Video – Rice fields and wildlife

Videos from the California Rice Commission

Northern California rice fields demonstrate what are known as ecosystem services – multiple benefits gained from farming and ranching, including crop and livestock production. Please visit CDFA’s database of ecosystem services throughout the state.

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The Super Bowl of chicken wings

Will Americans be ‘winging it’ for the Big Game? The National Chicken Council (NCC) has released its annual Chicken Wing Report, and the answer is a resounding “yes!”  NCC projects Americans’ consumption of the unofficial gameday menu staple – the chicken wing – will hit an all-time high at 1.38 billion wings during Super Bowl LIII weekend, as the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots battle for the Lombardi Trophy. This figure is up two percent, or about 27 million wings, from 2018.

How do 1.38 billion chicken wings measure up?

  • If 1.38 billion wings were laid end to end, they would stretch 28 times from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
  • 38 billion wings weigh 6,600 times more than the combined weight of both the Patriots’ and Rams’ entire rosters.
  • Enough to put 640 wings on every seat in all 31 NFL stadiums.  
  • Enough to circle the Earth 3 times.
  • If each wing were one second, 1.38 billion wings would be 44 years.  
  • That’s 4 wings for every man, woman and child in the United States.

#GoChicken

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CalCannabis: 2018 by the numbers

More information at the CalCannabis web site.

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#CDFACentennial – a century of work against Bovine Tuberculosis

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a state agency in 2019. Throughout the year this blog will feature a number of items to commemorate this milestone. This post is about Bovine Tuberculosis, a disease that has been eliminated in California. Due to the hard work of farmers, ranchers, and veterinarians at CDFA and in private practice, the state’s cattle have been tuberculosis-free since August 2016. But here’s how it looked way back in 1920.  

NOTE – With the widespread pasteurization of milk in the 20th Century, the risk of bovine tuberculosis to human health was greatly reduced.

#CDFACentennial

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New report from American Farmland Trust: women landowners impact conservation practices


Nearly 301 million acres of U.S. land—about a third of the nation’s land in farms—are now farmed or co-farmed by women, and at least 87 million additional acres are in the hands of women landowners.

From Morning Ag Clips

American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement “No Farms No Food,” has published its Women for the Land Program report, “Testing the Women Landowner Conservation Learning Circle Model.” The report, along with illustrative profiles and videos, further supports previous research that women landowners are important in the broader implementation of conservation practices on farms. The interviews also show women-only learning circles work as a means for expanding conservation actions and women who participated want to learn more.

AFT believes supporting this underserved group is critical to more wide spread adoption of environmentally sound farming practices.

Nearly 301 million acres of U.S. land—about a third of the nation’s land in farms—are now farmed or co-farmed by women, and at least 87 million additional acres are in the hands of women landowners. Research shows many women farmers and landowners have a strong conservation and stewardship ethic. They are deeply committed to healthy farmland, farm families and farm communities. However, women face gender barriers affecting their ability to manage their land for long-term sustainability. And while women increasingly are the primary decision makers on farms and inclined towards conservation, they are underrepresented in use of USDA conservation programs.

To help address these issues, AFT launched Women for the Land. Inspired by the Women, Food and Agriculture Network’s Women Caring for the Land program, the initiative includes women-only learning circles designed to break down gender gaps and expand women landowners’ knowledge and confidence. Between 2014 and 2017, AFT, WFAN and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service facilitated 13 learning circles in Illinois and 31 in Indiana.

Jerry Raynor, state conservationist for NRCS in Indiana, is sold on the learning circle concept.  “This type of outreach is new for our agency. We’re usually trying to reach the masses at our field days or workshops, however these women’s learning circles are small and intimate.  You can actually see women connecting and forming relationships. We are hearing about actions these women are taking and it’s exciting to know we are making a difference in their lives.”

The results of the participant interviews published in this report reveal the value of the program and the real-life impact it can have on the land. Women reported taking action as a result of attending the learning circles, including talking to family members about conservation, speaking with their renter specifically about conservation or implementing conservation measures on their land.

“We know from previous survey work done by WFAN that anywhere from 50-70 percent of women who attend a conservation learning circle take a conservation action within 6-12 months of attending,” said Jennifer Filipiak, AFT Midwest director.

She continued, “With this research we wanted to explore further what kinds of actions they take.  We were thrilled to learn 72 percent of the women who attended learning circles were inspired to take action.  But even more exciting is for 23 percent of these women, their efforts resulted in an immediate change that benefited their land – after attending just one learning circle!”

According to NRCS Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier, “Our agency and the programs, assistance and practices we offer can’t accomplish anything without willing and interested private landowners. To find a new and motivated customer base that needs and wants to do the right thing to protect soil and water resources? Nothing could make me happier.”

Anecdotally, the interviews showed women are hungry for the connections and knowledge that can be gained through these meetings. Many expressed the hope for follow-up meetings and additional guidance from expert staff, especially on financial management issues and conservation related assistance.

There’s more work to be done. “Despite having attended learning circles, women may still face barriers. Some of the women who didn’t act said they were concerned about the consequences to their relationship with their farmer if they worked to take more conservation measures. “Our goal is to make them feel more comfortable being an advocate for their land,” stated Heather Bacher, coordinator for Women4theLand, an initiative that has emerged in Indiana as a result of the collaboration with NRCS, AFT and other conservation organizations who share a desire to reach this audience.  “We are thrilled to be working with AFT and others to provide women with the resources they need to be successful,” she added.

In the works are materials to help landowners “start the conversation” with their farmers and vice versa. AFT learned some women are hesitant to talk to their tenant – most all of whom are male — as they don’t want to imply that he’s not a good farmer. They view the farmer as the expert. And, on the farmer side, these conversations can cause him to fear he will lose the land to another tenant. Providing a tool that helps to address these questions and move forward together, AFT believes, will facilitate more productive conversations.

AFT is also expanding the program to additional states– currently running learning circles in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and California.  To identify regional differences and plan for further expansion, AFT is conducting a survey of non-operating landowners across 11 states where there is a high percentage of rented land.

Link to Morning Ag Clips

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Healthy Soils: CDFA hosts Chinese delegation

CDFA secretary Karen Ross welcomed a Chinese delegation to agency headquarters for a discussion of healthy soils.

CDFA recently hosted a Chinese delegation visiting to learn more about the department’s Healthy Soils Program. The delegation was comprised of directors and agronomists from China’s agricultural extension services, similar to the University of California Cooperative Extension service.

The delegation was welcomed by CDFA secretary Karen Ross, who stressed the importance of agricultural extension services in ensuring we have the best and latest science to help our farmers produce a safe, affordable and nutritious food supply.

Dr. Guihua Chen and Dr. Geetika Joshi of the CDFA Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation provided background information on the Healthy Soils Program and fielded questions from the 19-member delegation. Dr. Chen, originally from China, presented to the delegation in their native language of Mandarin. Visiting delegations like this are important to CDFA in order to continue international collaborations and information-sharing about agricultural and food-production systems and related efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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Excellence in Public Service: Bob Wynn, Statewide Coordinator for CDFA’s Pierce’s Disease Control Program since its inception in 2000, leaves state service

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross thanked and congratulated Bob Wynn for his exemplary career with CDFA, and presented a resolution commending Bob for his service from Assembly Member Cecilia M. Aguiar-Curry, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Wine, on behalf of the California State Legislature.

Bob Wynn was appointed Statewide Coordinator for the newly created Pierce’s Disease Control Program in December 2000 – but his professional path to that position began 25 years before when he followed in the footsteps of his father, Robert Wynn, Sr., and began his career with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. He worked his way through the organization’s Inspection Services and Plant Health divisions, eventually leading each of them, before then-Governor Gray Davis approved the creation of the PD program and affirmed the industry’s and the department’s decision to put Bob at its helm.

Today, at 2019’s first joint meeting of the Pierce’s Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board and Advisory Task Force, Bob’s colleagues and staff said “thank you” and “farewell” as they shared memories of the program’s inception and the many challenges – and successes – along the way. Bob Wynn leaves the board and the program in good stead, with solutions for Pierce’s Disease in the pipeline in the form of disease-resistant rootstocks, and several other promising and creative approaches under development, thanks to the robust research regimen that has been part of this effort since the beginning.

Along the way, Bob earned a reputation as a masterful communicator, an empowering leader and an encouraging boss. Bob embraced and employed principles of transparency and consensus-building that helped establish this exemplary, cooperative program as a model. Colleagues became friends; employees became family. Those relationships became the foundation of Bob’s success as a public servant.

In recent years, Bob has also served as Senior Advisor to CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, who came to the department eight years ago but was also instrumental in the initial development of the PD program in her capacity then as president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

“I am so grateful to Bob Wynn for his years of dedicated service to agriculture, the Department of Food and Agriculture and to the citizens of this state,” said Secretary Ross. “Bob’s leadership, institutional knowledge and insights, management skills and investment in building relationships with partners that quickly turn into friendships that last a lifetime have contributed mightily to the success of the Pierce’s Disease Program and many other initiatives of CDFA. I am personally indebted to him for agreeing to stay during my term as Secretary to serve as a Senior Advisor. It is hard to imagine doing this job without Bob Wynn on the team!”

Cheers, Bob. Your leadership of this program, your dedication to this department and your exemplary service to this industry and this state are sincerely appreciated.

Posted in Glassy-winged Sharpshooter, Pierce's Disease | 2 Comments

Tulare County third-grader grows prize-winning giant cabbage

Chase Tienken, a third-grader at Rockford School in Porterville, poses with his prize-winning 20-pound specimen in the Bonnie Plants National 3rd Grade Cabbage Contest. Chase was named the California winner, earning a $1,000 scholarship check, a winner’s certificate, and a letter of congratulations from CDFA secretary Karen Ross. He’ll be honored next month at a ceremony at his school. Way to go, Chase!
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Organic price premiums dip as demand grows, choices multiply – from Associated Press

By Dee Ann Durbin

U.S. shoppers are still paying more for organic food, but the price premium is falling as organic options multiply.

Last year, organic food and beverages cost an average of 24 cents more per unit than conventional food, or about 7.5 percent more, according to Nielsen. That was down from a 27 cent, or 9 percent, premium in 2014.

There’s a lot of variation within those numbers. The average price for a gallon of organic milk — $4.76 — is 88 percent higher than the $2.53 shoppers pay for a gallon of regular milk. Organic eggs have an 86 percent premium. At $4.89 per loaf, organic bread is double the cost of regular bread.

Parents buying organic baby food, on the other hand, pay just 3 percent more than they would for conventional baby food. In mid-January, a bunch of organic kale was 5 percent more than organic kale, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some organic products — like artichokes, soy milk and Granny Smith apples — may even cost less than their conventional counterparts.

There are many shifting factors behind the prices for organic foods. Premiums for milk and eggs tend to be much higher, for example, because the government has very specific rules for what “organic” means. For example, cows producing organic milk must be allowed to graze for at least one-third of their food intake, says Jeremy Moghtader, the manager of the campus farm at the University of Michigan.

The rules “have real benefits to the animal, the consumer and environment, but they do increase the price of production,” Moghtader said.

Organic and conventional vegetables are grown in similar ways, so the price difference tends to be lower. Organic farmers can save money by not using pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, but they may have to pay more for workers to pull weeds or control bugs, Moghtader said.

One reason organic premiums are falling is the increase in products on the shelves. Organics used to be confined to health food stores and high-end groceries like Whole Foods, but mainstream stores are increasingly offering them. Kroger, one of the nation’s largest grocery chains, says it stocks 9,000 organic items in its stores and notched $1 billion in organic produce sales in 2017.

On a recent weekday, Kroger was selling Simple Truth organic orange juice — its in-house brand — for $3.49 for 52 fluid ounces. That was $1 more than the same size of conventional Kroger-brand orange juice, or 49 cents more than conventional Tropicana-brand orange juice.

Costco’s Kirkland Signature store brand introduced organic eggs in 2007 and organic beef in 2012. Walmart’s Great Value store brand sells a 15-ounce can of organic pumpkin for $1.88; that’s just 10 cents more than conventional Libby’s brand canned pumpkin.

Consumer demand also impacts prices. Right now, demand for organics is outpacing supply in many categories. U.S. sales of fast-moving consumer goods — a category that includes food, beverages and toiletries — were flat last year, but sales of organic goods jumped 9 percent, Nielsen said.

Millennial households are leading that charge, as they stock up on organic milk and baby food for their children. But other generations are also buying more organic products. Overall, 88 percent of American households have bought organic food or beverages.

“Consumers are more focused on products that have some benefit to them,” Sarah Schmansky, a vice president of growth and strategy at Nielsen.

In some cases, organics are breathing life back into dusty grocery aisles. Sales of conventional lunchmeat and cheese at the deli counter had been weakening, since consumers didn’t want to wait for them to be sliced. But buyers seeking fresh, organic options are returning to the deli. Sale of organic deli lunchmeat have risen an average of 18 percent annually over the last four years, while organic deli cheese sales are up 26 percent.

Schmansky said food scares — like E. coli outbreaks traced to lettuce — are also leading some consumers to organic labels because they trust them.

While price premiums may continue to drop, it’s difficult to say if they’ll ever go away entirely, says Ryan Koory, a senior economist at Mercaris, a data firm that tracks organic agriculture.

Looser government policies and crop insurance programs better tailored to small organic farms could help lower those premiums, Koory said.

A recession could also lower consumer demand for organics, and therefore their price premiums. But if the last recession is any guide, those premiums could bounce back quickly.

Link to story

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Wine Institute donates archive to UC Davis

By Jessica Nusbaum and Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis

Airline menus boasting California wines, vineyard growing histories and even a movie screenplay set during Prohibition are among the latest additions to the wine collections of the library at the University of California, Davis.

Wine Institute, the leading association for the California wine industry, has donated its organizational archives and book collection to UC Davis. They complement the extensive wine collections already at the university and will help researchers understand how the California wine industry recovered from Prohibition and rose to the level of international prominence it enjoys today.

“We’re delighted to see our materials become part of the university’s rich collection on California wine and to make them broadly available to scholars, researchers, writers and wineries,” said Robert P. “Bobby” Koch, president and CEO of the institute.

“The three most significant organizational archives covering the rise of California wine since Prohibition are those from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, and Wine Institute,” said Axel Borg, the library’s wine subject specialist. “We had the government papers and the scientific research. Now we have the leading industry voice represented as well.”

The Wine Institute Records on the American Wine Industry — currently being cataloged by the library and available for public use by early summer — cover the 20th century after the repeal of Prohibition. They include:

  • the collected works of Maupin, an 18th-century French viticulturalist who made significant contributions to the understanding of grape growing
  • a photography archive including more than 2,200 images of vineyards, wineries, grape varietals, winemaking, harvesting, events, promotion and more — mostly dating from the 1930s to 1960s
  • winery survey data, county records and regional growing histories
  • speeches by wine scholars, producers and writers
  • wine lists and menus
  • approximately 4,000 wine labels
  • materials related to wine and popular culture, such as the screenplay for the 1959 film, This Earth Is Mine, set and filmed in the Napa Valley

Leading industry voice on California wine

Formed in 1934 following the repeal of Prohibition, Wine Institute leads public policy advocacy in all 50 states, federally and internationally on behalf of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that represent 81 percent of U.S. wine production and more than 90 percent of U.S. wine exports.

‘Greatest wine library in the world’

The UC Davis Library, which has been called the “greatest wine library in the world,” already holds the papers of many of the leaders who shaped the wine industry in California and beyond, including former UC Davis professors Maynard Amerine and Harold Olmo; winemakers Robert Mondavi and Martin Ray; and California-based wine writers Leon AdamsBob Thompson and Charles Sullivan.

Link to item on UC Davis web site

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