Sustainable Conservation Works with Growers and Dairies to Solve Problems

Farmers and Sustainable Conservation Collaborate on Economic Improvements

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Sustainable Conservation helps California thrive by uniting people to solve some of the toughest issues facing our land, air and waters. Everyday the organization brings together business, government, landowners and others to steward the resources that Californians depend on in ways that make economic sense.

“We partner extensively with farmers in California on a variety of issues which focus on how to find, solutions that will solve the environmental issue, but also work economically,” said Ashley Boren, executive director, Sustainable Conservation, which has a home office in San Francisco as well as an office in Modesto.

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Ashly Boren, Executive Director of the Sustainable Conservation

“We work with the dairies in California to find manure management practices that work for the farm but also reduce nitrate leeching to ground water, to better protect groundwater quality.

“We help simplify the permeating process for landowners who want to do restoration work, maybe stream bank stabilization or erosion control projects,” Boren said. “We make it much easier to get good projects done.”

“We have a partnership with the nursery industry. This voluntary collaboration aims to stop the sale of invasive plants because fifty percent of the plants that are invasive in California were introduced through gardening, and the nursery industry has really stepped up to be part of the solution on that issue,” she said.

Sustainable Conservation is also doing a lot of work with groundwater. “We think there’s a real opportunity for farmers to help be part of the solution in sustainable ground water management. We are particularly focused on how to capture flood waters in big storm events, and how to spread the water onto active farmland as a way of getting it back into the ground,” Boren said.

Boren noted that she has partnered with the Almond Board of California and other grower associations regarding floodwater management. We actually have a pilot program with Madera Irrigation District and Tulare Irrigation District on helping them with some tools, as well as developing some tools together with them, that will help them figure out how to optimize groundwater management in their basins.

Cornell Kasbergen On Federal Milk Marketing Order

Continued Coverage of Milk Hearing

Dairyman Cornell Kasbergen: We Need Federal Milk Marketing Order

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Cornell Kasbergen, a dairyman in Tulare County, is fed up with the flawed California State Milk Marketing Order. So much so, that he and other dairymen and women have a great desire to switch to the Federal Marketing Order.

This idea is presently front-and-center in Clovis, CA as USDA officials are holding an historic hearing that may extend into early November.

“It started three to four years ago when our milk prices were dramatically less than those in the rest of the country, and we wanted to get our industry on a level playing field. It has been a lot of work getting the co-ops together, but we are just at the beginning of this whole process.”

Having the USDA here is, in itself, a big beginning,

Kasbergen has worked hard to drum up interest in the idea. “When I was a co-op board member at Land O’Lakes, Inc. [a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative milk cooperative], we worked with other dairy co-ops and their members to get educated.  We discovered, for the last three to four years, California’s whey value in its milk pricing formula deviated from national prices, and California producers were losing money. Once we realized we were leaving a lot of money on the table—over a million dollars a day—it opened people’s eyes. That’s why we are having this hearing.”

“The California Department of Food and Agriculture intentionally left the state’s whey prices lower than the rest of the nation, and though we’ve been petitioning them over and over again to rectify the issue, they have failed,” said Kasbergen. “That’s why we have gone this route in getting our milk prices formulated by the federal government rather than by the state. Our state has really let us down.”

“The CDFA has taken hundreds of millions of dollars out of the dairy farmers’ pockets, the loss is killing the dairy industry in California,” said Kasbergen.