Bayer Helps Youth “Agvocate” For Farmers

Farming Operations Represent 21 Million Jobs

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

Less than two percent of the United States population is working in agriculture. This may not sound like much, but let’s break it down. Two percent of the population means roughly 21 million jobs, 10 percent of the total workforce, and more than 160,000 farms. The greatest credibility for this huge industry goes to the farmers who work 365 days a year to feed the world. But who is advocating for them while they’re out in the field? That’s where Rob Schrick and Bayer Crop Science comes in.

Schrick, the Strategic Business Director for Bayer, knows the importance of promoting the industry and making consumers more aware of where their food comes from.

Rob Schrick, Bayer CropScience“What we’re trying to get across is that everyone in agriculture needs to lean into the conversation about ag, and be a proud ‘Agvocate’ for our industry,” he said.

Explaining the importance of farming, using both science and an emotional connection is key to getting this incredibly important concept across.

One way Bayer is striving to accomplish this goal is by working with youth involved in 4-H.

“We’re trying to get the kids even more excited about STEM,” Schrick explained.

STEM is a program that combines Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to give the kids hands-on education and inquiry-based science learning, which they can relate to agriculture and share with their community.

It is said that today’s youth are tomorrows leaders, and Bayer is helping the future leaders found in 4-H represent the farmers that work so hard to provide the world with a safe, affordable food supply.

California Farm Bureau Federation President Decries Water Diversion Plan

Science Shows Increased Water Flow Doesn’t Save Fish, Paul Wenger Says

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today is continuing our coverage of the State Water Resources Control Board’s plan to take 40 percent of the water from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced Rivers to feed into the San Joaquin River to increase flows for salmon. There is major pushback by affected farmers. We spoke with Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, at their 98th annual meeting in Monterey this week. He farms almonds and walnuts in that area, and he and his family would be seriously impacted; they would be forced into more groundwater pumping.

president of the California Farm Bureau Federation
Paul Wenger, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

“It just seems the same old adage,” Wenger said. “If we put more water in the rivers, it’s going to be better for the fish. We know that it hasn’t worked with biological opinions. We know it hasn’t worked in the Sacramento, it hasn’t worked in the delta. We need to go after some of these other predatory species: the striped bass. They’re an introduced species.”

Wenger said there’s a lot of data saying that just won’t work. “The studies have been done, the science is out there. Just to say that we’re going to keep adding water to the problem [and] we’re going to get a different result is ridiculous. We have a finite resource of water today. We have growing needs for it for urban [and] foreign environmental flows, but also for farming and manufacturing.”

Wenger believes that the Water Board always makes rules quickly are not invested in the outcome.

“As I tell the folks, you come up with the ideas, but you’re not invested. You’re investing my future. You’re investing my resources, and other farmers’, but when we have these environmental groups say, ‘This is a solution.’ Why don’t you put your money up?”



Support Agriculture By Being An ‘AgVocate’

Bayer CropScience Says Farmers Need to AgVocate with Consumers

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

The California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) recently held their 42nd Annual CAPCA Conference & Agri-Expo in Anaheim.  It was a sellout crowd at the Disneyland Convention Center, with about 1,600 registered participants and more than 160 different trade show vendors participating.  The theme of this year’s conference was “Feeding a Nation, Fighting the Fear,” with speakers covering a variety of topics related to public interest in agriculture. 

David Hollinrake, vice president of Agricultural Commercial Operations (ACO) Marketing with Bayer CropScience, talked about a program that Bayer CropScience sponsors called AgVocate.   “AgVocacy really is about engaging the farmer population so that they can represent modern agriculture to the consumer population that has a growing disconnect from what we do,” Hollinrake said. 

vice president of Agricultural Commercial Operations (ACO) Marketing with Bayer CropScience, AgVocacy
David Hollinrake, vice president of Agricultural Commercial Operations (ACO) Marketing with Bayer CropScience

There has been a growing disconnect between those who are involved with agriculture and the overall consumer base.  “With misinformation sometimes comes misconceptions and mistrust,” Hollinrake noted. 

One of the reasons for the divide between growers and consumers is that the number of people involved in agriculture has declined significantly over the past 50 years.  “When my grandfather grew up on the farm, some 40 percent of people were involved in production agriculture. Today, there’s only 1 percent of the population involved in agriculture,” Hollinrake said.

It’s important to bridge that gap by giving consumers a better understanding of what agriculture is really about.  “Our role with AgVocacy is to enable the farmers to take an active role in describing the benefits of modern Ag and really dispelling a lot of the myths that exist in agriculture,” Hollinrake said.

Bayer-Cropscience-agvocate-amplify-your-voice-hero“One of the other topics that we spoke about was the difference between conventional agriculture and organic agriculture,” Hollinrake noted.  The growth in organic farms has created an atmosphere of misunderstanding; with consumers erroneously believing that traditionally grown produce is somehow less safe.  Without being involved in agriculture, it’s understandable for people to have misconceptions about how the industry works.  However, these types of beliefs solidify the need for the AgVocate program.

Hollinrake thinks meeting the dietary needs of a growing population will require both organic and traditional farming. “If we’re going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, it’s going to take all forms of agriculture. To me, it’s not an ‘either/or’ – it’s a ‘yes/and’ conversation,” Hollinrake said.

Interesting Forecast: Wetter Winter, with Possible Deep Frost?

Weather Pattern in California Could Hurt Citrus, Predictions Say

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director


Some meteorologists are seeing evidence of  weather data on the North Pole that could point to more rain and snow this winter. However it could come with several freeze events, which could hurt crops, especially citrus.

The Global Forecast Center is a group of meteorologists in Northern Idaho that conducts weather forecasting for agricultural interests throughout  Florida, California and portions of Texas. In fact, they work closely with California Citrus Mutual.

Tom Dunklee, president and chief atmospheric scientist, Global Forecast Center and its associated “WeatherWatch” service, said, “What we see in our frost outlook is a cold year coming up and a bit of an increase in rainfall, which will make everybody happy. But we may have to pay the price with some very cold temperatures following these fronts.”

meteorologist Tom Dunklee of the Global Forecast Center
Tom Dunklee, president and chief atmospheric scientist, Global Forecast Center

“The rains may be more frequent, but they will not be real big rain producers. They won’t be like El Niño years, where you get an inch and a half of rain or more. They will be cold, wet weather systems that come through, one half inch of rain at a time, followed by a possibility of frost,” Dunklee said.

Dunklee predicts the rain events may be followed by some dry weather for three or four days, then by another front coming through, doing the same thing. “What we are seeing is the type of weather pattern we saw in the late 1960s. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had one of these years shape up,” he said.

“I don’t think we are going to have a “Miracle March.” Instead, we are going to have a warm and drier than average spring. Most of the moisture is going to come in December, January and February, comprising those frequent frontal systems. Most of them will be followed by cool air and showery weather. Then the weather will dry out for three or four days, and the wet weather will return.”

Dunklee spoke of the intrusions of the cold arctic air that could arrive. “We think the intrusions will be from the North and Northeast—from Montana coming down through Nevada, then through the San Joaquin river drainage bringing quite a bit of cold air filtering into the [Central] Valley, and we’ll get the possibility of a hard frost, and maybe a freeze sometime in late December,” Dunklee said.

Dunklee also spoke about an increase in snowpack. “At the 7,000 foot level this year we may see higher than average, about 120% to 130% of average snow fall. It will be on the average of about six or seven feet. It may not actually get that deep at one time, but the potential is there for that,” he said.

“Most of the time it’s going to be about two, three feet of snowfall during the real cold months. Then in the spring it will melt fairly quickly, but it potentially is  going to be a good snow pack, a little bit higher than average,” Dunklee said.

California FARMS Leadership Program Aims to Get Youth in Ag Business

Christine McMorrow Heads up FARMS Leadership Program

By Colby Tibbet, California Ag Today Reporter

California-based “Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability,” or FARMS Leadership Program, is a special Center for Land-Based Learning program that provides innovative, hands-on experiences to urban, suburban and rural youth at working farms, agri-businesses and universities.

“We currently serve students in 10 California counties, seven sites throughout the state, and because agriculture is becoming such a key issue in California and more people are becoming interested in farming practices, knowing where their food comes from, and how it’s grown,” said Christine McMorrow, FARMS Leadership Program Director.

McMorrow said, “Our primary goal is to get high school students out on farms and ranches, into Agri-businesses, learning about jobs in agriculture, especially jobs that go beyond production agriculture. Those jobs that involve science, technology, engineering, and math,” said McMorrow.

As industry partners are always looking for qualified people, McMorrow explained, “We want to help generate those qualified people, so we are getting students from ag backgrounds and students who are not from ag backgrounds and exposing them to the wide variety of careers available to them in agriculture.”

She said the best way to enable those students to know what all the different jobs in agriculture is to get them to where the work is happening.“We give them opportunities to do work on these farms and in these businesses. We also make sure they have plenty of opportunities to speak with people working there and find out how they became interested in agriculture and how they got to where they are today,” said McMorrow.

For more information the program, go to the FARMS website. If you represent an agricultural company that needs good qualified help, go to the Center for Land-based Learning website for contact information.


A comparison: How California farms stack-up around the country

By Don Curlee; the Porterville Recorder

Counting the ways farming in California differs from farming in the rest of the country might result in some surprises, especially for proud Californians.

To begin with, farms in California are about 25 percent smaller on average than those in the rest of the country. The contrast between farming here and farming there is even more remarkable when you consider that the state’s smaller farms outpace those in the rest of the country by producing almost five times the dollar amount per acre. Of course, that means farmers in the Golden State receive more income than those elsewhere.

These characteristics of the country’s farm profile come from information collected in the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the latest every-five-years exercise conducted by the federal government. Comparing data from the most recent census with that from the 2007 effort reveals some memorable results.

Some of those results have been compiled by Emma Knoesen, a research associate and Rachael Goodhue, a professor of Agricultural Resource Economics (ARE) at the University of California, Davis. Their report was published in the May/June issue of Update, published by the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics at Davis.

In the conclusion of their report they say: “(The census) indicates that California agriculture remains distinct from U. S. agriculture as a whole, although in both cases farms continue to grow larger in both acreage and market value of production.”

One of the report’s tables shows that almost a quarter of California farms are between one and nine acres, compared to only 11 percent of farms at that size elsewhere in the country. Another quarter of California farms are between 10 and 49 acres, not that different from the rest of the country, and 17 percent fall into that 50 to 179- acre bracket, opposed to 30 percent of farms that are outside the state.

A very telling statistic puts the number of California farms with 2,000 acres or more at 2,434, while the number of farms in the other 49 states with 2,000 acres or more is more than 82,000. Seems that fly-over country has some pretty big spreads, and it isn’t puny backyards where Texans raise their cattle.

Perhaps even more telling is the effect of California’s higher value crops, the vegetables, fruits and specialty commodities. The report says: “The average market value of production per acre of farmland in California was $1,667, compared to $289 in the United States as a whole.”

On average, California farms produced a market value of $547,510, about three times that of other U.S. farms, which averaged $187,097.

Production of high-value fruit and vegetable crops continued in California at about the same pace and in about the same places as reported in the 2007 census. Tree and vine crops dominated the Central Valley counties, and vegetables were the commodities of choice in coastal areas and in the Imperial Valley.

Imperial County registered a strong increase from 2007 to 2012 in the amount of land used to grow vegetables, from less than 69,000 acres in the earlier census to nearly 106,000 acres in 2012. The number of farms growing vegetables there increased as well, from 86 to 105.

Even though the number of California farms decreased from 2007 to 2012, the total market value of their production increased by a little more than 25 percent.

No question, farming is a winner in California and a significant contributor to the state’s economy. If overzealous legislators and social and environmental purists can control themselves enough to leave it alone the state’s different-but-better agriculture can continue to prosper and continue to help overcome world hunger.


CDFA Official on California Farming Innovation

It is a big challenge to increase production for a hungry world.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross spoke at a recent Soil Health symposium to discuss the critical need to increase production with less resources such as water.

“There’s a huge challenge for us to more than double our productivity and yet we are going to do it with less arable land, less available water on a global basis. So really understanding soil health and having the metrics to know what that is and what were doing is improves that as a way to maximize productivity and still get these environmental benefits that come with it. Its the demand of the time and I think California should be a leader,” said Ross.

Ross said that California has a good knowledge base to find answers.

“We’ve got some understanding world renowned Soil Microbiologists who are looking at this. But its not just going to come from academia its going to come from private companies, it’s going to come from  farmers and ranchers who are innovative themselves. And really bringing it all together, and creating that roadmap to prioritize what is it what we know? what are the gaps? How do we prioritize what needs to  happens next? and go out and seek the funding, the investment. This is a huge investment for the sustainability for our food supply and humankind,” said Ross.

Ross said that California growers are innovative in new systems of farming.

“And we see so many of our systems that are constantly adapting and seeking out the information,you know the early adopters who are willing to do some of those systems on their farm. One example is the just all the work on conservation tillage. and it usually takes a few who are willing to go first, kind of prove the concept and share it with their neighbors. Then all of a sudden it becomes the standard practice. It goes from best practices to standard practice,” said Ross.

Ross added: “But we can’t just stop with that, we have to be constantly looking at all those ways of adapting our systems.”