Celebrating California Agriculture . . .  An Ongoing Series: Marketing

Marketing, Almond Board Style

A Rallying Cry for Ag PR on Billboards

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Celebrating California Agriculture is a refreshing perspective. In an ongoing series on CaliforniaAgToday.comPeterangelo Vallis, executive director of the Fresno-based San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association (SJVWA), shares his optimistic viewpoint on California agriculture. In our original article, “Celebrating California Agriculture . . .  An Ongoing Series,” published on September 13, 2016, Vallis offered this goal:

SAN Joaquin Valley  Winegrowers Association, (sjvwa) logo“This is basic, basic stuff because, realistically, we’re marketing the fact that we need help to make more food,” Vallis noted. “We’re making safe domestic food, but if we don’t engage with the people that are our customers, we’re never going to be able to get our ideas and our needs across, because we’re just not talking to the right audience.”

“They’re not enough people here in the valley to move the needle. We’ve got to figure out a way to get San Francisco and L.A. appreciating our position, loving what we do, and trusting that we’re doing the very best job possible,” said Vallis.

Vallis is urging California agriculture “to put some dollars together for a major billboard campaign in Los Angeles and in the Bay Area, celebrating our agricultural industry as part of a big PR campaign.”

Almond Board of California, marketing almond board style“Just imagine,” Vallis suggested, “the power of billboards with California farmers and the fruits, nuts or vegetables they produce. The billboard could be up in prime city areas for several months for less than a few million dollars.”

Vallis commended the Almond Board of California for their example of a great starting point. “You know, the Almond Board of California (Board), I think, represents the most progressive part of California agriculture today because the Board understands how much money it takes to penetrate the market. We’re not living in 1932; we need to spend money on this stuff. I mean what does a Super Bowl commercial cost—6-7 million dollars for 30 seconds? It’s an insane amount of money, but that’s what it takes to really move the needle.”

“Billboards around the California’s urban centers or even across the nation, could carry the message of the importance of the California

ALMOND SUSTAINABILITY ECOSYSTEM (Almond Board of California, AlmondSustainability.org), Celebrating California Agriculture
ALMOND SUSTAINABILITY ECOSYSTEM (Almond Board of California, AlmondSustainability.org)

farmer,” Vallis proposed. “We could campaign on every billboard in America for one month and call it, ‘Hey, We Like to Eat Month’ or ‘Your Stomach Depends On Ag,’” noted Vallis.

“The message must connect with people,” Vallis insisted. “It would probably cost 20 or 30 million just to make that happen, but if you look at the success the Almond Board has had, that is a perfect pathway—a perfect roadmap—for what all of us in California can do at pennies per pound,” he said.

“There are some commodities that don’t make pennies per pound; but on the whole, a couple pennies per pound, put in the right space and put in front of people … Guess what? They’re going to go nuts over the product. Look what almonds have done. If that isn’t a rallying cry for what could happen. . . it would be killer! And it would be killer for our industry,” Vallis said.

More California Ag News

Celebrating California Agriculture . . . Celebrating California Agriculture . . .  An Ongoing Series   By Laurie Greene, Editor   Celebrating California agriculture is a refresh...
HASS AVOCADO MARKETING PROGRAM Avocados-Love One TodayTM Love One TodayTM is a science-based food and wellness education program that encourages Americans to include fresh Hass avoc...
Calcot Could Market 70 Millionth Bale this Year Calcot Ltd. Chairman Talks California Cotton at 89th Annual Meeting By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director Calcot Ltd., a democratically-run cot...
California Depends on National Dairy Month National Dairy Month Encourages Americans to Eat More Cheese By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director Across the country, National Dairy Month will ...

First the Feds, Now The State Plans More Water Diversions From Farms

More Planned Water Diversions From Farms to Fish-Not Just by Federal, but Also State Officials

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), regulators and environmental organizations want more water diversions to flow into the San Francisco Bay Delta Watershed to help save the declining Delta Smelt and Salmon. They have targeted three tributaries of the lower San Joaquin River; one of which is the Tuolumne River. Phase 1 of the Bay-Delta Plan is a real threat to all Modesto Irrigation District (MID) and Turlock Irrigation District (TID) customers including ag, urban water, and electric.

Coalitions for a Sustainable Delta, water diversionsMichael Boccadoro a spokesperson for the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, commented on the SWRCB: “They need to be pushed back. They need to be told no.” Boccadoro explained the water in question represents about 400,000 acre-feet taken from communities, businesses and farms. Ironically 400,000 acre-feet is roughly equivalent to the capacity of Hetch-Hetchy Reservoir (360,400 acre-feet) that funnels water, unabated, to San Francisco.

“This is only Phase One of the Boards’ decision,” said Boccadoro. “This is going to eventually encompass the Sacramento River; this is just the beginning. This isn’t by any stretch of the imagination the only potential impact agriculture would feel,” he said.

Boccadoro, like other people in the industry, cannot fathom why the SWRCB needs to take this water when it doesn’t seem to be doing anything beneficial for the endangered fish species. “This issue of continuing to take water that is providing no benefit—or no clear benefit—for fish, while we do nothing [to mitigate] the other stressors that are having a huge impact on the fish, has to stop,” Boccadoro said.

Boccadoro noted, “It looks like Governor Brown has it in for farmers. We have problems with groundwater and increasing water scarcity in the state, and the result of this [plan] would be increased groundwater pumping—until they tell us we can’t pump groundwater. At that point, they are basically telling us, ‘You can’t farm any more.'”

“It’s a huge problem, said Boccadoro. “For whatever reason, it appears that the Brown administration has declared war on California agriculture. Enough is enough. We need to push back hard against the Water Board’s decisions,” noted Boccadoro.

“This is as good a place to fight as any as I can think of,” Boccadoro explained. “We need to start the fight and continue the fight, which is the only way it’s ever going to be turned back. The regulators and environmental groups must address the other stressors [to the endangered species]. Taking water from agriculture has not corrected the problem.

In the meantime Boccadoro hopes the farmers are taking notice. “I sure hope they’re willing to come up here [to Sacramento] and demand that the state not take their water,” he said.

More California Ag News

State Water Board Orders More Information from Div... State is Asking Proof of Water Rights Persons claiming senior water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed will be required to provide ...
Modesto Irrigation District leaders hustling to ge... By: Garth Stapley; The Modesto Bee Nut farmers and other Modesto Irrigation District customers can wait to water crops as late as Oct. 3. That’s tw...
Turlock Irrigation District Will Rehab Reservoir Source: John Holland The board of the Turlock Irrigation District voted 5-0 Tuesday to fix up a small, abandoned reservoir near Hilmar to conserve ...
Mario Santoyo: Hold Environmental Water Use Accoun... Mario Santoyo: Hold Environmental Water Use Accountable!   By Laurie Greene, California Ag Today Editor   California Ag Today met ...

Celebrating California Agriculture . . .

Celebrating California Agriculture . . .  An Ongoing Series

 

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Celebrating California agriculture is a refreshing perspective. Peterangelo Vallis, executive director of the Fresno-based San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association, has an astute viewpoint on California agriculture. Vallis said, foundationally, consumers loves farmers—unless those consumers have been exposed to oppositional or politicized messagingbut most have not been.

“You go talk to any random person in any city,” said Vallis. “If they’re not politicized, which most people aren’t, they are just trying to live their lives, eat their food and rear their children. And they love farmers because farmers make food,” Vallis said.

blue-diamond-a-can-a-week-is-all-we-ask
(Photo Source: Blue Diamond Growers)

“What have been some of the most effective agricultural campaigns in the country? Wendy’s ‘Where’s the Beef?’ Blue Diamond almonds, ‘A Can A Week, That’s All We Ask.’ These ads humanize who we are talking about.”

“How about the California Dancing Raisins? That was huge,” noted Vallis.  “Everyone in any part of the country remembers those raisins. That’s positive PR. That was positive recognition for Ag. We’ve got to be doing more of that.”

congress-created-dust-bowl Billboard on CA SR 99

Vallis advocates more positive PR, but says we need to take a different approach. “Instead of all these billboards running up and down [State Route] 99 that make us look like vigilantes with pitchforks, we need to take whatever money that took, buy some billboards in L.A. and San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York with some happy kids, with a bowl full of veggies saying, “Thanks, mom! This was great!”

“This is basic, basic stuff because, realistically, we’re marketing the fact that we need help to make more food,” Vallis noted. “We’re making safe domestic food, but if we don’t engage with the people that are our customers, we’re never going to be able to get our ideas and our needs across, because we’re just not talking to the right audience.”

Statewide Drought Forces Californians To Take Drastic Measures For Water Conversation

“They’re not enough people here in the valley to move the needle. We’ve got to figure out a way to get San Francisco and L.A. appreciating our position, loving what we do, and trusting that we’re doing the very best job possible,” said Vallis.

More California Ag News

False Data Abounds California Drought Information Game: False Data Out-Markets Ag By Laurie Greene, Editor and Producer   At “The Truth About the Drought” ...
BOLING AIRSHIP Alex SOARS, DEMANDS ATTENTION BOLING AIRSHIP ENTERTAINS VIEWERS The Boling Air Media thermal airship, ALEX, made its maiden flight in conjunction with the 2015 World Ag Expo in Tu...
Table Grape Ads Feature Growers California Table Grape Ads Feature Growers By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor In an effort to shed a more positive light on agriculture and t...
Wonderful Branding Wonderful Branding: The Wonderful Company's Branding Success and Newest Citrus Discovery By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor A catchy brand can ...

CAWG Gears Up to Fight New Overtime Bill

Following Defeat of Overtime Bill AB 2757, CAWG Gears up to Fight New Overtime Bill AB 1066

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

California Assembly Bill 2757, which called to end the 10-hour workday for farm laborers (by enforcing overtime) and to illuminate extra work time opportunities, was voted down in June 2016, but a new version of the bill, AB 1066, is back on the drawing table.

 

Brad Goehringtreasurer of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) Board of Directors and current chair of the CAWG State Government Affairs Committee, spoke about the process of fighting back on this bill. “We already beat it and we had a major victory in the California State Assembly earlier in the year. The author of the bill didn’t like that result, and it is all union-backed and backed by taxpayer groups like California Rural Legal Association, Inc. (CRLA),” Goehring said.

 

cawg

“But the pressure is back,” said Goehring, also a fourthgeneration winegrape grower and owner of Goehring Vineyards, in Clements, near Lodi. “They did a dirty gut and amend bill¹, which is a slide of hand and basically reintroduces the bill again under a different bill number. This time it’s going to start in the Senate and we’re expecting a tough battle; but we’ve got a very organized coalition of Ag associations and we’re going to put the same energy into fighting this that we did before,” explained Goehring.

 

“It was a bloody fight in the Assembly,” noted Goehring. “But still, we’re optimistic as there are plenty of no votes from the party that wanted this to go through that we think it will be hard for the governor to sign even if [the bill] makes that far.

 

Goehring maintained, “The key is to educate legislators that the bill would hurt farmworkers because it would force farmers to minimize work hours to prevent overtime payroll. In fact, farmworkers are pushing for this second bill to fail.”

 

“Where the lack of understanding lies is the clear line between the urban legislators and the rural legislators,” Goehring commented. “The urban legislators, ironically, are the ones who already hav $15 minimum wage laws in their towns—San Diego, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. These legislators are trying to cram it down our throats and our lives here in the rural areas. We’re not having any real hard times getting to agreement with either party, if they are in the rural areas. It’s the urban ones that are doing all the damage.”

 

“We’ve had these legislators out to our farms. We’ve walked away and let them talk openly with our employees, and our employees have told them they don’t want it,” Goehring said. “Our employees have told them that they want to make an honest living. They want to teach their kids how to do the same thing. Our employees have taken it one step further; we overheard them telling the legislators they are not even in favor of any of the entitlement programs because that’s not the way to make an honest living that they want for their kids.”

 

“With all that said,” Goehring concluded, “the urban legislators are turning their backs on and ignoring our employees. This is all about unions and CRLA. They don’t care about the employees—is basically what they’re saying,” noted Goehring.

 


¹GUT AND AMEND is when amendments to a bill remove the current contents in their entirety and replace them with different provisions. (Source:  California State Legislature Glossary of Legislative Terms).

More California Ag News

Drought to affect energy costs this year and next By Christine Souza; Ag Alert Although the amount of hydroelectricity generation is dropping along with reservoir levels during the lingering Californ...
CAWG Focus on Mechanization, Virus Control CAWG Monterey Meeting Addresses Mechanization and Virus Control Strategies By Laurie Greene, Editor John Aguirre, president of the Sacramento-based ...
Call for Action to Oppose Overtime Bill AB 1066 Overtime Bill AB 1066 Needs Immediate Opposition By Laurie Greene, Editor California Assembly Bill (AB) 1066 to change overtime requirements for agr...
Top Ten Issues Facing Ag The Top Ten Issues Facing Agriculture: California Fresh Fruit Association’s Bedwell Lays Them Out By Patrick Cavanaugh, California Ag Today For t...

Lt. Governor Newsom Supports Calif. Agriculture

Calif. Lt. Governor Newsom Says Ag is at a Hinge-Moment in History

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

In an exclusive interview with Gavin NewsomLieutenant Governor of California, during the recent Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, Newsom declared, “It’s interesting about California—outside of Hollywood—no two more iconic industries exist than Silicon Valley’s technology, and the agricultural industry.

“It seems self-evident to everybody here that we have a unique opportunity to collaborate,” Newsom said about the event which joined the Silicon Valley high tech industry with the state’s farming industry to create digital solutions for agriculture. “We have the unique opportunity based on proximity and based on history. It is also a cultural opportunity as it relates to relationships that have been formed over the course of generations to begin to build bridges and connect some dots.”

Newsom said he believes in bottom-up inspiration, not top-down. “I don’t think you can sell down your vision from Sacramento. It’s about regions rising together and creating conditions for just these type of collaborations,” he said.

Newsom particularly appreciated comments about innovation. “I wrote a book, [“Citizenville”] and I’m not here to promote that book,” said Newsom, “but the whole idea was about platform thinking. The concept is the federal government, state government, and even local government cannot prescribe a federal, state or local pill for every problem,” he said.

“The point is,” he continued, “if we’re going to solve the big problems of the day, we have to create an environmenta platformto engage folks like yourselves to deliver the applications, literally and figuratively, to solve big problems. It’s self-evident to anyone who lives here in California, that we’ve got some big problems.”

Citizenville, by Gavin Newsom
Citizenville, by Gavin Newsom

“We have regulatory challenges in this state, and I say this as a business person with many businesses. I have a sense of kindred connection in spirit to the entrepreneurial ways that are here today,” he commented. Owner of three wineries, several restaurants and hotels, Newsom stated, “I am in the Ag business, of sorts. My point is, we could do a lot better to make a point that [agriculture] matters and we care,” he said.

“At the same time,” he added, “Silicon Valley is center-tip of the spear—all the innovation and discovery, and the change in the way we live, work and play,” Newsom said.

“We’re here on a hinge-moment in history where we are going from something old to something new, a world of mobile, local, and social; and cloud and crowd. It’s a moment of anxiety for a lot of people, a moment of mergerthe detonation of globalization and technology coming together. Again, there’s a lot of anxiety,” he noted.

Newsom suggested this is an opportune time to try to connect dots and address challenges, not just on the regulatory side and on the economic development side in this state, but also on the self-evident issues of water scarcity in this state. “You may have different opinions about climate change, global warming or violent disruption,” said Newsom, “but, as a guy who told me the other day up in Dutch Flat, Placer County, ‘I don’t care about all you folks from San Francisco talking about climate change, but something just ain’t right.’ Which is another way of describing a connection that things have changed,” Newsom explained.

Newsom said that kind of predictive nature, in terms of how we construct a water system for a world that no longer exists, and for a population that is twice the size; self-evidently, we have to do things differently. “We’ve got to be more creative and we’ve got to be more strategic,” he noted.

“It’s a long way of saying we are grateful for the work [California farmers] are doing. The goal for us in California is to make these conversations sustainable. ‘Not just situational and not just one annual conversation, but these are dialogs that must continue every day in this state,” Newsom said.

“I’m one of those people who believes in the combination of nature and technology, bringing cross-disciplines together,” Newsom said. “Cross-pollinating, literally and figuratively, ideas and people—values. “I think we have an incredible opportunity here in California, not just to survive in the agricultural industry but to truly thrive in a growing, competitive environment.”

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...

CULTIVATING COMMON GROUND: The State of the Wealthy Class in California

CULTIVATING COMMON GROUND:

The State is Sinking, and Its Wealthy Class Is Full of Hypocrites

Editor’s note: We thank Victor Davis Hanson for his contribution to California Ag Today’ CULTIVATING COMMON GROUND.

By Victor Davis Hanson

There was more of the same-old, same-old California news recently. Some 62 percent of state roads have been rated poor or mediocre. There were more predications of huge cost overruns and yearly losses on high-speed rail—before the first mile of track has been laid. One-third of Bay Area residents were polled as hoping to leave the area soon.

Such pessimism is daily fare, and for good reason.

The basket of California state taxes—sales, income, and gasoline—rate among the highest in the U.S. Yet California roads and K-12 education rank near the bottom.

After years of drought, California has not built a single new reservoir. Instead, scarce fresh aqueduct water is still being diverted to sea. Thousands of rural central-California homes, in Dust Bowl fashion, have been abandoned because of a sinking aquifer and dry wells.

One in three American welfare recipients resides in California. Almost a quarter of the state population lives below or near the poverty line. Yet the state’s gas and electricity prices are among the nation’s highest.

Finally by Victor Davis Hanson
– Victor Davis Hanson

One in four state residents was not born in the U.S. Current state-funded pension programs are not sustainable.

California depends on a tiny elite class for about half of its income-tax revenue. Yet many of these wealthy taxpayers are fleeing the 40-million-person state, angry over paying 12 percent of their income for lousy public services.

Public-health costs have soared as one-third of California residents admitted to state hospitals for any causes suffer from diabetes, a sometimes-lethal disease often predicated on poor diet, lack of exercise, and excessive weight.

Nearly half of all traffic accidents in the Los Angeles area are classified as hit-and-run collisions.

Grass-roots voter pushbacks are seen as pointless. Progressive state and federal courts have overturned a multitude of reform measures of the last 20 years that had passed with ample majorities.

In impoverished central-California towns such as Mendota, where thousands of acres were idled due to water cutoffs, once-busy farmworkers live in shacks. But even in opulent San Francisco, the sidewalks full of homeless people do not look much different.

What caused the California paradise to squander its rich natural inheritance?

Excessive state regulations and expanding government, massive illegal immigration from impoverished nations, and the rise of unimaginable wealth in the tech industry and coastal retirement communities created two antithetical Californias.

One is an elite, out-of-touch caste along the fashionable Pacific Ocean corridor that runs the state and has the money to escape the real-life consequences of its own unworkable agendas.

The other is a huge underclass in central, rural, and foothill California that cannot flee to the coast and suffers the bulk of the fallout from Byzantine state regulations, poor schools, and the failure to assimilate recent immigrants from some of the poorest areas in the world.

The result is Connecticut and Alabama combined in one state. A house in Menlo Park may sell for more than $1,000 a square foot. In Madera, three hours away, the cost is about one-tenth of that.

In response, state government practices escapism, haggling over transgender-restroom and locker-room issues and the aquatic environment of a three-inch baitfish rather than dealing with a sinking state.

What could save California?

Blue-ribbon committees for years have offered bipartisan plans to simplify and reduce the state tax code, prune burdensome regulations, reform schools, encourage assimilation and unity of culture, and offer incentives to build reasonably priced housing.

Instead, hypocrisy abounds in the two Californias.

If Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg wants to continue lecturing Californians about their xenophobia, he at least should stop turning his estates into sanctuaries with walls and security patrols. And if faculty economists at the University of California at Berkeley keep hectoring the state about fixing income inequality, they might first acknowledge that the state pays them more than $300,000 per year — putting them among the top 2 percent of the university’s salaried employees.

Immigrants to a diverse state where there is no ethnic majority should welcome assimilation into a culture and a political matrix that is usually the direct opposite of what they fled from.

More unity and integration would help. So why not encourage liberal Google to move some of its operations inland to needy Fresno, or lobby the wealthy Silicon Valley to encourage affordable housing in the near-wide-open spaces along the nearby I-280 corridor north to San Francisco?

Finally, state bureaucrats should remember that even cool Californians cannot drink Facebook, eat Google, drive on Oracle, or live in Apple. The distant people who make and grow things still matter. 

Elites need to go back and restudy the state’s can-do confidence of the 1950s and 1960s to rediscover good state government — at least if everyday Californians are ever again to have affordable gas, electricity, and homes; safe roads; and competitive schools.


Victor Davis Hanson, as described on his website, is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services.

He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007, the Bradley Prize in 2008, as well as the William F. Buckley Prize (2015), the Claremont Institute’s Statesmanship Award (2006), and the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002).

Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin.


The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various participants on CaliforniaAgToday.com do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, viewpoints or official policies of the California Ag Today, Inc.

More California Ag News

Farmer Mac Admires California Farmers Farmer Mac Knows the Strength of California Farmers By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor Curt Covington, senior vice president, agricultural financ...
Hope Yet For California Dairy Industry Proposed Federal Marketing Order Would Benefit California Dairy Farmers By Brian German, Associate Editor California gets hit the hardest when m...
Almond Conference Announces AIM Strategy Annual Almond Conference Announces AIM Strategy and Improved Leadership By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor Leadership was the recurring theme for t...
Farmers are Asset Managers Farmers are Asset Managers By Brian German, Associate Editor Richard Casias, principal scientist and managing member at RCC Group, LLC, an environme...

Bee Health Fugitives

Bee Health: Varroa Mite Is Public Enemy No. 1

By Laurie Greene, Editor

The varroa mite is “Public Enemy No. 1” for bees, according to Becky Langer, the North American Bee Care manager for Bayer CropScience. “It’s the giant tick that’s attaching to [bees],” said Langer, “transmitting viruses and bacteria. This mite has to be constantly managed and we’ve seen very high levels. When our bee experts were out visiting with people last fall, people were reporting very high levels of mites. So we anticipate high [bee] losses coming out of this winter because of the cyclic effect of the mite.” Langer explained. “It really re-emphasizes the necessity of controlling that mite—all the time—and staying on top of it.

Bayer Bee Health's Feed a Bee Program
Bayer Bee Health’s Feed a Bee Program

Commenting on other “Most Wanted Criminals” against bee health, Langer discussed recent research findings that well-fed bees are better able to defend themselves against the notorious nosema, a fungi-related parasite. “They actually found higher counts of nosema in those bees, but the well-fed bees could manage the nosema populationas opposed to not-well-fed bees.”

“That of course ties into Bayer Bee Care Program‘s Feed a Bee Program and its forage and nutrition initiative,” commented Langer. Launched last year to address the lack of food and habitat for bees Feed a Bee worked with more than 250,000 people and 75 partners to plant 65 million flowers and thousands of acres of forage across the country. “We’ve got to be feeding these bees better,” Langer reinforced.

According to their website, this year, Feed a Bee kicks off the spring with the launch of a new song and video for children of all ages. Other ways people can become involved with the program to help these hardworking insects are: request a free packet of wildflower seeds, for a limited time while supplies last; commit to growing pollinator-attractant plants of your own; and locate Feed a Bee plantings in your own communities on the interactive partner map. You can also tweet a emoji and #FeedABee to have Bayer plant on your “bee-half.” 

Langer commented on crop protection products—”the usual suspects”—by stressing the importance for growers to follow labels.  “If that’s the case and they are used properly and in the proper settings, there is no long-term effect on colony health,” she said. “Really, where we see colony health problems correlates well with the varroa mite and with forage and habitat issues.”

Among the Feed a Bee Program collaborators in California are: Wilbur-Ellis, San Francisco, CABee Happy Apiaries, Vacaville, CA; Carmel Valley Ranch & Golf Course; PROJECT APIS M.; and Vitamin Bee.

__________________________________________

Resources:

Fleming, James C.; Daniel R. Schmehl; James D. Ellis,Characterizing the Impact of Commercial Pollen Substitute Diets on the Level of Nosema spp. in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.),” PLOS ONE [an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication], July 30, 2015.

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...

USDA, Microsoft Innovation Challenge Winners

Open Data from USDA, Microsoft Cloud Technology Strengthen Food Supply Through “Innovation Challenge” Winners

 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Microsoft officials announced the winners of the USDA, Microsoft Innovation Challenge late last month in which contestants used USDA agriculture production open data to develop online tools that can help make the American food supply more resilient in the face of climate change.

“In yet another example of how public and private resources can be leveraged together to address significant global concerns, the winners of the USDA-Microsoft Innovation Challenge have used open government data to create an impressive array of innovative tools to help food producers and our communities prepare for the impacts of climate change and ensure our nation’s ability to provide plentiful, affordable food,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “For more than 100 years, USDA has compiled data on the farm economy, production, and the health of crops around the country, and it is exciting to see such modern, useful tools spring from these information sources.”

The Challenge was created in support of the President’s Climate Data Initiative, which aims to harness climate data in ways that will increase the resilience of America’s food system. USDA provided contestants with more than 100 years of crop and climate data through Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.

“Combining the advantages of cloud computing resources with the government’s desire to provide open access to public data is likely to transform scientific research and business innovation,” said Dr. Daron G. Green, deputy managing director of Microsoft Research. “Microsoft’s partnership with the USDA evidences how public-private partnership can stimulate new applications, explore novel scenarios and, in this case, work towards a more resilient and sustainable food production.”

A total of $63,000 in cash and prizes were awarded, with winners selected from more than 346 registrants and 33 submissions from around the world.

The award recipients and their projects, are:FarmPlenty

 

  • Grand Prize, Open Source Application Award, and Best Visualization in Time or Space Award recipient: Farm Plenty, submitted by George Lee of San Francisco, Calif. This application allows farmers to analyze USDA data about crops grown within five kilometers of their farms to make informed decisions about their own crop choices.

 

  • Second Prize and Open Source Application Award recipient: Green Pastures, submitted by Khyati Majmudar of Mumbai, India. This comprehensive dashboard interface allows a farmer to visualize production, economic, livestock, and commodity data from NASS, ERS, ARMS, and other sources at scales from national to local, including information on farmers’ markets.

 

  • Third Prize recipient: What’s Local, submitted by Benjamin Wellington of Landscape Metrics LLC in Brooklyn, N.Y. This tool analyzes the resources that are required to produce agricultural outputs by using data from the Census of Agriculture in a way that allows urban population centers to connect with farmers in their area.

 

  • Honorable Mention: Open Source Application Award, and Best Student-Made Award recipient: Farm Profit Calculator, submitted by Fernando Napier and Matt Pedersen of Lincoln, Neb. Farmers can use this mobile phone application to compare their input costs (fertilizer, seed, fuel, etc.) to regional averages, and find financial efficiencies where their costs are above the norm.croptrends

 

  • Honorable Mention recipient: Croptrends, submitted by Chaiyawut Lertvichaivoravit and Ta Chiraphadhanakul of Thousand Eyes in San Francisco. This useful tool can be used for viewing spatial and temporal trends in crop production and yield by county for the entire United States by using NASS data.

 

  • Popular Choice Award recipient: VAIS, submitted by Ken Moini of Thallo Tech in Nashville, Tenn. This tool uses NASS data for the entire United States to provide a unique approach to visualizing crowd-sourced pricing data.

 

  • Large Organization Recognition Award recipient: Farmed, submitted by Bryan Tower of Applied Technical Systems in Silverdale, Wash. This tool allows farmers to view crop conditions in their area by using VegScape data from NASS combined with local weather data.

 

USDA is an active founding member of the Global Data Partnership through the memberships of both the U.S. Government Open Data and the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiatives. USDA is helping pave the way for coordinating global efforts to make agriculture and nutrition data open. USDA’s Open Data Catalog is the authoritative source of publicly available USDA data.

Since 2009, USDA has invested in and advanced innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. USDA’s integrated research, education, and extension programs, supporting the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel, have resulted user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability, and ensuring food safety. To learn more about USDA’s impact on agricultural science, visit www.usda.gov/results.

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...

Commentary: CA Reporters Discuss How and Why They Cover Agriculture Beat

Source: Dave Kranz; Ag Alert

As people have become more interested in the sources of their food, they have also become more interested in reading about where their food originates and about the people who produce it: That was the concept behind a seminar conducted in San Francisco last week titled “Journalism: The Agriculture Beat Resurgence.”

Hosted by the Commonwealth Club, the event featured three Bay Area-based reporters and editors who write about agriculture for regional or nationwide audiences.

The discussion provided insights into how the reporters view their work, and into the overall interest in agricultural reporting itself: The seminar attracted a nearly full-house audience of about 80 people on a Wednesday night.

It also underlined the continuing importance of Farm Bureau’s efforts to reach out to members, reporters and the general audience through all forms of media.

The moderator of the panel discussion, KQED Radio reporter/anchor Rachael Myrow, described the agriculture beat as “the intersection between fashion, health and politics.”

The panelists agreed, noting how agricultural news can be classified as a business story, an environmental story, a cultural story.

“Every story is an agricultural story,” said Andy Wright, deputy editor of Modern Farmer, which produces a quarterly publication and daily website updates aimed at an audience she described as young, urban and aspirational.

Where do they find story ideas? The reporters said they talk to farmers at farmers markets, talk to chefs, scan trade publications and websites, and listen to story pitches from farmers and people in the food business.

“Farmers are getting a lot more media savvy,” Wright said. “They’re on Facebook and Twitter. They understand the importance of connecting.”

Naomi Starkman of Civil Eats—a Web-based news service that says it aims to “shift the conversation around sustainable agriculture in an effort to build economically and socially just communities”—called social-media tools “essential” to promoting stories, and encouraged farmers to hire someone on their staff who does social media and other outreach as a part of their job.

Myrow noted that much of the current reporting on agriculture focuses on “small, niche” farms.

“Are too many publications chasing the foodies instead of informing the general public about their food?” she asked.

“What’s unproductive,” Wright responded, “is to pit big ag vs. small agriculture. What’s more important is to focus on what’s working.”

During part of the program devoted to audience questions, the panelists were asked if they consider themselves to have a mission to try to change people’s behavior.

Tara Duggan, a food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, said she considered it her mission to “understand what readers are most interested in,” which, in her case, tended to be topics such as nutrition and sustainability.

In her case, Wright said, “I don’t know that it’s my role as a journalist to promote one way of eating vs. another. My role is to get stories to as wide an audience as possible.”

Duggan noted that writing for a general-interest publication such as the Chronicle presents challenges in presenting stories about farming and environmental topics. For example, she said, “With the California drought, I feel people have reached the saturation point, even though it’s a really important story.”

As the event’s organizers pointed out, the agriculture beat was once a key area of coverage for large media outlets but, as the staffs of mainstream media outlets have shrunk, agricultural reporting has been dispersed among writers who regularly handle business stories, environmental stories or general-assignment reporting.

Still, there’s significant interest in stories about farming and food among both the general media and the specialty publications, websites, blogs and other outlets that have proliferated in the last few years.

We’ve seen that here at the California Farm Bureau, where we respond to more than 450 news media inquiries a year. During 2014, driven by interest in the impact of drought on farmers and ranchers, we have spoken with reporters from throughout California and the nation, as well as to media outlets from Canada, Germany, Switzerland, France, Japan, Singapore and Australia.

For Farm Bureau, communicating with members and the non-farm audience has always been a core function, using all forms of media. That’s why, for example, stories from Ag Alert® appear not only in the newspaper, but online and as Facebook posts and tweets, as well.

Our California Bountiful® television program—produced for a non-farm audience—can be found on the air and also online and on YouTube. The TV program and California Bountiful magazine also reach out to general audiences via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

None of the outreach that Farm Bureau does would be possible without the support and cooperation of Farm Bureau members, who give of their time to talk to reporters from our media outlets and from other television, radio, newspaper and online news media every day.

As the San Francisco event showed, people are interested in what farmers and ranchers do, how they do it, and why. Only by telling their stories themselves can farmers and ranchers assure that others don’t tell their stories for them.

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...