Apple Hill – the season is upon us

With Fall now in full swing, Californians are again starting to turn their attention to El Dorado County’s Apple Hill, which is in the midst of its 2017 production season. From CDFA’s award-winning Growing California video series, here’s an encore presentation on Apple Hill’s draw as a tourism destination.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Modern water demands help irrigation technology program thrive at Central Valley college – from CAeconomy.org

NoteCalifornia and all of American agriculture are seeking young people to enter farming-related fields, and not just on the farm – there are an estimated 300 positions in food production, many of them requiring increasingly sophisticated technical skills.   

Technology has changed the way farmers irrigate their crops in the Central Valley, a region that produces a quarter of the nation’s food. One local community college is responding by teaching students how to design and create irrigation systems, while filling a gap in the local industry’s workforce.

Modesto Junior College’s Irrigation Technology program is the first of its kind in the state. It offers both an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree and an Irrigation Technology certificate providing students the opportunity to learn the skills they need to work in agriculture water management.

“The population continues to increase as does the water needs for the state of California and the nation,” said Steve Amador, the program’s faculty advisor. “The water resources that we have now are continually being taxed more and more, so there’s really a lot of interest in conserving water and doing things the right way.”

The Irrigation Technology program started as the demand increased for the one irrigation class offered to MJC science students. “So we decided to start an irrigation degree, an A.S. degree,” added Amador. “We decided to build some facilities, look for some money for student travel and really just expand and promote the program.”

The program is funded by a Strong Workforce Program regional investment administered through the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation.

The first graduates completed the program earlier this year. “I was proud that we had 24 who were irrigation majors,” said Amador. “Some of them finished and received degrees and some of them have a few more classes to take. We were at 95 percent full-time employment or summer internships in the irrigation field.”

One of those graduates is Ryan Lehikainen. “I was going to school for ag business. Irrigation has always been an issue in California, so I took a class to get some knowledge of irrigation. It sparked my interest. The program that Mr. Amador has at MJC really caught my eye and I decided spend another semester at MJC to get that degree.” Lehikainen, a Modesto native, was brought on as an intern at the Central Irrigation Company and after graduation, was hired as a full-time irrigation designer.

“The systems we design are designed to meet the evapotranspiration (the combination of evaporation and transpiration from plant material) rates of the plant. So each plant has a different water requirement that makes sense,” explained Lehikainen. “An almond tree each day during the summer requires .28 inches of water a day to sustain healthy growth and a healthy nut. So the system we design is designed to give exactly .28 inches of water to that tree in a specific area.”

Central Irrigation Company’s owner Keith Yamamoto explained the importance of MJC’s program. “There’s a huge need in the middle for someone who is technologically savvy, who has an understanding for engineering, but didn’t have the means or desire to go on to a large four-year university.”

Irrigation designers use software such as AutoCAD and don’t necessarily need an engineering degree. “What’s also important is you have to have some common sense – how things work, and also understand ag and the area. It’s very important that you can relate what you learn and apply it to the field,” said Yamamoto.

MJC’s program not only offers the A.S. degree, but also provides a way for current irrigation technicians to increase their worth with their current employers. According to Amador, “I have several students who work for irrigation companies and come in and take a couple of classes, get a certificate and go back to get a raise or more responsibility at work, whatever the case may be.”

Programs such as MJC’s Irrigation Technology Program fills a workforce gap in an industry that it vital to the country’s food supply.

After playing a role in the creation of the $200-million Strong Workforce Program, the Summit has helped to support the program’s implementation, highlighting programs successfully engaging and maintaining relationships with employers.

Expanding and improving these types of workforce programs through the California Community Colleges will be one of the topics at the California Economic Summit, which will be held in San Diego on November 2-3.

The Summit will also drive a broad effort to strengthen rural communities through infrastructure and job creation programs in regions which have struggled with higher rates of poverty, higher concentrations of minimum wage workers, and lower broadband connectivity than anywhere else in California.

Link to article

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rice farmers work to prevent flooding and help wildlife – Op-ed in the Sacramento Bee

Migrating birds in California rice fields.

By Bryce Lundberg and Sean Doherty

Note – Rice farmer Bryce Lundberg serves on the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Sean Doherty is a third-generation rice farmer in Dunnigan, Yolo County.

Last winter’s heavy rains were a welcome relief for Central Valley farmers after years of drought. But the high water that came with them also made it clear that we must upgrade the flood control system designed to protect people, farms and cities from catastrophic flooding.

Watching hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria from afar, Californians may not realize that our own Central Valley is at high risk of this type of flooding, especially as extreme weather events are becoming more common.

Fortunately, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board recently updated its plan to improve protection for farmers and city dwellers alike. It will also help revive flagging salmon runs and support other struggling native species.

As farmers, we are often on the front lines of California’s water challenges. We understand the benefits of wildlife-friendly agriculture. Rice farmers, especially, have taken the lead in finding ways to use limited water supplies to sustain farms while simultaneously benefiting birds, fish and other wildlife.

Flooding rice fields after harvest during the winter creates seasonal wetlands that are essential for the survival of the millions of birds that travel the Pacific flyway annually. With only 5 percent of the Central Valley’s traditional floodplains remaining, flooded rice fields are a lifeline for these birds and also benefit struggling native fish populations such as salmon and smelt.

This multi-benefit approach to flood and water management is at the core of the new Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, which calls for building projects designed to allow rivers and floodplains to function more naturally. These projects come with additional public benefits, such as improving water quality, increasing groundwater recharge and providing outdoor recreation opportunities.

One of the best ways to both prevent flood damage and improve fish and wildlife populations is to find strategic places to expand floodways. Allowing flood waters to spread out and slow down lowers crests and reduces strain on the levees that line Central Valley rivers. And when rivers can safely handle higher flows, dam managers can keep reservoir levels higher during heavy rains, potentially increasing water supplies during the summer.

In addition to increased public safety, this approach seems much more promising for fish and wildlife than the current flow strategies. Instead of pitting the needs of wildlife against those of farmers, it focuses on ways to address both.

With the right approach, changing the way we manage floods could improve the survival of native fish without harming farms. If we help fish populations rebound by improving the health of our rivers, water allocations for farms and cities may also become more predictable.

The updated Central Valley Flood Protection Plan takes this right approach. Now it’s time for policymakers to ensure sufficient funding is available to turn the plan into action.

Link to article

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

California and Chile to co-host webinar on precision agriculture

Sensors that tell growers how much water to use; drones that can fly over operations and assess the health of crops; real-time data at the fingertips of farmers.

It’s not science fiction – it’s the future of agriculture.

In an attempt to streamline operations, increase sustainability and improve climate resiliency, California farmers are embracing precision agriculture technology. Also known as “smart farming,” precision agriculture uses the latest technological innovations to produce more food while using less resources.

But California farmers are not the only ones adopting this technology. Nearly 6000 miles away, farmers, academics and public officials in the country of Chile are also actively exploring opportunities in precision agriculture.

As some of the world’s largest wine producers, Chile and California share a number of similarities. They both enjoy Mediterranean climate ecosystems. They bought have struggled with prolonged drought. And most importantly, both California and Chile are committed to implementing climate smart agricultural practices.

In an effort to share best practices, exchange information and learn more about the potential of precision agriculture,  the California Department of Food and Agriculture will host a climate smart webinar, titled “California & Chile: Opportunities for Precision Agriculture in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.”

This free webinar brings together farmers, research scientists and government representatives from Chile and California to discuss the role precision technology can play in mitigating the impacts of climate change and improve on-farm efficiency. The event will be held on October 30th from 9 am to 11 am.

Registration and speaker information can be found at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2276456747899022083

California continues to work in collaboration with international partners to foster knowledge-sharing partnerships to address climate change impacts on agriculture. This webinar is the seventh in a series of international discussions focusing on climate smart agriculture. For more information, contact Jaydeep Singh at Jaydeep.bhatia@cdfa.ca.gov.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pope Francis leads recognition of World Food Day – from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Pope Francis at today’s recognition of World Food Day.

Pope Francis called for governments around the world to collaborate to make migration a safer and voluntary choice, arguing that assuring food security for all requires tackling climate change and ending conflicts. He made the call at the global ceremony to mark World Food Day, held at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome. This year’s theme focuses on addressing migration through investing in food security and rural development.

World Food Day is being marked this year as global hunger rises for the first time in over a decade, affecting 815 million people or 11 per cent of the global population. The increase is largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks which are also major drivers of distress migration.

Madagascar President Hery Martial Rakotoarimanana Rajaonarimampianina, whose country is facing the impacts of climate change, also spoke at the event.

Other participants in the ceremony were European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Gilbert F. Houngbo and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley.

Ministers of agriculture from several of the Group of Seven (G7) nations attended the World Food Day ceremony – testament to the important links between food security, rural development and migration. G7 representatives were Canada’s Lawrence MacAulay, France’s Stéphane Travert, Germany’s Peter Bleser, Italy’s Maurizio Martina, the United Kingdom’s Therese Coffrey and the United States’ Sonny Perdue. Japan’s Ken Saito sent a statement of support. [Read more]

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Secretary Ross reflects on visit to Wine Country fire zones

Secretary Ross with California Resources Secretary John Laird on a flyover in Wine Country.

Over the weekend I traveled with Governor Brown and Senators Feinstein and Harris to Santa Rosa for meetings with local elected officials and a community town hall meeting. This is a remarkable community and the message delivered was that we are in this together and all levels of government will be fully supportive on the long road to recovery.

I cannot describe the impact of viewing block after block of completely destroyed neighborhoods – that one week ago were homes and today are piles of ashes. I look forward to visiting all the impacted North Coast counties in the next few weeks to meet with farmers and ranchers and agricultural commissioners.

A Santa Rosa neighborhood.

Governor Brown at a community meeting in Wine Country.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wineries step-up for fire recovery effort

Photo by Carlos Avila Gonzalez, San Francisco Chronicle

Northern California wineries are already at work raising funds for fire recovery efforts. E&J Gallo Winery today announced a $1 million donation to be divided among the American Red Cross, the California Wildfires Relief Fund, the Community Foundation of Sonoma, and the Napa Valley Community Foundation. Gallo will also match employee donations two-for-one.

“It is devastating to learn that our colleagues, friends, growers and neighbors have suffered such great losses,” said Gallo Winery CEO Joseph E. Gallo. “We hope they are given the strength, fortitude, and endurance to deal with these adversities.”

Additionally, a Go Fund Me page has emerged, initiated by the Central Valley’s Fäsi Estate Winery, of Friant, Fresno County. The funds raised through this effort will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Number of California fairs serving as emergency shelters and fire camps grows to 17

This week in Napa County.

As wildfires continue to spread in California, a number of the state’s local fairs as well as the State Fair have come forward to provide emergency shelter for evacuees and their animals, and to offer space for fire camps. This is one of many ways fairs serve their communities in times of need.

As of yesterday, 17 fairgrounds, from Costa Mesa to Boonville, were hosting approximately 2,000 evacuees; nearly 1,700 animals, including horses, pets, llamas and a tortoise; and 7,261 emergency response personnel and their equipment.

The fairs serving during this time are as follows:

  1. Napa Valley Fairgrounds and Exposition, 575 Third St., Napa, 94559
  2. Napa County Fairgrounds, 1435 North Oak St., Calistoga, 94515
  3. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa, 95404
  4. Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Dr., Petaluma, 94952
  5. Redwood Empire Fairgrounds, 1005 N. State St., Ukiah, 95482
  6. Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds, 442 Franklin Ave., Yuba City, 95991
  7. Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Rd., Grass Valley, 95945
  8. Marin County Fairgrounds, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, 94903
  9. Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds, 1 Citrus Fair Dr., Cloverdale, 95425
  10. Solano County Fairgrounds, 900 Fairgrounds Dr., Vallejo, 94589
  11. Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 S. P St., Bakersfield, 93307
  12. Mendocino County Fairgrounds, 14400 Highway 128, Boonville, 95415
  13. Orange County Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, 92626
  14. Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, 91769
  15. Dixon May Fairgrounds, 655 S. First St., Dixon, 95620
  16. Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St., Lakeport, 95453
  17. Cal Expo State Fair, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento, 95815

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CDFA joins in celebration of National Farmers Day

CDFA joins with the rest of the country in celebrating National Farmers Day today.  Here are some interesting facts about our farmers and ranchers:

  • There are roughly 3.2 million farmers in the United States—that’s less than 2 percent of our population.
  • Ninety-nine percent of farms are family-owned, and account for 89 percent of agriculture production.
  • The average American farmer grows enough to feed 165 people!
  • USDA’s latest Census of Agriculture found that 25 percent of farmers were “new and beginning” – meaning they had been operating their current farm for fewer than ten years. (But we need lots more new and beginning farmers!)
  • And there are 969,672 women farmers in the United States – that’s nearly 1/3 of all farmers.
  • Farmers are tech-savvy. Satellites, GPS systems, and other new solutions are helping today’s farmers get the most of every acre, drop of water and seed they plant.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

California Association of Food Banks and CA Grown ask Ag to help communities impacted by fires

Photo by Sam Armanino – Eureka Times-Standard

In response to the devastating fires currently raging across California, the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) and CA Grown are asking the state’s farmers and ranchers to consider donating food products to needy food banks across the state.

To connect with a food bank serving communities impacted by the ongoing fires, please contact:

Steve Linkhart | Farm to Family Director
California Association of Food Banks
stevelinkhart@cafoodbanks.org
(510) 350 – 9916

Requested products include: ready to eat foods

Area food banks are also in need of cash donations. Please consider giving to:

Yuba-Sutter Food Bank

Redwood Empire Food Bank 

Community Action of Napa Valley Food Bank

Fort Bragg Food Bank 

As the country’s largest producer of food, California’s agricultural community has willingly stepped up in times of need. Earlier this month, our farmers and ranchers donated over 122 tons of food to needy families through the California Association of Food Bank’s Farm to Family Program.

For those thousands of victims displaced from their homes, a warm meal can make a world of difference. In this time of great suffering, the generosity of California’ agricultural community is great appreciated.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment