Cavanaugh Wins Fresno County Farm Bureau Journalism Award

Patrick Cavanaugh Wins Award for Audio Report on Temperance Flat Dam

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

The Fresno County Farm Bureau (FCFB) recognized Patrick Cavanaugh, Ag News Director and co-owner of California Ag Today Radio Network and CaliforniaAgToday.com, with a First Place Journalism Award in the Audio category on May 9. Cavanaugh’s radio report entitled “Temperance Flat Dam Denied Full Funding” broadcasted across our 26-station network, focused on the California Water Commission’s failure to fund the Temperance Flat Dam storage project.

Cavanaugh was among four award winners recognized by the FCFB at its second annual “Bounty of Fresno County” event at Wolf Lakes Park in Sanger. This year marked the FCFB’s 25th annual Journalism Awards.

Patrick Cavanaugh Wins FCFB Journalism Award

 

Over 25 entries were received from publications, websites, radio and television stations. The criteria for the awards were: thorough and objective coverage of issues, given time and space limitations; educational element for the agriculture industry or the consumer; and portraying the personal stories of those who make up the food and agriculture industry, making issues relevant to consumers and Valley residents.

Serving as judges were Westlands Water District Public Affairs Representative Diana Giraldo, farmer Liz Hudson of Hudson Farms, and journalist Don Wright of Water Wrights.

Award winners are:

Audio

Patrick Cavanaugh, California Ag Today Radio, “Temperance Flat Dam denied full funding,” March 9, 2018

Cavanaugh discusses the California Water Commission’s failure to fund the Temperance Flat Dam storage project.

Farm Trade Print

Vicky Boyd, Cotton Farming Magazine, “A bird’s eye-view of cotton,” September 1, 2018

Boyd explains the value of drones and how California farmers and ranchers are enlisting such technologies to help boost efficiency, optimize crop inputs and yields, and ultimately, remain profitable.

General Print

Robert Rodriguez, The Fresno Bee, “Will adding a sour kick get millennials to eat raisins?,” August 19, 2018

Rodriguez speaks with the President and Chief Executive Officer of Sun-Maid Growers of California, Harry Overly, about the company’s national campaign focused on rekindling consumers’ fondness for the brand.

Video

Alexan Balekian, KSEE24, “Is the gas tax putting California’s most valuable resource in jeopardy?,” February 19, 2019

Balekian explores the implications of Prop. 6, “the gas tax,” on California agriculture.

Check the CaliforniaAgToday.com Google News-recognized website for additional coverage on Temperance Flat Dam.

Featured Photo:  Ryan Jacobsen, CEO, Fresno County Farm Bureau, and Patrick Cavanaugh, California Ag Today Radio Network, holding tractor award.

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Fresno County Farm Bureau is the county’s largest agricultural advocacy and educational organization, representing members on water, labor, air quality, land use, and major agricultural related issues. Fresno County produces more than 400 commercial crops annually, totaling $7.028 billion in gross production value in 2017. For Fresno County agricultural information, visit www.fcfb.org.

 

Recommended:  The Fresno County Farm Bureau (FCFB) held the 22nd Annual Journalism Awards at the organization’s Celebrating Friends of Agriculture social where it awarded Vernon and the mental health series the Audio Award. 

2017 Fresno County Crop Report Totals $7 Billion

Fresno County’s Ag Value Increases Significantly in 2017 Crop and Livestock Report

 

The Fresno County Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Crop and Livestock Report (Crop Report) was presented to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Overall, the 2017 agricultural production value in Fresno County totaled $7.028 billion, showing a 13.58 percent increase from 2016’s $6.18 billion.

“Once again, Fresno County farmers and ranchers have produced an agricultural bounty for the world,” stated Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner Les Wright. “While much of this food and fiber goes towards feeding and supplying our nation, the Fresno County Department of Agriculture also issued 18,604 phytosanitary certificates for 133 commodities destined for 97 countries around the globe in 2017.”

“This Crop Report is comprised of nearly 400 commodities, of which 73 crops exceed $1 million in value,” Commissioner Wright continued. “Crop values may vary year-to-year based on production, markets and weather conditions, but our farmers and ranchers, their employees and all those who support their efforts work tirelessly year-around to bring in the harvest.”

With the great diversity of crops in Fresno County and the many variables in agriculture, it’s a given that some crops will be up in value while others are down. Increases were seen in a majority of the Crop Report segments, including field crops, seed crops, fruit and nut crops, livestock and poultry, livestock and poultry products, apiary products and pollination services, and industrial crops. Decreases were seen in vegetables and nursery. Surface water supplies were significantly better in 2017, although many Westside federal water contractors received much of that good news too late to benefit them with additional annual plantings.

Fresno County’s Top 10 Crops in 2017 (Source: 2017 Fresno County Agricultural Crop and Livestock Report)

Too often, the Crop Report gets summarized down to just a single overall number, but it yields a significant amount of information, such as the ability to examine changes and trends in crop acreage and yields. Amounts in the report reflect the gross income values only (income before expenses) and not the net return to producers.

“The San Joaquin Valley is the food capital of the World, and Fresno County is the region’s heart,” said Fresno County Farm Bureau (FCFB) CEO Ryan Jacobsen. “Daily, millions of food servings unceremoniously originate within our backyard, the result of generations of families and agricultural infrastructure that has been built to furnish an unbelievably productive, wholesome and affordable food supply.”

“The annual Crop Reports are more than numbers,” Jacobsen continued. “They provide the industry, the public and policymakers, regardless of the overall number, the opportunity to salute local agriculture and give thanks for the food and fiber, jobs and economic benefits, agriculture provides Fresno County.”

One popular component of the report is the review of the county’s “Top 10 Crops” that offers a quick glimpse of the diversity of products grown here. In 2017, these crops accounted for three-fourths of the report’s value. Almonds continue to lead the way as Fresno County’s only billion-dollar crop in 2017, representing 17.4 percent of the total gross value of the Crop Report. Added to this year’s list was mandarins at number six. Dropping out of the “Top 10 Crops” was garlic.

This year’s Crop Report was a salute to the Fresno-Kings Cattlemen’s Association. The organization is one of 38 affiliates of the California Cattlemen’s Association, a non-profit trade association that represents ranchers and beef producers in legislative and regulatory affairs.

Temperance Flat Dam Fallout Continues

Even Growers Not Benefitting are Unhappy

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Even growers who were not going to benefit from the proposed Temperance Flat Dam are upset by the denial of funding for the project by the California Water Commission.

Doug Verboon is a walnut grower as well as County Supervisor in Kings County. He said Kings County was not going to get anything from Temperance Flat, but still he was all for it.

“We’re actually in the middle. We weren’t going to get any water from the project, but we want our neighbors to be happy as well, so it hurts to see them hurt and we’re getting tired of the do as I say and not do as I do, attitude from … Sacramento,” Verboon said.

“We need someone to stick up for our rights. We feel that the opinions that the Water Commission pushed upon us were somebody else’s opinion. The Water Commission did not take time to listen to our projects plans, or listen to our comments. They already had their mind made up before the 2014 Water bond went to the voters,” Verboon said.

Ryan Jacobsen, Executive Director, Fresno County Farm Bureau

Ryan Jacobsen,the executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau representing farmers who would have definitely benefited from Temperance Flat Dam if it was approved by the California Water Commission, also had a lot to say on the topic.

“First and foremost, there is obvious frustration. I mean, I think that’s the expression of what everybody had here to say. We are all left bewildered as to why, how a decision like this with as much work that’s gone into it. We had science that backed it up and all of the sudden the commission came back and said that it wasn’t even close enough to be good and that they could not help us get there.”

Jacobsen noted that the commission could not explain why the project was not good. “They just said it was not good. It really smells of politics, and sounds as though things were done inappropriately and at this point, it’s just a frustration and it’s time to reorganize and figure out how the fight continues to build that very important project to this Valley,” he said.

Overwinter Pests and New Pesticide Regulations Near Schools

A Focus on Overwintering Pests and New Spray Regulations Near Schools

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently spoke with Ryan Jacobsen, CEO and executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, about pest pressures in Fresno county as well as new pesticide regulations that were put put in place around K-12 schools and licensed daycare centers beginning Jan 1.

“When you talk about pest pressure, the warmer temperatures that we saw last year because of the multiple storms that were rolling through helped help many pests get through the season and start in greater numbers earlier in the year, and that’s what we saw happen. We have had many warm days so far this winter, and it will be interesting to see if pests respond to that in the coming spring,” Jacobsen said.

“There definitely this time of year when it comes to so many of our different other crops that folks are doing all their different cultural practices to make sure that they are doing what they can in vineyards, orchards and open grounds to reduce those pest pressures for the upcoming year and hopefully you get through the season,” Jacobsen explained.

And there are new regulations that farmers will have to follow when spraying within a quarter mile of schools and licensed daycare centers between 6am and 6pm. But Jacobson says that this won’t be a big change for farmers, as Central Valley farmers had been following regulations like this for many years.

“Most of these have been in practice by these growers in south Joaquin Valley for years. Our kids are going to those same schools, and we’re trying to be the best neighbors and stewards of the land next to these schools as possible,” Jacobsen said. “Nevertheless, every time you get to government involved, obviously there’s going to be some difficulties and some paperwork or regulatory red tape that’s going to be added to the process there. And I think that’s what you’re seeing with these current rules here in Fresno County.”

“And I know where our agricultural commissioner’s office has worked hand-in-hand with local growers regarding spraying near schools,” he said. “But in anticipation of these rules, and just even before they were even discussed, the industry did what they could to make sure that these applications that were next to schools were done appropriately successfully and that there was no issue.

Temperance Flat to help with Above and Below Ground Storage

Water Storage is Needed, Above and Below Ground

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Ryan Jacobsen, CEO and executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, about the importance of below ground and above ground water storage, and how Temperance Flat Dam will help.

“I am first and foremost to say we need both. They go hand in hand. You can’t capture all this water at one time and stick it in the ground. You’ve got to have above ground storage,” Jacobsen said. “The water has to be allowed to percolate back into the ground level.”

“We need both types to go hand in hand, and I think anybody that knows the success of what Temperance Flat Dam is going to bring to this area knows that this is good,” he explained.

Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO

Farmers are trying to get their voice heard when it comes to new water policy. Jacobson says the best way is through personal letters. They are getting hundreds upon thousands of emails.

“If you get that handwritten letter or that personal letter coming from somebody through the old school snail mail, it makes a difference when it comes to the commissioners,” he said.

“The more the commissioners can hear about the support and potential successes of this project or in the local community, the more attention it will get. It’s important to our region,” Jacobsen said. “Because agriculture is a large portion of the San Joaquin Valley economy.”

Send your personal letters to the California Water Commission at PO Box 9428 Sacramento, California.

Fresno County Agricultural Value Declines in 2015

Fresno County Agricultural Value Declines in 2015

Drought, Lower Commodity Prices and Production Issues Drive Report Down

The Fresno County Department of Agriculture’s 2015 Crop and Livestock Report was presented to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors TODAY.  Overall, agricultural production in Fresno County totaled $6.61 billion, showing a 6.55 percent decrease from 2014’s $7.04 billion.

“The strength of Fresno County’s agricultural industry is based upon the diversity of crops produced.  This year’s report covers nearly 400 commodities, of which, 62 exceed $1 million in value,” said Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures Les Wright“The lack of a reliable water supply continues to fallow productive land,” Wright continued.

Les Wright Fresno County Ag Commissioner
Les Wright, Fresno County Ag Commissioner
The annual crop report provides a chance to examine changes and trends in crop acreage and yields.  Amounts in the report reflect the gross income values only (income before expenses) and does not reflect net return to producers.

According to the released figures, an increase was seen in vegetable crops (4.95% = $59,025,000). Decreases occurred in field crops (41.99% = $134,995,000), seed crops (30.80% = $10,437,000), fruit and nut crops (6.6% = $229,551,000), nursery products (25.65% = $16,088,000), livestock and poultry (9.44% = $118,769,000), livestock and poultry products (31.38% = $199,769,000), apiary (2.39% = $1,735,000) and industrial crops (54.38% = $3,992,000). 

“Every day, millions throughout the world are eating food that originated in Fresno County,” said FCFB CEO Ryan Jacobsen. “The magnitude of this industry does not occur by happenstance. Generation upon generation of agricultural infrastructure has been built to feed an unbelievably productive, wholesome and affordable food supply.

Ryan Jacobsen
Ryan Jacobsen, CEO Fresno County Farm Bureau

“I continue to remind all—eaters; elected officials; local residents who benefit from a healthy, vibrant farm economy; and those whose jobs depend upon agriculture—that we must not take what we have for granted,” continued Jacobsen.  “By not addressing our challenges head-on, whether it be water supply reductions, labor issues, governmental red-tape, etc., we are allowing our economy, our food and our people to wilt away. The direction of the Valley’s agricultural industry explicitly determines the direction of the Valley as a whole.”

One popular component of the report is review of the county’s “Top 10 Crops,” which offers a quick glimpse of the diversity of products grown here. In 2015, these crops accounted for three-fourths of the report’s value.  Added to this year’s list were mandarins (9) and oranges (10).  Mandarin demand continues to push acreage upwards.  Dropping out of the Top 10 was pistachios and cotton.  Pistachio production was significantly reduced last year due to the “blanking” issue that left many shells without nuts, and cotton acreage continues to be depressed due to reduced water supplies and fallowed land.

For a copy of the full crop report, contact FCFB at 559-237-0263 or info@fcfb.org. 
Fresno County Crops 2015
Fresno County Farm Bureau is the county’s largest agricultural advocacy and educational organization, representing members on water, labor, air quality, land use, and major agricultural related issues. Fresno County produces more than 400 commercial crops annually, totaling $6.61 billion in gross production value in 2015.  For Fresno County agricultural information, visit www.fcfb.org.

Breaking News: The 5 Percenters May Not Receive All of Their Water Allocation

5 Percenters and Endangered Fish May Both Lose 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Will the 5 Percenters—the Federal water users in California who were restricted by a 95% water allocation reduction this year—actually receive the promised 5% allocation? This scenario follows a more-than-average winter rainfall and snowfall throughout the state.

Ryan Jacobsenexecutive director and CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said, “arguably it’s turned out to be much worse. Right now, for the initial 5% allocation to even be questionable right now is just absolutely insane. It all boils down to the amount of water being held up in Lake Shasta for fish purposes, which has put a major stranglehold on what’s happening down here at this point,” noted Jacobsen.

Central Valley Project (CVP) Water
Central Valley Project (CVP) Water

At Shasta Reservoir, a keystone reservoir of the Central Valley Project, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation essentially discharged flood releases earlier this year just to make room for the water that was expected to come in.  Shasta now stands at a above average full for this time of year, because the Feds are holding all the water for release for salmon later.

This is part of the plan to have cold water available to release for the salmon. And Shasta actually has 30 percent more cold water than what they thought, and water leaders are pushing hard to get the Feds to release it for agriculture.

San Luis Reservoir dead pool
San Luis Reservoir at Dead Pool Status

And San Luis Reservoir is  at a dead-pool status, which insures no more water can be sent south from that reservoirDead pool means no more water can be drawn from San Luis Reservoir, which does not bode well.

Jacobsen said, “This means our federal contractors’ 5% is in question. And that’s the irony: we were looking at such a strong year—or at least an average year [of precipitation]—and ending up now where our meager water supply is in jeopardy. This is incomprehensible and inexcusable from the federal side.”

Shasta has both federal and state water, and the federal side is essentially nothing at this point, explained Jacobsen. “Farmers rely upon San Luis Reservoir water for July and August irrigation, “and the water is essentially gone at this point,” he said. “It just shows you the major mismanagement we’re seeing from the federal side and the inability to capture water even when it is available, and not at the demise of any of these species.”

Jacobsen reiterated, “Back when the precipitation was falling [last winter], water was available at some extraordinarily high levels; yet, we never saw the increase in pumping that we would have expected under the normal conditions. “Of course, we’ve seen less pumping this year for the farmers and the cities south of the Delta,” noted Jacobsen. “During the times of the rainfall this year, it was essentially excuse, after excuse, after excuse. Some newer excuses pertained to why the pumps were not operating or operating at a very reduced capacity,” explained Jacobsen.

“The situation has been frustrating for a couple of years, but the anger continues to build because right now, this is not a ‘Mother Nature’ issue. It is completely a man-made regulatory drought that is, again, just incompetency at its best.”

“When we talk about the water stored behind Shasta [Dam] right now, really it is for the fish,” noted Jacobsen. “The most-watched fishery, at this point, is the salmon fishery. We’re in year four of this drought, but when it comes to the critical side of fish, the salmon essentially operates in three-year cycles. The last two years have been arguably two of the worst years on record for them, and this potential third year is a kind of make-it-or-break-it for salmon fisheries in the Delta region.”

Unfortunately, per Jacobsen, many decisions have been based on guesstimates. “There are a lot of folks who think we need to reserve all of this cold water for a fishery that may or may not be responding to what has been done in the past for this [contracted irrigation] water that has been given up for those purposes,” Jacobsen explained. “Right now, I think we’re doing a lot of experiments at the cost of jobs and employment, and most importantly, the farms here in the San Joaquin Valley. The frustration is that science is really not playing a big part in it. A lot of decisions are just simply, ‘We think we should be doing this versus what the science actually says we should be doing.’”

Jacobsen’s leading frustration is that all that water taken from farmers and given to fish has not helped the fish at all. In fact, the smelt and salmon numbers continue to decline. “I talk about growing frustration and anger from so many folks in the last couple of years… specifically because it hasn’t made a difference,” said Jacobsen. “An exorbitant amount of water has been given up for these fisheries, [endangered fish populations] continue to decline and crash, and as we’ve been saying for years, it is beyond time to look at just the water exporters,” he added.

Jacobsen maintains other stressors should be seriously investigated. “Many other issues taken place in the Delta should be pulled into play here, but again the regulators and the environmentalists continue to look only at the exporters as the sole issue for fish decline. There are so many other factors out there that need to be looked at,” he said.


Highly recommenced reading: “We are the 5 percenters, stretching our water supplies to get by,” by Joe Del BosqueContributing writer, The Orange County Register, July 14, 2016.

Ryan Jacobsen on 5 Percent Water Allocation

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO on Water Allocation

 By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

California Ag Today staff interviewed Ryan Jacobsen, CEO and executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau moments after the Bureau of Reclamation announced only 5 percent of contracted water would be allocated to Federal surface water users south of the Sacramento Delta during this El Niño year.

California Ag Today: Forget how you feel about the Bureau of Reclamation’s initial 5 percent allocation for Federal water users. How many times can we say, “Frustrated?” 

Jacobsen: Absolutely just despicablethe announcement we heard earlier today. The frustration is that we’ve continually been told over the last couple of years with zero percent water allocations that it’s been Mother Nature.

Even though it’s not necessarily the big bang year we were hoping for in northern California, Mother Nature provided. We’ve seen the reservoirs overflowing. We’ve seen the reservoirs flood-releasing, and here we are with a five percent allocation. We saw outflows in the delta this winter that exceeded the 300,000 acre/feet a day, and yet we weren’t doing anything to capture it. So, it’s just frustration, frustration, frustration that here we aremore of the sameand what does this mean long-term for California agriculture? We can’t be viable without a surface water supply, and when Mother Nature provides, unfortunately the federal government’s not trying to collect it.

California Ag Today: What is going on? Why are they doing this? Do you have any theories?

Jacobsen: Obviously, it has so much to do with the environmental side and the belief that the federal government is doing all they can to protect these species up there. We have seen that it’s doing no good; the fish species are seeing no recovery; it’s actually going in the opposite direction. It is plain mismanagement. The unfortunate part is sound science isn’t even going into this right now; it is purely the emotional side of whoever decides to pull the trigger on the federal side. And here we are on the resulting end, losing millions and millions of dollars in our economy, idling more farmlandthe most productive farmland in the countryin the worldand losing the jobs that are associated with it.

San Luis Reservoir -Empty, California Farm Water Coalition
San Luis Reservoir Suffering the 2015 Drought is now barely half filled even after the El Nino rain, runoff and massive flood releases from Shasta an Oroville

California Ag Today: You speak brilliantly on this whole situation. Way more water has flowed out to the ocean than needed for the protection of any of the species or the environment, so who are they listening to?

Jacobsen: Right now, this is simply the administration’s decision. Reclamation falls under the federal side of things, so obviously, ultimately, it lays on the President’s desk. If we talk about resolution: by 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, we could see a resolution to this whole issue. If Congress would get their act together and pass some kind of bill, get it on the President’s desk and get it signed, we could see some resolution.

Unfortunately, here we are, April 1:  a good portion of the precipitation season is now behind us, the high flows through the delta are pretty much over. We still have healthy reservoirs up North, but unfortunately it doesn’t mean anything for us down here because we can’t convey it through the Delta to get here. That lack of  and the lack of ability on the federal side to make the decisions that would allow us to pump that water makes this just another year of doom and gloom. Again, how much more of this can we take? I think the long-term outlook for those farmers with permanent crops who have tried to scrape by, has to be, “Is this even viable for us to continue to do this anymore?” ‘Because Mother Nature provided, and yet we don’t see the water.

California Ag Today: Very bleak. Ninety-five percent of normal snowfall, too.

Jacobsen: The percentages in northern California, while good, weren’t the El Niño banner year we were expecting. The season looked bright, like it was going to be good. Yet, the fact of the matter is that during the months of January, February and March, when these just incredible numbers of high water flows were going through the Delta, pumps were pumping in single digits. And that’s not even close, or anywhere near where they should have been.

I think the misconception is when we talk about the water that is taken from the Delta, it’s such a small percentage, particularly during those high-flow times; it would have meant no difference to water species. It’s just a frustration that we continue to be bombarded by these environmental restrictions that are having no good effect on the long-term viability of these species they are trying to protect.

California Ag Today:  What is the economic impact of these water cutbacks on the Central Valley?

Jacobsen: Well, when you look at the five percent allocation, we are ground zero. Fresno County, right in the heartland of the Central Valley, is ground zero. We are going to see probably in excess of 200,000-250,000 acres of land continue to be fallowed and the loss of the tens of thousands of jobs associated with that, and millions, tens of millions of dollars. It’s obviously a very dire situation when it comes to long-term viability here in the Valley.

California Ag Today: Because they are going to hear a lot of outrage from us, do you think the Bureau of Reclamation would go to a 20 percent water allocation? Farmers must be thinking, “We got to get the seeds ordered today for the crops.” Is there any hope for an increase in water, or do you think farmers just can’t bank on it?

Jacobsen: It’s already too late. For this season, it’s already too late. It is April 1 already, and, unfortunately, this is not a joke. This decision is about one month-and-a-half late. I think the Bureau of Reclamation was hoping the numbers would improve magically. They didn’t.

The five percent allocation, while said not to be our final allocation, is likely to be close. It won’t go up to 20; it won’t go up to 15. Maybe if we pray enough, it may go up to ten, but that would be on the high side. Right now, it looks very realistic that five percent is where we end up, where we are going to stand for the year.

California Ag Today: Okay, I know growers who have planted tomatoes in Fresno County, thinking, “Hey, we gotta get water.” They’re not getting it.

Jacobsen: They’re not getting it, no.  And lack of surface water supply continues to make a huge dent in our groundwater supply, so this just can’t continue the way it is going. Plus, upcoming implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), combined with the lack of federal surface supplies, will absolutely hammer farms here in the Valley.

Westlands Water Allocation “Despicable”

Westlands Water Allocation “Despicable”

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Earlier TODAY, the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) stunned the farming industry by announcing a  5% water allocation for most of the farmland to the Westlands Water District on the Westside in the Central San Joaquin Valley. This single digit water allocation to the comes during an El Niño year of wet weather, following four years of drought and restricted water deliveries to Westlands of 40% in 2012, 20% (2013), 0% (2014) and 0% again (2015).

Westlands Water District LogoLes Wright, agriculture commissioner for the Fresno County Department of Agriculture—ground zero for agricultural water cutbacks, said, “I can’t think of a word to describe how I am feeling about our federal water managers. It’s despicable what they’re doing to this Valley.”

“You have two major reservoirs in flood stage,” said Wright, “but they are refusing to turn the pumps on. It’s like they want to starve out the Valley, its farmers and communities. Agriculture is the major economic driver for the Valley communities, and they’re doing everything they can to drive the people out of this Valley.”

Established in 1902, the USBR, according to its website, is best known for the building of more than 600 dams and reservoirs, plus power plants and canals, constructed in 17 western states. These water projects led to homesteading and promoted the economic development of the West. 
Sign of drought Westlands Water District Turnout

The USBR website reads, “Today, we are the largest wholesaler of water in the country. We bring water to more than 31 million people, and provide one out of five Western farmers (140,000) with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland that produce 60% of the nation’s vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts.”

Yet, some Western farmers have received a 0% water allocation for each of the past two years, and now may receive only 5% this year. Already, Westlands Water District reports over 200,000 acres of prime farmland in the district have already been fallowed.

Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO
Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO

“Reservoirs throughout the state have been filling,” said Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO, Ryan Jacobsen, in a statement TODAY. “However, the government’s restrictive interpretation has resulted in the permanent loss of 789,000 acre-feet of water,” said Jacobsen. “Since December 2015, more than 200 billion gallons of water have been forever lost to the ocean, with almost no water being allocated to agriculture.”

Commissioner Wright reflected, “President Obama and both California senators have been here in the Valley, on the ground. They have seen what we are doing. They recognize the crisis; yet they refuse to use their authorities to correct the situationin a year when we’re dumping millions of gallons of water to the ocean.”

Wright explained the federal government is sending fresh water to the ocean in excess of what is needed for the environment and the protected species. “They are just wasting the water,” he said, “and yet, we have the Governor telling us to cut back 25% to 35%. And all of that water we saved last summer and in the last year, they have more than doubled the waste.”

“Where is the governor on this issue?” Wright asked. “It is despicable what the government is doing to its people.”

CA Farm Bureau Awards Ag Students

CA Farm Bureau Awards Young Farmers and Ranchers Program Students

Service to community and Farm Bureau earned awards for participants in the California Young Farmers and Ranchers program, and a student from California State University, Fresno, won the state’s annual Collegiate Discussion Meet. The awards were presented at the Feb. 27 annual California Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference in San Luis Obispo.

For a second straight year, the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee earned the YF&R Committee of the Year Award, for its activities during 2015. The committee, composed of 45 active members, volunteered at numerous Farm Bureau and agricultural education events; donated food to local food banks and toys to children of military service members; presented three college scholarships; and raised money for the scholarship program and for the California Farm Bureau Federation Fund to Protect the Family Farm.

Napa County Farm Bureau member Johnnie White received the Star YF&R Award, which recognizes a young farmer or rancher for service to agriculture. White, a sixth-generation farmer, works as operations supervisor for a vineyard-management company and as a volunteer firefighter in St. Helena. He has been an active YF&R volunteer since 2006, serves as first vice chair of the State YF&R Committee and is a member of the 2016 Leadership Farm Bureau class.

California Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers 2016 Conference logo
California Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers 2016 Conference

Fresno State junior Hunter Berry (San Jacinto), an agricultural business major, won the Collegiate Discussion Meet, which simulates a committee meeting with active participation and positive group discussion. Berry began his agricultural training in high school classes and FFA activities. At Fresno State, he is pursuing an accounting concentration and hopes to obtain a master’s degree on his banking or financial analysis career path. Next February, Berry will become the sixth Fresno State student to represent California at the American Farm Bureau’s Collegiate Discussion Meet national competition.

Riley Nilsen (Nipomo), an agricultural science student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was first runner-up in the competition. The other finalists were Fresno State senior agricultural business student Jacob Vazquez (Cottonwood) and Cal Poly student Haley Warner (Angels Camp). Berry earned a $1,250 prize sponsored by AgroLiquid; Nilsen earned $750 and the other finalists each earned $500.

Fresno State won the collegiate team competition, the fifth team and individual titles for the group under the direction of adviser Dr. Steven Rocca, Fresno State agricultural education professor. Other team titles came in 2014, 2013, 2008 and 2006. Berry said. “Dr. Rocca did a great job of mentoring us before and during the competition, as well as arranging for guest speakers beforehand such as Ryan Jacobsen from the Fresno County Farm Bureau. Having four of our team members make the semifinals was especially rewarding.

In addition to Berry and Vazquez, Fresno State’s team included agricultural education-communication senior Dominique Germann (Ceres), animal science-livestock business management junior Emma Briggs (Santa Rosa) and animal science-pre-veterinary senior Ana Lopez Campos (Tulare).

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American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program serves agriculturalists between the ages of 18 and 35 who are actively involved in production and affiliated professions.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 53,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

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Sources: 

California Farm Bureau Federation

California State University, Fresno, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Teçhnology (Geoffrey Thurner).

Photo: Collegiate Team Award Winners (2016); source: California State University, Fresno, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology