Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones discusses Avian Flu safeguards

CDFA sick bird hotline: 1-866-922-BIRD (2473)

Link to CDFA Avian Flu page

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Secretary Ross on California Public Service Recognition Week

California Public Service Recognition Week is May 1-7

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Video — Eggs, dairy and regenerative farming

Through regenerative farming practices, Alexandre Family Farm achieves sustainable water conservation goals in its production of eggs and dairy products. Located in Northern California’s Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the farm also focuses on healthy soils.

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CDFA partners in state Extreme Heat Action Plan to protect communities from rising temperatures

Taken a Governor’s Office news release

Amid intensifying climate impacts, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that the state has released an Extreme Heat Action Plan outlining a strategic and comprehensive set of state actions to adapt and strengthen resilience to extreme heat. The announcement comes on the heels of a heat wave earlier this month in Long Beach that reached a high of 101°F, nine degrees hotter than the record high in April 2014.
“Extreme heat driven by climate change endangers the lives and livelihoods of Californians in every corner of our state, and threatens our vital natural systems,” said Governor Newsom. “The Extreme Heat Action Plan is a critical part of California’s commitment to strengthening community resilience and will guide partnerships and investments in equitable solutions to protect all Californians.”

With the launch of this plan, the Newsom Administration is announcing an all-of-government approach to address extreme heat across four action areas:

  • Building Public Awareness and Notification:  The Administration will prioritize the needs of high-risk California communities most impacted by extreme heat by increasing access to timely and appropriate information and resources that can help them stay safer. The most impacted groups include people experiencing housing insecurity, outdoor workers, older adults, young children, and people with existing health conditions. Additionally, the public awareness effort includes actions to equip communities, governments, and tribes with easily accessible data.
  • Strengthening Community Services and Response: The burden of extreme heat falls disproportionately on rural and disadvantaged communities and California Native American tribes. The community services and response effort includes a suite of actions that reduce heat exposure, build communities’ capacity to respond to heat events, support local climate adaptation planning and implementation, and advance heat illness prevention standards for indoor and outdoor workers.  
  • Increasing Resilience of the Built Environment: As temperatures increase and heat waves become more frequent and severe, the cascading impacts of extreme heat on infrastructure and the environment exacerbate risks to people, the economy, and the natural environment. The built environment track includes actions to protect critical energy, transportation, and other infrastructure, support heat-resilient communities through relevant regulations and codes, and scale weatherization and cooling technologies.
  • Utilizing Nature-Based Solutions: Nature-based solutions deliver multiple benefits, including addressing extreme heat by cooling communities, providing strategic shade, and regulating temperature of buildings and surfaces during extreme heat events. This track includes actions to promote nature-based solutions to reduce extreme heat risks, support nature’s ability to withstand and adapt to increasing temperatures and reduce heat risk to water supply and systems.

CDFA is participating in the plan by helping to build awareness of extreme heat conditions for worker safety, working to create climate resilience centers, administering investments in the Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program, addressing animal mortality during extreme heat events, working with school districts on edible gardens and farm-to-school programs, and facilitating nature-based solutions such as building healthy soils for crop resilience, among other initiatives.

Projections from the state’s best climate science forecast that all of California will be impacted in the years and decades to come by higher average temperatures and more frequent and life-threatening heat waves, impacting public health and safety, economic prosperity, and communities and natural systems –  with profoundly disproportionate consequences for the most vulnerable Californians. Extreme heat ranks amongst the deadliest of all climate change hazards, with structural inequities playing a significant role in the capacity of individuals, workers, and communities to protect and adapt to its effects.

In partnership with the Legislature, Governor Newsom advanced an $800 million package in last year’s budget to protect California’s communities from heat. The package includes $300 million to support implementation of the Extreme Heat Action Plan and numerous other investments that protect communities, the economy, and natural systems from extreme heat. The Governor is proposing to allocate this additional funding in the 2022-23 budget to support the implementation of the Extreme Heat Action Plan.

Governor Newsom has put forward a historic $37.6 billion climate package – more than what most other countries are spending – to protect all Californians from the costs and impacts of climate change, while accelerating efforts to reduce the dependence on big polluters and fossil fuels.

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Sustainable dairy partnership between CDFA and Denmark commemorated during MOU signing

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross today joined Denmark’s Food, Agriculture and Fisheries minister, Rasmus Prehn, at the Stanford Mansion in Sacramento to commemorate in-person their 2021 virtual signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Sustainable Dairy Production.
Secretary Ross at the event: “Dairy is the leading agricultural commodity in our state (by value of production). We have a goal of reducing methane emissions by 40 percent from 2013 by 2030– eight short years away–and collaboration and the sharing of information are critical to meeting our goals. Denmark’s partnership only strengthens our opportunity to meet and exceed our goals in methane reduction and further-sustainable dairy production.”
The event was followed by a Sustainable Dairy Seminar, with presentations from dairy industry experts and scientists from throughout California.

Visit this link for more information on CDFA’s methane-reducing dairy digester and manure management programs.

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CDFA veterinarian appointed to national leadership position for work on antimicrobial use

CDFA veterinarian Dr. Edie Marshall

Dr. Edie Marshall, manager of CDFA’s landmark Antimicrobial Use and Stewardship Program, has been appointed to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Committee on Antimicrobials, a select group of national experts on this issue.

The AVMA is the nation’s leading advocate for veterinary principles, representing more than 99,500 members. The Committee on Antimicrobials is arguably the most influential body in the United States working to promote, protect, and advance the veterinary profession related to antimicrobial use. The committee reviews and supports comprehensive recommendations for policy with legislators, regulators, the marketplace, and other stakeholders. Further, the committee serves as the lead AVMA entity in the Association’s collaboration stakeholders, including human medical entities (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in a One Health approach to the overarching issue of antimicrobial resistance.

For more information related to CDFA’s Antimicrobial Use and Stewardship program visit our website here, and for information on the AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials, visit their website here.

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California’s rivers could help protect state from flood and drought — from the Public Policy Institute of California

From an interview on the PPIC Water Policy Blog

Julie Rentner is president of River Partners, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing life back to California’s rivers and communities. With the state in the grip of an historic drought, and increasingly extreme swings between wet and dry periods, we asked Rentner to tell us more about the benefits of river restoration in a changing climate.

Despite the current drought, we know that floods remain a major concern. How can rivers help with flood management?

Central Valley rivers have always conveyed excess runoff out to the Delta and the bay. The valley was once a gigantic wetland, and we’ve spent the last 150 years draining and channelizing that water, and storing it in reservoirs. But as the climate warms and we see more rain than snow, larger deluges are running off at a faster rate than ever before. Rivers may have to convey up to five times as much floodwater past farms and cities over the next 50 years.

The problem is, larger floods are running through a system that’s constrained by levees. The lower Tuolumne River and the San Joaquin River are some of the most flood-challenged portions of our river systems. State and federal levees were built right up to the river’s edge, which doesn’t give the water much space to spread out. The levees were engineered poorly, and they haven’t been adequately maintained. In the historic 1997 flood, levees broke in 17 places. Most levee systems will face challenges—if not failures—in the next big flood. The water needs a safe conveyance corridor through cities including Modesto, Manteca, Lathrop, and Stockton.

We work with farmers and enterprises to buy marginal, flood-prone farmland in harm’s way. Farmers shift to different properties that are less risky, and we turn those lands into flood-compatible habitat areas throughout the state.

Could you describe some of River Partners’ most successful restoration efforts?

Dos Rios Ranch Preserve near Modesto is our flagship project. It’s California’s largest floodplain restoration project ever. Ten years ago, we bought property from a landowner tired of farming the river bottom. We managed nearly four miles of failing levee, and we worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers, Central Valley Flood Protection Board, and others to breach that levee so that flows could spread out. Dos Rios Ranch sits next to the Three Amigos project, where three neighboring landowners sold their farms after their levees were breached in 1997. The US Department of Agriculture provided funding, and the land was turned over to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for habitat restoration.

Now, thousands of acres of reconnected floodplains are thriving as wildlife habitat. The whole complex has endured deep flooding many times in the last 20 years, and it’s served as a shock absorber, taking pressure off floodwater further downstream and possibly alleviating levee breaks.

How do rivers fit into the groundwater recharge picture in California?

The way our rivers and floodplains fit into the groundwater scheme is fascinating. Water chemists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have taken water samples from across the San Joaquin Valley and tested isotopes to determine its age—and whether it came from river flow or precipitation. Rivers once provided twice as much groundwater as they do today. That’s not surprising because of the dams built in the last 100 years, but it suggests that rivers could at least double what they put into the ground today. Allowing more water through river corridors and letting it soak in, especially in areas with groundwater deficits, could put water back in the ground through floodplain recharge.

What’s still needed to make this all work better, beyond money?

The thing that drives all of this is investment, so I’m excited that California is investing in multi-benefit water management. But we need to be thinking differently about how we plumb the valley. In the San Joaquin Valley, the drought is increasing interest in collaboration among people who haven’t usually collaborated. There’s been a lot of movement in just the last 12-18 months among managers of major irrigation districts, leaders of environmental justice organizations, and others coming to table to say, “Look, we need to agree on some basic principles on how to move forward with public investment and improve our freshwater systems.” There’s got to be give-and-take on all sides. If we plan it together, we’ll have a better outcome.

What gives you hope?
I’m optimistic that attitudes are changing. I’m hopeful about the public funding. If we don’t get work going on the ground now, we’ll be facing an even more devastating situation during the next drought.

River Partners has this one specific, powerful toolbox: to acquire land, change land use, and restore multi-benefit habitat. There are over $300 million in projects that we know are shovel-ready today. We’ve got willing landowners in priority areas that we know will be helpful to wildlife recovery, groundwater recharge, and flood safety. Local officials support it. The magnitude of change needed is huge. Can we all grow to meet that challenge? I’m hopeful we can.

Link to interview on the PPIC website.

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Ag exporters get federal assistance at Port of Oakland

From a Port of Oakland news release

Port of Oakland’s new, temporary container yard is getting federal help in the form of financial relief for its customers. The USDA is providing agricultural and other exporters assistance in covering expenses for using the pop-up yard.

“Supply chain issues locally to globally have hampered the US export business through West Coast ports including Oakland,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “We thank the USDA for providing financial incentives to our customers. This will promote use of the yard, reduce marine terminal congestion and ease some of the logistics strain for our exporters.” 

The temporary container yard opened March 7, 2022, as part of the Biden Administration’s larger program to relieve port congestion. The USDA is offering a $400 incentive per export reefer (refrigerated container) and $200 for a “dry” container (non-reefer). This funding is for the temporary staging of loaded export containers. In addition, the USDA is offering a $125 incentive to pick up an empty dry container used for agricultural bookings. 

“This will help defray the additional costs incurred by our shippers and make usage of the new facility more feasible,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “The temporary yard provides a place for truckers to easily pick up empty containers to be loaded with US exports and it allows for staging loaded containers ready to be shipped overseas without crowding busy terminals.”  

“This federal partnership highlights Oakland’s traditional role as a critical export gateway,” added Mr. Brandes. “We continue to work closely with ocean carriers to restore services here so that shippers can have more opportunity for outbound vessel space.” Maritime industry experts are saying that they expect global volatility in the supply chain to continue for months. Ship schedule disruptions continue due to multiple factors including pandemic impacts on trucking and marine terminal operations at China’s largest ports

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#EarthDay2022 message from CDFA Secretary Karen Ross

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#EarthDay2022 webinar today!

Please join Secretary Ross and CDFA science experts today at noon for an Earth Day webinar on agency environmental programs:

Passcode: CDFA@2022

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