Ag Day 2015: A beautiful day to be a farmer

California’s agricultural community gathered yesterday on the west steps of the State Capitol to show, see and share the bounty of our state’s farmers and ranchers. It was a perfect day for such a celebration (although to be perfectly honest, the farmers would have preferred rain). In keeping with the United Nations’ declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Soils, the theme for Ag Day this year was “Breaking New Ground.”

Special thanks to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s partners in organizing Ag Day, the California Women for Agriculture and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.  Thanks also go to our emcee, Kitty O’Neal of KFBK Newsradio, as well as event sponsors the California Egg Farmers, the California Alpaca Breeders Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Grown, the California State Board of Equalization, the California Strawberry Commission, the Farmer Veteran Coalition, Got Milk?, John Deere, the Kubota Tractor Company-California, and the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

 

Farm to Food Bank Month

The following was written by Governor Brown…

California is America’s most robust and bountiful agricultural producer. With over 81,000 farms and approximately 400 crops, agriculture in the Golden State is responsible for feeding much of the nation and world.

As California’s economy recovers amidst one of the worst droughts on record, farmers and ranchers across the state are also doing their part to prevent the spread of hunger and expand access to affordable, nutritious food in their communities.

We owe those within the agricultural sector our gratitude during these challenging times. I urge all Californians to recognize the contributions of California’s agricultural community, as well as the food banks and partner organizations they work with to provide nourishment to the most vulnerable among us.

Farm to Food Bank Month

 

Celebrate Farm to Food Bank Month and team up with the California Association of Food Banks, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, & California Grown to help out! For more information http://www.cafoodbanks.org/ 

 

State employees donate 13 tons in Turkey Drop, Set record at Sacramento Food Bank

By: Monique Bienvenue; California Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter 

A partnership between California state employees and the Sacramento Food Bank has helped produce a record number of turkey donations via the 2014  Turkey Drop. The food bank accepted more than 9,300 turkeys for needy families in the Turkey Drop, with 1,760 of them–more than 26,000 pounds (13 tons!)–provided by state employees.Sacramento Food Bank

The Turkey Drop is one element in the ongoing State Employees Food Drive. Other ways to contribute include a rice donation program and a continuing effort to collect canned food and other items. State offices throughout the region have staged colorful bins to make donations easy.

The Sacramento Food Bank is Sacramento County’s largest direct food bank provider feeding approximately 40,000 food-insecure individuals a month, including 15,000 children and 8,000 senior citizens. In 2013, the food bank distributed over 6.5 million pounds of food, including 2 million pounds of fresh California-grown fruits and vegetables.

December is Farm to Food Bank Month . Help increase farm to food bank donations to 200 million pounds annually by making a product donation or future donation pledge today – contact Steve Linkhart, California Association of Food Bank at (510) 350-9916.

World Food Day: Hunger is a Matter of Food Access, Even at Home

By Laurie Greene, California Ag Today Editor

“It is encouraging to see World Food Day observed today, a designation made possible by the inspiring work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,” says California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross in a statement released TODAY.

The goal of World Food Day is to eradicate hunger. Ross explains the world produces enough food to feed everyone; the ongoing problem is food access.

Globally, reports University of California, Davis, over 800 million people today suffer from malnutrition and hunger, nearly 15.9 million children in the U.S. struggle daily to get proper nutrition and approximately 18% of residents in this region lack regular access to food. Ross states, “In California, almost four million people are food insecure; they could not afford enough food at least once in the previous year.

World Food Day Logo

CDFA addresses access issues daily through its programs. Ross explains that CDFA’s Certified Farmers’ Market program has helped increase the number of markets statewide, providing communities with fresh, nutritious food directly from farms. Many of them now accept CalFresh cards used by California’s low-income families to obtain nutritious food. Likewise, CDFA’s Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program helps provide these foods to needy senior citizens.

CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork connects school districts with local farmers and also helps teachers provide quality nutrition education to their students. Ross says, “I was very pleased to see these efforts play a role in bringing a truly exceptional honor this week to a group of Contra Costa County students – they were invited to the White House garden to meet First Lady Michelle Obama and help harvest vegetables for the White House kitchen!”

CDFA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program provides USDA Farm Bill funds, nearly $20 million in 2014, through a competitive grant process for some specialty crops projects. Projects includ programs in Chico and Sacramento to improve access through community gardens for low-income residents and educational opportunities in both nutrition and urban production.

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture and CDFA collaborate to generate donations to state food banks. “We declare each December as Farm-to-Food Bank Month,” Ross comments, “and ask our farmers and ranchers to make a donation or a pledge.” Last year, donations exceeded 127 million pounds of food, and this year’s goal is 200 million pounds.

Ross continues, “We want to thank our partners at California Grown for its commitment to the food bank effort with its “Snap a Selfie” Program.” California Grown donates a pound of food to California food banks for every #cagrown selfie—a photograph of the CA Grown logo or anything grown or produced in California and is posted with ‘#cagrown’ in the posting on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook by end of this month. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations established World Food Day on October 16, 1981, the anniversary of the organization’s founding in 1945.

The 2014 World Food Day theme – Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth” – has been chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers. World attention will focus on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.

The UN General Assembly has designated 2014 “International Year of Family Farming.” This is a strong signal that the international community recognizes the important contribution of family farmers to world food security.

Eight days after World Food Day, held every October 24th, “Food Day” organized by the Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), aims to unite Americans to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies. “Real Food, Just Food”is the 2014 slogan.

Sources: CDFA, UC Davis Dateline, FAO of the UN, CSPI

California Grown gets new chairwoman

By Mike Hornick; The Packer

Cherie Watte, executive director of the California Asparagus Commission, is the new board chairwoman of California Grown, succeeding Kasey Cronquist, chief executive officer of the California Cut Flower Commission.

The Buy California Marketing Agreement manages the California Grown campaign.

Executive committee members on the California Grown board include vice chair Spencer Halsey, associate director of the California Association of Gardens and Nurseries; and secretary treasurer Karla Stockli, chief executive officer of the California Fig Advisory Board.

Before becoming executive director of the California Asparagus Commission, Watte was director of international trade policy at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She was also appointed manager of the department’s agricultural export program by then-Gov. Pete Wilson.

Prior to her CDFA appointment, Watte was the director of national affairs and research for the California Farm Bureau Federation. Other roles included legislative assistant to congressman Tony Coelho on the U.S. House of Representatives committee on agriculture. She is a former member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s agricultural trade advisory committee on fruits and vegetables.

“(Cherie) knows firsthand what it takes to be an active farmer in California, since she is the fourth generation of her family to farm in the Imperial Valley,” Nick Matteis, executive director of California Grown, said in a news release.

“We have a lot going on with consumer promotions and newly formed retail and foodservice partnerships,” Watte said. “Farmers and ranchers in California face many challenges, and this program is a bright spot for them.”

Cronquist guided the campaign through the revamping of its promotions program and membership expansion.

National Farmers Market Week highlights connections between consumers, farmers

Source: Rick Jensen, Director of Inspection Services; CDFA 

The annual National Farmers Market Week is being observed this week (August 3-9).  It’s a time worth celebrating because of the key role farmers markets play in connecting consumers to the people who produce their fresh fruits and vegetables.

At a time when there is more interest than ever about the origins of food, these markets have the answers, thanks to producers with plenty of information for their customers. Additionally, many of the markets do outreach on nutrition, provide help with food access, where needed, and offer a great way for people to buy California Grown!

California leads the nation with more than 800 certified farmers markets, serving as venues for an estimated 2,200 certified agricultural producers selling high-quality produce directly to consumers. CDFA created the Certified Farmers Market Program in 1977—the first in the nation—to provide consumers with the assurance that they are buying directly from producers.

In California, many of the markets operate year-round due to the availability of local produce.

Please join us in celebrating National Farmers Market Week by visiting a certified farmers market near you.