Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 4

Elizabeth Mosqueda, Agriculture Science Recognition Award Honoree

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

Elizabeth Guerrero Mosqueda, a graduate student in the Department of Plant Science at Fresno State, was one of four students to receive the Agriculture Science Award in mid-March presented by Jim Patterson, California assemblymember, along with, Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and Lawrence Salinas, Fresno States’s executive director of government relations.

Jim Patterson, California Assemblymember
Jim Patterson, California State Assemblymember

Patterson said Mosqueda, the child of migrant farmworkers from Mexico,“set her sights on overcoming many obstacles from an early age. Elizabeth’s parents worked on the lettuce fields in the Salinas Valley, which led to her understanding the vital role farmworkers have in harvesting crops and the impact of frequent labor shortages on farming. All of that experience led her to study ways to improve lettuce production.”

Patterson said the labor shortage has required the use of automated lettuce thinners to raise lettuce, one of the state’s biggest crops.  “But some farmers are hesitant to use new technology,”said Patterson, “so Elizabeth decided to roll up her sleeves two and a half years ago” and conducted her graduate studies on the comparison of using lettuce thinning machines to lettuce work done by hand. “She completed her study and has since traveled nationwide to share her findings with other scientists and agronomists.”

Patterson added Mosqueda was recently selected as one of fifty students nationwide to attend American Society of Agronomy’s Graduate Student Leadership Conference.Amer Society of Agronomy

“Elizabeth believes that life is a challenge that shapes us into the people that we are meant to be,” Patterson said. “And each and every struggle and accomplishment that life has presented her has made her, and is making her, into the dedicated, hardworking and successful woman she is today.”

While at Fresno State, Patterson said Mosqueda helped to reestablish the Plant Science Club, serving as both the club’s secretary and president. “Elizabeth is also a member and has volunteered for the Central Valley California Women for Agriculture,” Patterson said, “and many other local, statewide and national farming organizations.”

Mosqueda was encouraged to apply for the award by professors in her department. “I’m very proud to be a part of the Department of Plant Science,” Mosqueda said. “I’m very thankful to all my professors, my advisor and all the other mentors who have helped me achieve this prestigious award.”

One month away from completing her program, Mosqueda hopes to obtain a position with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), Monterey County as a farm advisor either in vegetable crop production or weed science upon graduation. Mosqueda said she would like to “help growers firsthand with the problems that are going on in our agriculture industry today.”

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Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 3

Nick Wolfenden Honored With Fresno State Science Recognition Award

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Nick Wolfenden, a graduating senior at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State), who majors in animal science and livestock management was honored with three other Fresno State science students in mid-March.

“Nick has made it his mission to educate the ag community and the public about the growing spotlight on the importance of animal welfare,” said California Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who honored the Fresno State students, along with Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State and Lawrence Salinas, Fresno State’s executive director of government relations.

Fresno State Animal Welfare Club (Source: Facebook)
Fresno State Animal Welfare Club (Source: Facebook)

“Nick says his greatest achievement at Fresno State was starting the Animal Welfare Club,” said Patterson. “The club has made a great impact on his fellow students by giving them the facts and skills to teach each other about the focus on the health and welfare of animals in production agriculture.”

As the club’s founder and president, Wolfenden started a movement to get donations to update Fresno State’s school farm so the animal welfare practices used by students would reflect the visions, values and beliefs of Fresno State. These changes have benefited both the animals and the students who care for them.

For a broader perspective, Wolfenden interned with the American Humane Association and became a key player in their Farm Animal Welfare Program. His drive and his passion have been noticed by several organizations and companies across the country who would like him to oversee their divisions.

“In 2015, Nick was honored as both the Outstanding Poultry Science Student and Outstanding Equine Science Student at Fresno State, given by the faculty to the animal science department students who make an impact in their field,” noted Patterson. “He also is an advisor to the Poultry Science Club, member and student advisor to the Equine Science Club, and has been the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Field Day Contest chair in both equine and poultry.”

Wolfenden believes he has the drive and determination to continue to make a significant difference in the lives of farm animals and in the industry that raises them and brings them to market. And he wasted no time in getting a good job offer from Tyson Foods at their global headquarters in Springdale, AR, to begin after graduation. “I’ll be working in their sustainability department helping to oversee their animal welfare division,” Wolfenden said.

“I think every farmer and rancher has to be passionate about their animals’ welfare,” said the senior. “We are making huge steps and big leaps in improving animal welfare and we see that across all industries,” he noted.

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Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 2 – Meghan Loper

Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 2 –

Meghan Loper Receives Fresno State Science Recognition Award

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Assemblyman Jim Patterson joined Dr. Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) and Lawrence Salinas, Fresno State’s executive director of Government Relations, at the 23rd Assembly District’s 2016 Agriculture Science Recognition Awards on March 17 at Fresno State.

California Ag Today will highlight each of four Fresno State students in the Fresno State Honoree series, Meghan Loper, Megen Morales, Elizabeth Mosqueda and Nick Wolfenden, who were selected from among several students nominated for their dedication to the future of agriculture in the Central Valley.

“These brilliant students represent the best of the best,” said Assemblyman Patterson. “Their devotion to making a difference in our agriculture science community is to be commended and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

______________________________________

Meghan Loper, is a master’s student at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State), in the poultry science field, working on animal welfare.

“She currently has a bachelor’s degree in animal science and livestock production management,” said California Assemblyman Jim Patterson. “She also teaches the animal health, welfare and poultry production class in the Poultry Science Department,” noted Patterson.

Most recently, Loper researched the economic significance of the number of chickens living in the same chicken house. Her study quantified the amount of chickens per house and its effect on economic return with the goal of understanding the threshold at which the number of chickens starts to have a negative impact on animal welfare. “She hoped the work would provide information to people about the importance of the welfare of chickens in the poultry industry,” said Patterson, “as the issue is obviously becoming more of a hot topic industry-wide, as well as for consumers, and it even touches the California Legislature.”

Loper has been a member of the Poultry Science Club and the Enterprise Manager of the Foster Farms Poultry Education and Research Facility at Fresno State for the last three years. She volunteers for a local 4-H Club and will be organizing a second FFA field day in April.

Loper is also involved with animals of a different type; she has raised 12 guide dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

“This is an individual, as are our other three honorees, who is making plans and getting prepared to make a living, but you are also making a life,” Patterson said to Loper. “And it is that life that we honor today.”

Loper said, “We have been experimenting with the different amount of birds that can be put into production house. What is too many? What is not enough? And, what’s going to be best for the birds in the long run,” Loper elaborated.

“I’m hoping to get a job in the poultry industry,” said Loper. “I want to make a difference somehow.”

______________________________________

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Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 1- Megen Morales

Agriculture Science Recognition Awards, Part 1 – Megen Morales

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Assemblyman Jim Patterson joined Dr. Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) and Lawrence Salinas, Fresno State’s executive director of Government Relations, at the 23rd Assembly District’s 2016 Agriculture Science Recognition Awards on March 17 at Fresno State.

California Ag Today will highlight each of four Fresno State students in the Fresno State Honoree series, Meghan Loper, Megen Morales, Elizabeth Mosqueda and Nick Wolfenden, who were selected from among several students nominated for their dedication to the future of agriculture in the Central Valley.

“These brilliant students represent the best of the best,” said Assemblyman Patterson. “Their devotion to making a difference in our agriculture science community is to be commended and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

______________________________________

Megen Morales, a senior at Fresno State majoring in enology and chemistry, was honored recently for leading the way in the study of mold in winegrapes. “She’s also helping others in agriculture measure and quantify the amount of mold,” noted Patterson.

After a grapevine-judging contest in high school, Morales knew she wanted to work in the viticulture industry. So for the past three years, she has worked with her enology professors to create a new standard for wineries to follow for the amount of mold that is acceptable in harvested wine grapes. “The current maximum of moldy grapes acceptable in wineries is two percent,” noted Patterson, “but there is no process that accurately determines the level of mold content.” Morales explained, “Right now, you simply look at the grapes and usually determine that it looks like 1.5 to two percent mold.”

“So Megen harvested White Zinfandel Grapes from 15 farms throughout the Central Valley, and brought them back to the lab to study the levels of several types of mold,” noted Patterson. “Morales compiled the data, and her results are now used by large-scale wineries to determine how much mold is in their harvested grapes.”

A member of Central Valley Women for Agriculture (CWA) and a volunteer at the Fresno State Winery, Morales has also helped promote agriculture at Valley Children’s Hospital. As current manager of the laboratory, she trains other students on how to use it.

In fact, Morales has dedicated much of her time to teaching young people about the important role agriculture plays in everyday life. She says her experiences at Fresno State will help her excel in her future as an empowered, humble person, with the skills and mindset to accomplish great things. She hopes to work as an enologist at a major winery and eventually plans to become a senior wine maker. Morales’ ultimate goal is to serve as a role model, a mentor to women in agriculture, and to advocate for agricultural education to preserve the agricultural world of tomorrow.

“My passion started with crop production and it evolved towards viticulture,” noted Morales. “I really enjoyed chemistry in high school. Combining the two fields [agriculture and chemistry] was a challenge, but then I found enology. It has been really exciting learning how to make wine.”

“The winegrape scan spectrum we are developing will enable wineries to scan one sample of grapes coming in and better quantify the amount of mold,” Morales elaborated. “Since wine is filtered before it goes into a bottle, mold has not been a big problem. However, [mold] does affect the sensory impact of wine, so once you get above five percent mold you start to smell a funky, sweet, almost vinegary smell. It doesn’t affect the palate, but it does affect the nose,” she stated.

 ______________________________________

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Water Commission Meeting Delivers Passion and Controversy

Water Commission Meeting Delivers Passion and Controversy

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

The California drought has become a hot topic, and even more so is the subject of how to solve the drought. Some advocates believe the solution is in long-term water storage, and as a result, the California Water Commission (Commission) has been drawing up a proposal to enact this potential solution.

On Wednesday, Oct. 14 in Clovis, the Commission held a public meeting to discuss their Water Storage Investment Program.

Joe Del Bosque, a commissioner on the California Water Commission, as well as a Westside farmer struggling with the zero water allocations, summarized the meeting, “It was very lively, especially at the beginning. A lot of folks are hurting—and rightly so. They have a lot of uncertainties about next year or the year after, or for who knows how many years.

We don’t know when some of these storage projects will be completed and ready to start helping us. A lot of folks have a lot on the line here in the San Joaquin Valley, and I appreciate hearing from them and listening to their concerns.”

Assemblyman Jim Patterson, in his opening remarks, said the governor, the commission and the California State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) must realize what is driving the need for water storage. “We really need to look at the capacity to store water,” Patterson said. “If we have two river watersheds—both producing similar amounts of water, but one drops into a reservoir that’s half the size of the other, the water will overflow. And we know El Nino is coming, 95 percent.”

Many individuals spoke passionately about the plan during the comment period. Kings County Supervisor and walnut farmer, Doug Verboon, said, “We need storage. We’ve been complaining about it for years, and this is one chance in our lifetime to get more storage built. We need to get over our differences and get together and make this happen. We want to make sure the Water Commission fully understands the importance of adding more storage today.”

Another county supervisor, David Rogers, from Madera County, reminded the Commission that the need for water storage goes beyond reserving water for dry years.

“We’re losing our groundwater so rapidly that the soil is sinking beneath us and we have subsidence occurring,” Rogers said. “And all the while water is flowing out to the ocean from the San Joaquin river system when that water needs to be delegated and allocated to the farms that need it so they’re not pumping groundwater.

In reality we’re losing the river as a result of subsidence. The river, itself, is subsiding so it’s a moot issue whether or not we need surface water delivery. That has to happen. We cannot continue this way or we will lose the river, the communities and the farms. So there’s no question that Temperance Flat is the answer to that problem.”

During the meeting attendees learned that the Water Storage Improvement Plan includes a timeline that doesn’t allow for funds to be awarded to applicants wishing to build storage until 2017.

Greg Musson, president of GAR Tootelian, Inc., called the timeline unacceptable, adding the delay in the plan would lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. “I don’t see how anyone can accept this as being standard for the way that America works,” he said. “Shame on you! Really, shame on you! You have to do better here. America needs you to do better; I need you to do better; the people in this room need you to do better than this. This is outrageous.”

Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, spoke about the Joint Powers of Authority (JPA) that is being formed to apply for funding to build water storage. “We’re going to have to submit it as a large project,” Cunha said, “big storage—definitely Temperance Flat—plus all of these different irrigation districts, cities and tribes have projects that we’re going put together and submit in this large package. That’s the only way we’re going to get this money. Only then cab we start to deal with all the public benefits, environmental issues, and securing those dollars for this Valley.”

The California Water Commission consists of nine members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. Seven members are chosen for their general expertise related to the control, storage, and beneficial use of water and two are chosen for their knowledge of the environment. The Commission provides a public forum for discussing water issues, advises the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and takes appropriate statutory actions to further the development of policies that support integrated and sustainable water resource management and a healthy environment. Statutory duties include advising the Director of DWR, approving rules and regulations, and monitoring and reporting on the construction and operation of the State Water Project.

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We are being lied to!

Assembly Member Patterson Accuses NRDC and Governor’s Office of Bias

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

We are being lied to,” declared Jim Patterson, who represents the 23rd Assembly District in the California State Assembly since 2012, at his recent drought forum in Clovis.

“I have come to the conclusion there is a power structure led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the governor’s office and in the bureaucracies,” Patterson explained. “They are not telling us the truth. They do not abide by their own agreements, and they have a bias against the very water technology and the water systems that have made California a ‘Golden State’. They are biased against dams, reservoirs and conveyance, and every time I turn around, I find another example.”

Jim Patterson, California Assembly Member
Jim Patterson, California State Assembly Member

“We need to have regulatory relief from the State of California in order to build Temperance Flat (a proposed dam project on the San Joaquin River) and its conveyance systems and to build the improvements at Shasta Dam and Reservoir and at Sites Reservoir,” said Patterson.

“And yet,” he continued, “I know for a fact that we are not going to get that regulatory relief. Nevertheless, the governor and this legislature have given that very same regulatory relief to the Kings’ Basketball Stadium in Sacramento (Golden 1 Center) and to two big NFL football stadiums in the state.”

To build water saving and conveyance systems, Patterson expects to face a gauntlet of litigation from the NRDC. “Though we have tried over and over again, unsuccessfully, to get the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reformed,” he stated, “the Democrats will do it for basketball and football, but they won’t do it for water. That demonstrates to me they are absolutely disingenuous.”Map_of_proposed_Temperance_Flat_Dam_and_reservoir

“Secondly, we were promised money in this budget for the Central California InterConnect,” Patterson said. “Putting an interconnect between the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), best illustrated by the Kings River and San Joaquin River Watersheds in the Central Valley, and the state’s California State Water Project (SWP), exemplified by the San Luis Reservoir system, is critically important. We need to connect those projects so we have water conveyance alternatives to improve water reliability and to save us from the kinds of hard decisions that we’ve had to reach now—to starve a portion of the Valley. Because we can’t get water between the two systems, the situation is real and dire.”

“The governor promised those of us who negotiated the bond the budget would include appropriations for the InterConnect,” Patterson reported. There is no such thing. It doesn’t exist, and it didn’t show up in this budget. The governor didn’t come through on his promises.”

“I have tried repeatedly to talk with the water bureaucracies—appointees of the governor—and ask how I could help them understand the importance of giving us back the water,” Patterson commented. “For example, the water behind Shasta Dam right now has been paid for and banked by our farmers. I’ve asked repeatedly, ‘Why can’t we get the InterConnect funded? You promised us that you would do that.’ I’ve asked, ‘What is it going to take for you to understand the importance of storage in the San Joaquin River Watershed?’ It’s like talking to a wall; I get no answer.”

“So, I have had to come to the conclusion that we’re being misled, and it’s on purpose,” he said. “I just don’t believe this governor anymore. That’s a sad conclusion to have to come to, but I think we are seeing a ‘behind-the-scenes hand of power’ called the NRDC, that runs the governor’s office and the state legislature.

When asked what concerned citizens can do, Patterson answered, “Today we heard a lot of passion. I think we need to turn that passion into significant efforts, politically and organizationally. We have to make a real nuisance of ourselves to the governor and to the legislature until they pay attention to us. I have learned in public life, as mayor and now in the legislature, that those people who stand up and are persistent and persuasive get heard. We have got to continue to step up in ever-increasing numbers and be heard.”

Sign of drought Westlands Water District Turnout“We also have win some elections,” he emphasized. “We are under a one party-dictatorial rule right now. And I would be saying this even if Republicans were the party in rule. Our founders believed there should be separated powers in government and people in office from all walks of life. These kinds of checks and balances get us to good policy for most people, most of the time.”

“You can’t do that in a dictatorship,” Patterson explained, “and that’s really what we have—one party that has all the levels of power and is using them all against us in Central California. And we’re seeing the result of it.”

Patterson tells other members of the legislature on the committees he serves, “You are literally putting a bait fish that striped bass are eating, ahead of the lives and the wellbeing of people and their property, and you’re blaming us for it. The reality is you’re making a drought that is bad into a drought that is a nightmare.”

“If this were to be compared, for example, to a forest fire,” Patterson conjectured, “and the firefighters were told by the governor, ‘Stop trying to save lives and stop trying to save property; go make sure you save that tree over there because there’s a spotted owl in it,’ people would very quickly tell the governor where to go and what to do.”

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False Data Abounds

California Drought Information Game:

False Data Out-Markets Ag

By Laurie Greene, Editor and Producer

 

At “The Truth About the Drought” forum, organized by Assemblymember Jim Patterson recently in Clovis, CA, moderator John Broeske, executive director of Families Protecting The Valley, said he thinks Ag is doing really badly on the information game.

“I think that we are getting out-marketed in messaging in the state of California,” said Broeske. “I think a lot of the people in the Central Valley know things that the people in Southern California and in the Bay Area, don’t know.”

Broeske continued, “I don’t blame those people for not knowing because they’re being told over and over again about the ‘80% number’ for Ag water use; and the ‘2%’ Ag contributes to the economy’. These are not real numbers, but people hear them repeatedly, so it’s not hard to understand they believe it.”

“I think the environmentalists want people to believe the 80% figure,” Broeske stated, “because it’s a lot easier to demand water from us if it appears we are using it all. But we’re not, and it’s hard for us to get the message out that these numbers aren’t true.”

Broeske did not know the best way to get the message out, but said he tries to correct people when they get it wrong. He suggested correcting online articles in the comment section to empower more people with the right numbers as ammunition for when they get into conversations. “You’ve got to fight back; if you let people use these false numbers over and over again, nothing is ever going to change.”

As false data out-markets ag in messaging, Broeske said water usage accountability is unequivalent. “Farmers are getting blasted for raising almonds and using too many gallons per almond,” said Broeske. “But, there’s no article about how many gallons it takes to raise a smelt. How many acre-feet for salmon? How many is too many? I think those questions have to be asked.”

“California is spending four million dollars of water per salmon!” Broeske declared. “Should there be some accountability there? How much water are we going to spend on one salmon? At least we get almonds at the end of the farming process. That’s what accountability means; we’ve got to create some rules about how much water is too much to save one fish.”

“I think the only way the public can demand accountability from the government and the scientists is to win elections,” he conjectured. “We are not winning the marketing war on these water usage numbers, so voters keep electing the same people who tell them the wrong numbers, and there’s nothing we can do if they keep getting elected. It’s a tough battle.”

“We are outnumbered,” Broeske said, “and I don’t know how we can overcome their marketing. They’re not even buying marketing, like billboards or advertising—just newspaper articles and news stories they are quoted in—so their marketing costs them nothing.”

“For us to win the market,” Broeske concluded, “we have to buy billboards and ads, and have enough money to do so.”

Mario Santoyo: Hold Environmental Water Use Accountable!

Mario Santoyo: Hold Environmental Water Use Accountable!

 

By Laurie Greene, California Ag Today Editor

 

California Ag Today met with Mario Santoyo, executive director for the California Latino Water Coalition at the recent Clovis drought forum organized by Assemblymember Jim Patterson to talk about how serious the current drought situation has become.

We are definitely in one of the worst drought situations that has happened in recent times. But the fact is, the 1977 drought was actually worse than where we are now. But this year, we’re at a zero water allocation and in ’77 we were at 25% for both the Eastside and Westside. So what’s the difference? Well, it boils down to the differences that are now dedicating a whole bunch of water to environment use, but the environment is not being held accountable for its usage,” Santoyo said.

“Cities and agriculture have had to be very accountable for their water usage and efficiency. It’s not the same for the environment, and so I’m hoping people will understand this discrepancy when we push to reallocate some of the water back to the cities and farms. We must hold environmental water use accountable!”

Santoyo noted the critical importance of building new water storage projects. “We have been working on this for a long time, and we just can’t afford to continue losing millions and millions of acre-feet of water to the ocean during times like this, when we could use that water. We need everyone to understand they have a role in communicating to the state government that we must advance our storage capacity.

Santoyo noted, “Farmworker communities are doing a lot worse because, again, zero allocation on both the Eastside and Westside quickly translates into fallowed land, which means there are fewer jobs available. So farmworkers now find themselves in an extremely difficult position in which they either stick around and hope for the best or they leave. But once they leave, they aren’t coming back,” he said.

And, that makes life tough for the farmworkers, but it also makes it tough for the farmers because they need water and labor. You can’t do without both, and the lack of one causes problems with the other; if you don’t have water, you lose the labor, and then what do you do? So, it’s unfortunate that some changes in the way we are using water today have changed the entire landscape of agriculture here in the Central Valley.”

In terms of what we can do, Santoyo urged Californians never to give up. “There’s no reason why we all cannot write letters to our representatives and to the governor! Wake him up! Tell him, ‘Hey by the way, you’re supposed to represent us and step to the plate. Have better control over State Water Resources Control Board because they are making tons of mistakes.’ Governor Brown must start making the right decisions for the people.”

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California Gas Tax to Affect Ag and All Residents

New gas tax threatens to eliminate benefit of lower fuel costs to California farmers and consumers

In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020, California state legislators passed a gas tax law known as AB 32. Starting in 2015, the law’s penalty on carbon emissions will apply to all cars and trucks in the state, meaning that everyone who fills up will pay more. Exactly how much more? Nobody knows yet. It could be as high as 50 cents per gallon with at least a 15-cent increase, beginning in 2015.

Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, keeps a sharp eye on legislation that hurts agriculture. He commented, “It’s scheduled, unfortunately, to be implemented, but at what level we don’t know. Assembly member Jim Patterson (R-23rd District) and Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) are going to initiate some additional publicity on it, and they are going to introduce legislation in January to carefully analyze the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board (ARB) is implementation of the gas tax.”

“Both Patterson and Vidak recognize, as do we all, that the additional dollars in everyone’s pocket relative to lower fuel prices, help the economy. People have more disposable income, whether they are purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables or something for the holidays; lower fuel costs make consumers’ expenditures higher because they have more dollars,” noted Nelsen. “By implementing this gas tax, you’re going to stifle this economic spurt that we typically see in the last few months of the calendar year. Jim and Andy, I think, are aware of that.”

“It’s an adverse tax in that it just goes to the general fund, with no redeeming value. You know, we already pay a tax that on gasoline that goes to roads and transportation.  We pay a tax on cans and bottles that we buy at the supermarket that goes to recycling,” said Nelsen. “When we pay this gas tax, it’s just going to the general fund for a group of individuals to parse out–whether we reap any benefit or not. So this is not a healthy economic approach in my estimation, and this is why we’ll be supporting the Senator and Assemblyman in what they are doing.”

“The governor endorses it because it creates a larger fund for him to underwrite the high-speed rail program.The governor feels that high speed rail helps with cleaner air because it will take more cars off the road as more people ride the train,” Nelsen said. “The newly-generated gas tax dollars thus become a subsidy for high speed rail.”

Nelson said the the ARB has some leeway to decide the size of the gas tax.

“Here we are, all of the sudden we are reaping something positive, paying a whole heck of a lot less for our fuel, and the state wants to make it that much more expensive,” said Nelsen.

 

 

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TODAY’S MEETING IN FRESNO ADDRESSES ACP

Fresno County on Alert for ACP

 
Assemblyman Jim Patterson

Assemblyman Jim Patterson hosted the Citrus Industry Town Hall this morning at the Fresno County Farm Bureau office to discuss the current state of the Asian Citrus Psyllid presence in California, the quarantine situation, how Fresno County is preparing for the possible migration of ACP into the county, and how agencies, growers, and the state and federal governments are cooperating to control its spread in California.

Over forty people attended the meeting, including growers, PCAs, local government and industry leaders, researchers, and media.

Fresno County is the fourth largest citrus-producing county in California, having dropped in status due to freeze-damaged mandarin acreage last year, according to Les Wright, Fresno County Ag Commissioner.
Les Wright
“ACP spread is one of the most serious problems facing valley citrus growers especially those in the south valley,” said Wright.
 
To date, all contiguous counties in southern California are under CDFA Quarantine, as well the Porterville area of Tulare County, to prevent movement of ACP-ridden leaves and plant debris and unsanitary ag equipment into non-infested regions of the state and to bide time for agency mobilization and industry research to catch up. The effort also aims to prevent ACP from finding HLB-infected trees and spreading the incurable disease.
 
Though presently under quarantine, the effort in southern California to stop the spread of ACP, it was emphasized, was NOT a failure; rather, it bought precious time for other regions to prepare, and while many treatments did not work, other regions are learning from their attempts.
 
Creative Solutions
 
Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell

Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC IPM Specialist and Research Entomologist, recently studied ACP found in Texas and Florida and reported that local agencies here are following Florida’s lead in organizing grower groups and local neighbors to treat their trees simultaneously.

She said that researchers are looking for natural processes, among others, to control ACP populations.
 
Victoria Hornbaker, CDFA, Program Coordinator, gave the example of Dr. Mark Hoddle, Extension Specialist and Director of the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside, who is working towards the massive release of Tamarixia radiata wasps, a natural predator of ACP, found in Pakistan. In studies of small releases of T. radiata, the wasps were found outside the areas where they were released—a good indication of their hardiness and potential effectiveness against ACP.

Victoria Hornbaker

While there is no cure for HLB thus far, researchers are looking at altering the ACP so it cannot pick up HLB disease, inserting a gene so it cannot carry HLB, and creating disease-resistant plants.

Organic insecticides against ACP are short-lived, so they must be applied more frequently than their conventional counterparts. Thus, organic farmers must be more aggressive in their treatments.
 
UC Davis is studying new efficacious organic products.
 
If an organic farm were in an eradication zone, the grower would be required to use conventional products, losing organic status for one year. Without compliance, the property would be abated.
 
It is recommended that when a grower sprays for a different pest, they should choose a product that also works on ACP.
 
Eradication and management strategies differ according to season.
 
Product spraying frequency and product choice are delicate decisions so as not to cause resistance in ACP.
 
Expert dog sniffers can detect the presence of ACP, and have detected infested shipments that were subsequently destroyed. California is vigilant at all points of entry including airports, border traffic, and ports. Not all counties have expert canines; however, Fresno has one such specialist. The USDA also provides dogs, one of which works in Fresno.
 
Take Action Now
 
Start sampling now.
 
Do not rely on (color-saturated) yellow-sticky traps for detection. Remember that psyllids are attracted to citrus trees, which have both color and scent.
ACP likes an orchard’s edges, so test for their presence around a field’s perimeter, as well as down the center for good measure.
 
Go to the following websites for information, quarantine maps, crop protection cost-effectiveness:
·       CDFAWebsite
In the event a homeowner or grower suspects ACP on their property, take the bug, if possible, put it in alcohol, and contact the Fresno County Farm Bureau; Sylvie Robillard, Fresno County Grower Liaison; the CDFA Hotline, 1-800-481-1899 or your local Ag commissioner (if outside Fresno County).
 
Joel Nelson
Joel Nelson, California Citrus Mutual, President, commented, “If it weren’t serious, it would be exciting” due to the talent of the people involved in the fight to suppress the ACP and thereby avoid HLB disaster in the state. With southern California producing $750,000 and the Central Valley producing $1.5 billion in citrus, California is the largest citrus-producing state in the country, providing 85% of the country’s fresh citrus.
 
Stopping the spread of ACP and eradicating Huanglongbing (HLB) is among the top five priorities of the USDA. The federal government has contributed $10 million to the California program toward that end.
 
A coalition of groups is conducting a public relations campaign starting in southern California that includes distribution of bookmarks and brochures (in several languages) that have a little magnifying glass inside to detect ACP; enlisting legislators and box stores, among others, to help spread information; and launching a PSA next week featuring Citrus Grower Kevin Severns speaking about this crucial situation.There are 6 versions of the PSA on CCM’s YouTube Channel.
 
Nelson emphasized that every step this coalition in California takes is globally unprecedented. And the government is flexible and ready to adopt new strategies; using this effort in California as a model for other programs planned to eradicate foreign invading pests.
 
Assemblyman Jim Patterson concluded by acknowledging, “Agriculture is more than a livelihood; it‘s a life.”