Wasco High School Students Attend Bakersfield College

High School Students Gain Interest in Agriculture

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Sophia Marin is a lab assistant at UC Cooperative Extension Kern County, and she also is an adjunct professor at Bakersfield College in a dual enrollment program with Wasco High School. She is helping high school students attend Bakersfield college at the same time.

“The students are in the 11th grade, so by the time that they’re done with high school, they’ll have their high school diploma plus an Associate Degree from Bakersfield College,” Marin said. “They’re essentially doing two schools in one,  and at the college, they attend lectures and they have a lab.

California Ag Today met Marin and her students at a California Fresh Carrot Advisory Board meeting in Kern County.

“We have been discussing different pathogens that affect plant growth. The carrot meeting was a great opportunity to actually hear the researchers, instead of reading a textbook and me going over it,” Marin said. “They got to see it real life, and I thought it would be a more memorable and something that they could grasp.”

Wasco High School Students Who Also Attend Bakersfield College

Marin explained that since the students come from the rural area of Wasco, most have an interest in agriculture.

“And by the end of this next year, they will all receive an agricultural business degree from Bakersfield College,” she said.

“It will depend on them what the students do the degree. So whatever I can instill or spark in them to whatever career path they want to go to. It may be agronomy, pathology or research, it’s all on them,” Marin said. “It’s nice to open their eyes to see more.”

She noted that most of the kids have plans to go to a university. “I am very impressed with them. Some of the terminology that I mention, I might say I wonder if they know about this or that,” she said. “But they do know. When I’m speaking to them, they understand, and if they don’t, they will research an idea themselves. I am very impressed.”

“These students work very hard. They have weekend classes and summer classes. I am very proud of these students,” Marin said.

Social Media Critical To Reach Consumers

Animal Ag Alliance Promotes Social Media to Bridge the Gap Between Farm and Fork

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

In the age of social media, facilitating the connection between producer and consumer is more accessible than ever. Casey Kinler, Communications Manager with the Animal Ag Alliance based out of Arlington, Virginia, is not only urging farmers to jump on board the social media craze but is also focusing on helping zealous educators develop their message.

“Now more than ever, it is really important for individual farmers and ranchers to be on social media,” Kinler said.

Although this may be foreign territory for some, she recommends beginning with only one platform such as Facebook because it offers the biggest reach of people

produce safety
Bloggers Learning more About California Agriculture

To take it one step further, the Ag Alliance also works with college students, hosting an online scholarship competition where the goal is to teach them how to effectively communicate about animal agriculture. They just celebrated their 10th anniversary of the competition, where over 430 individuals from more than 40 different states participated.

“It’s really important for farmers to get out there and share what they’re doing on their farm and make sure that people in their community know that they are a trusted source.”

USDA Awards Grants to Support Schools Serving Healthier Meals and Snacks

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be awarding over $30 million in grants to help schools prepare healthy meals for their children. Twenty-five million dollars in grants will help schools purchase needed equipment to make preparing and serving healthier meals easier and more efficient, and up to $5.5 million will provide additional training for school food service professionals.

“Schools are successfully serving more nutritious meals to America’s students, and healthier meals mean healthier kids. We’re working to do everything we can to support schools as they work to provide kids the nutrition they need to learn and develop into healthy adults,” said Vilsack. “These grants will help schools obtain better equipment and additional training for their hardworking school food service professionals. With doctors, parents, teachers and schools all working together, we can make sure we’re giving our kids the healthy start in life they deserve.”

Since 2009, USDA has provided $185 million in kitchen equipment funding to states and schools participating in the National School Lunch (NSLP) and School Breakfast (SBP) Programs. USDA provides the funding to states, which then competitively award grants to school districts in order to purchase necessary equipment, giving priority to high-need schools where 50 percent or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price meals.

The school equipment grants announced today are another example of how USDA is supporting schools as they implement the new meal standards resulting from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. USDA works closely with schools to address implementation challenges, and provides funding, training and technical assistance to overcome barriers.

To further assist school food workers USDA is also announcing the availability of up to $5.5 million in Team Nutrition training grants for FY2015. These grants are only open to state agencies administering the NSLP, SBP, the Summer Food Service Program, or Child and Adult Care Food Programs. Through a competitive grants process, Team Nutrition training grants will be funded for the period of September 30, 2015 – September 30, 2017. State agencies may apply for up to $350,000. To apply for the grants, state agencies should visit www.grants.gov.

These competitive grants focus on the implementation of Smarter Lunchrooms – an innovative strategy using behavioral economics to encourage healthy eating in the cafeteria – as well as the healthier meal standards, HealthierUS School Challenge, USDA Foods, nutrition education, and wellness activities in schools and child care institutions. These funds may be also used to assist the state agency in providing training and technical assistance to school staff in creating Smarter Lunchrooms.

The Team Nutrition Training grants are two-year grants that have been awarded to state agencies on an annual basis since the inception of the program in 1995. They serve as key delivery systems for supporting the implementation of USDA’s nutrition requirements for meals served in schools and child care centers.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers America’s nutrition assistance programs including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net.

FDA Update on Food Safety

FDA Announces Competitive Grant Program with NIFA to Fund Food Safety Training, Education and Technical Assistance

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that it has joined with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in a collaborative partnership to administer and manage the National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Program.

Recognizing the importance of and need for food safety training for small farm owners and food processors, the FDA and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are announcing a grant program that will provide funding so that these critical groups receive training, education and technical assistance consistent with standards being established under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This is one of several education and outreach efforts associated with the implementation of FSMA.

Priority will be given to those submitting grant applications to train owners and operators of small and medium-size farms; farmers just starting out in business; socially disadvantaged farmers; small food processors; small fruit and vegetable wholesalers; and farms that lack access to food safety training and other educational opportunities. A Federal, State, or local agency, State cooperative extension services, non-profit community based or non-governmental organizations, institutions of higher education, tribes and tribal stakeholders or a collaboration of two of more eligible entities are among the entities eligible for funding.

Education and technical assistance projects are an essential element in the FSMA implementation strategy. Such efforts will help ensure widespread voluntary compliance by encouraging greater understanding and adoption of established food safety standards, guidance, and protocols. They also facilitate the integration of these standards and guidance with a variety of agricultural production systems, encompassing conventional, sustainable, organic, and conservation and environmental practices.

Meeting the technical assistance needs for produce safety will require an investment well beyond what is being announcing today. This grant program underscores the commitment of both agencies to working with the grower community, Cooperative Extension Services (a nationwide education network), our state and tribal government partners, and institutions of higher education to more fully define the need and strategies for meeting it.

FDA is first issuing a request for applications for the establishment of a National Coordination Center (NCC) for Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Program. Once funding is available, separate requests for applications for the establishment of Regional Centers will be forthcoming.

 

This Request for Application can be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-FD-15-003.html

More information on the NIFA can be found at: http://www.nifa.usda.gov

You can find additional information on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/default.htm

For more information on FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act, visit http://www.fda.gov/fsma.

 

Governor Brown Commemorates California Pollinator Week

Source: CDFA

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

                                                      California Pollinator Week

Pollinator species such as birds and insects are essential partners to farmers and ranchers in producing much of our food supply. Pollinators also provide significant environmental benefits that are necessary for maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.

The health of our national forests and grasslands depends on pollination. These open spaces provide forage, fish and wildlife, timber, water, mineral resources and recreational opportunities for our communities and the vital industries that serve them.

The State of California provides producers with conservation assistance to promote wise stewardship of lands and habitats, including the protection and maintenance of pollinators on working lands and wild lands.

As Governor of the state of California, I urge all citizens to recognize the important role that pollination plays in our state’s economy and ecosystems.

Sincerely,
EDMUND G. BROWN JR.

June 16 – 22 is Pollinator Week!

Pollinator Week was initiated and is managed by the Pollinator Partnership.

Seven years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. 

Pollinator Week has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort.  The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year.

The Pollinator Partnership is proud to announce that June 16-22, 2014 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Interior.

The Pollinator Partnership is also proud to announce that June 16-22, 2014 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Pollinating animals, including bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and others, are vital to our delicate ecosystem, supporting terrestrial wildlife, providing healthy watershed, and more. Therefore, Pollinator Week is a week to get the importance of pollinators’ message out to as many people as possible.

It’s not too early to start thinking about an event at your school, garden, church, store, etc. Pollinators positively effect all our lives- let’s SAVE them and CELEBRATE them!

For more information, please visit pollinator.org

USDA Launches New “Healthy Eating on a Budget” Section of ChooseMyPlate.gov Site

Source: CDFA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has unveiled Healthy Eating on a Budget – the newest addition to ChooseMyPlate.gov. Consumers continue to want more information about how to make better eating decisions with limited resources.

To meet this need, the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) developed the new resource to include easy-to-use and insightful information about planning meals, shopping smart in the grocery store, and preparing foods that save money and time in the kitchen.

“Although healthy foods aren’t always more expensive, many low-income people face time and resource challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Promoting nutritious food choices can have a positive impact on improving the health and diet quality of Americans. USDA offers a broad spectrum of strategies to empower low-income families to purchase healthier foods.”

Consumers who visit the Healthy Eating on a Budget section of ChooseMyPlate.gov will learn ways to plan, purchase, and prepare healthy meals. The new web pages provide families with tips and strategies to help save money and plan a healthier diet.

The new section includes the latest addition to the MyPlate 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series, Save More at the Grocery Store which emphasizes simple-to-use tips to help consumers make decisions as they walk down a supermarket aisle. Dozens of additional strategies are featured in the new section including using unit pricing, reading food labels to compare items, and checking sales on store brands.

“This resource not only demonstrates that it is possible to eat healthfully on a budget, but it shows how,” said CNPP Deputy Director Jackie Haven. “These new pages complement our existing resources on ChooseMyPlate.gov, allowing consumers to figure out how to improve their nutrition, and how to make it affordable.”

Healthy Eating on a Budget supports other initiatives in progress at USDA to encourage healthy eating among more Americans.

With so many food options available, it is often difficult for consumers to determine the best foods to put on their plates when the budget is tight. Healthy Eating on a Budget provides practical information to help more Americans understand their options and supports USDA initiatives to help families make healthy eating a priority in their daily lives.

Golden Rice Refusal Kills Millions

Source: Don Curlee, Hanford Sentinel

A University of California report has exposed the injustice that prohibits a genetically engineered additive to rice. Without it, the death of millions of children has occurred, notably in Africa and India.

The researcher opinion lays the blame for the international prohibition of producing golden rice through genetic engineering on powerful forces that hide behind environmentalism.

California, one of the world’s major rice producers, is ready to supply the vitamin enriched product, especially for export.

The UC report appears in the current issue of the university’s respected Update, a bi-monthly publication compiled by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department.  The authors are Justus Wesseler, professor for Agriculture and Food Economics at Technical University, Munich; Scott Kaplan, research assistant at Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley, and David Zilberman, professor in the Agricultural and Research Economics department at UC Berkeley.

The GE process for folding vitamin A into rice, transforming it to golden rice, has been well understood since 2000, but efforts to gain approval have been opposed by powerful regulators, particularly in India and Bangladesh.

Both countries are known for the staggering incidence of disease, disabilities and lagging development resulting from a lack of vitamin A in the diets of their citizens.

The authors of the UC report point out that the creation of golden rice could have saved millions of lives and avoided blindness, vulnerability to childhood infections, anemia and poor growth in millions since the engineering process for adding the vitamin was discovered in 1999.

The researchers recall that the nearly worldwide objection to creating golden rice was led by Greenpeace.  It was perhaps the most notorious radical environmentalist group at the turn of the century, characterized by a series of risky, but widely reported escapades aimed at derailing broadly-accepted programs and activities that were in the news.

The movement’s objections were always based on what it perceived as dangers to the environment.

patrickmooreChairSpokesperson
Dr. Patrick Moore, Chair and Spokesperson, “Allow Golden Rice Society”.

A 2012 Greenpeace publication states, “If introduced on a large scale, golden rice can exacerbate malnutrition and ultimately undermine food security.” Authors of the UC report elaborate by saying that Greenpeace fears that golden rice may accelerate the adoption in developing countries of other GE crops perceived by Greenpeace and others to be very dangerous.

The report also refers to the 180-degree turnabout by former Greenpeace leader and co-founder Patrick Moore, who now promotes a group called “Allow Golden Rice Society.” He has recognized that the poor have paid the majority of the price of the fight against GE technologies. Dr. Moore published a book in 2011 called, “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist”.

The UC report says that a large and growing body of literature indicates that GE varieties have produced a significant amount of real benefit throughout the world.

Publication of the report seems to be an invitation to everyday environmentalists, often fans of radicals and extremists like Greenpeace, to back off a bit and realize the harm and human suffering that have resulted from blocking the humanitarian approval of golden rice.

“Even though GE has been introduced in few crops, its impact on agricultural production is immense because it has increased productivity substantially,” the UC report states. “Furthermore, its impact on productivity has been higher in developing versus developed countries … (but) … its potential has not been realized.”

The UC paper suggests that policies regulating GE technologies need to be reassessed. Perhaps that reassessment needs to begin with a bunch of hangers-on environmentalists in your community and mine who haven’t yet determined that many environmentalist beliefs and policies have nothing to do with human welfare.

California Certified Crop Adviser Exam Signup Open

Crop advisers in California and Arizona have the opportunity to register for the August 1, 2014 Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Exam until June 20, 2104.  The exam will be given in Sacramento, Salinas, Tulare and Yuma.

Registration for the exam is available at  https://www.certifiedcropadviser.org/exams/registration.

There are over 850 active CCAs in California and Arizona that are playing an important role in helping growers with the efficient and environmentally sound use of fertilizer and crop management.

Many California CCAs recently completed the University of California/California Department of Food and Agriculture Nutrient Management Training Course which qualified them to complete nitrogen management plans for growers that are or will be required by the various California Regional Water Quality Boards.

“The California CCA program is the fastest growing CCA program in North America with more 200 individuals taking the January exam and we expect a large group to take the upcoming exam.

An exam preparation course has been scheduled in Sacramento on July 8 to help candidates prepare for the test”, said California CCA Chairman, Mike Huffman, The Lyman Group.   Registration for the exam prep course is available at https://capcaed.com/continuing-ed-seminars/july-8-2014-sacramento-ca-cca-exam-prep-workshop/.

More information on the California CCA program is at www.cacca.org.   You can contact Steve Beckley at (916)539-4107 or sbeckley@aol.com for more information.  The California CCA Program is also on Facebook.

Agriculture Business Resources announces 2014 Specialty Crop Schools

Two short agriculture business courses will be offered in 2014 for agri-business professionals who want to learn about the scope and intensity of fruit, nut and vegetable production in California.

The June 14-17 session in the San Joaquin Valley and the October 6-9 session in the Salinas Valley will provide outstanding opportunities to delve into California specialty crop agriculture with its unique challenges and opportunities.

The format of the classes will be of value to those new to horticultural crop production as well as seasoned agri-business professionals.

The three-day courses, organized by Visalia-based AgBusiness Resources, have been specifically designed to equip participants with a broad understanding of intense crop production in these unique farm settings.

The San Joaquin Valley session will focus on some of California’s most iconic crops – almonds, citrus, grapes and stone fruit as well as processing tomatoes and Asian vegetables. In the Salinas Valley, lettuce, cole crops, artichokes, strawberries and wine grapes will be featured.

Both Crop Schools will include field visits to farms, processing facilities and research centers as well as classroom time with growers, pest management experts and university scientists.

Representatives from the food, chemical, fertilizer, equipment, packaging, financial, transportation and environmental monitoring industries are encouraged to participate.

Pest Control Advisors and Certified Crop Advisors in attendance will have access to 15 PCA and 15 CCA continuing education units.

Participants at the inaugural 2013 Specialty Crop School benefited from the extensive knowledge and experience of growers, crop managers and other professionals in the agricultural supply chain.

Due to the favorable response and interest expressed last year by attendees at the San Joaquin Valley event, a coastal session has been organized for 2014.

Class sizes will be limited and seats are available on a first come first served basis. For complete course topics and registration information for both schools, go to www.specialtycropschool.com.

For media inquiries: Email Cecilia Parsons at Ceciliaparsons8@gmail.com or call at 559-920-4936