Grape Harvester Safety

Grape Harvester Worker Safety

 

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor, California Ag Today

Worker safety is top-of-mind for agriculture, and a special raisin and wine grape mechanical safety training event was held in the Fresno County town of Easton. Grape harvester safety suggestions were  conveyed in both English and Spanish to more than 150 attendees.

Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, one of the event sponsors, said,Ryan Jacobsen Fresno County Farm Bureau “It’s no secret, grapes are one of the top crops here is Fresno County. So this raisin and wine grape mechanical harvest safety training is really just to make sure that all of our employers and employees have a safe harvest.”

“They’re working with some machinery that is used only during the harvest time,” said Jacobsen, “which is only a six-week to eight-week period of time. So we just want to get more familiarized with safety as the upcoming season approaches.”

“Most importantly,” Jacobsen continued, “farmers and farmworkers are working a lot of long hours during the harvest season, and this is just a constant reminder that safety is the number one priority. It’s most important that our folks go home safe every evening,” Jacobsen said.

Clint Erling, and his employer, Kingsburg Cultivator, also known as KCI Equipment, which manufactures vineyard equipment such as mechanical raisin harvest machines and almond harvesting equipment, wants to make sure everybody’s safe and gets to go home at night. “Some of this equipment can be extremely dangerous,” Erling explained, “so we engineer guards for areas of the machine to increase worker safety, while maintaining the machine’s effectiveness in the field.”

Worker safety is important to Erling, even after the sale. “We go to the field and work with farmworkers during the harvest or on any projects they’ve got going on,” he said.

Food donations underscore drought impact

By Kate Campbell; Ag Alert

Central Valley farmers and businesses donated and shipped about 30 tons of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts last week to help address food shortages at California food banks. A newly organized grassroots coalition, “California Water Feeds Our Communities,” was joined by the California Community Food Bank, Westlands Water District, the California Water Alliance and El Agua Es Asunto De Todos to bring valley-grown produce to those in need across the state.

Fresno County farmer Bill Diedrich said the impact of fallowing hundreds of thousands of acres of irrigated cropland in the San Joaquin Valley this year translates into significant economic losses for the valley’s small farming communities.

“It’s the people—and the communities that depend on agricultural production—that are getting hurt,” Diedrich said at a news conference in Fresno to announce the donations. “For example, the schools are being hurt. If people are moving on, there’s no reimbursement for (school) attendance and the children of those families who’ve stayed are losing out. Besides the school districts, cities and counties also are being affected and their ability to help in this crisis is reduced.”

Diedrich said that when he drives through the valley’s small towns, he sees workers standing around idle, “because there’s so much fallowed ground there isn’t the normal demand for labor. We’re looking at a disaster and we’re hoping for regulatory relief,” noting that Congress will be considering drought-relief bills in coming weeks.

Kym Dildine with Fresno-based Community Food Bank said one in four people in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Kern and Tulare counties copes with food insecurity, a situation made worse by the ongoing drought.

Prior to the drought, she said the agency was serving about 220,000 people a month. With the drought, that number has increased by another 30,000 people a month in the five-county area.

“Every food bank we’ve spoken to is really grateful to be receiving an entire truckload of fresh produce grown right here in the valley,” she said. “Because less fruit is available, they’re having a harder time accessing it.”

To help address the problem, 15 trucks were loaded with boxes of fresh produce at Simonian Fruit Co. in Fowler before heading to food banks in Fresno, Merced, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Watsonville, Salinas, Santa Maria, Oxnard, Riverside and San Diego.

“The food we grow here extends far and wide,” said Gayle Holman of the Westlands Water District. “In fact, most people don’t even realize the food they may be eating in other parts of the state, or across the United States, actually originates here.”

The Fresno County Farm Bureau, along with many valley farms and businesses, supported the food donation effort, as did irrigation districts and service groups such as the Girl Scouts of Central California-South and the Fresno Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as California State University, Fresno.

Participants said the coalition hopes not only to bring attention to the impact of the drought and how far-reaching it is, but also to set the stage for future food donation drives as the crisis deepens during the winter. Diedrich said the effort also brings attention to the fact that an unreliable water supply jeopardizes everyone’s food security.

“The drought has impacted California’s food banks because they can no longer adapt to the spike in food prices resulting from a lack of water for farmers,” said Cannon Michael, president of Los Banos-based Bowles Farming Co. “This campaign has been launched to feed the needy and raise awareness about how the drought hurts the most vulnerable people in the state.”

Drought-related land fallowing brings “many unintended consequences,” Michael said.

“We hope raising awareness about the drought will bring all stakeholders together to find short- and long-term solutions,” he said.

Westside farmer Sarah Woolf said the coalition will continue to support food banks.

“This was just one small aspect of how we’re trying to help,” she said.

When the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a zero water allocation for farm customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Mendota Mayor Robert Silva said his community knew it was facing “a terrible situation.” But he said the city learned from the drought in 2009 and immediately began preparing.

“We got service agencies and utilities to come in and set up assistance programs right away,” Silva said. “We’ve added recreational opportunities for our youth to keep them busy and we’ve been finding ways to support our schools.”

In 2009, Silva said water shortages led to severe social problems such as domestic violence and higher school dropout rates that might have been eased with adequate social services. The unemployment rate in Mendota today is in the range of 35 percent, he said, compared to 50 percent at the same time in 2009.

“Unemployment is still high, but not as bad as we feared,” Silva said. “But we’re not out of danger yet. I understand it’s going to be a short growing season this year, harvest is nearly over, and that means more people will be unemployed for a longer time. We haven’t seen the worst yet.”

He said Mendota residents have been planning ahead and “trying to get the resources they’ll need to get by until they can go back to work next year,” and more agencies are prepared to help.

“But it’s going to be a long winter,” Silva said.

 

Cal Ag Today Founder Recognized at Journalism Award Ceremony

Written by: Monique Bienvenue – Cal Ag Today Associate Editor 

As the Senior Intern and the current Associate Editor of Cal Ag Today, I’d like to personally congratulate my colleague, Patrick Cavanaugh, for being awarded at the 20th Annual Journalism Award Ceremony last night.

Patrick is not only hard working; he’s extremely dedicated and passionate about promoting all issues pertaining to the California agricultural industry. As somebody who understands the importance of agricultural literacy, I’m extremely proud of Patrick’s accomplishments and cannot wait to see what’s in store for Cal Ag Today and its impact on the agriculture industry.

The following Press Release has been provided by the Fresno County Farm Bureau:

FCFB announced the recipients of its 20th Annual Journalism Award Ceremony at the organization’s Celebrating Friends of Agriculture social tonight.

Recognized for excellence in agriculture reporting were:

Print/Web Print Media

First place: Mark Grossi, The Fresno Bee, “For Valley citrus growers, this season has 2 natural disasters,” March 2, 2014 – a comprehensive story about Valley citrus growers, specifically in the Porterville area, who are suffering the challenges brought on by the drought. The article touches on the impacts both farmers and consumers will face due to the drought.

Television/Radio/Web Audio-Visual Media

First place: A.J. Fox, Justin Sacher, Dave Spaher and Heidi Waggoner, KSEE, “High and Dry” series, April 21-24, 2014 – a four-part series focusing on the water struggles California farmers and consumers are encountering due to the drought; addresses potential solutions to the issues.

Farm Trade Print/Television/Radio/Web Media

First place: Patrick Cavanaugh, Pacific Nut Producer, “West Side water series,” Aug. 2013, Nov. 2013, April 2014 – a three-part series that examines Valley farmers and their agricultural journey through California’s water crisis, including the challenges they encounter along the way and what may be in store for the future.

Kings River Water Quality Coalition: Last Chance Enrollment Sessions

The Kings River Water Quality Coalition will hold “Last Chance Enrollment Sessions” at the Fresno County Farm Bureau office, 1274 W. Hedges, Fresno, on Friday, May 9.  Sessions are scheduledfrom 1-2 p.m., 2-3 p.m., 3-4 p.m. and 4-5 p.m.

All commercially irrigated operations must take action by May 19, 2014, to avoid penalties from the Regional Board. To comply, growers can either join the Kings River Water Quality Coalition or apply for an Individual Order through the Regional Board.

To enroll acreage at a session, growers will need to have with them the physical address and Assessor Parcel Numbers (APN) for each property they will be enrolling. They will also need to bring a checkbook for payment of the enrollment fee. Coalition membership forms will be available at the workshop.

To find out more about the Coalition, go to www.kingsriverwqc.org or call 559-365-7958.  

Tulare Water Rally Needs You on March 26th

finger-pointing

Water Rally in Tulare Needs You!

Mario Santoyo, Executive Director of California Latino Water Coalition, announced a Water Rally on Wednesday, March 26th in Tulare. We urge everyone with agricultural water interests to attend and advocate for increased water allocations!

Mario Santoyo
Mario Santoyo

Santoyo commented:

You all are very aware of the water crisis that has been plaguing the West Side farmers due to federal pumping restrictions, well now with this year’s historic drought combined with those same pumping restrictions the East Side farmers will be in the same crisis condition.

The only hope for farmers on both sides of this Valley to survive this year is a change in the Delta Operations by both the State and Federal governments in order to maximize the flexibilities they have under this crisis to deliver more water south of the Delta, so an upcoming rally is intended to send that message.

The initial event flyer for the rally along with a water supply update on the East Side farmers’ dire situation is below.

FWA Water Supply Information Meeting Flier No  1 (3-20-14) Final

JCAST Students Claim Back-to-Back State Championships at Discussion Meet

Source: Eddie Hughes; Fresno State News and Fresno County Farm Bureau 

Fresno State senior Levy Randolph of Hemet earned the individual state championship in the California Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Collegiate Discussion Meet on March 1 in Visalia.

Randolph, an Agricultural Education major, was one of eight students who represented Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at the meet. Randolph now advances to compete in February 2015 at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference in Nashville.

The discussion meet competition was designed for young members of the farm bureau to participate in a progressive and collaborative discussion. Participants are judged on content, cooperative attitude, presentation and knowledge of the pre-determined speaking topics.

Competitors discuss pressing issues of the agriculture industry and strive to cultivate solutions from their 20-minute discussion.

This was Fresno State’s fourth team championship all-time and Randolph will be the fifth Bulldog to represent California at the national competition.

Randolph’s winnings included an expense-paid trip to the national competition and a cash prize of $1,250.

Joining Randolph in the final round of competition was Fresno State Agricultural Communications major Jodi Raley of Tollhouse. Raley earned a $500 cash prize. Audra Roland, an Agricultural Business major from Tollhouse, made it to the semifinals.

Dr. Steven Rocca, professor of Agricultural Education and Communications, has coached the competition since 2006. “Our students’ hard work and dedication led to the overall team win,” Rocca said. “We are thrilled that one of our students earned the state championship, enabling our team to become back-to-back champs. The skills these students learn will be valuable tools in their future as our agricultural leaders.”

Additional members of the team include: Ana Lopez, an Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary major from Tulare; Victor Evans, an Agricultural Education-Teacher Preparation major from Fresno; Kyle Mendes, an Agricultural Education-Teacher Preparation major from Modesto; Rachel Wright, an Agricultural Communications major from Tollhouse; and Mallory Harrison an Agricultural Communications major from Bakersfield.

The Young Farmers and Ranchers are active agriculturalists, ages 18 to 35. Members develop leadership skills through community service, service-learning and maintaining active involvement in their county farm bureaus.

The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (JCAST) offers education needed to be a leader in agriculture and related sciences. They offer programs in the traditional areas of agriculture, including animal science, plant science, agricultural education, viticulture and agricultural business. 

JCAST also offers excellent programs in areas uniquely related to agriculture, including industrial technology, food science and nutrition, enology, child development, family science and fashion merchandising.