CDFA to host FundMatch webinar on April 25th for California food businesses – learn, connect and compete in export markets

The California Department of Food and Agriculture, in coordination with the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA) will be holding a webinar on federal market development programs designed to assist California companies in expanding export sales.

The webinar will be held on April 25th from 9:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. – Register here

Fund Match ManualWUSATA’s FundMatch program provides reimbursement for promotional trade activities for small food and agricultural businesses wishing to expand market share and sales in foreign countries – effectively doubling marketing dollars. Eligible activities can include trade shows (domestic/foreign); advertising; retail promotions; printed sales material; seminars; translation and more.

Food and agricultural based businesses interested in or currently exporting are encouraged to participate.

The Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA) is a non-profit organization aimed at increasing the export of U.S. food and agricultural products. WUSATA works closely with each state department of agriculture in the west to enhance the economic well-being of the region.  For more than 30 years, WUSATA has offered programs and services to assist exporters of food and agricultural products. WUSATA is funded by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), dues from its member states, and administrative fees paid by private companies.

 

Posted in Agricultural Marketing, Trade | Leave a comment

Secretary Ross at dairy digester unveiling in Kings County

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross speaking today at the unveiling of a new dairy digester at Philip Verwey Farms in Hanford. CDFA's Dairy Digester Research and Development Program contributed $3 million for the project, which will provide an estimated greenhouse gas reduction of 53,577 metric tons of CO2e per year – that’s equivalent to 11,317 passenger vehicles.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross speaking today at the unveiling of a new dairy digester at Philip Verwey Farms in Hanford. CDFA’s Dairy Digester Research and Development Program contributed $3 million for the project, which will provide an estimated greenhouse gas reduction of 53,577 metric tons of CO2e per year – that’s equivalent to 11,317 passenger vehicles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secretary Ross greets dairy owner Philip Verwey (R) and his son, Brent.

Secretary Ross greets dairy owner Philip Verwey (L) and his son, Brent, and thanks them for being early adopters of modern dairy digester technology.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Photos: California drought, then and now – from the San Jose Mercury News

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared an end to the state’s water emergency following a five-year drought, thanks to a historically wet winter. Getty Images photographer Justin Sullivan recently revisited areas of California he photographed at the height of the drought, capturing the dramatic changes between the parched landscapes and lush greenery we are seeing today.

WOODACRE, CA - JULY 15, 2014: In this before-and-after composite image, (TOP PHOTO) Horses graze in a field of dead grass on July 15, 2014 in Woodacre, California. As the severe drought in California contiues to worsen, the State's landscape and many resident's lawns are turning brown due to lack of rain and the discontinuation of watering. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) WOODACRE, CA - APRIL 10, 2017: (BOTTOM PHOTO) Horses graze in a field on April 10, 2017 in Woodacre, California. Much of California's landscape has turned from brown to green as California Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order Friday to lift the State's drought emergency in all but four counties. The drought emergency had been in place since 2014. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

JULY 15, 2014: (TOP PHOTO) Horses graze in a field of dead grass on July 15, 2014 in Woodacre, California.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
APRIL 10, 2017: (BOTTOM PHOTO) Horses graze in a field on April 10, 2017 in Woodacre, California.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

 

 

See the original post from the Mercury News here.

Posted in Drought | 1 Comment

Orange County citrus trees threatened by citrus pest and disease – from the Orange County Register

Adult and immature Asian Citrus Psyllid latch onto citrus tree leaves. The insects can infect leaves and stems with Huanglongbing, a citrus disease that kills trees and the fruit on them. (Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture.)

Asian citrus psyllids on a citrus leaf.

CDFA is observing Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month throughout April. The USDA, CDFA and organizations across the agricultural spectrum are reminding the public about the risks that invasive plant pests, diseases and harmful weeds pose to America’s crops and forests—and how we all can prevent their spread

By Brian Whitehead

The winged insect is no bigger than a grain of rice, but it is threatening to destroy California citrus one tree at a time.

Concentrated the last decade-plus in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the Asian citrus psyllid made its way into north Orange County in 2009. Just the other day, a residential tree in La Habra was removed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the first O.C. tree found infected by a lethal bacteria the insect can spread.

To protect the state’s citrus, the ag department has placed at-risk Southern California counties, including Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Barbara and the San Gabriel Valley, under quarantine; citrus plants purchased at a nursery or a farmer’s market within county boundaries must meet regulations to prevent the insect from spreading its bacteria, said Jay Van Rein, a department spokesman.

“A few great plagues have hit citrus over the years,” Van Rein added. “This is right up there.”

(Learn more about the Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing, or citrus greening) 

With origins in humid Florida, where occasional hurricanes spread the insect waywardly, the Asian citrus psyllid leeches on leaves and stems, and can infect citrus trees with Huanglongbing, a bacteria that causes asymmetrical yellowing and molding in leaves, and keeps fruits from ripening.

The disease was first found locally in 2012, in Hacienda Heights. In 2015, a tree was reported in San Gabriel, and last year, Cerritos had its first confirmed case.

All three trees were in residential yards and were removed.

“We’re trying to protect from the disease spreading in residential communities,” said Van Rein, adding that Southern California’s commercial citrus trees – those on golf courses, in parks, on medians on the highway – have remained largely unscathed.

Once a tree is infected, it will die. The disease has no cure.

Residents should call the state’s free pest hotline if they believe the insect has infected a tree in their yard. Officials will remove the tree and prevent the formation of a “reservoir of bacteria, which insects can pick up and move to other trees,” Van Rein said.

“California is the latest citrus-growing region to have this arise on its shore,” Van Rein said, noting cases in Florida, Brazil and China. “We’ve learned a lot from other folks who’ve had it.”

Once a big seller, Scott Brown, who owns Anaheim Wholesale Nursery and Landscape Supply, stopped selling citrus trees a couple of years ago when the cost of treating each one every three months weighed on his checkbook.

Brown said larger chain stores still sell citrus trees, but with red or blue tags on them informing prospective owners when they were last treated.

Though many nurseries have stopped selling such trees, Brown said customer demand has risen. “A lot of people are hunting them out. But they’re not out there.”

Seen easiest when new leaves are growing on the tips of branches, the Asian citrus psyllid produces a white, waxy substance. Citrus tree owners should check leaves and stems monthly for the pest.

“We’re trying to preserve our trees,” Van Rein said. “Buying time for the citrus industry to invest in research to come up with a solution to this.”

Link to article

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bats, allies to farmers, return home to roost in spring

Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) eats a moth in flight. Photo credited to Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation.

Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) eats a moth in flight. Photo credited to Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation.

From the University of California’s Division of Agriuclture and Natural Resources (ANR):

Bats, those night-flying creatures of horror film fame, are beginning to migrate back to the Central Valley. It is an annual journey for most bats, flying south for the winter and returning home in the spring to their birth place to roost and give birth to their own pups during the summer.

“I’m getting a number of calls from people who see bats and are worried about them,” said Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties. “If people see bats on the ground or tucked into eaves, they’re likely resting, not sick, from their long migration north.”

Because the insect-eating winged mammals are important allies to U.S. farmers, Long hopes people won’t harm the bats while they are tired and vulnerable. Bats feed on some of the most damaging crop pests – including the moths of cutworms and armyworms – which helps to protect food crops naturally.

Farmers appreciate the pest control provided by bats and many look forward to having bats return to their farms each year, according to Long, who coauthored a study of farmer perceptions of wildlife recently published online in Conservation Letters, a journal of the Society for Conservation Biology.

“Most of the farmers surveyed reported that they like bats and the pest control and crop protection services they provide,” Long said. “Many put up bat boxes on their farms to provide a home for them.”

Rachael Long shines a flashlight into bat houses to identify bat species inside. Photo courtesy of Bat Conservation International.

Rachael Long shines a flashlight into bat houses to identify bat species inside. Photo courtesy of Bat Conservation International.

In their long journey north, bats need to rest along the way. Sometimes they turn up in areas where they’re not wanted, such as in a corner of a porch or in an eave. The presence of bats is often revealed by their mouse-like droppings, or guano.

“In the sun, the guano sparkles, as it’s made of bits of insect parts, making it a good source of nitrogen for plants,” Long said.

Bats live for about 30 years and bear only one pup a year. Males roost independently of females and their pups, so if you see a lone bat, it’s likely a bachelor.

“If you find a bat, please leave it alone if it’s not bothering anyone because it may be perfectly healthy, just tired,” Long said. “A farmer somewhere may be waiting for that bat to come home to help protect crops from insects.”

If you see a bat on the ground, Long suggests placing a box over it and calling a wildlife rescue organization, such as Northern California Bats in Davis. She recommends wildlife rescue because animal control officers must euthanize all bats they catch to test for rabies, which may be unnecessary unless a person or a pet had contact with the bat.

See the original post by Pamela Kan-Rice on the UC Division of Agriculture and  Natural Resources site here.

Posted in Environment, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) | Leave a comment

Video: Protecting by Collecting – CDFA’s collections of pests, weeds, other organisms help protect our food supply

This video is part of CDFA’s observance of Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month throughout April. USDA, CDFA and organizations across the agricultural spectrum are reminding the public about the risks that invasive plant pests, diseases and harmful weeds pose to America’s crops and forests—and how we all can prevent their spread.

Further information about CDFA’s Plant Pest Diagnostics Center and its various collections is available here.

Posted in Invasive Species | Leave a comment

CDFA introduces industrial hemp FAQs

Hemp

The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act became effective on January 1, 2017. CDFA is developing a program to administer this new law. The first step of this process is to establish an Industrial Hemp Advisory Board. With assistance from the board, CDFA will further develop the registration process, fee structure, regulations, and other administrative details as necessary to provide for the commercial production of industrial hemp in accordance with the act.

Industrial Hemp Program web site

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I grow industrial hemp in California?

All commercial growers of industrial hemp must register with the county agricultural commissioner prior to cultivation. Registration is not yet available. The fees and process for registration will be developed in conjunction with the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board.

An “established agricultural research institution,” as defined in Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) Section 81000, is exempt from registration and may currently grow industrial hemp in California.

How do I register with the state/county to commercially grow industrial hemp?

There is no state registration to grow industrial hemp; only local registration is required. Registration to grow industrial hemp is not yet available.

What is the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board, and how can I participate?

Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) Section 81001 establishes an Industrial Hemp Advisory Board to advise CDFA and make recommendations pertaining to the cultivation of industrial hemp, including industrial hemp seed law and regulations, annual budgets, and the setting of an assessment rate. FAC Section 81001 also outlines the makeup and administration of the Board.

All meetings of the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board will be open to the public. Meeting notices will be posted on the Plant Health Division Meeting Web page, and all interested parties are encouraged to attend and participate.

How can I receive updates regarding industrial hemp regulation?

You can sign up to receive e-mail updates from CDFA regarding industrial hemp by visiting CDFA’s Subscription web page, or by sending a blank e-mail to:

What are the laws and regulations regarding the production of industrial hemp in California?

California’s industrial hemp law can be found in Division 24 of the California Food and Agricultural Code (FAC).

Whom do I contact about the cultivation of other forms of cannabis?

Licensing and regulation for the cultivation of medical and adult-use cannabis is overseen by the CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Program. More information can be found at: http://calcannabis.cdfa.ca.gov/.

Is the CDFA Industrial Hemp Program a pilot program as defined in Farm Bill Section 7606?

No. California law does not provide for CDFA to establish a pilot program or to participate in or promote research projects.

Can I bring hemp seeds into California?

The importation and movement of hemp seeds is restricted under federal law. For information regarding obtaining a federal permit for the importation of hemp seeds, contact the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Can I bring unprocessed hemp into California?

The importation and movement of raw or unprocessed hemp plants or plant parts is restricted under federal law. For information regarding obtaining a federal permit for the importation of unprocessed hemp, contact the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Can I bring processed hemp products into California?

Many processed hemp materials may move freely per 21 C.F.R. 1308.35. For information on the restrictions and requirements that may apply to specific hemp products, contact the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Is industrial hemp federally regulated as a controlled substance?

Hemp is a Schedule I drug according to the federal Controlled Substances Act. Cannabis related activity is subject to federal prosecution, regardless of the protections provided by state law.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Farm Bill for our planet

House-Button_FarmBill

CDFA is in the midst of preparing California’s recommendations for the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is renewed every five years and serves as the policy guideline for food and farming in the United States. The legislation touches all of us in numerous ways, as this series of blog posts explains in greater detail.       

The formula is simple — a healthy planet means healthier, more productive farms.  California’s farmers and ranchers embrace this concept every day. By leveraging the tools provided in the 2014 Farm Bill, California has led the way in on-farm conservation practices, combating climate change, improving habitats, and protecting wildlife. Consider these facts when thinking about California agriculture and its role in protecting habitat life and the environment:

  • 75 percent of California’s private farmland supports wildlife   
  • Our climate smart agricultural practices help save an estimated 546,950 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually (That’s the equivalent of removing 12,000 vehicles from our roads!)
  • By acting as a carbon sink, one acre of California rice can remove up to 23,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Efficient irrigation systems  help save 12.2 billion gallons of water per year

The continued success of environmental stewardship and sustainable management practices depends on a partnership with the federal government. Support for programs in the Conservation and Energy titles of the Farm Bill are instrumental in maintaining the health and productivity of our agricultural lands. Here are some more details about the specific titles and how they assist our farmers and ranchers in maintaining a healthy planet:

Conservation

The Conservation Title is the heart and soul of the Farm Bill’s environmental programs.  It authorizes funding for several conservation programs, including the Conversation Reserve Program, (the CRP), the Environmental Quality Inventive Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program.

Although each of these programs has varying goals and funding, their prerogatives are similar – promote environmental stewardship while protecting the environment.  One program in particular, EQIP, has been particularly successful in allowing California farmers and ranchers to leverage federal assistance to promote a variety of environmental projects. These include improving air quality, addressing wildlife habitats within the California Bay-Delta Central Valley watershed, supporting beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers/ranchers, and creating on-farm energy plans.

Energy

The Farm Bill’s Energy Title allows farmers, ranchers and rural communities across the country to use renewable energy to power their homes while also supporting their agricultural operations.  In California, programs like the Rural Energy for America (REAP) has provided funding to support solar and energy efficiency projects across the state.

The energy title allows California’s specialty crops to also play a role in biofuel research development.  Programs like the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), Biomass Research and Development Initiative, and the Bio Refinery Assistance Program (BAP) allow California commodities like almonds and walnuts to be included as potential sources for biofuel.  A recent study found that a blend of almond biodiesel with regular diesel fuel reduced greenhouse gas and total particulate emissions, when compared to diesel fuel alone.  This sort of research is not only promising, it also demonstrates how California farmers and ranchers will continue to play a vital role in supporting sustainability and environmental stewardship in the years ahead.

A future farm bill must remain committed to supporting, developing and embracing robust conservation practices. As the country’s leader in the fight against climate change, California farmers and ranchers will continue to utilize the tools provided in the Farm Bill to maintain the health and quality of their operations, while also improving the environment around them.

Posted in Environment, Farm Bill, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CDFA Career Fair attracts 100+ job seekers, from students to scientists

CDFA held its second annual career fair at its Gateway Oaks offices in Sacramento on April 7, 2017. Job openings cover the full spectrum of programs at CDFA, including plant and animal health; dairy food safety; weights and measures; alternative fuels; information technology; marketing; climate smart agriculture; oversight programs for certified farmers markets and organic agriculture; and administration and other support functions.

More information about openings and examinations at CDFA is available here.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

CARB opens grant solicitation for Off-Road Mobile Agricultural Equipment Trade-Up Pilot Project in the San Joaquin Valley

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is pleased to announce its Grant Solicitation for the Off-Road Mobile Agricultural Equipment Trade-Up Pilot Project in the San Joaquin Valley (Trade-Up Pilot Project). The solicitation includes the option for a new Grant Agreement for the 2017-18 fiscal year. Funding of up to $3,000,000 for this project was approved by the Board in October 2016 as part of the FY 2016-17 Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation Investments and the Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP).

The Trade-Up Pilot Project is a sequential and necessary step for CARB to assess the feasibility of a new, multi-step type of equipment incentive intended for owners of high-emitting mobile agricultural equipment in the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin that may not qualify for existing voluntary incentive funding (i.e., Carl Moyer Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, etc.), and for which new equipment purchases are not practical.

This competitive solicitation is open to California-based public entities. The Grantee (applicant) may subcontract with public, private or California-based non-profit organizations. The Grant Solicitation and all associated documents may be found on CARB’s webpage at http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/aqip/solicitations.htm.

Applications are due to CARB by 5:00 p.m. (PST), Friday, April 21, 2017.

Further information about the grant program and details for an April 14 applicant teleconference are available online here.

 

Posted in Environment | Leave a comment