California Farm Bureau honors young farmers – from Western Farm Press

A diversified farmer from Tulare County and a farm couple from Glenn County have earned awards for achievement and excellence among young farmers and ranchers in California. They received the awards during the 100th California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Zack Stuller of Exeter received the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award, which recognizes accomplishments in production agriculture and leadership activity.

Shannon and Kelly Douglass of Orland received the Excellence in Agriculture Award, presented to young agricultural professionals who contribute through involvement in agriculture, leadership activities and Farm Bureau.

A first-generation farmer, Stuller became interested in agriculture while growing up in Northern California, eventually earning agricultural degrees from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After working for several years as a farm manager in the San Joaquin Valley, he started his own operation last year, farming and managing citrus fruit, kiwifruit and walnuts. His company also helps develop farmland for permanent crops. Stuller serves as treasurer of the Tulare County Farm Bureau and has taken a particular interest in water policy, serving on the county water commission and on the stakeholder committees for two local groundwater-sustainability agencies.

Shannon Douglass operates an agricultural recruitment business. She was elected last year as CFBF first vice president and also serves as a member of the Glenn County Farm Bureau board. Her husband Kelly is a seed sales representative. Together, the couple raise beef cattle and grow sunflowers, watermelons, squash, pumpkins, corn and hay.

Asked to name three important issues facing agriculture, the Douglasses cited regulation, the shortage of qualified agricultural employees, and the need to increase awareness of agriculture among non-farm residents. As farmers, they said, “we feel the pain of each and every regulation with which we must comply,” noting that paperwork becomes “a heavy burden and daunting task” for people trying to start a farming operation.

As winners of their respective awards, Stuller and the Douglasses each earned a $4,000 cash prize sponsored by Farm Credit, Kubota and K·Coe Isom. Stuller also earned 250 hours’ use of a Kubota tractor, furnished by Kubota Tractor Corp.

The winners will represent California in national competitions to be held next month at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in New Orleans.

Link to article

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A groundwater recharge call to action – from the University of California

From the UC’s Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative

There are only two ways to reduce groundwater overdraft: decrease pumping or increase recharge.

While addressing California’s overdraft will certainly require both actions, we convened a meeting of water management experts around groundwater recharge. The goal of the “Recharge Roundtable” was to address California’s severe groundwater overdraft problem through actions that would produce substantial increases in recharge in the next five years.

As a collaboration between the Groundwater Resources Association of California and the University of California Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative (UCWSSRI), we aimed to motivate focused actions that effect large quantities of recharge and produce regional benefits. The Recharge Roundtable participants and organizers produced a call to action, organized around six key questions and related action steps:

  1. How much water is hydrologically available for recharge?
  2. How much water can be recharged in different hydrogeologic environments?
  3. What are the legal and regulatory bottlenecks, and how can they be eliminated or reduced?
  4. How can hundreds to thousands of recharge projects be incentivized?
  5. What changes in reservoir reoperation and conveyance are needed?
  6. What are the water quality benefits and concerns for recharge?

It is increasingly obvious that tantalizing possibilities for increasing recharge to California’s aquifers exist, yet state and local water agencies and stakeholders are not sufficiently prepared to capitalize on those possibilities. This call to action is intended to help our state prepare.

Link to UCWSSRI web site

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CDFA veterinarian honored by equine practitioners group

Dr. Kent Fowler was honored this month in San Francisco.

From a news release

Dr. Kent Fowler, a CDFA veterinarian and chief of the agency’s Animal Health Branch, has been recognized with a Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).

The Distinguished Service Award honors exemplary service to the AAEP or a similar organization to the benefit of the horse, horse industry or profession of equine veterinary medicine. Dr. Fowler was honored Dec. 4 during the President’s Luncheon at the AAEP’s 64th Annual Convention in San Francisco.

Dr. Fowler received his veterinary degree in 1977 from the University of California, Davis. Before joining CDFA in 2004, he practiced large animal medicine on the central coast of California.

As host of the monthly National Equine Conference Call, Dr. Fowler facilitates ongoing communication about pertinent veterinary topics between the American Horse Council, AAEP, National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials, United States Department of Agriculture and industry. In addition, he works with state animal health officials and the USDA to develop acceptable protocols for treatment and subsequent testing of horses for equine piroplasmosis, a tick-borne disease that can be fatal. Since the initial discussions of this treatment option, multiple horses have been treated successfully.

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UC Davis veterinarian uses fish skin to heal animals burned in Camp Fire – video from CBS SF Bay Area

Dr. Jamie Peyton, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service with the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, is assisting veterinarians in the Chico-area by using sterilized tilapia skins to treat burns on dogs and cats injured in the Camp Fire.

Peyton first used the procedure on two bears and a mountain lion burned in the Thomas Fire in Ventura County in 2017. She also treated a bear cub burned in this year’s Carr Fire  in the Redding-area.

“We’re trying to change burn care for animals,” said Peyton. “Tilapia skins act as a dermal substitute that provides pain relief and protection and helps these wounds heal better.”

Tilapia skin can transfer collagen, a healing protein, to the burned skin. It also reduces the need for frequent bandage changes, which can be quite painful for animals.

See this UC Davis blog post on the practice


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Secretary Ross joins California almond growers to discuss sustainability goals for 2025

CDFA secretary Karen Ross joined the Almond Board of California this week at a meeting to introduce and discuss the board’s sustainability goals for 2025. The goals are:

  1. Further reduce the water used to grow almonds.
  2. Increase adoption of environmentally friendly pest management tools.
  3. Achieve zero waste in orchards.
  4. Improve local air quality during almond harvest.

Secretary Ross participated in a video about these goals.

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CDFA joins recognition of World Soil Day

Farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations around the globe today are celebrating “World Soil Day,” a day designated by the food and agriculture arm of the United Nations to celebrate soil and its nexus with human well-being, climate stabilization, and vibrant ecosystems.

With a growing population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, healthy soils enhance agricultural production and are key to food global security. Healthy soils increase water retention, enhance biodiversity, capture atmospheric carbon, and play an important role mitigating climate change.

CDFA is deeply committed to this issue through its Healthy Soils Program, which provides grant funding to farmers and ranchers implementing practices to reduce greenhouse gases and improve soil health. In 2017 and 2018 the agency funded 110 projects covering more than 8,600 acres in California, with $7.5 million in funding from the California Climate Investments fund. CDFA has received $15 million to fund additional on-farm practices in 2019.

In September of this year, Governor Brown signed Executive Order B-55-18, setting a new statewide goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. Soil carbon sequestration–which is facilitated by the Healthy Soils Program–is among the practices identified to achieve this goal and is part of California’s working lands strategy.

At the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco earlier this year, California and France announced the Global Soil Health Challenge.  Pictured from left: Paul Luu, 4 per 1,000 Initiative; CDFA Secretary Karen Ross; Murielle Trouillet, France’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food; CDFA Undersecretary Jenny Lester Moffitt

Additionally, CDFA has joined the governments of France, the Netherlands and Baja California to initiate the Global Soil Health Challenge, which calls on governments around the world – both national and sub-national – to include programs that restore soil health under their national plans to meet their targets under the Paris Agreement. The challenge will set the stage for international collaboration between scientists, farmers and financiers on an ongoing basis in efforts to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by capturing more carbon in the planet’s soils.



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CDFA’s Border Protection Stations assist partner agencies in recycling container enforcement

Note – CDFA routinely works with CalRecycle and the Department of Justice to provide information about used beverage containers entering the state at Border Protection Stations. The agencies have also teamed-up to conduct several interdiction efforts on roads commonly used to bypass the stations. 

From a news release from the California Attorney General’s office

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline, in partnership with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, have announced the arrest of three individuals for allegedly defrauding California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program by trying to import beverage containers sold in Arizona into California to be redeemed for their recycling value.

California’s beverage container recycling program, administered by CalRecycle, encourages recycling at privately-owned centers through a 5- to 10-cent return on eligible beverage containers. Recycling centers are responsible for ensuring that only eligible bottles and cans that are sold in California are redeemed.

“California’s recycling program is one of many publicly-funded programs used to incentivize better treatment of our environment and communities. Those who choose to undercut these efforts to protect and improve our community will be apprehended,” said Attorney General Becerra. “My office will continue to work with law enforcement agencies across state lines to detect and stop criminal activity, and hold perpetrators accountable.”

“The cross-border partnership between the California Department of Justice and Arizona’s law enforcement community sends a clear signal that organized criminal groups have no safe space to operate recycling fraud schemes,” said CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline. “CalRecycle and its law enforcement partners will continue to follow these investigations wherever they lead to protect public funds and the integrity of California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program.”

The arrests are the result of a five-month investigation, which led to the seizure of 27,860 pounds of empty beverage containers from California-bound semi-trucks at a collection yard in Phoenix. The seized beverage containers had a potential redemption value of $41,836.80. The defendants operated a company—Bustillos’ Trucking—which the complaint alleges was operated for the sole purpose of defrauding California’s recycling program for a three-year period.

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CDFA joins PUC and CA Air Resources Board in selection of dairy biomethane participants for gas pipeline pilot project

From a California Public Utilities Commission news release

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) have announced funding for six pilot projects in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys designed to demonstrate the collection of biomethane from dairy digesters and its injection into natural gas pipelines. The production of biomethane from organic waste products, including animal manure, eliminates significant emissions of methane to the atmosphere.

The selected project locations and developers are:

  1. South Tulare: California Bioenergy
  2. North Visalia: California Bioenergy
  3. Buttonwillow: California Bioenergy
  4. Merced (CEE): Maas Energy Works
  5. Lakeside: Maas Energy Works
  6. Weststeyn: DVO, Inc.

The CPUC created the dairy biomethane pilot program as part of the state’s s strategy to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane. Legislation adopted in 2016 requires the state to reduce methane emissions from the dairy and other livestock sectors by 40 percent by 2030. The interagency committee that selected the projects consisted of representative from the CPUC, CARB, and CDFA.

“The pilots chosen will provide us with valuable information about the interconnection process and hopefully facilitate other biomethane projects,” said CPUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen.

Forty-five dairies will participate in the pilot projects, which will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by putting dairy methane waste to beneficial use as a renewable transportation fuel.  The six projects will receive approximately $319 million in infrastructure investments and operation expenses over the next 20 years.

The dairy biomethane projects were mandated in Senate Bill 1383 (Lara, 2016) and implemented in a CPUC decision available at:  For additional information, please visit:

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Winegrape growers focus post-fire efforts on research

News release from the Lake County Winegrape Commission

With an increase in the number and duration of large wildfires, the California wine industry is working together to explore ways to combat the effect of smoke exposure and fire damage on winegrapes and wine. Industry leaders in Lake County, a region that has experienced multiple devastating wildfires in recent years, are leveraging data gathered from fires as a means to find solutions that will help wineries and grape growers minimize the impact from these natural disasters.

The Lake County Winegrape Commission (LCWC) is collaborating with the California Association of Winegrape Growers in CAWG’s effort to seek support from Congress by expanding the scope of an existing disaster assistance bill; additional collaborators include Lake County Farm BureauMendocino Winegrowers Inc., and Mendocino County Farm Bureau. The request by CAWG and industry collaborators identifies the need for $5.25 million in funding to support intensive research to prevent and limit the effect of smoke on winegrapes during a wildfire. The research funding would support development of protective materials that can be applied in the vineyards and more accurate testing protocols for smoke compounds.

“We hope our collaborations are able to propel a more precise understanding of wildfire impacts on winegrapes,” said Debra Sommerfield, President of the LCWC. “It’s our intent to support innovative new findings that will not only further the understanding of impacts for winegrape growers in Lake County, but also set a precedent for the importance of future research across Northern California.”

To further understand the effects of smoke from wildland fires on grapes and wines, the LCWC initiated a collaborative research project in an effort to provide actionable insights. This research project comprises regional sampling, data gathering, weather- and fire-related GIS modeling, and sensory analysis. Project partners include UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension, ETS Laboratories, the Australian Wine Research Institute, Western Weather Group, Lake County Air Quality Management District, and individual winegrape growers and vintners.

Link to news release

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From the Growing California video series – Lemon Appeal

With citrus season underway in California, CDFA offers an encore presentation of “Lemon Appeal” from its award-winning Growing California video series.

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