 25 years, according to a new report from Land IQ to the Almond Board of California (ABC).

Total standing acreage as of Aug. 31 was estimated at 1.64 million acres, compared with 1.66 million acres at the same time in 2021. Bearing acres – orchards producing almonds and planted in 2019 or earlier – increased slightly to 1.34 million from 1.31 million last year. But non-bearing acres – new plantings going back to 2020 but not yet bearing almonds – dropped to 294,000 acres from 353,000 acres in 2021.

In addition, the Land IQ 2022 Standing Acreage and Removed Acreage Final Estimate said approximately 30,000 acres are either classified as stressed or abandoned. They were included in the standing acreage total because the orchards “may have the ability to recover,” Land IQ said.

Removed orchards contributed to the drop in total acreage and continued a trend from 2021. Total orchard acreage removed was about 60,400 acres as of Aug. 31 this year compared with 56,900 removed acres in 2021.

“Land IQ’s report may indicate a possible trend towards lower California almond acreage in the year ahead,” said Richard Waycott, ABC president and CEO. “This acreage estimate was based on data collected through Aug. 31, so it does not reflect any additional removals that may have occurred as the harvest and post-harvest seasons progressed this fall. Those data will be incorporated in the next acreage estimate to be published in April 2023.”

The estimate comes from multiple lines of evidence, including extensive examinations on the ground and advanced remote sensing analytics. Land IQ said the 2022 standing acreage estimate is 98.8 percent accurate.

Land IQ’s Final Acreage Estimate in November, along with USDA-NASS’s April Acreage Report, May’s Subjective Estimate and the Objective Report in July are all commissioned by ABC to provide statistical transparency and a robust picture of California almonds to industry stakeholders around the world.

In 2018, ABC first commissioned Land IQ, a Sacramento-based agricultural and environmental scientific research and consulting firm, to develop a comprehensive, living map of California almonds. The map is the result of more than a decade of research.

2022-12-05T08:37:35-08:00December 5th, 2022|

California Farm Bureau Reacts to Initial 5% Water Allocation

By Peter Hecht, California Farm Bureau

The California Department of Water Resources on Thursday announced an initial allocation of just 5% of requested 2023 water supplies from the State Water Project. This comes after this year and 2021 both yielded final water allocations of 5%.

“Here we go again,” said California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson. “This means that 23 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland are facing another year of uncertainty and economic hardships. California has failed to act on critical projects to provide additional water storage, stormwater capture and groundwater recharge that are needed to protect our farms and cities from water shortages in dry years.

“California’s dismal leadership in safeguarding our water resources harms our food production as consumers face rising prices at the grocery store. It also undercuts healthy crop production, which helps reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. California must have a more coherent water plan. Our drought strategy cannot solely be a policy of managing scarcity.”

2022-12-02T15:54:36-08:00December 2nd, 2022|

USDA Invites Ag Producers to Respond Online to the 2022 Census of Agriculture

By Jodi Halvorson, USDA

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mailed survey codes to all known agriculture producers across the 50 states with an invitation to respond online to the 2022 Census of Agriculture at agcounts.usda.gov. The ag census is the nation’s only comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state, county, and territory. By completing the survey, producers across the nation can tell their story and help generate impactful opportunities that better serve them and future generations of producers.

The 2022 Census of Agriculture will be mailed in phases, with paper questionnaires following in December. Producers need only respond once, whether securely online or by mail. The online option offers timesaving features ideal for busy producers. All responses are due Feb. 6, 2023. Farm operations of all sizes, urban and rural, which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products in 2022, are included in the ag census.

“The 2022 Census of Agriculture is a powerful voice for American agriculture. The information gathered through the ag census influences policy decisions that will have a tremendous impact on ag producers and their communities for years to come,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I strongly encourage all farmers, no matter how large or small their operation, to promptly complete and return their ag census. This is your opportunity to share your voice, uplift the value and showcase the uniqueness of American agriculture.”

Collected in service to American agriculture since 1840 and now conducted every five years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census of Agriculture is a complete picture of American agriculture today. It highlights land use and ownership, producer characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, among other topics.

“Our farmers and ranchers have an incredible impact on our nation and the world. I want to thank them in advance for responding to the ag census,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “We recognize how valuable their time is, so we have made responding more convenient and modern than ever before.”

Between ag census years, NASS considers revisions to the questionnaire to document changes and emerging trends in the industry. Changes to the 2022 questionnaire include new questions about the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep and updates to internet access questions.

Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113. The same law requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation. NASS will release the results of the ag census in early 2024.

To learn more about the Census of Agriculture, visit nass.usda.gov/AgCensus. On the website, producers and other data users can access frequently asked questions, past ag census data, special study information, and more. For highlights of these and the latest information, follow USDA NASS on twitter @usda_nass.

2022-11-23T08:55:01-08:00November 23rd, 2022|

CDFA Accepting Public Comments on Block Grant Pilot Projects for Healthy Soils and SWEEP Programs

CDFA is now accepting comments on a draft Request for Grant Applications (RGA) for the Healthy Soils Block Grant Pilot Program and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Block Grant Pilot. A month-long public comment period begins November 16, 2022 and ends on December 15, 2022.

Under the block grant pilot program, qualified organizations across the state may apply for state funding and then disburse funds to eligible farmers/ranchers or agricultural operations for on-farm projects. Additionally, awarded organizations would provide technical assistance to implement on-farm projects or will partner with technical assistance providers to provide this support.

The Healthy Soils Program and SWEEP will make available approximately $35 and $40 million, respectively, for block grant pilot programs.

Eligible entities may be awarded up to $5 million for each program. The following entities could be eligible for a block grant pilot:
• Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs)
• University of California (UC), California Community Colleges, or California State Universities (CSU)
• Federally- and California-Recognized Native American Indian Tribe
• Local or regional government agencies such as air pollution control districts.
• Non-profits including, but not limited to:
o Groundwater Sustainability Agencies
o Irrigation districts
o Land trusts

The draft RGAs and email addresses to submit written comments are available at the links below:
• Healthy Soils – Block Grant Pilot Program https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/healthysoils/
• State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program – Block Grant Pilot www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/sweep

CDFA will hold a public workshop on November 29, 2022 at 2:30 pm PT to answer questions on the draft Request for Grant Applications.

Register in advance for this webinar:
• https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_lrlp63tHRmGRhwsr0Lllzw

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

2022-11-16T11:06:40-08:00November 16th, 2022|

Farm Robotics Competition Challenges Students to Solve Real-World Problems

By Hanif Houston

College students are invited to develop a robot that makes farm work easier while competing for cash prizes and bragging rights in the Farm Robotics Challenge, a three-month robotics development competition running from Feb. 1 to May 13, 2023.

The challenge is being sponsored by The VINE, an initiative of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources focused on agricultural innovation, in partnership with the AI Institute for Next Generation Food Systems (AIFS), farm-ng robotics company, and the Fresno-Merced Future of Food (F3) Innovation coalition.

“Our primary objective for the Farm Robotics Challenge is to empower young innovators to explore careers in agriculture technology and innovation,” said Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer for UC ANR and head of the VINE. “The agrifood technology industry is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing sectors in the economy right now, estimated to reach $30.5 billion by 2050. Yet, because of a lack of exposure or access, our brightest minds end up entering other sectors, taking their talents and abilities with them. We hope this new competition changes that and reverses the talent flow back into agriculture.”

“In order to have a next-generation food system, we need next-generation agricultural robotics developers,” said Steve Brown, AIFS associate director. “There is tremendous innovation potential in this domain that just needs more connecting points to the coders and makers.”

The Farm Robotics Challenge is open to any university or college in the U.S. Student teams will be asked to address a production farming topic on any crop or size of farm, with a desired focus on small farms, by automating an essential farm-related task using the farm-ng robotics platform. Each campus will need to purchase a farm-ng robot or borrow one to participate in the challenge.

Specific challenges will either be pre-identified for teams to choose from, or teams may choose to create additional or custom functionality to solve a self-identified challenge. Challenges will fit into one or more of the following categories: autonomy, artificial intelligence or attachment. Virtual training sessions will be offered throughout the competition to provide teams with expert guidance and technical help from AIFS, farm-ng, The VINE and other partners.

Student teams will be judged on the following criteria, with a grand prize and several specific prizes for top teams in each category: accuracy and completeness, market fit and commercial potential, design elegance and ease of use, cost-effectiveness, safety, interdisciplinary inclusion, and social and economic impact. Winners will receive cash prizes and connections to robotic companies for internships and jobs, among other benefits.

For more information, please visit the Farm Robotics Challenge website at https://farmbot.ai. If you have questions, contact Hanna Bartram, AI Institute for Next Generation Food Systems project coordinator, at hcbartram@ucdavis.edu.

2022-11-11T09:04:22-08:00November 11th, 2022|

CDFA Accepting Pre-Proposals for 2023 Fertilizer Research and Education Program Grant Cycle

CDFA’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) is now accepting pre-proposals for the 2023 cycle of the FREP Grant Program. If a pre-proposal is selected to advance in the evaluation process, a full proposal will be requested later.

FREP’s annual competitive grant program funds research, demonstration, outreach and education projects that advance environmentally safe and agronomically sound fertilization and irrigation practices, and minimize environmental impacts of fertilizing materials. The 2023 request for proposals includes several initiatives to help effectively manage irrigation water and fertilizing materials in California agriculture.

California’s agricultural communities are diverse, and many have historically lacked access to resources and information needed to successfully run their businesses. Thus, CDFA encourages projects that include demonstrable benefits for underserved farmers and farmworkers.

This year’s priorities include: outreach, education and demonstration projects focused on increasing the adoption of efficient nutrient and irrigation management practices and technologies; evaluating challenges and barriers to adoption of management practices; the role of organic input materials in soil nutrient management; demonstrating and/or validating management practices that optimize nutrient and/or irrigation water use; filling knowledge gaps for nutrient and irrigation management in specific crops; understanding nutrient movement from the root zone; and mitigation strategies to reduce nutrient losses.

Applicants are invited to submit two-page pre-proposals to FREP by Monday, December 19, 2022. Pre-proposals should be aligned with at least one of the identified priority research areas. Further information on the 2023 FREP Grant Program RFP, including timelines, application criteria and priority research areas are available on the program web page at www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep/CompetitiveGrantProgram.html

All pre-proposals will be reviewed by the Fertilizer Inspection Advisory Board’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TASC). Applicants whose pre-proposals are selected by TASC will be invited to develop full proposals.

2022-11-08T08:53:14-08:00November 8th, 2022|

Almond Alliance Names New Director of Membership and Events

The Almond Alliance has named Annie Romero the Director of Membership and Events. She will be responsible for developing strategy and overseeing the implementation of all member programming and services. Romero will also oversee the planning and production of the Almond Alliance’s Annual Convention, as well as various membership events throughout the year.

“Annie Romero’s combination of knowledge, experience, and sincere appreciation and respect for the Almond industry and community is absolutely remarkable and essential for this new role,” said Aubrey Bettencourt, Almond Alliance President and CEO. “Most recently, Annie coordinated the wildly successful 2022 Shakin’ It Up Almond Alliance Convention and redesigned and rebranded the Alliance’s multifaceted membership program to better represent and allow access to the almond community and allies. We are very excited to have Annie take on this new role and opportunity for the organization as she works to ensure the Alliance keeps its promises to its members every day.”

Romero joined the Almond Alliance in 2016 and previously oversaw marketing and communications. She has a baccalaureate degree in social science from California State University, Stanislaus.

Romero was raised in Turlock, CA, where she resides today with her husband and daughter.

2022-10-25T08:16:25-07:00October 25th, 2022|

CDFA Announces Recall of Raw Goat Milk Produced at Valley Milk Simply Bottled of Stanislaus County

By Steve Lyle, Director of Public Affairs, CDFA

Raw goat milk produced and packaged by Valley Milk Simply Bottled of Stanislaus County is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones. The quarantine order came following the confirmed detection of the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni in the farm’s packaged raw whole goat milk sampled and tested by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The order applies to “Valley Milk Simply Bottled Raw Goat Milk” and “DESI MILK Raw Goat Milk” distributed in half-gallon (64 oz) plastic jugs with a code date marked on the container of OCT 21 2022 through OCT 31 2022.

Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators, and retailers are to pull the product immediately from their shelves. The current order does not include the farm’s raw cow milk.

CDFA found the campylobacter bacteria in a routine sample collected at the Valley Milk Simply Bottled production and packaging facility. No illnesses have been reported.

Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Most people with camplylobacteriosis recover completely. Illness usually occurs 2 to 5 days after exposure to campylobacter and lasts about a week. The illness is usually mild and some people with campylobacteriosis have no symptoms at all. However, in some persons with compromised immune systems, it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection. A small percentage of people may have joint pain and swelling after infection. In addition, a rare disease called Guillian-Barre syndrome that causes weakness and paralysis can occur several weeks after the initial illness.

2022-10-25T08:11:48-07:00October 25th, 2022|

New Study Reveals Pistachios are an Antioxidant Powerhouse

By Amber Wilson, American Pistachio Growers

Pistachios have a high antioxidant capacity that rivals that of popular antioxidant-containing foods

Antioxidant-rich foods are regularly encouraged as part of a healthy lifestyle, and research suggests that a diet high in antioxidants may even help to reduce
the risk of death. While certain fruits and vegetables are often thought of as high-antioxidant foods, a new study conducted by Cornell University and published in the journal, Nutrients,
produced surprising results. Pistachios have a very high antioxidant capacity, among the highest when compared to values reported in research of many foods commonly known for their
antioxidant capacity, such as blueberries, pomegranates, cherries, and beets.

Researchers from Cornell University wanted to better understand the potential mechanism behind the health benefits that have been linked to pistachios in recent studies. They analyzed
pistachios to determine:
• The makeup of pistachio phytochemicals – compounds within plants that may help to lower the risk of chronic diseases and keep the body working properly.
• The antioxidant power of pistachios.
• Whether pistachio extracts can help to inhibit the growth of tumor cells (breast, liver and colon cancer cells) in a laboratory setting.

The researchers used the two different methods to measure the antioxidant potential of pistachios– Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) and Cellular Antioxidant Activity (CAA) – and
found that pistachios have very high level of antioxidant activities.

“We were excited to see that the antioxidant capacity of pistachios measured so high in our study,” said Dr. Rui Hai Liu, Professor of Food Science at Cornell University. “When compared
to values reported in research for other common, high-antioxidant foods using the same methods, we see the antioxidant activity of pistachios is higher than that of foods often thought of as
antioxidant powerhouses including blueberries, cherries, and beets. We believe the high antioxidant activity of pistachios may to be due to the unique compounds in pistachios including
vitamin E, carotenoids, phenolics and flavonoids. The combination or interaction of these beneficial antioxidants, bioactive compounds, along with other nutrients in pistachios, is likely
what contributes to the many health benefits we have seen in pistachio studies from recent years.”

Normal metabolisms of daily life – everything from eating, breathing, and exercising to the toxins we encounter in the environment – can generate free radicals in the body. Free radicals
attack healthy body cells and this damage is thought to contribute to inflammation and aging in addition to chronic health conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Health professionals
recommend antioxidants from food sources to help protect healthy cells from free radical damage in the body.

Most people know that antioxidants are beneficial to health, but many don’t know exactly how antioxidants work within the body. To see an informational video on antioxidants, go to
https://AmericanPistachios.org/.

A summary of additional findings from the study include:
• Pistachios have a wide variety of important phytochemicals including different members of the vitamin E family (β-tocopherol and γ-tocopherol), carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-   carotene), phenolics and flavonoids.

• Pistachios have high antioxidant activities as measured by both ORAC and CAA. CAA measures antioxidant activity in a cell—how the cells take up or absorb the antioxidants—and is a more physiologically relevant assay and considered reflective of what may happen in the human body when compared to the chemical antioxidant assays.

• Pistachio phytochemical extracts showed potent antiproliferative activities against human breast, liver and colon cancer cells in vitro with exceptionally high activity seen against
the human breast cancer cells. Pistachio phytochemical extracts were shown to inhibit cancer growth in all three cancer cells (breast, liver and colon) without causing  cytotoxicity to the cells. The researchers report that this area of study is worthy of future research to determine how pistachio extracts are blocking the growth of cancer cells as seen in this new study. Interestingly, population studies show an association with high frequency of nut consumption and reduced risk of certain cancers.

“The health benefits of pistachios have been studied over the past 20 years and we are excited to dig further into the specific makeup of pistachios that maybe contributing to overall health,”
notes Amber Wilson, MS, RD, Director of Nutrition Research and Communication for American Pistachio Growers. “The results of this study confirm the high antioxidant potential of pistachios,
which is great news for those looking to add more antioxidant whole foods to their diet.”

Pistachios used in the Cornell study were grown in California and have a different nutritional profile than those grown in other countries.

Pistachios grown in the U.S. are also a plant-based source of complete protein. One serving of pistachios (1 oz or 49 kernels) is an excellent source of copper and a good source of protein,
fiber, vitamin B6, phosphorus and thiamin.

For more information about research on the health benefits of pistachios, visit
https://americanpistachios.org/nutrition-and-health.

2022-10-21T13:25:17-07:00October 21st, 2022|

Registration Now Open for NCAT’s Latino Farmer Conference

By Emilie Ritter and Omar Rodriguez, National Center for Appropriate Technology

NCAT and NRCS partner to host the eighth Spanish-language sustainable agriculture conference

The National Center for Appropriate Technology and Natural Resources Conservation Service will partner to host the eighth annual Latino Farmer Conference, a Spanish-language sustainable agriculture conference for Latino farmers.

The Latino Farmer Conference is a yearly event that seeks to build networks and provide learning opportunities for farmers on a range of technical and social issues relating to sustainable agriculture. The conference aims to provide trusted, practical, and culturally relevant information. Each session is created based on farmer feedback, and all content is presented in Spanish.

“There are over 14,000 registered Hispanic farmers and ranchers in California, and according to the USDA, many of these farmers are historically underserved,” said NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Omar Rodriguez. “At NCAT we strive to support a farming future that is equitable and just for all of California’s farmers, and this conference is a great way to do that.”

After two years of hosting this conference online, NCAT and NRCS are happy to bring people together in person again. This year’s conference will be hosted in Escondido, California, on November 17 and 18. Activities on November 17 will consist of farm tours in the San Diego area, and will include visits to local farms, farmer cooperatives, and CSA operations. On November 18 attendees will gather at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido for a day of networking opportunities, exhibits, and presentations on topics relating to conservation, regenerative agricultural production, and business management.

The Latino Farmer Conference is hosted by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and would not be possible without the generous donations made by partners and friends working in regenerative agriculture.

Register for the conference at: NCAT.ORG/LATINOFARMERCONFERENCE.ORG.

2022-10-21T08:32:53-07:00October 21st, 2022|
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