Napolitano Says Ag Needs Technology

UC President Janet Napolitano: Technology Drives Ag

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Janet Napolitano, President of University of California, gave the opening keynote presentation on the first of two days at the recent 3rd annual Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas in late June.

She spoke with California Ag Today, noting that technology is driving agriculture like never before.

“I think this is a great time in California history, where you have the Salinas Valley and Silicon Valley all focused on innovation and where it’s now time to have these two areas converge – agriculture and technology,” she said.

And of course, agriculture is open to new technology to help farmers produce food more efficiently and safely.

“It’s all about the world food supply; it’s all about the food supply in the state. It’s all about the economy in the state of California; it’s going to need technology to really thrive,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano noted that she has seen first hand how technologies have driven solutions to age-old problems.

“A UC Santa Barbara Materials alumnus professor, James Roger, realized that a third to a half of our fresh fruits and vegetables end up in landfills due to consumers throwing the produce out due to browning or other decomposition,” she said. “In 2012, Rogers founded Apeel Sciences, where his team created a product from natural plant extracts that can be sprayed on fruits and vegetables, which can protect them from bacteria, doubling their shelf life and therefore decreasing the amount of food waste.”

Rogers is one example of many within the UC system who have come up with innovations to help agriculture.

“We know we drive innovation by supporting innovation in our classroom and in our laboratories. And we support it with faculty, we support it with our own monies, and our own investment dollars,” Napolitano said. “And, we also bring together the private sector with the university to look at different kinds of partnerships that can be undertaken.”

The UC system has the resources to fund the early stage capital that is needed to get ideas off the ground.

“We have set aside a billion dollars of our own investment capital for early stage investment, and an additional 250 million dollars for sustainable energy technologies,” Napolitano said.

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Farm employment: Drought impact adds uncertainty to hiring outlook

Source: Ag Alert

Even though reduced crop production caused by water shortages may reduce on-farm employment in California, farmers and farm labor contractors say they expect continued trouble in filling agricultural jobs this spring and summer.

“The drought is still ongoing, which means that there will be a lot of land left uncultivated,” said Bryan Little, California Farm Bureau Federation director of employment policy and chief operating officer of the Farm Employers Labor Service. “This will probably soften the blow of the shortage of labor some, but everything I am hearing is that the labor market is still pretty tight.”

Little said most of the farmers with whom he speaks “are finding that labor is still pretty scarce.” He said farmers are expressing increasing interest in the federal H-2A guestworker program—despite its signficant drawbacks—while “relying more and more” on farm labor contractors.

San Luis Obispo County farmer Carlos Castañeda, who is also a farm labor contractor, said the growing season kicked off in his region earlier than usual. So far, he said, he has been able to hire the people he needs but, he added, there isn’t an abundance of workers.

“My growers are cutting plantings back tremendously,” Castañeda said. “Unfortunately, the shortage of water is helping the shortage of labor—but as soon as the water issues are solved, the labor one is going to go into warp speed.”

About a month from now, Castañeda said, he expects several commodities will be ready for harvest at the same time, which will increase the need for on-farm employees and reduce the number of workers available.

Michael Frantz, co-owner of Frantz Wholesale Nursery in Hickman, said he remains concerned about finding enough people to do the highly technical work at his horticultural company, which specializes in landscape trees, shrubs and drought-tolerant plants.

“We have full-time employment that requires learning the skills of a trade that are taught on-farm. There are a lot of technical skills, whether it is grafting or budding and training of trees to be grown to retail-grade specifications, that take years to master,” Frantz said. “For a nursery to grow consistent quality product, we need a workforce that looks at our nursery and our company as a career choice. Our best employees have been here 10 to 30 years.”

Frantz said he has had problems hiring skilled workers for the past several years. In 2013, his nursery supplemented its own hiring with the use of farm labor contractors. Last year, he said, was “the first year that we were unable to fill all of the positions.”

Frantz said his business printed fliers describing the company, its pay rates, benefits and other amenities.

“For the first time, we felt we had to sell ourselves to the community as opposed to expecting people to show up looking for work,” Frantz said. “We set up card tables at the employment office and had human resources people there handing out fliers. That outreach had minimal results.”

As a result, he said he is very concerned about locating reliable workers for this season, adding that many other nurseries share the same concern.

“This year, we are running ads on Spanish radio. We have ramped up our hiring efforts and already, it is early, but it seems that 2015 is going to be more difficult than last year,” Frantz said. “The lack of a dependable ag workforce is preventing us from adding additional jobs and growing our family businesses like we would like to be able to do.”

Earl Hall, owner of Hall Management Corp., a farm labor contractor headquartered in Fresno, said he is aware that agriculture faces a shortage of available employees, but says he has avoided shortages by being “real careful” not to expand unless conditions warrant.

“You have to be in this industry for a long time like I’ve been so that you know the trends and what is happening,” said Hall, whose company reaches 50 years in business this year.

Castañeda said more growers are opting to use the federal H-2A program to hire immigrant employees, which he called an “expensive and absolutely bureaucratic nightmare, but it is the only tool available.”

Little said use of the H-2A program among California farmers and ranchers remains relatively slight because of a variety of problems with the program, including its lack of the flexibility agricultural employers need to hire people on a timely basis.

Another factor affecting the availability of potential on-farm employees is reduced migration by Mexicans to the U.S., according to research conducted by Edward Taylor, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis, and doctoral student Diane Elise Charlton. Their research found fewer potential farm employees migrating to California due to growth in Mexico’s non-farm economy, falling birth rates and an increase in rural education.

Because of this trend, Little said, Farm Bureau and other groups have advocated for a permanent solution to agricultural labor shortages through immigration reform.

Without legislation to address the country’s current labor situation, bills such as the Legal Workforce Act would harm farms and ranches, Little said. The bill, which would require agricultural employers to use the E-Verify system to prove employment eligibility for agricultural workers, was approved last week by the House Judiciary Committee.

“We are absolutely, adamantly opposed to moving forward with mandatory E-Verify until we know we are going to get a workable guestworker program,” Little said.

California agriculture relies on about 400,000 employees during peak season. Some experts estimate that 70 percent or more of hired farm employees responsible for U.S. fruit, vegetable, dairy, livestock, nursery and other production are not authorized to work in the United States, despite presenting apparently legitimate work documents, Little added.

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Fresno State to host commencement for state ag leaders

The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State will host the California Agricultural Leadership Program commencement ceremony for the first time at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7 in North Gym, Room 118.

The commencement will cap a three-day seminar for the 44th graduating class of emerging or mid-career agricultural leaders. Graduates of the program acquire skills to enhance the long-term success of their businesses, farms, ranches and organizations.

Over the past 17 months, the group has focused on leadership theory, effective communication, motivation, critical and strategic thinking, change management, emotional intelligence, and complex social and cultural issues.

Four Fresno State graduates – Dustin Fuller, Trevor Meyers, Heather Mulholland and Carissa Koopman Rivers – are among the 24 members who will graduate and were inaugurated in October 2013 at Fresno State.

Each fellow has participated in 55 seminar days, including a 10-day national travel seminar to Gettysburg, Penn., Philadelphia and Washington D.C., and a 15-day international travel seminar to South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“We congratulate the 24 fellows on their important achievement of completing the Ag Leadership Program,” said Bob Gray, president and CEO of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, which operates the program. “These leaders will continue to learn and grow, take on new challenges, assume leadership roles and make a difference.”

The 45th class, inaugurated in October 2014 at Fresno State, will also convene on campus during the three-day event. The class includes four additional Fresno State graduates –- Chris Jensen, Stanley Kjar, Lauren Reid and Justin Spellman.

Fresno State animal sciences Professor Dr. Michael Thomas serves as the Jordan College’s core faculty member for the program’s education team and as the foundation’s director of education.

“We are grateful to the Jordan College for its ongoing support of Ag Leadership and are very pleased to hold our inauguration and commencement ceremonies on campus,” Gray said. “Commencement has been held in Pomona for many decades, but we felt it was important to move it to the more centrally-located Fresno State. We also thank Wells Fargo for their generous sponsorship of commencement.”

Fresno State is one of four California universities that partner with the program. The others are Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pomona and University of California, Davis.

More than 1,200 men and women have participated in the program since the first class was introduced in 1970, making it the longest continuously-operating agriculture leadership training experience in the nation.

For more information, contact Meredith Rehrman Ritchie at 916-984-4473 or mritchie@agleaders.org.

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California Farm Bureau’s Paul Wenger Addresses 96th Annual Meeting

California Farm Bureau President reflects on membership triumphs & challenges in 2014 and his hopes for 2015

By Kyle Buchoff, CalAgToday Reporter

Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) welcomed attendees to the 96th Annual CFBF Meeting by introducing the conference’s theme, ‘California Agriculture Caught in the Crosshairs.’

“The only way to be a target is to be standing still. I can guarantee we are not going to stay standing still, but from time to time, I think we have stood still. It is interesting; people say this is provocative, but it is also spot-on, California agriculture has adapted and improved, and continued to adapt and improve, and continues to provide food and fiber. We have become a victim of our own success, and because many times we would just as soon as sit back and hope the world would pass us by while we do nothing short of miracles by producing more and more food and fiber with basically the same resources we have had for years, all of a sudden, we’ve become victims of our own success.”Farm Bureaus Meeting Theme

“After two wet years when our reservoirs were brimming to capacity, our farmgate value in 2011 rose to a record of $43.5 billion. Now that’s farmgate, and you will hear other states say how they have a $100 billion farm economy, but this is just the farmgate, and we are not even talking about what our multiplier effect is.”

Wenger explained that California agriculture slipped by $1 billion in 2012, and “we have yet to see what the final report for 2013 will be. But, if it is any indication by what we have been witnessing  through the county ag commissioners in their reports for food and fiber production, it will likely set a new level.”

“And ladies and gentlemen, as bad as 2014 was for water, the fact that we had 4, 5 or 6 hundred thousand acres out of production, the fact that we had 17,000 jobs lost, what the University of California said was a $2.2 billion dollar farmgate loss due to lost production; I would estimate (and we won’t know until 2015), that 2014 will probably set a record year for farmgate value and income.”

“And we will have our detractors and others who say, ‘what is wrong on the farm?’ Agriculture continues to increase and produce even though we have challenges. The underlying number 1 challenge of the statistical health of California agriculture is water. Today’s presentation though is going to be forward-looking.”

Wenger’s presentation included a “Working for You” document handed out to each member that detailed the organization’s policies, and the duties of its staff, officers, and board of directors. Wenger recognized the efforts of Rich Matteis, CFBF administrator and staff to prepare the document and solve issues for the California Ag industry. Wenger explained, given the challenges over the last few years, and especially with the Affordable Care Act, “Rich Matteis has been doing nothing short of miracles, orchestrating our staff to be able to do more with less.” Wenger urged Farm Bureau members to carefully review the document to understand how the organization is endeavoring to work on their behalf.

Though the document did not include contributions from the 53 county farm bureaus, Wenger recognized the farm commissioners and the work product from their bureaus, led by volunteer staff who have to transition around new leadership every few years. “They have to keep air in the tires, and the bearings greased so everything works in our county farm bureaus. As a grassroots organization, it’s those folks and the folks we have at CFBF and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) that really help those of us who are farmers and ranchers to accomplish what we do.”

Wenger considers 2014 a very interesting year and expects the same in 2015. “It’s all about water, folks. Think back not too long ago to August when we had all the mechanizations around the water bond: ‘is it going to be a $6.5 billion bond? Is it going to be $6 billion bond?” There were questions about water storage and how much funding would be allocated for water storage.

“We finally got it done with a near unanimous vote to get the water bond on the ballot for $7.5 billion with $2.7 billion continuously appropriated for water storage. We don’t know what will happen, but we are glad it got on the ballot.”

Continuing, Wenger said that shortly afterwards, all the attention turned to groundwater. “The two groundwater bills working their way through the legislature were signed by the governor in September.” Later, one of the authors, former Democratic California State Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, wrote, “The Governor signs historic groundwater legislation. California’s water future is secure.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Wenger, attributing Dickinson’s recent defeat at the polls to the funding and efforts of the California Farm Bureau Fund to Protect the Family Farm (FARM PAC).

“Let’s not lose focus on what happened in November. For the first time in four decades, the electorate decided to do something about our water infrastructure.” Their message to Sacramento, well beyond the water bond, was, “We need to do something about our water infrastructure, not only for our environment, not only for municipal and industrial, but most of all for agriculture because we are feeding the world.”

“And so what happened is nothing short of phenomenal,” he continued, congratulating the board for stepping up and spending the funds to be able to get over the threshold and have a win.”

Returning to the theme of the conference and its positive outlook in his closing, Wenger stated, “A lot of folks will say that ‘Caught in the Crosshairs’ is a picture of despair. I actually say, ‘no, it’s hope.’”

Wenger said there’s hope for what the industry can do if given a little bit of water. “Some folks will say that with the clouds, it is doom and gloom; but remember, we need to have rain clouds to have water in our reservoirs and streams. Really this is a picture of opportunity and of what can be and will be if we work together and really take an aim on advocacy.”

“As we take an aim at advocacy, everybody gives the example of a three-legged stool: one leg is not any good without the others. “That’s absolutely true; I couldn’t do what I do without Kenny Watkins (First Vice President) and Jamie Johansson (Second Vice President). As we look to the future, we have to educate; we have to engage; and, we have to be advocates.”

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After 10 years as CAPCA’s CEO/President, Terry Stark To Step Down

Terry Stark’s Final Speech to CAPCA Conference Attendees

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

“They wouldn’t give me a walk-around microphone because they were afraid I would preach, so you guys lucked out,” noted Terry Stark, the feisty, fun-loving professional CEO and President of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA), who led the organization for 10 years.

Stark spoke to CAPCA attendees during the final session of the 40th Annual CAPCA Conference and Agri-Expo in Anaheim, in October.

“And I don’t have a PowerPoint, so you’re going to luck out even more,” he said.

“I am going to talk to you briefly about some of the programs going forward, and how you, as CAPCA members, can make a huge contribution. You heard California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger and the other general session speakers talk about investment, involvement and belonging; we need you to step up and do that,’ said Stark.

 

Tell People What You Do!

“With 3,000 PCAs in CAPCA, we’re the third largest association in the state of California, next to the Farm Bureau and Western Growers Association. Commodity boards or mandated programs; and you come to CAPCA because you want to come—because you’re volunteers—and the future will be how you mentor the future PCA generation.”

“How do you do that?” he continued. “You heard two of our speakers say, ‘tell somebody what you do, why you do it, and why you love to do it,'” noted Stark.

“The CAPCA Board was very generous in moving $100,000 dollars three months ago to the Stanley W. Stew Education Fund, Inc. to start the first CAPCA Leadership Institute. We have staff that has been challenged to find champions to go out and raise funds; I don’t care if it is one dollar or one million dollars, to develop a leadership program.

“I love this place. The CAPCA Leadership Institute will inspire plant science students to get their PCA license. And how we’re going do that is that? We’re going to have to our chapters, to our members, and when they talk to anyone with a dollar in their pocket, to make the contribution to the Stanley W.  Stew Foundation; its a [501(C)(3)] corporation, its a tax write-off. And Steve Bickley (CAPCA Board NorCal) and I have the project management to develop the protocols on how we’re going to run this,” noted Stark.

“Well, I’m not stupid; we have Shannon Douglas, our coordinator to our Pathway to PCA program, to help out. In fact, we have two dozen-plus PCAs in the room who attended the Leadership Foundation programs up and down the state. We’re going to take that knowledge from the young farmers and ranchers and from the Farm Bureau, we’ll take that Ag leadership, and we’ll make a program in which at least one dozen PCAs on an annual business basis will learn how to conduct themselves around legislators, supervisors, and school boards. In other words, how do you tell someone that you are important?” Stark said.

 

How to Fix Stupid?

Stark noted that his board is asking a critical question of the candidates for my job, “Can you fix stupid? What I mean by that is when I sit down and talk to PCAs, it’s clear who the smartest person in the room is, and it’s not me,” Stark said.

“So, if you get tapped to be a champion to raise money for the CAPCA Leadership Institute, if you say “no,” I will come back from Texas and hound you until you get your wallet out. I truly believe that that’s going to be the program of the future, it will allow us to reinvest in the `Pathway to PCA’ program.

“When the program headed up by Shannon Douglas was to sunset three years ago, our Ag retailers and basic manufacturers stepped up and funded $300,000 to continue the work. And through those efforts, we have about a 50 PCA license-gain over where we were five years ago. It’s an important program so that we make sure young professionals get that crop protection and crop science education to have a career that can go from 35-40 years. It’s very important,” Stark said.

“When I got on the Board of Directors, I was the oldest guy on the Board. You’ve been in business for 40 years and you’ve done certain things the same way for 30 years, and my job was to help point that ship in a direction where you could have another 40 years. And one of the accomplishments, again, is the generations have changed and we’ve got a younger board of directors now. We have the enthusiasm of a younger board now, and through the leadership of Gary Silveria (CAPCA Vision Planning Committee Chairman), we have crop teams on the table now.

“Ok, you’ve heard crop teams talked about by Jeremy Brisco (CAPCA Executive Committee Chairman) yesterday. Not everyone can leave the field, leave their office, drive to Sacramento, sit in a room for an hour and a half, and drive back to San Diego or Desert Valley or up to Chico. So, how do we get our intellectual knowledge moved forward and yet still be recognized by who you are and why you do what you do?” said Stark.

“We’ll start with 8 areas of crop teams, but the ideal is we’re inclusive. We’re going to use Skype and Go to Meeting technology, and you don’t have to drive five hours to get there. This is the educational gap change that the younger guys and women can do so much better than us older guys,” Stark noted.

 

The Right Champions in Place

“But we recognized that gap, pre-drought, when we had the legislative bore, and there was no money in the budgets, no taxes. You know the University of California is going through the same attrition, and all of a sudden, counties couldn’t send their Ag Commissioners to meetings and Extension people couldn’t travel, or we couldn’t replace their expertise,” Stark noted. “We’ve got 3,000 experts. You will travel, you will provide the leadership and you will succeed. My goal in making this happen for the board of directors is that we have the right people in place. Gary Silveria has put the right champions in place on these crop teams, so if you get asked, `do you want to help with almonds, or do you want to help with strawberries,’ the answer is `Yes, I want to help!’”
“And I guarantee you we will be—CAPCA will be—in 3-5 years—the go-to expert at any of those crop protection incidents that will occur. And you will be standing side-by-side with UC Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension people and the commodity board research folks in fighting the problems. That’s what you will accomplish. That is innovative! I know some of my chapters are going to say, `what are the chapters going to do?’ and I’ll say this, `you have a purpose!’”

“Find that purpose. I’m not going to tell you what your purpose is…. you find your purpose. And you make the crop teams successful. And you make the Pathway to PCA successful. It’s all about being positive; one of our speakers said, `don’t say anything you can’t do.’ Hell, I’ve never said I can’t do anything, said Stark.

Continue reading “After 10 years as CAPCA’s CEO/President, Terry Stark To Step Down”

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Climate Change Affects Integrated Pest Management Practices

Despite Lack of Funding, IPM Programs Need to be Re-Worked

By Colby Tibbet, California Ag Today Reporter

Climate Change is a pressing concern for growers and others in the ag industry, prompting the modification and redesign of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, among other farming operations.

John Trumble, an entomology professor at the University of California, Riverside, explained that we are going have to change our IPM programs—processes based on scientific research for solving pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. “We will have to account for changes in temperature, insects infesting fields more quickly, bio-controls including beneficial insects becoming possibly less effective, and altered plant growth due to elevated CO2 in the atmosphere.

Trumble noted,“What worked for your father isn’t going to work for us now. In the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve seen major changes in which insects are present, speed of entry into the fields, the extent of damage they cause and the plant’s lack of compensation for that damage. That is a lot of work for somebody in the future to redo all those IPM programs developed in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, that we’ve used successfully for years.”

“One of our biggest problems in re-working these IPM strategies is that there’s a general move afoot in the government to reduce funding: for the USDA, the EPA, and even the National Institutes of Health. This year the USDA funded only 5 percent of the grants submitted,” said Trumble, “versus the normal 10-15 percent, and the funding shortage could halt investment in future programs. In a bad year, USDA would invest 12 percent—but five percent, who’s going to go into agriculture if you can only get five out of 100 grants actually funded? It’s really awful,” Trumble remarked.

 

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California CCA Certified Exam Feb. 6 2015 Registration Opens

Online Registration is Now Available Testing throughout the State

Crop consultants in California and Arizona have the opportunity until December 5, 2014 to register for the February 6, 2015 California CCA (Certified Crop Adviser) Exam.  The exam will be given at locations in Sacramento, Salinas, Visalia, Ventura, and Yuma.  Individuals can register for exam online.  An exam review session will be held in Sacramento on January 9, 2015, registration and session information will be available at www.capcaed.com.

There are more than 930 CCAs in California and Arizona, 80% of the California CCAs are also licensed pest control advisers.  CCAs have expertise in Nutrient, Soil, Water, Crop and Pest Management.  Growers interested in finding a CCA in their area can go the “Find a Professional” section of the International CCA program website.

Many California CCAs have received additional training in optimizing nitrogen management from the California Department of Food and Agriculture and University of California. The consultants that have completed this training are qualified to write Nitrogen Management Plans that are or will be required of growers by the regional water quality control boards.

The partnership between CCAs and growers is integral to protecting the environment and providing food and fiber for the world.   The program is a voluntary certification program that has been in existence for more than 20 years, administered by the American Society of Agronomy and overseen by a California board of directors.  More information on the California program is available at http://cacca.org/.

For more information contact Steve Beckley at (916)539-4107 or sbeckley@aol.com.

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Modesto Irrigation District leaders hustling to get growers more water

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 two weeks later than initially planned, giving trees a better chance of surviving the drought and being healthy enough to produce again next year.

The MID board also agreed Tuesday to accommodate another round of farmer-to-farmer water transfers with a Sept. 2 application deadline. And the district might offer to sell some extra water reserved in April by a few farmers who haven’t asked or paid for it since then.

Faced with a third consecutive dry winter, district officials in February said the irrigation season would end Sept. 19, several weeks earlier than usual, and capped deliveries at 24 inches per acre, down from 36 in a normal year.

But farmers, especially those raising almonds, have been pressing for later deliveries.

Citing University of California research, Ron Fisher said trees that don’t drink just after harvest can lose 74 percent of nuts the following year.

Some almond varieties, such as padre, mission, Monterey and Fritz, harvest later than Sept. 19, growers told the board.

“I’ve farmed almonds over 50 years and I’ve never got my harvest completed by Oct. 3,” said Cecil Hensley, a former board member. “There is no use having (water) next year if we don’t keep our trees alive.”

Farmers won’t get more than their fair share with the extension; Tuesday’s unanimous vote simply allows them to apply their allotment later in the year, explained board member Jake Wenger, who farms.

Board Chairman Nick Blom, also a grower, reminded people that they can rent district wells and canals after the regular season ends, for late-season irrigating.

“It’s not the purest snow water, but it’s water,” Blom said.

To augment deliveries, scores of farmers this year have taken advantage of new programs allowing them to buy or sell MID shares in fixed-price transfers managed by the district or open-market sales at any agreed-upon price.

The district has accommodated more than 100 open-market deals for farmers who submitted transfer requests by deadlines of June 1, July 1 and Friday. Tuesday’s 4-1 vote, with Larry Byrd dissenting, adds a fourth deadline of Sept. 2.

“This gives everyone a little more time and flexibility,” Modesto farmer Aaron Miller said.

Wenger initially suggested an Aug. 15 deadline. Attorneys Stacy Henderson and Bob Fores said their clients would appreciate more time and noted that MID General Manager Roger VanHoy had acknowledged that his staff has experienced no difficulty processing transfer requests.

In April, 26 farmers indicated interest in the district’s allocation return program, meaning they might want to sell a portion or all of their MID water shares, or buy water given up by others. The cost was $200 per acre-foot on either end.

The district set aside enough water to cover those potential deals, but a handful of farmers – fewer than a dozen, said civil engineering manager John Davids – did not sign contracts and have not paid for the extra water they initially said they might buy.

Davids did not know how much water remains in that pot, but said it represents a potential $300,000 loss. Board member John Mensinger said that’s “regrettable” and Wenger suggested selling the water to others in what VanHoy termed “something like a last call.”

“Let’s make it available. I think people would take us up on it,” Wenger said.

VanHoy said he will suggest rules for such deals at a future meeting.

The board next meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday at 1231 11th St., Modesto.

 

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UC leads a long tradition of environmental stewardship in California

By  Brook Gamble, Community Education Specialist, UC ANR California Naturalist Program, Hopland Research & Extension Center

Featured Photo:  Jeannette Warnert

 

Stewardship: \ˈstü-ərd-ˌship: the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something.

In 1862 the Morrill Act was passed to support and maintain colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts, including a later provision that included the donation of public land. As one of the first land grant Universities, the University of California was well positioned to manage agricultural extension across the state as part of the Smith Lever Act of 1915. Today, many people think of California agriculture as strawberries, broccoli and rice; but it is livestock and forestry that dominated California working landscapes in those early days.

Farmer seeks assistance from UCCE farm advisor on the running board of a historic UC Cooperative Extension vehicle.
Farmer seeks assistance from UCCE farm advisor on the running board of a historic UC Cooperative Extension vehicle.

Research and extension efforts to improve forestry practices and range production throughout California have evolved over time. Research questions gradually changed over the last 100 years from a “how can we economically produce more” perspective to how can rangeland management practices improve ecosystem composition and function? How can extension programs be employed to educate stakeholders and help land managers implement change? How can we conserve working landscapes for biodiversity conservation in a period of rapid development? How can we assess and monitor management effectiveness?

This year, the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources celebrates 100 years of UC Cooperative Extension serving as a research and outreach partner in communities throughout California. For an interesting read on this rich history and the evolution of UC rangeland management perspectives, see M. George, and W. J. Clawson’s The History of UC RangelandExtension, Research, and Teaching: A Perspective (2014). Additionally, UC ANR California Rangelands Website includes a free Annual Rangeland E-book; current project descriptions, publications, and online learning modules: http://californiarangeland.ucdavis.edu/.

Maintaining and improving environmental quality on public and private land requires an informed strategy that encourages stewardship by land owners and community members. In present times, we face the challenges of managing land in the face of growing population, drought, invasive species, and climate change, just to name a few forces of global change. Out of necessity, our broader perspective on land management has shifted to one of “ecosystem stewardship” which is defined as a strategy to respond to and shape social-ecological systems under conditions of uncertainty and change to sustain the supply and opportunities for use of ecosystem services to support human well-being (Chapin et al. 2010). The stewardship framework focuses on the dynamics of ecological change and assesses management options that may influence the path or rate of that change.

Using an ecosystem stewardship framework, the UC ANR’s California Naturalist Program is building astatewide network of environmental stewards. The program is designed to introduce the public, teachers, interpreters, docents, green collar workers, natural resource managers, and budding scientists to the wonders of our unique ecology and engage these individuals in the stewardship of California’s natural communities.

Tejon Ranch Conservancy California Naturalists help with a pipe capping project to keep small animals and birds from getting trapped (Photo: Scot Pipkin)
Tejon Ranch Conservancy California Naturalists help with a
pipe capping project to keep small animals and birds from
getting trapped (Photo: Scot Pipkin)

The California Naturalist Program uses a science curriculum which includeschapters in forest, woodland, and range resources and management, geology, climate, water, wildlife, and plants. Experiential learning and service projects instill a deep appreciation for the natural communities of the state and serve to engage people in natural resource conservation.

Land management is the focus of many of the partnering organizations that offer the California Naturalist Program. For example, land conservancies and preserves are involved including, Tejon Ranch Conservancy, at 270,000 acres the largest contiguous private ranch in California; Pepperwood Preserve, a private rangeland preserve dedicated to conservation science in the Northern SF Bay Area; UC Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station, a forested research station in the Sierra; UC Hopland Research & Extension Center, a rangeland research and education facility in California’s north coast region; and the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, a non-profit land trust in the Western Sierra Nevada including Fresno, Madera, eastern Merced, and Mariposa counties. Land trusts are increasingly responsible for conserving working landscapes and open space across the state and often rely on a trained volunteer corps to steward these valuable landscapes. UC ANR is pleased to advance training opportunities for those actively managing these lands.

California Naturalists trained at these locations and more are involved in ecosystem stewardship, rangeland management, watershed restoration, and helping outdoor education programs that benefit the environment and people of all ages. Naturalists have donated over 13,000 hours of in state service in the last three years. These types of stewardship opportunities are essential for the active adaptive management that both public and private lands need to ensure resilience and continue to provide ecosystem services that we all rely on. These trained environmental stewards are an important part of this growing community of practice who not only steward land but also pass on critical knowledge about California’s natural and managed ecosystems.

With Special Thanks to Brook Gamble.

 

UC Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station

 

California Naturalists examine watershed maps

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Global Food Safety Agreement Signed by China and UC Davis

Officials from China’s Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University in Shaanxi province, and the University of California, Davis, signed a memorandum of agreement on July 23, 2014 that lays the groundwork for establishing the Sino-U.S. Joint Research Center for Food Safety in China.

The signing ceremony was held in the city of Yingchuan, China, during a meeting between high-level officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

“Today’s agreement is a landmark event for UC Davis and for our World Food Center and serves as yet another indication of our worldwide leadership in food and health,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “We are incredibly pleased to join forces with Northwest A&F University and look forward to making discoveries and realizing solutions that will promote food safety in China and around the world.”

Signing the agreement today were Harris Lewin, vice chancellor of research for UC Davis, and Wu Pute, professor and vice president of Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University. Also present were Catherine Woteki, undersecretary for research, education and economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Vice Minister Zhang Laiwu of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

The memorandum of agreement, which will extend over the next five years, calls for the center’s two lead universities to form a joint research team and research platform, carry out collaborative research projects and cooperate on other food safety-related projects. UC Davis’ World Food Center will identify a director to coordinate the research program. The Chinese partners will provide substantial funding for the new center, with details to be announced this fall.

“This is clear evidence that the entire UC system is fully committed to be front and center on the critical issues of food security, sustainability and health,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. She recently launched the UC Global Food Initiative as a systemwide collaboration to put the world on a path to feed itself nutritiously and sustainably.

Both the Sino-U.S. Joint Research Center and the UC Davis World Food Center will contribute to the UC Global Food Initiative.

“With UC Davis’ commitment to food safety research and China’s ever-increasing demand for food, the Joint Research Center is a natural partnership,” said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “Food safety will benefit from global scientific collaboration, and new findings will help the food and agriculture sector meet new challenges, improve the health of consumers and maintain the integrity of the global food supply chain.”

Roger Beachy, executive director of the UC Davis World Food Center, noted that the new food safety center is a logical outgrowth of many well-established research collaborations between scientists from UC Davis and China.

“Working closely with Chinese scientists and policymakers, the new center will have significant impacts on food safety in China and elsewhere around the globe,” he said.

Beachy said that the catalyst for the new collaborative effort was a visit to China last fall by Chancellor Katehi. During that visit, Chinese officials and UC Davis alumni identified food safety as a topic of key importance for China. Beachy, who has longstanding ties with China’s research community, became head of the World Food Center in January and has shepherded the collaborative agreement for UC Davis.

About the new food safety center

The Joint Research Center for Food Safety will promote international collaborative research and extension for food safety in China and the U.S. It will conduct research on global food safety-related policies; establish an international, high-level research platform for food safety research; propose solutions for hazards in the food-industry value chain; and develop models for implementation of international food safety standards and risk management. UC Davis and Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University will engage other research faculty from the U.S. and China in the new center.

Students from both UC Davis and China will be offered opportunities to study and train in each other’s countries. UC Davis faculty members currently have extensive collaborations with several Chinese universities, and the new joint research center is intended to expand these and initiate new activities.

On the September 12, 2014 celebration of the 80-year anniversary of the founding of China’s Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University, working details for the new center will be laid out.

“The food industry has become the largest industry in China; and food safety is a critical area for China and the U.S. to have creative cooperation and learn from each other,” said Zhang Laiwu, China’s vice minister of science and technology. “It not only involves technologies, but also policies and management. The fruitful cooperation will also be important to ensure food security.”

He added that the new cooperative agreement among UC Davis, Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University, Yangling National Agricultural High Tech Demonstration Zone, and Zhuhai Municipality of China is a creative platform for cooperation in improving food safety.

World Food Center at UC Davis and the UC Global Food Initiative

The World Food Center at UC Davis was established in 2013 to increase the economic benefit from campus research; influence national and international policy; and convene teams of scientists and innovators from industry, academia, government and nongovernmental organizations to tackle food-related challenges in California and around the world.

The UC Global Food Initiative is building on existing efforts such as the World Food Center and other endeavors at UC Davis, while creating new collaborations among the 10 UC campuses, affiliated national laboratories and the systemwide division of Agriculture and Natural Resources to support healthy eating, sustainable agriculture and food security. More information about the UC Global Food Initiative.

Other food-related collaborations with China

UC Davis faculty are currently involved in numerous collaborative research projects in China, including four food-safety efforts that specialize in the genomics of food-borne diseases, dairy safety, waterborne diseases and livestock, and environmental chemicals.

Additionally, the campus hosts the BGI@UC Davis Partnership, which focuses on genome sequencing, and the Confucius Institute, a cultural outreach program emphasizing food and beverages.

 

Graphic Source: Food Safety News

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