SJV Olive Oil Competition Winners Revealed

Big Fresno Fair Names Winners of SJV Olive Oil Competition

News Release

After extensive judging of quality olive oils, The Big Fresno Fair is excited to reveal the winners of the 3rd Annual San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition (SJVOOC).

This competition, open to all olive oil producers in the State of California with products made from their most recent olive harvest, received a total of 69 entries from 18 different olive oil producers from throughout the State.

Entries were received in two classes, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Flavored Olive Oil, with 9 subcategories in total. Gold and Silver Medals were awarded, as well as an overall “Best of Show” selected from all of the highest scoring gold medal entries received in the EVOO and Flavored Oil categories.

All of the flavored oils used for the Best of Show, were all co-milled. In total there were 47 EVOO and 22 Flavored Olive Oil entriesthat were entered for judging. The winners of the 3rd annual San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition are:

  • Best of Show

Organic Roots Olive Oil’s Organic Roots Koroneiki (Maxwell)

Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Hot Virgin Jalapeno (Lodi)

Extra Virgin Olive Oils

  • Gold Medal Winners

Spanish Blends: Corto Olive Co.’s Corto Olive Company Olive Oil (Lodi), La Panza Ranch’s Outlaw Blend (Santa Margarita) and Kimberley Wine Vinegars’ KimberleyCalifornia Olive Oil (Acampo)

Spanish Singles: The Mill at Kings River’s The Mill (Sanger), ENZO Olive Oil Company’s Delicate Ranch 20 (Clovis), The Olive Press’ Empeltre EVOO (Sonoma),The Olive Press’ Sevillano EVOO (Sonoma) and Organic Roots Olive Oil’s Arbosana (Maxwell)

Italian Blends: Alta Cresta Olive Oil’s Italian Blend (Paso Robles), The Olive Press’ Italian Blend (Sonoma), Scarlata Farms Olive Oil’s Tuscan Blend Reserve (Tracy), San Miguel Olive Farm’s Tuscan Gold Nectar (San Miguel) and San Miguel Olive Farm’s Tuscan Gold/Pristine (San Miguel)

Italian Singles: Bozzano Olive Ranch’s Bozzano Organic (Stockton) and Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Lodi Olive Oil Early Harvest Ascolano (Lodi)

Other Blends: Mangini Ranch Olive Oil Company’s Mangini Ranch (Wallace)

Other Singles: Organic Roots Olive Oil’s Koroneiki (Maxwell)

  • Silver Medal Winners

Spanish Blends: ENZO Olive Oil Company’s Tyler Florence Test Kitchen EVOO (Clovis)

Spanish Singles: Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Premium EVOO (Lodi), ENZO Olive Oil Company’s Medium Ranch 11 (Clovis) ENZO Olive Oil Company’s Delicate Ranch 11 (Clovis), ENZO Olive Oil Company’s Medium Ranch 20 (Clovis), The Olive Press’ Arbequina EVOO (Sonoma), The Olive Press’ Arbosana EVOO (Sonoma), The Olive Press’ Picual EVOO (Sonoma), Corto Olive Company’s Truly EVOO – Arbosana (Lodi), Corto Olive Company’s Truly EVOO – Arbequina (Lodi), Organic Roots Olive Oil’s Arbequina (Maxwell) and Rosenthal Olive Ranch’s Arbosana (Madera)

Italian Blends: Scarlata Farm’s Olive Oil’s Tuscan Blend (Tracy), Bozzano Olive Ranch’s Toscana Organic (Stockton), Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Lodi Olive Oil – Miller’s Blend (Lodi) and Winter Creek Olive Oil’s Winter Creek (Winter Creek)

Italian Singles: Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Lodi Olive Oil Frantoio (Lodi)

Other Blends: Bozzano Olive Ranch’s A2 (Stockton) and Rancho Azul y Oro’s Estate EVOO (San Miguel)

Other Singles: ENZO Olive Oil Company’s Bold Ranch 11 (Clovis), ENZO Olive Oil Company’s Bold Ranch 20 (Clovis), The Olive Press’ Heritage Mission EVOO (Sonoma), Bamford Family Farms’ Silverstar Early Harvest Mission (Oroville), Mangini Ranch Olive Oil Company’s Mangini Ranch (Wallace), Rosenthal Olive Ranch’s Koroneiki (Madera) and Corto Olive Company’s Truly EVOO (Lodi)

Flavored Olive Oils

  • Gold Medal Winners

Citrus: Enzo Olive Oil Company’s Clementine Crush (Clovis) and The Olive Press’ Limonato (Sonoma)

Herbal: CaliVirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Bountiful Basil Olive Oil (Lodi)

Other Flavors: ENZO Olive Oil Company’s Fresno Chili Crush (Clovis) and Calivirgin -Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Hot Virgin Jalapeno (Lodi)

  • Silver Medal Winners

Citrus: Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Blood Orange Olive Oil (Lodi) and Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Lusty Lemon Olive Oil (Lodi)

Herbal: ENZO Olive Oil Company’s Basil Crush (Clovis) and Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Rustic Rosemary Olive Oil (Lodi)

Other Flavors: The Olive Press’ Jalapeno Olive Oil (Sonoma), Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Jalapeno Garlic (Lodi), Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Extreme Heat Habanero (Lodi) and Calivirgin – Coldani Olive Ranch’s Calivirgin Guilty Garlic Olive Oil (Lodi)

“The SJVOOC continues to grow each year, and we are very excited to have received a record number of entries this year,” said Stacy Rianda, Deputy Manager II at The Big Fresno Fair. “California has such a vast and rich food-producing community that it is important to hold competitions, like this, that showcase some of the great products our regions offer the world.”

Participating producers had the opportunity to submit multiple entries under one category but could not submit a particular entry to more than one category. For each entry, producers had to submit two, 250 ml bottles of their olive oil with retail labels and a $60 non-refundable fee, per entry.

Additionally, each entry had to be available for commercial sale at the time of submittal. Submissions were accepted starting mid-January through March 24.

All submissions were evaluated and scored on the following criteria:

  • Gold Medal: Awarded to an olive oil that demonstrated its type and/or varietal character, balance, structure and complexities to the highest standards. Gold Medals were awarded to those oils receiving scores between 86 – 100 points.
  • Silver Medal: Awarded to an olive oil reflecting the correct distribution of balance and character of its type or variety; an oil deemed to be well crafted and of excellent quality. Silver Medals were awarded to those oils receiving scores between 76 – 85 points.
  • Best of Show: Awarded to an olive oil recognized to possess special characteristics of the highest quality overall.

Gold Medal and Best of Show winners will have the opportunity to have a booth in the Wells Fargo Agriculture Building on one day during a weekend of the 2017 Big Fresno Fair where they can taste, display and sell their award-winning product. Additionally, educational information will be set up so that fairgoers can learn more about the art of making olive oil, its health benefits, recipes and more.

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Celebrating California Agriculture

Celebrating California Agriculture – A Refreshing Perspective

By Laurie Greene, Editor

Peterangelo Vallis is the executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association based in Kingsburg, CA. Today, he discusses the great care farmers put into their land.

“Hey, we don’t make any more land. God gave us a green earth. That is what we’ve got, and we live in the best possible place to grow virtually anything,” said Vallis.

peterangelo_vallis-side_shot-celebrating-california-agriculture
Peterangelo Vallis, executive director of San Joaquin Valley Winegrape Growers Association.

“In most cases, anything that has been farmed here in California has been farmed for a hundred years. The soil is better now than it was naturally because we are taking better care of it. We’re putting more natural green material back into the ground,” Vallis explained. 

“We are stewards of the land, and we have to be cognizant of that. We have to publicize that fact because farmers are the best people at caring for the land,” he said.

“I think oftentimes we are so busy caring for the land, we don’t do as good of a job pumping our chest up to everyone, going, ‘Hey! You know what? You come try to do this. You try to do it half as good as me, ‘because I’ve learned things from school. I’ve learned things from my family. I’ve learned things from generations. I’ve learned things just because I’m here doing my job and watching out,” Vallis said.

Vallis believes we need to widen the conversation and tell more people that farmers do the things they need to do; they do the things that benefit all society.

“We are proud of what we are doing. You know what? People who eat are the direct beneficiaries. Everyone who opens a can of beans. Everyone who goes and gets some lettuce out of the fridge. Everyone who eats beef, chicken or any other meat benefits from our taking care of the land to continue to produce,” he said.

“No farmer I know and no farmer I have ever met actively goes out and poisons our land, because then they can’t make food. Making food is what we are called to do.”

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Westlands on Drought Relief Act

Westlands Water District Statement on the Introduction of the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015

FRESNO, CA – Westlands Water District is encouraged TODAY by the introduction by Senator Dianne Feinstein of the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015. The State is facing unprecedented drought conditions, and the water supply shortages caused by four years of extraordinary dry conditions have been exacerbated by the restrictions imposed on the operations of the federal Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project under federal law.

The introduction of the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015 is an important step in the enactment of legislation to provide much-needed relief for the public water agencies that receive water from these projects and for the people, farms, and businesses they serve. There are great similarities between this bill and H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, which passed in the House of Representatives on July 16, 2015. However, there are also great differences.

Westlands looks forward to quick passage of the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015 by the Senate and to subsequent discussions in conference to reconcile the two bills. Through its work with Senator Feinstein and Members of the House of Representatives, Westlands knows that these policymakers are genuinely interested in working together with the District and other interested entities (a) to find a meaningful legislative solution to the chronic water supply shortages that have devastated the San Joaquin Valley and other regions of the State and (b) to provide effective means of protecting at-risk species. The District looks forward to working with them to find common-sense solutions that serve the interests of all Californians.

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WADE: LET THE WATER FLOW!

Let The Water Flow:

Mike Wade Urges Water Board To Let Reclamation Pay Back Borrowed Water

By Laurie Greene, California Ag Today Editor

Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, discussed with California Ag Today, his article for the Coalition’s Blog, entitled, “State Water Resources Control Board Could Cost California’s Agricultural Economy $4.5 Billion.”

“A number of San Joaquin Valley farmers have been working the last couple of years to set aside emergency water supplies through conservation and water purchases on the open market,” began Wade. “That water is set aside in the San Luis Reservoir and currently being borrowed, if you will, by the Bureau of Reclamation to help meet their obligations and ultimately the temperature management plan for winter run Chinook salmon.”

Wade said the Bureau’s water obligations also include provisions for summer agriculture south of the Delta, as well as refuge management for numerous listed terrestrial species like the Giant Garter Snake.

Wade estimates the loaned water is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Lending farmers include those who own land on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento Valley rice farmers who fallowed land this year to make supplies available for transfers and Friant-area farmers seeking to augment a zero water allocation for the second year in a row.

“We believe the Bureau has an obligation to pay that water back this fall, and we’re urging the State Water Resources Control Board to let that payback happen.” In his article, Wade reported that Reclamation would pay back the water from supplies stored in Lake Shasta as soon as temperature goals for winter run Chinook salmon were met.

Regarding accountability, Wade said, “I believe the Bureau intends to pay it back, but we want the public to understand what’s happening. We want transparency so we can follow this obligation and make sure this fall, when water becomes available, the Bureau follows through to pay it back. People don’t forget.”

Built and operated jointly by the Bureau of Reclamation and the State of California, the San Luis Reservoir is at 44% capacity today, according to the California Department of Water Resources’ California Data Exchange Center, but the supply is already divided and allocated. Wade explained, “The water that is currently in San Luis Reservoir under the Bureau of Reclamation’s control is almost exclusively owned by growers who have conserved it or purchased it on the open market. The remainder belongs to the State Water Project and its users. So, there is little or no federally-owned water in San Luis at this time.”

Wade said, “There are a number of factors that contribute to the 4.5 – 4.9 billion dollar projected cost for San Joaquin Valley farmers. First is the actual value of the water that farmers have already set aside. Second is the monetary obligations farmers have contracted to pay Sacramento Valley rice growers for transferred water. The third component is the actual value of potential crop and orchard losses if that water isn’t paid back and farmers lose out on their ability to keep their farms going.”

Wade urged the State Water Resources Control Board, “to facilitate this complex and unprecedented collaboration” and allow Reclamation to release compensatory water as soon as possible.

Let the water flow!

 

Sources: Interview with Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition; “State Water Resources Control Board Could Cost California’s Agricultural Economy $4.5 Billion,” by Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition; Bureau of Reclamation; California Department of Water Resources

Featured Image: San Luis Reservoir-Empty, California Farm Water Coalition

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Valadao Addresses Western Water Reliability

Valadao, California Republicans, Introduce Legislation to Improve Western Water Reliability

Today, Congressmen David G. Valadao (CA-21) introduced a bill to modernize water policies in California and throughout the entire Western United States with the support of the entire California Republican delegation, the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Chairman of the Western Caucus.

 

H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015 aims to make more water available to families, farmers, and communities in California and bordering Western states. The dedication of vast quantities of water to protect certain species of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a significant obstacle hindering water delivery in Central and Southern California. H.R. 2898, will require federal agencies to use current and reliable data when making regulatory decisions, which in turn will provide more water for communities in need.

Additionally, Rep. Valadao’s legislation will provide federal regulators with direction and flexibility to capture water during periods of greater precipitation, which can be used to increase California’s water supplies dramatically. Furthermore, the bill will cut red tape holding back major water storage projects that have been authorized for over a decade, which will aid the entire Western United States during dry years.

Congressman David Valadao (CA-21), the author of the legislation, said, “California’s drought has devastated communities throughout the Central Valley and now the consequences are extending throughout the country. Inaction will result in the collapse of our domestic food supply.” He continued, “Congress cannot make it rain but we can enact policies that expand our water infrastructure, allow for more water conveyance, and utilize legitimate science to ensure a reliable water supply for farmers and families.”

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) stated, “The tragedy of the current drought is no longer isolated to California’s Central Valley, and its response must include tangible solutions that provide us the opportunity to pursue the California Dream. Today is an important step to helping restore the water our communities desperately need by more fully utilizing the most sophisticated water system in the world to quench the robust economic opportunity California families, farmers, workers, and businesses all need.”

“My western colleagues have worked hard to collaborate on a common sense bill that helps people,” stated Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. “Communities are suffering and we are putting forward a creative solution to address those needs. I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis in the House and Senate to move this legislation forward.”

“Having personally visited California’s Central Valley on this matter, I can attest to the dire situation facing California with the drought,” said Western Caucus Chairman and Natural Resources Vice-Chairman Cynthia Lummis (WY-at large). “This situation demands congressional action to tackle the man-made barriers that are needlessly choking off water supplies crucial not just for California jobs but for the food on American tables. I am pleased to work with my Californian colleagues to ensure we also seize this opportunity to address water issues west wide through water project permit streamlining, enhanced water storage, and protecting state-endowed water rights that are increasingly under attack at the federal level.”

“The water bill we are introducing today will help California families and businesses that are suffering in our ongoing drought,” said Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-42). “No legislation will magically end our drought, but by passing this bill, we can take a step in the right direction and work in a collaborative way to enact meaningful solutions. Our bill takes important steps that are the direct result of bipartisan and bicameral conversations, and I look forward to the continued engagement with my House colleagues as well as action from the Senate in the near future. Despite what opponents might say, our legislation does not gut – let alone modify – the Endangered Species Act. Rather, our bill ensures our critical water infrastructure is operated using sound science in order to prevent wasting precious water in ways that do not benefit listed species but come at a high cost to Californians.”

“California’s devastating drought is hurting our ag economy and food supply nationwide,” said Congressman Jeff Denham (CA-10). “This bill provides both the short- and long-term solutions that the Central Valley needs, beginning with more storage. It includes two pieces of legislation I’ve introduced to study and eliminate the threat of predator fish and to increase storage in New Melones Reservoir. We can’t keep waiting on the Senate or the President to get engaged and provide Californians with the solutions they need to survive.”

“This bill was designed to address the underlying causes of the drought in a pragmatic and bipartisan manner,” said Congressman Steve Knight (CA-25). “There is no simple answer to this problem. But California needs rational solutions, not more water rations.”

“This balanced legislation improves water access for Californians around the state by using improved science to time water deliveries, preserving water rights and moving forward on new surface storage facilities,”  said Congressman Doug LaMalfa (CA-01). It protects the most fundamental water rights of all, area of origin rights, ensuring that Northern Californians who live where our state’s water originates have access to it. Californians have spoken clearly in support of investment in new surface storage projects, and this measure fulfills the promise to voters by advancing projects that would generate over one million acre-feet of water, enough for eight million Californians. We’ll continue to refine this proposal as it moves through the process, but I am proud to cosponsor a bill that addresses both short- and long-term needs of all Californians and supports continued economic growth.”

“Droughts are nature’s fault; water shortages are our fault,” said Congressman Tom McClintock (CA-04). “For a generation, we have failed to build the facilities needed to store water from wet years to have it in dry ones and radical environmental laws have squandered the water we did store. Our water shortage is caused by a shortage of sensible water policy. This bill begins fixing that.”

Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22) explained, “Facing an annual water deficit of 2.5 million acre-feet south of the Delta, the San Joaquin Valley urgently needs whatever relief it can get. And once again, the House of Representatives is taking action to assist our long-suffering communities. As this entirely preventable water crisis continues to ravage Valley farms and devastate our economy, I urge the Senate to finally begin supporting the House’s consistent efforts to roll back the disastrous government regulations that prioritize fish over families.”

Original cosponsors of Congressman Valadao’s legislation include Reps. Ken Calvert (CA-42), Paul Cook (CA-08), Jim Costa (CA-16), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Duncan Hunter (CA-50), Darrell E. Issa (CA-49), Stephen Knight (CA-25), Dough LaMalfa (CA-01), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Devin Nunes (CA-22), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), Edward R. Royce (CA-39), Mimi Walters (CA-45), Mark E. Amodei (NV-02), Rodney Davis (IL-13), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Cresent Hardy (NV-04), David P. Joyce (OH-14), Cynthia M. Lummis (WY-AL), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Michael K. Simpson (ID-02), Chris Stewart (UT-02), Scott Tipton (CO-03), and Ryan K. Zinke (MT-AL).

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Westlands Water District Announces Westside Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to the Westlands Water District Westside Scholarship Recipients!

Six outstanding high school seniors from communities on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley have been selected to receive scholarships offered by the Westlands Water District. The 2015 scholarships are offered by Westlands under a program to recognize and reward exceptional academic achievement and leadership by graduate seniors at area high schools.

The recipients of the 2015 scholarships are:

Aneet Hundal, a senior at Coalinga High School. Ms. Hundal is an honors student who plans on attending the University of California, Irvine to pursue a degree in nursing. She was actively involved in the Academic Decathlon, Mock Trial, Link Crew, California Scholarship Federation and tennis and basketball. Additionally, she has received a number of awards including the Superintendent’s Honor Roll, Lab Biology II Star of the Month and Wendy’s High School Heisman.

Phillip Augusto, a senior at Lemoore High School. Mr. Augusto plans to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to pursue a degree in BioResource and Agricultural Engineering. He is an honors student who has received awards from the Future Farmers of America – Scholar Awards, State Degree, Chapter Degree and Greenhand Degree. Additionally, he has been a Robotics Team finalist at West Hills Collect Vex Robotics Competition and Student of the Month for the Lemoore High School Math Department.

Emily Parra, a senior at Tranquillity High School. Ms. Parra plans to attend Stanford University to pursue a degree in Economics/Education. She is an honors student who has been the president of the California Scholarship Federation, Associated Student Body Secretary and World Travel Club Vice President, Mathematician of the Year and Student of the Month.

Jackelyn Sanchez, a senior at Riverdale High School. Ms. Sanchez plans to attend University of California, San Diego to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering. She is an honors student who has competed in Academic Decathlon, is an AVID 8th Grade Tutor, Student of the Month, Science Olympiad Competitor, and won an End of the Year Award for maintaining a GPA above 4.0 throughout her high school career.

Gaston Ruben Aganza, a senior at Mendota High School. Mr. Aganza plans to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to pursue a degree in Engineering. He has held leadership positions in chess and Upward Bound and has participated in AVID, Young Legislators Program, Lend-A-Hand and MESA. Additionally, he was a cross-country runner.

Teddi Diedrich, a senior at Firebaugh High School. Ms. Diedrich plans to attend Menlo College to pursue a degree in agricultural business. She has received several awards in AVID (Student of the Year), Future Farmers of America Greenhand Degree, Honor Roll, Athlete Scholar, the Superintendent’s List and State Future Farmers of America and has also played softball and volleyball.

Each scholarship recipient will receive $1,000 to be used for community college or university expenses. Applicants were judged on their academic performance, school activities and community leadership. Each applicant submitted an essay on an agricultural-related topic.

“Westlands is honored to provide this assistance for these outstanding student leaders,” said Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands. “These scholarships represent a small gesture of thanks and support to the communities on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that make our region such a productive and vibrant place.”

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MY JOB DEPENDS ON AG Broadens Ag Community on Facebook

“My Job Depends on Ag” Facebook Campaign Goes Big

 By Patrick Cavanaugh, Associate Editor

It was a vision by Steve Malanca a tractor, salesman, and Erik Wilson, pest control operator and honeydew melon farmer, both working in around Dos Palos in Merced County.

Erik Wilson
Erik Wilson

“The fact that California agriculture is only 2 percent of the gross domestic product of the state was offensive to agriculture,” said Wilson. “because we all know it goes way beyond the gross receipts.”

Steve Malanca
Steve Malanca

Back in 2013 Malanca, an equipment salesman with Duetz Allis in Kerman, Calif., came up with a decal with the message: My Job Depends on Ag. He made a few for his friends who slapped them on their trucks.

“The phrase was inspired by a video done by Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition, in which he asked several people how they depended on ag for their job,” Malanca said.

Malanca was born and raised in Firebaugh, where his grandfather settled after emigrating from Italy. “My grandfather worked for Miller and Lux ranch, which was one of the largest ranches in the United States in the late 1800s,” he said.

“My father was born and raised on the West Side and was a cotton gin manager for Producers Cotton Oil Company. I have an older brother who is in the cantaloupe business longer than I have been in the farm equipment business. He is part owner of Westside Produce, and my younger brother is a shipping clerk there.

Producers Cotton Oil Company Plant Near Calwa, California
Producers Cotton Oil Company Plant Near Calwa, California

For the last 40 years, starting in Firebaugh, Malanca has been selling farm equipment. “That community has been tremendous to our family. Being involved in the equipment business, and talking to our customers about the trials and tribulations about water was an inspiration to put the ‘I Depend on Ag’ video together.

“There was a local Firebaugh farmer who made a brown ‘V’ decal that was a spinoff of the green ‘V’ of former Fresno State Bulldog coach Pat Hill, signifying the green valley. The brown V of course signified no water,” said Melena. “I expanded the idea and generated the ‘I Depend on Ag Decal’ about a month ago.

“Then Erik immediately suggested that we put it on Facebook, and the two ideas were married–and here we are,” said Malanca. As of the afternoon of June 6, the number of connections were close to 21,000 members!

“We did not want to have a Facebook with statistics on the importance of agriculture in California,” said Wilson. “I have a friend named Brian Ervin who is on Facebook, and he posted an item unrelated to the ‘I Depend on Ag’ concept. He wanted to know about other people’s California…Was it raining?…Was there hail on the ground? There was also an image of a guy loading a hay truck.”

“Instead of pushing out information, I got the idea of just letting everyone tell their own story,” Wilson said. “If people have a job that depends on ag, then we should let them tell their own story. Let people get involved. They own the page, and the stories have been wonderful. In fact, Steve and I have gotten choked up on some. People are saying are some things you’ve never heard of, and it’s really kind of historical,” he said.

“There are a lot of old methods of farming that have been forgotten that are now being introduced on the page,” said Wilson.

“Also, I have encouraged any group or person who disagrees with our philosophy and farming methods to open up the conversation, and not yell or get profane. This is what everyone America has been crying for from our politicians. So, we are going around them. This is how civilized adults get things done.”

“There have been comments from the organic crowd regarding images of sprayers working in fields. Now if they want organic food to eat, we will be happy to give it to them at a higher cost; organic production costs us more in time, money and trips across the field because the materials that we are permitted to use are not as affective,” said Wilson.

“We had a conversation with Western Growers on June 4 in which they asked if we were having to delete a lot of entries from people bashing the web page,” said Malanca. “And Erik, who moderates the page, said only three posts had to be deleted.”

“I may have deleted something prematurely because I thought a comment might go south too fast, but I just do not want the nastiness or personal attacks to take over, because it often happens if you do not moderate–even if it’s a friend–if they throw F-bombs, their entries will be deleted.”

“We are hearing from so many people who understand that ag is part of their job. We had a guy who works in the tortilla chip factory in Los Angeles who depends on ag for his job because all the corn that goes into the chips is grown in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Wilson.

“Flower shops are connecting in because flowers are agriculture. A lavender grower also posted a comment.”

Trucking companies are chiming as well. “If we can’t grow and sell it, then these boys can’t haul it,” noted Wilson. “And if we can get the trucking industry behind us since they do haul a lot of ag products, suddenly we are uniting an even larger segment of people who depend on agriculture,” said Malanca.

“I’d like to see these truckers and the guys on the docks get as passionate as we are, and maybe decide not to haul freight to areas that are complaining about farmers. They need to say, ‘if you want what we have, then turn the water on for the farmers.'”

“This is giving farmers a voice,” said Malanca. “And it’s something that has been missing.”

“Our wives have said that we are preaching to the choir, and I say that we need to rally and embolden every single person in the industry. I want to champion them as their story has not been told in the media–other than the agricultural media,” said Wilson.

“Many fragments have beentrying to get something done, but now we are seeing farmers really coming together on ‘I Depend on Ag.’ This is what we have been trying to do since the beginning of time,” said Malanca.

While the scope of the facebook page focuses on California, plans are germinating to roll out a national campaign. “After all, there are millions across the country who depend on agriculture,” said Wilson.

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Joel Nelsen on Zero Water Allocation

Joel Nelsen, President of the California Citrus Mutual,

Shares Viewpoints on the Zero Water Allocation

The definition of balance at the State and Federal level is once again highlighted by an announcement from the Bureau of Reclamation that producers south of the Delta will again receive zero allocation for surface water and everything and everybody else gets something. “Two years in a row zero allocation is the message while other parties receive an allocation for farming, the environment or municipal needs and that is the definition of balance by federal decision makers which questions how they define balance,” states CCM President Joel Nelsen

Two weeks ago State Water Resources Control Board Executive Director took it upon himself to override environmentally friendly fish agencies and not allow additional pumping designed to assist citizens south of the Delta. “His statement that real data is not fool proof and he would exercise his judgment runs parallel to the federal policy which is unacceptable but consistent, that producing food is not a priority!

Since 1992 over seven million acre feet of water has been transferred away from landowners in the Southern San Joaquin Valley with no accountability as to the environmental successes achieved. Since 1992 those sourcing water from the Friant system have been paying additional dollars per acre foot for environmental enhancements with no accountability. The state of California has over 320 species listed as endangered and yet all the efforts have not led to one species being removed from the ESA list. “Just give more is the answer and state and federal officials remove prime agricultural land from production to accomplish what?”

Preserving the Delta from salt water intrusion is a priority according to the CCM President but “preserving smelt so that they can be consumed by predator fish or toxins dumped thereby requiring more water is unacceptable. Establishing cold water habitats with warm water is ludicrous.”

“We have to be the only state in the nation and the only nation on earth establishing policies that destroys the production of food. That’s a legacy these two administrations must explain,” he concluded.

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Grape Commission Awards Education Grants

Schools in the table grape growing regions of California’s San Joaquin and Coachella valleys are benefiting from grants awarded this academic year.

In total, 36 education grants worth up to $750 were awarded by the California Table Grape Commission on behalf of California’s table grape growers. The funded projects will be implemented in the current academic year and will reach over 4,000 students.

“California’s table grape growers have been supporting local education for years,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the commission. “This program is one of the ways table grape growers give back to the communities in which they live and work.”

Examples of the projects include raised garden boxes for children with special needs, inspiring youth through chess and music, programming robots, growing grapes, and modern microscopy and cell metabolism.

The Innovation in Teaching education grant program was created in 1993 to support innovative educational projects in the table grape growing regions of California’s San Joaquin and Coachella valleys.

For more information, go to www.grapesfromcalifornia.com/EducationGrants.php.

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Farmers protect citrus crop from freezing weather

By Steve Adler; Ag Alert

San Joaquin Valley citrus, which last year suffered multimillion-dollar losses due to freeze, escaped a similar fate at the turn of the new year, even though temperatures dropped to well below freezing.

The entire state felt the impact of a cold front that moved through California from Canada, and it was a particular concern in the citrus belt that extends north from Kern County to Madera County.

Cold temperatures prevailed throughout citrus-growing areas for six nights, prompting growers to activate their frost-protection measures. California Citrus Mutual said groves in Riverside, Kern, Tulare, Fresno and Madera counties all experienced temperatures dropping to 26-29 degrees for short durations.

CCM President Joel Nelsen said there could be “isolated areas of damage” to mandarin groves, particularly to trees and fruit farthest from wind machines, but he said any losses “should not affect volume or price significantly.”

The two primary citrus crops grown in the citrus belt are navel oranges and mandarins. Of the two, navels are more cold-tolerant and typically become vulnerable to frost only when temperatures drop below 28 degrees for several hours or for several nights in a row. Mandarins, on the other hand, can suffer freeze damage once temperatures dip below 32 degrees.

Any damaged fruit that won’t pass quality standards to go into the fresh market would go to processing, said Bob Blakely, CCM vice president.

The current citrus harvest began a few weeks ago, and an estimated 75 percent of the fruit remained on the trees when the cold weather began. Growers use wind machines or irrigation systems, or a combination of both, as frost-protection measures. By irrigating, growers can elevate the ground temperature slightly. Wind machines help to keep the air moving, breaking up pockets of cold air that can create problems.

Citrus Mutual estimated there are more than 22,000 wind machines throughout the citrus belt, most of which operate on propane. The organization estimated Monday that farmers had spent more than $16.5 million on frost-protection measures during the six-night freeze operation.

Given the drought situation, Nelsen said, most growers remained “very judicious” in using groundwater for frost protection.

“Our information is that pumping groundwater has been minimal,” he said.

One of the most water-starved areas is Terra Bella in Tulare County, where many farmers bought emergency water at high prices last summer to keep citrus trees from dying in the drought. Many of those growers have a little bit of that water left, and said they were using it to protect their groves from frost.

“On our farm, we bought some emergency water last summer and we still have some of that available to us until February,” said Roger Everett, a citrus grower in Terra Bella, “so we are using that water that we have left for frost protection. Growers who didn’t buy any of that water probably don’t have any water available for frost protection.”

Everett said it has been his experience that citrus trees are able to tolerate the cold fairly well, but the fruit can be vulnerable. Blakely of CCM agreed with that assessment.

“In California, it is typically a case of lost fruit rather than a killing of the trees,” he said. “Our conditions here in this state are such that in the wintertime we have enough cold temperatures where the trees can go into a quasi-dormancy, where they can withstand quite low temperatures before we have any damage to the fruiting wood.”

The freezing temperatures came just over a year from a December 2013 freeze that caused an estimated $441 million in citrus losses.

Consumer demand for navels has been quite good, bringing “decent” prices to farmers, Blakely said.

“Prices were higher a few weeks ago, but we are starting to see them come off a little bit. Consumer acceptance of the fruit has been very good and demand has remained steady. Movement in the domestic market last year was actually higher than it was in the previous year. In the wintertime, there really aren’t any other producing areas that are providing navel oranges to the United States. However, if there is an event that causes a reduction in the California crop, some of that market could possibly be taken up by some of the European mandarins,” he said.

San Joaquin Valley citrus wasn’t the only crop or region that faced potential crop losses due to the freezing weather. Temperatures of below 32 degrees were recorded in the Coachella Valley as well as the desert areas of the Imperial Valley and Yuma, Ariz. The cold temperatures caused some reported production losses to all varieties of lettuce as well as to spinach. As a result, customers might see some short-term shortages in the next couple weeks, farmers and shippers said.

The Coachella and Imperial valleys and the Yuma area produce about 90 percent of the nation’s winter vegetables. Cold weather slows plant growth and delays the daily harvest activity until the plants begin to thaw in late morning or early afternoon.

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