Agriculture Struggles Unnecessarily, According to Steve Forbes

Forbes Chairman Has Suggestions to Help

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Water and labor are major agricultural issues in California. California Ag Today recently spoke with Steve Forbes, chairman and editor in chief of Forbes Media, about the topics.

“I think that the more people are realizing the enormous opportunities of technology in agriculture. They think that it is going to get better and better in the future,” Forbes said.Everything from reservoirs to desalination plants should be modeled after Israel. They have been building desalination plants because Israel is in a desert where they have been getting rainfall.

Steve Forbes

“This is a very sophisticated use of water in agriculture where they are a real global power,” Forbes said.

Today, Israel uses 10 percent less water as a whole, not per capita, than they did 70 years ago despite the economy being 60 times larger.

Forbes thinks labor is also an issue.

“We are hurting ourselves, our food production, not just in agriculture but construction as well,” he said.

Forbes said we should recycle the programs that we once had, programs where returning people come in for specific time periods for specific jobs. This would help prevent the illegal immigrant problem because workers know they can come back.

On another note, he discussed the current trade war that the U.S. is in with China.

“If you hear 10 percent tariff on aluminum, that’s a 10 percent sales tax; put it that way and people’s eyes go up and they get it right away,” Forbes said.

Putting sales taxes on American consumers, agriculture, farmers, and businesses is not the best way to resolve very real trade abuses.

“Everyone knows from the disaster and the depression of the 1930s what trade wars can lead to,” Forbes said.

Forbes also explained that GMOs greatly benefit producers and should not be attacked as harmful to consumers.

“GMOs have been studied fairly well, and they are making food more plentiful. It makes food a safer in terms that you don’t have to use as many pesticides,” he said. “GMOs make a better use of water, and there is a lot less loss to diseases and insects. We are using human ingenuity to make the human condition better.”

More California Ag News

Bayer Helps Youth “Agvocate” For Farme... Farming Operations Represent 21 Million Jobs By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor Less than two percent of the United States population is working in...
UC and Israel Sign Agricultural Research Agreement California and Israel Face Similar Challenges By Pam Kan-Rice, UC ANR News Pledging to work together to solve water scarcity issues, Israel’s Ag...
Bayer Brings Legislators to Farms for Right Reason... Inaugural Farms Will Replace Pen with the Plow By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor Bayer Crop Science is giving legislators the opportunity to t...
Caltec Ag Keeps the Industry Up to Date Caltec Ag is Busy with Research to Help Farmers By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor It’s no secret that technology is more advanced than it’s ev...

UC and Israel Sign Agricultural Research Agreement

California and Israel Face Similar Challenges

By Pam Kan-Rice, UC ANR News
From left, Ermias Kebreab, Eli Feinerman, and Mark Bell sign the agreement for Israel and California scientists to collaborate more on water-related research and education.

Pledging to work together to solve water scarcity issues, Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis recently. The signing ceremony kicked off the 2018 Future of Water for Irrigation in California and Israel Workshop at the UC ANR building in Davis.

“Israel and California agriculture face similar challenges, including drought and climate change,” said Doug Parker, director of UC ANR’s California Institute for Water Resources. “In the memorandum of understanding, Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization, UC Davis and UC ANR pledge to work together more on research involving water, irrigation, technology and related topics that are important to both water-deficit countries.”

The agreement will enhance collaboration on research and extension for natural resources management in agriculture, with an emphasis on soil, irrigation and water resources, horticulture, food security and food safety.

“It’s a huge pleasure for us to sign an MOU with the world leaders in agricultural research like UC Davis and UC ANR,” said Eli Feinerman, director of Agricultural Research Organization of Israel. “When good people, smart people collaborate, the sky is the limit.”

Feinerman, Mark Bell (UC ANR vice provost) and Ermias Kebreab (UC Davis professor and associate vice provost of academic programs and global affairs) represented their respective institutions for the signing. Karen Ross (California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary) and Shlomi Kofman (Israel’s consul general to the Pacific Northwest) joined in celebrating the partnership.

“The important thing is to keep working together and develop additional frameworks that can bring the people of California and Israel together as researchers,” Kofman said. “But also to work together to make the world a better place.”

Ross said, “It’s so important for us to find ways and create forums to work together because water is the issue in this century and will continue to be.”

She explained that earlier this year, the World Bank and United Nations reported that 40 percent of the world population is living with water scarcity. 

“Over 700,000 people are at risk of relocation due to water scarcity,” Ross said. “We’re already seeing the refugee issues that are starting to happen because of drought, food insecurity and the lack of water.”

Ross touted the progress stemming from CDFA’s Healthy Soils Program to promote healthy soils on California’s farmlands and ranchlands and SWEEP, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, which has provided California farmers $62.7 million in grants for irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water on agricultural operations.

“We need the answers of best practices that come from academia, through demonstration projects so that our farmers know what will really work,” Ross said.

As Parker opened the water workshop, sponsored by the U.S./Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Program, Israel Agricultural Research Organization and UC ANR, he told the scientists, “The goal of this workshop is really to be creating new partnerships, meeting new people, networking and finding ways to work together in California with Israel, in Israel, with other parts of the world as well.”

Drawing on current events, Bell told the attendees, “If you look at the World Cup, it’s about effort, it’s about teamwork, it’s about diversity of skills, and I think that’s what this event does. It brings together those things.”

More California Ag News

Researchers Take a Look into the Future of Strawbe... Survey Coming to Growers to Gauge Interests By Hannah Young, Associate Editor A strawberries survey connected to a project that looks at the future ...
Agritourism in California UC Davis Experts Help Farmers, Ranchers Profit  in Growing Trend News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh Agritourism is growing in California, alon...
GMO Technology Can Help Prevent Starvation First World Activists Dictate to Third World By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor Needed GMO technology to help citizens in Third World countries is being t...
UC Davis Student Maureen Page Speaks for the Bees Maureen Page to Spread Flowers for Bees By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor California Ag Today recently spoke with doctoral student Maureen P...

Ross Supports Desalination

CDFA’s Karen Ross Supports Desalination Plants

By Brian German, Associate Editor

 

Following the opening of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant near San Diego, the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere, CalAgToday asked CDFA Secretary Karen Ross if she views desalination as a possible solution to the drought-induced water reductions in California.

“Desalination is an important part of the solution,” answered Ross. “Israel has really advanced this technology and there is much for us to learn about its use from Israel.”

Israel has had great success in battling drought by building many desalination plants along the Mediterranean Sea. The plants provide fresh desal water to the cities, which is used, cleaned and recycled for use on the country’s farms.

Ross continued, “I am especially optimistic about the use of practical smaller-scale desal projects to reuse our brackish water—the more inland saline water. Our researchers can use this technology to help us solve the ‘brine waste’ problem; it will absolutely be part of our new water picture. There is no single solution to our water picture, and I think we need to look to Israel to learn from their experiences as well.”

“’There is, no doubt, a cost to this new technology, but by figuring out the technology and foçusing on smaller scale projects, we should be able to scale this up to a point that will make it cost-effective,” said Ross. “Let’s face it, the value of the water it brings back for reuse is potentially going to change the price we all pay for it. But we really need to focus on improving this technology and getting those costs down as much as we possibly can.”

“The Carlsbad plant is a billion dollar investment, which is overwhelming and intimidating,” said Ross. “But when we amortize the cost and calculate what it means per household, this investment represents a very important source of supplemental water that also gives us some flexibility and resiliency for the next drought, and the one after that. Our circumstances are different than ten or twenty years ago, so the costs pencil out in a different way.”

________________________________

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant is a 50 million gallon per day (56,000 acre-feet per year (AFY)) seawater desalination plant located adjacent to the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad, California. Desalination has evolved into a desirable water supply alternative by tapping the largest reservoir in the world – the Pacific Ocean. The technology, available for decades, is at work in many arid areas of the world including the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. A 30-year Water Purchase Agreement is in place between the San Diego County Water Authority and Poseidon Water for the entire output of the plant. The plant has been delivering water to the businesses and residents of San Diego County since December 2015.

________________________________

Poseidon Water, the developer and owner of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, is a privately held company that develops and invests in water projects throughout North America. Poseidon offers customized solutions to meet the water needs of municipal governments, businesses and industrial clients.

________________________________

The Huntington Beach Desalination Project is also a 50-million gallon per day facility currently in late-stage development, also by Poseidon Water. Located adjacent to the AES Huntington Beach Power Station, the plant is scheduled to be operational by 2018.

More California Ag News

BIG WATER RALLY SCHEDULED FOR JAN. 16! Thousands Needed To Participate In Big Water Rally on Jan. 16  
Solano County 4-H Clubs Win Big at Skills Day When Life Gives you Lemons, Make Lemon Curd! Showmanship winner Tyler Scott of the Wolfskill 4-H Club DIXON--Tyler Scott of the...
California Ag News UC To Help Ranchers UC to Help Ranchers Survive Winter 2013-14 The first agricultural operations to feel the impact of a drought are dryland ranchers, many of whom r...
MONTEREY FARM BUREAU WARNS CPUC ON WATER ISSUES Desalination Plant Could Jeopardize Groundwater Supply California American Water could threaten the ground water supply of the Salinas Valley where u...