Natural and working lands – new draft climate change implementation plan

The January 2019 Draft California 2030 Natural and Working Lands Climate Change Implementation Plan is now available and can be accessed through the Natural and Working Lands webpage.

The plan is a multi-agency joint collaboration by the California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board (CARB), and Strategic Growth Council. This plan aims to integrate management objectives wherever possible,coordinating all natural and working lands programs under a united approach that will move us toward our combined goal of maintaining a resilient carbon sink and improved air and water quality, water quantity, wildlife habitat, recreation, and other benefits. By moving toward an integrated multi-benefit approach that considers carbon, other critical ecosystem services, biodiversity, public health, and the economy, we can leverage efforts for maximum and sustained benefit. 

The objectives of this plan are to:

  • Expand the use of natural and working lands for climate mitigation and adaptation by integrating climate goals into State-funded natural and working land conservation, restoration, and management programs;
  • Significantly increase and improve conservation, restoration, and management of California’s natural and working lands through State programs and other means, to enhance their resilience to worsening climate change impacts, sequester carbon, and reduce GHGs;
  • Identify next steps for taking a more comprehensive approach to addressing the policy challenges facing our natural and working lands, including their contributions to achieving carbon-neutrality and meeting our long-term climate objectives.

In addition to tracking progress and estimating the benefits and impacts of the activities implemented to meet the 2030 goal, implementation will rely on programs and structures in place to monitor progress toward the long-term objective of achieving resilient net zero or negative emissions. Accordingly,this Plan coincides with the release of the CARB’s Natural and Working Lands Inventory (NWL Inventory), a quantitative estimate of the existing state of ecosystem carbon stored in the State’s land base. The NWL Inventory provides a retrospective estimate of carbon stocks, stock-change, and resulting greenhouse gas flux associated with stock change in California’s landscape, and attributes stock changes to disturbances. The NWL Inventory will serve as the inventory of record for this sector, tracking sector-wide progress toward the long-term objectives.

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Eight Years of Accomplishments, a Century of Innovation

REPORT: “California Agriculture: A Constant State of Innovation”

By Karen Ross
CDFA Secretary

As we publish this report, CDFA has just begun its centennial year. The story of California agriculture over the past century is a tale of growth and success.

The engine of all of that productivity is, in a word, innovation. CDFA’s challenge has been to keep pace with – and in many cases to encourage – that progress. We provide an important framework that protects consumers; maintains a safe and efficient food supply; ensures fairness in the marketplace and in the avenues of commerce; and helps growers continue to innovate, modernize, and deliver the fruits of their productivity.

My eight years with CDFA have shown me the breadth and depth of this agency’s service to consumers, farmers and ranchers; and also in terms of fostering an agricultural industry that embraces its role as a global leader on everything from the most technical aspects of farming to the broadest environmental imperatives.

We offer this report to take stock of how CDFA fulfills its mission, and also to honor the innovative nature of California farmers and ranchers and all who support them. They show the nation and the world what is possible.

Link to report

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California Grown floats inspire at Rose Parade

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross (second from left) participating in California Grown Certification proceedings this week at the Rose Parade.  

As part of this year’s Rose Parade festivities, CDFA Secretary Karen Ross once again joined the Buy California Marketing Agreement (California Grown) and the California Cut Flower Commission to bestow a certification of “California Grown” on qualifying parade floats, including entries from Cal Poly, Blue Diamond Almonds, Wells Fargo Stagecoaches, the California Highway Patrol Mounted Patrol Unit, the Blue Shadows Drill Team, Mini Therapy Horses, and the Pasadena Police Department’s motorcycle unit. Additionally, all FTD-sponsored vehicles for parade officials were certified, as was the University of Washington football team’s float, which was sponsored by the Tournament of Roses.    

The California Grown Certification recognizes parade floats and VIP vehicles built with a minimum of 85 percent of cut flowers and greens from the Golden State.

The Cal Poly float, “Far Out Frequencies.”

The float from Cal Poly, called Far Out Frequencies, won the Tournament of Roses “Extraordinaire” award for most extraordinary float in the parade. Cal Poly has been invited to participate for 71 consecutive years. Students from San Luis Obispo and Pomona campuses team-up for the effort.   


Blue Diamond’s “Almond Breeze” float. 
Secretary Ross with Kasey Cronquist of the California Cut Flower Commission in front of the FTD-sponsored Grand Marshal vehicle.
Secretary Ross with her husband, Barry, alongside the Cal Poly float.  
Secretary Ross with flower ambassadors working at the event and Tina Cao of Blue Diamond Almonds.    
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Research develops rice plants that reproduce as clones from seed – from UC Davis

By Andy Fell

Plant biologists at the University of California, Davis, have discovered a way to make crop plants replicate through seeds as clones. The discovery, long sought by plant breeders and geneticists, could make it easier to propagate high-yielding, disease-resistant or climate-tolerant crops and make them available to the world’s farmers. 

The researchers published their findings Dec. 12 in the journal Nature

Since the 1920s, many crops have been grown from hybrid seeds created by crossing two varieties. These hybrids can have superior qualities in areas such as yield or pest resistance. But the seeds of hybrid crops do not produce plants with the same qualities. 

The ability to produce a clone, an exact replica, of a plant from its seeds would be a major breakthrough for world agriculture. Instead of purchasing expensive hybrid seeds each year, which is often beyond the means of farmers in developing countries, farmers could replant seeds from their own hybrid plants and derive the benefits of high yields year after year. 

About 400 species of wild plants can produce viable seeds without fertilization. Called apomixis, this process seems to have evolved many times in plants — but not in commercial crop species.   

The discovery by postdoctoral researcher Imtiyaz Khanday and Venkatesan Sundaresan, professor of plant biology and plant sciences at UC Davis, and colleagues at UC Davis, the Iowa State University and INRA, France, is a major step forward. 

“It’s a very desirable goal that could change agriculture,” Sundaresan said. 

‘Baby boom’ gene is key

Khanday and Sundaresan discovered that the rice gene BBM1, belonging to a family of plant genes called “Baby Boom” or BBM, is expressed in sperm cells but not in eggs. After fertilization, BBM1 is expressed in the fertilized cell but — at least initially — this expression comes from the male contribution to the genome. 

BBM1, they reasoned, switches on the ability of a fertilized egg to form an embryo. 

The researchers first used gene editing to prevent the plants from going through meiosis, a type of cell division that results in four daughter cells each with half the number of chromosomes of the parent cell. Instead, the egg cells form by mitosis, inheriting a full set of chromosomes from the mother. 

Then they caused these egg cells to express BBM1, which they would not normally do without fertilization. 

“So we have a diploid egg cell with the ability to make an embryo, and that grows into a clonal seed,” Sundaresan said. 

So far, the process has an efficiency of about 30 percent, but the researchers hope that can be increased with more research. The approach should work in other cereal crops, which have equivalent BBM1 genes, and in other crop plants as well, Sundaresan said. 

“The beauty of this work is that it addresses fundamental questions in plant biology about how a fertilized egg begins to develop into a new plant,” said Anne Sylvester, a program director at the National Science Foundation, which supported the research. “This basic understanding, combined with new asexual breeding technologies, opens the door for breakthroughs in plant agriculture by avoiding the loss of beneficial traits that can occur through sexual reproduction.”

Other authors on the paper are Debra Skinner at UC Davis, Bing Yang at Iowa State University, and Raphael Mercier, INRA, Versailles, France. 

The work has been funded by the Innovative Genome Institute, a joint venture between UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco that focuses on applying genome editing to solve global problems, and by the National Science Foundation.

Link to story

See this video

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World Ag Expo announces top new products for 2019

From Morning Ag Clips

The results are in for World Ag Expo’s® Top-10 New Products Competition. The winners will be showcased February 12-14, 2019, during the World Ag Expo® in Tulare, California.

A large and impressive field of cutting-edge, cost-saving, and resource-managing products were submitted for the contest by exhibitors of the largest annual agricultural show of its kind. The contest judges were made up of farmers, ranchers and industry professionals. 

Winners will be noted on show maps, marked with “Top-10 Winner” flags at the show and recognized at an awards session at World Ag Expo® Opening Ceremonies on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

The competition is conducted annually by the International Agri-Center®, in conjunction with World Ag Expo®, which draws more than 1,400 exhibitors and an estimated annual average of 100,000 individuals from 70 countries. Exhibitors must nominate their products for judging by the October 31 deadline to be eligible. For more information on the contest and winners, including contacts and photos, please email

Andros Engineering Corporation – Wide Trellis Pre-Pruner

The Andros Engineering Wide Trellis Pre-Pruner cuts and strips excess canes from table grape vineyards grown on a wide “Y” trellis. The Andros Pre-Pruner attaches to the front of a tractor with a three-point hitch, utilizes the tractor hydraulic system, and has a one-handed controller. Dual cutters can be adjusted for pressure sensitivity, cutter speed, head height, and head angle.


Exhibit Space: N46, N48, N50

Location: Paso Robles, CA

Automated Ag Systems – The Cyclone

This vacuum machine was designed to aid in the efficiency of harvest, alleviate worker fatigue, and reduce bruising during harvest. As fruit is being picked, pickers place the fruit into the padded bucket, attached to the bucket are fabric lined tubes, the vacuum creates suction to the tubes which then takes the fruit into the decelerator, placing each piece of fruit into an individual “cup”, then “drops” the fruit into the bin filler, where it is placed gently and quickly into the bin. As the bin fills, the electronic eye slowly lowers the bin, allowing the bin to fill without damaging fruit in the process. We can create better time efficiency during harvest, speeding up the per bin harvest time compared to traditional ladder pick.


Exhibit Space: Q36, Q38

Location: Moses Lake, WA

Calf-Tel – Calf-Tel Plastic Floor

The Calf-Tel plastic floor was designed and developed as a critical component of a calf raising system. The flooring can be dropped into existing, standard wood bases, replacing the common wood slat floors currently in use. Wooden floors are inherently porous, absorbing bacteria and other bioburdens that are harmful to calf health and break down the wood over time. Calf-Tel floor is made of a structural, plastic foam that provides flexible cushioning under the calves’ weight for added comfort under hoof and while laying down. The floor was designed with more open area than wooden floors, resulting in better waste pass-through and superior ventilation. Easier to clean and far less maintenance than existing floors resulting in labor efficiency for calf raisers.


Exhibit Space: DS108, DS110

Location: Germantown, WI

Eco Transportation Products – ETP Tire Sealant Pumping System

In partnership with Ingersoll Rand, we developed a system to pump Monster Seal Tire Sealant into a 11R-22.5 truck tire in one minute. Along with the intellectual ETP installation gun, we can quickly and efficiently get our Monster Seal Tire Sealant into a pneumatic tire.

Our two-line sealant and air hose connection kit comes with a meter and air pressure gauge, which will allow you to quickly monitor air pressure settings to maintain correct PSI and record the correct amount of Monster Seal Tire Sealant installed. We also designed it to be used with your stationary air source, compressor truck or portable air source.


Exhibit Space: 4305

Location: Long Beach, CA

Groupe Anderson, Inc. – RBMPRO 2000™ – Self-Loading Wrapped Silage Bale Mover

The new Anderson self-loading bale carrier, RBMPRO 2000™, is the perfect solution for picking up, carrying and unloading round wrapped silage bales. The RBMPRO 2000™ is fully automatic and features an innovative plastic care free loading arm including an in-motion loading system, a rotating grabber and a telescopic member. Wrapped bales can be grabbed at a speed of 3km/h without damaging the plastic. Bales can be collected vertically or horizontally, when travelling the same path as the baler-wrapper. The RBMPRO 2000™ also features an adjustable roller bed platform that allows the equipment to carry up to 20 bales from 4×4 feet to 5×5 feet, and rear hydraulic stoppers that allows to unload bales on their flat end or on their side. The RBMPRO 2000™ is the new time efficient and cost-effective way of transporting wrapped bales.


Exhibit Space: DS149

Location: Chesterville, Quebec, Canada

KEITH Manufacturing – KEITH WalkBox Unloader

The KEITH® WalkBox™ horizontal unloader is a moving floor system installed on a truck chassis. It incorporates WALKING FLOOR® technology, which is a series of floor slats powered by a hydraulic drive that “walks” material out the back of the truck body, with no tipping. Unlike a dump truck, the WalkBox system unloads horizontally. This enables the WalkBox™ system to unload in areas inaccessible to dump or tipping trailers/truck bodies, such as under utility lines and trees; inside buildings; on uneven ground and during windy conditions. Accessories include a manual tarp system that automatically sweeps material out with no need to clean out the box with a broom. A cover tarp also keeps material inside the box while in transit.


Exhibit Space: S37, T32, U31

Location: Madras, OR

Semex – Immunity Female Genomic Test with Elevate™

Semex is excited to offer a genomic test that ranks and selects cows based on their individual Immunity+ genomic test results through its Elevate testing program. This genomic test of Immune Response determines the capability of females to respond to disease challenges.

With Elevate and the Immunity+ genomic test, there’s no more guess work as to which cows will better resist disease. Armed with both genomic information and Immunity+ results, producers can make faster genetic progress towards a stronger, more disease resistant herd, reducing losses and drug use. Immunity+ heritability is 30%, similar to that of milk production. Semex is excited to be the only AI company to deliver uncompromised herd health gains that can be made by identifying both female immune response and utilizing Immunity+ sires.


Exhibit Space: 6414, 6415

Location: Madison, WI

SBM – Low Pro Cab 532

SBM Low Pro Cab for Case and New Holland Orchard Tractors

SBM fully welded unibody ROPS Certified Orchard Cab is used on CNH Tractors and designed to endure the toughest Walnut, Almond and other trees. With driver comfort and safety in mind, we designed a Low Profile Cab that keeps the driver safe from branches and other hazards as well as chemicals.

Fully powder coated, air conditioned and ergonomic controls begin the list of great features. The SBM Cab also comes standard with a radio, Hehr bullet proof glass, Cabinair pressurizer and limb lifters. Work lights and a roof scratch guard add to this already well optioned cab.


Exhibit Space: SS15, SS17

Location: Gridley, CA

Vinduino – Wireless Irrigation Valve Controller with Volumetric Feedback

Vinduino provides long-range wireless technologies that help farm communities manage irrigation better under changing climate conditions. We improve profitability with lower water cost, higher yield, and better-quality fruit. Our system provides on-line irrigation guidance, “how much and how often to irrigate”, and feedback from soil moisture sensors in the field. Our newly added product improves irrigation accuracy by replacing manual operation (and labor) by wireless LoRa valve controllers, and remotely measuring the amount of water applied to the crops. This also serves to detect leaks and obstructions in the irrigation system, saving labor on irrigation inspections in the field.


Exhibit Space: 2130

Location: Temecula, CA

XL Lifts (a Wiggins Lift dealer) – Wiggins Ag eBull

Large capacity lithium electric forklifts are here, and XL Lifts is proud to be one of the first to offer them to the agricultural (AG) industry. The Wiggins AG eBull is the industry’s first commercialized large capacity lithium electric forklift for the AG industry manufactured exclusively in the United States. The Wiggins eBull has capacity from 30,000 to 88,000 lbs. and is designed to utilize 12 and 14 pallet attachments in the produce industry. The new large capacity lithium electric forklift uses fast charging lithium ion batteries making them the first high-capacity zero emissions forklifts to run continuous shifts. With built-in onboard Level 1 and 2 charging, and optional DC quick charge option, forklift downtime is minimized.


Exhibit Space: 3302, 3303, 3304, 3402, 3403, 3404

Location: Ventura, CA

Link to story

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Holidays and the importance of family

By CDFA Secretary Karen Ross

Wherever you will be this week and next, my wish for all of you is that you’ll be with family.  While my husband, Barry, and I won’t be with family in the Midwest, we will be with our “family of friends” here in Sacramento.  For many of us, this time of year brings back a lifetime of memories about holiday traditions, the place where we came from, and the family we grew up with – for me that place is a farm in western Nebraska.  As you can tell from this picture of me with my three younger brothers, Dan, Steve and Ben, that was quite a while ago!! 

I believe the concept of family extends far beyond blood relatives. In my eight years at CDFA I have come to regard the agency and its employees as family. I have deep admiration for the work we do together to facilitate the modern miracle that is California agriculture.

Secretary Ross with ACP/HLB project supervisor Magally Williams at a Southern California property where a tree was removed due to HLB.

This agency is blessed with hundreds of talented, dedicated professionals committed to programs like Asian Citrus Psyllid/Huanglongbing (ACP/HLB), Virulent Newcastle Disease, the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule, and many others. 

Each and every holiday season I have had an opportunity to visit CDFA offices (see photo gallery below) to view decorations and learn more about our employees’ support for the many worthy causes in our region. I came away this year feeling like I always do – in awe of their compassion and commitment, and very, very proud of them – proud like family.   

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CDFA joins State Employees Food Drive team assisting with donations at food bank

As part of the 2018 State Employees Food Drive and the continued spirit of giving, a team from CDFA’s Division of Inspection Services volunteered at the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services on December 20. The group helped with bagging fresh produce and sorting non-perishable food items.

CDFA chairs the annual Food Drive, which is showing strong momentum as it aims for a goal of 800,000 pounds of food for needy Californians. CDFA employees are demonstrating the Department’s commitment this season through a series of events.

Each year CDFA joins other agencies in placing barrels in common office spaces for donations, and each year the agency hosts “Coffee with the Secretary” to help fill those barrels. This year’s event, bringing CDFA employees together with Secretary Ross in a casual holiday atmosphere, resulted in generous donations of food and cash.

Employees from CDFA’s Division of Inspections Services in this photo are: Minal Patel, Natalie Jacuzzi, Cecilia Baumann, Maria Tenorio, Gina Tenorio, Vanessa Jivan, Jennifer Goucher and Brittnie Sabalbro.

Prior to Thanksgiving CDFA employees donated more than 1,600 pounds of turkey to support the annual Turkey Drive. Turkeys were distributed by the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services and helped provide Thanksgiving dinner for many in the region.

The need for food in California is substantial. According to the California Association of Food Banks, 4.6 million Californians contend with food insecurity, which is defined as the occasional or constant lack of access to the food one needs for a healthy, active life. More than 1.7 million of those people are children. That need is what motivates California state employees to commit to this effort each and every year.

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Santa’s reindeer cleared for entry into California by State Veterinarian

California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones has granted a 24-hour permit clearing all brand inspection and health requirements for nine reindeer scheduled to visit California on the evening of December 24 and in the early morning hours of December 25.

The permit application was filed in person by a rotund, jolly man with a red suit, a white beard, and a pocketful of candy canes to share with CDFA staff. The signature on the paperwork reads “K. Kringle.”

Brand inspections and health requirements help veterinarians prevent the spread of animal disease. The law also mandates that all animals entering California be individually identified. The nine reindeer named on the permit are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen and Rudolph.

The permit was granted with two conditions: the nine reindeer may not co-mingle with other reindeer in the State of California, and the visiting reindeer may not be used for breeding purposes while in the state. They are, however, invited to partake of the Golden State’s famous and varied agricultural bounty if they need to refuel.

“We consider it an honor to issue this permit to Mr. Kringle and do our part to ensure another successful trip,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “We wish him safe travels and plenty of milk and cookies as he and his reindeer make deliveries to the good children of California.”

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Reconsidering the history of corn – from

Corn is one of the world’s most important crops. We don’t just pop it and munch it on the cob; corn can be turned into flour and syrup, it is fed to livestock, it is transformed into ethanol and it can even be used to make plastic. Between 2016 and 2017, about a billion tons of corn were produced around the globe, and corn yields more than six percent of all food calories for humans.

The story of this humble yet handy starch begins thousands of years ago in Mexico, with the domestication of an ancient grass called teosinte. But according to a new study published in Science, the trajectory of teosinte’s evolution into the golden grain we know today may be more complex than scientists previously thought.

Maize domestication, the commonly accepted theory goes, happened in the Balsas River Valley of south-central Mexico. Around 9,000 years ago, early farmers in this region began selecting for favorable traits of teosinte, which looks very different to modern corn and is not particularly palatable; its cob is small and its few kernels are surrounded by a tough casing. But with human intervention, teosinte evolved into tasty, tender corn, which was subsequently carried to other parts of the Americas. By the time of European colonization in the 15th century, corn was a major food source throughout many parts of the region.

Logan Kistler, the new study’s lead author and curator of archaeobotany and archaeogenomics at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, says that according to this theory, gene flow from wild teosinte was still happening in some domesticated corn, but “in a major, evolutionarily important way, gene flow more or less stopped in the common ancestor of all maize.”

Recent revelations, however, prompted Kistler and his colleagues to rethink this idea. In 2016, two independent research groups analyzed the DNA of 5,000-year-old maize cobs from a cave in Mexico, and found that the ancient corn was still in the midst of the domestication process. The cobs had some genes associated with teosinte, dictating things like seed dispersal and starch production, and other genes characteristic of domesticated corn, like variants responsible for eliminating teosinte’s hard outer casing.

These findings, according to Kistler, were surprising. By the time the cobs ended up on the floor of the ancient cave, maize had already travelled far beyond Mexico, and had been cultivated in the southwest Amazon for around 1,500 years. The grain’s evolutionary story, in other words, appeared to have forked into two different paths.

“You have this paradox, this mismatch, where you already have maize being continuously cultivated in parts of the Amazon for thousands of years, and then it’s still not even finished being domesticated in the center of origin,” Kistler explains. “In order to reconcile the archaeology and the genetics … we had to think about a new domestication model.”

So, Kistler and his fellow researchers decided to take a closer look at corn DNA—and what they found suggests that while the domestication of teosinte did indeed begin in Mexico, we shouldn’t think of maize domestication as a discrete event. Instead, the grain’s evolution was a long and convoluted process, with the final stages of its domestication occurring more than once, in more than one place.

Read more here

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Don’t pack a pest – new website lists what can safely be brought into US for the holidays

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has a new web site to provide people with important information about which agricultural items are safe to enter the United States – and which ones are best left behind this holiday season. This helps protect the health of our country’s plants, animals and natural resources, ensuring many happy holidays to come.

Food products and other agricultural-based items (plants, seeds, and gifts made from wood or plants) from other countries can carry pests and diseases not found here in the United States. For these reasons, certain items are not allowed to be carried in by travelers. Other items may be allowed with specific documentation. The USDA’s new site helps everyone thinking about bringing an agricultural gift from overseas understand what is okay to bring to the US. 

So whether you are selecting a holiday gift for this season – or just planning ahead for next summer’s vacation souvenirs – please check out the site. 

Visit the site here:

Learn more at

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