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USDA secretary Sonny Perdue could have unusual power in the Cabinet

USDA secretary Sonny Purdue visited California in February. (Photo: USDA)
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue followed his townhall at the World Ag Expo last week with visits with farmers and tours of farmland in the San Joaquin Valley. "I need all the education I can get," Perdue said at Harris Woolf California Almonds facility in Coalinga, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times by Geoffrey Mohan.

Mohan spoke to the director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, Dan Sumner, to understand Perdue's role in President Trump's administration. 

"When he say things to Trump, Trump can hear him saying, 'Be careful about your constituency. Unless you want to see Nancy Pelosi in power, you better see to the reelections in the Central valley," Sumner said.

One of the reelections is for Rep. Devin Nunez (R-Tulare), a strong Trump supporter who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has to ponder whether he wants the Nunez or some Democrat leading the committee's Russia investigation, Sumner said.

Read the article: Trump 'gets what you're saying': Agriculture secretary talks immigration, water and food stamps on California tour

 

Posted on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 10:01 AM
Tags: Dan Sumner (26), Sonny Perdue (1)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

California-grown coffee could be the state's next gold mine

While serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela, Mark Gaskell got his first experience with thriving coffee plantations. Years later, as a UC Cooperative Extension advisor to small-scale farmers in California, he wondered whether coffee could be a viable specialty crop for Central Coast farmers.

Gaskell established transplants in 2001 and discovered that the sub-tropical plants could thrive in the Golden State, reported Jodi Helmer on Valley Public Radio's The Salt.

Local farmers embraced the idea of California coffee and started planting their own crops. The burgeoning state industry now boasts 30 farms growing more than 30,000 coffee trees.

California coffee is selling for as much as $60 per pound. "A single cup sold for $18. The coffee sold out within two weeks," the VPR story said.

Read the story: Eureka! California-grown coffee is becoming the state's next gold mine

California-grown coffee has great earning potential for farmers, reported Valley Public Radio.
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 11:42 AM
Tags: coffee (4), Mark Gaskell (11)
Focus Area Tags: Economic Development Food

Federal definition of 'rural' prevents California from getting adequate ag research funding

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, left, hosted a town hall moderated by California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson at World Ag Expo.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue held a town hall at World Ag Expo in Tulare on Feb. 13 to listen to suggestions for the upcoming Farm Bill. VP Glenda Humiston was among those present for the discussion.

Todd Fitchette of Western Farm Press wrote: “While trade, labor and regulatory issues may top the list of agricultural policy issues Perdue  faces in Washington D.C., Glenda Humiston, Vice President of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division of the state's Land Grant university, stressed the importance of adequate research funding and federal definitions of rural versus urban, which she said is having detrimental impacts across California on important program funding.

“Humiston said that while UCANR has a ‘proud tradition of research in California,' the university is plagued by reduced budgets at the same time the state is plagued by a new invasive pest every several weeks. She said for the university to stay ahead of these issues and to help growers in these and many other areas, additional funding is vital.

“The United States is losing the battle over agricultural research with China, which spends more in that sector, Humiston says. She continues to trumpet the idea of greater broadband access to rural areas of the state as new agriculture will demand internet upgrades for technology like sensors and driverless spray rigs.”

In private communication, Fitchette mentioned that widespread applause broke out across the audience in response to Humiston's comments.

“If a county has one town that has 50,000 population in it, the entire county is labeled metropolitan for purposes of allocating funding,” Humiston said, wrote Chelsea Shannon of the Hanford Sentinel.

Matthew Sarr of the Porterville Recorder also covered the event.

Sonny Perdue hears from California growers at World Ag Expo (Western Farm Press)

Sec. Sonny Perdue visits World Ag Expo (Hanford Sentinel)

World Ag Expo: Secretary Perdue takes pulse of agriculture community (Porterville Recorder)

Posted on Friday, February 16, 2018 at 10:51 AM
Tags: Farm Bill (4), funding (3), Glenda Humiston (10)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Monthly news round up: February 2018

Flash bloom: Warm weather has all almond varieties blooming at the same time

(Chico Enterprise-Record) Steve Schoonover, Feb. 9

The warm weather we've been enjoying has produced what's called a “flash bloom” in almonds, with all the varieties blooming at once.

…The idea is to get what Butte County UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Luke Milliron called “bloom overlap.”

…Glenn County Farm Advisor Dani Lightle said the weather has been good for bee flight, with warm temperatures and little wind.

“But with the crush of flowers all at the same time, can they get to them all?” she asked.

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20180209/NEWS/180209724

 

Farmers Can Put Themselves On The Map If They Complete The U.S. Agriculture Census By February 5

(Capital Public Radio) Julia Mitric, Feb. 5

…The once-every-five-year census also paints a picture that can help the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which leads beginning farmer and rancher training programs. 

Jennifer Sowerwine works on these programs through the UC Cooperative Extension at UC Berkeley.

"The Ag Census data is helpful in my work because we can see changes over time in the demographic profile of farmers [race, gender and size] that can help inform the type of training we offer," explains Sowerwine.

http://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/01/29/farmers-can-put-themselves-on-the-map-if-they-complete-the-us-agriculture-census-by-february-5

New frontiers await groundwater recharge projects

(Capital Press) Tim Hearden, Feb. 2

While California's groundwater reserves have been systematically depleted since the 1920s, the notion of recharge really took hold with the passage of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which includes intentional recharge of farm fields as an available option, said Helen Dahlke, a UC-Davis hydrologist who has led some of the research.

UC scientists have been working with growers throughout the valley to find fields with soils conducive to recharge and set up pilot projects, as have groups such as the Almond Board.

The project is one of numerous efforts in various crop fields throughout crop fields being done with the help of UC Cooperative Extension advisers. In the Scott Valley in far northern California, for example, rancher Jim Morris obtained permission to take winter stormwater from a local water district's irrigation canal and apply different amounts of water to different sections of a field to test the tolerance of his alfalfa to the practice.

http://www.capitalpress.com/Water/20180202/new-frontiers-await-groundwater-recharge-projects

UC launches drought video series

Red Bluff Daily News, Feb. 3

Because periodic droughts will always be a part of life in California, the UC California Institute for Water Resources produced a series of videos to maintain drought awareness and planning, even in years when water is more abundant.

http://www.redbluffdailynews.com/lifestyle/20180203/uc-launches-drought-video-series

Shasta County wants to grow agritourism

(Redding Record Searchlight) Damon Arthur, Feb. 1

Penny Leff, agritourism coordinator for the UC Cooperative Extension, said agritourism has been going on for many years throughout the state.

“Agritourism is a supplemental business for a working rancher or farmer,” she said.

The California Agritourism Directory online listed eight destinations in Shasta County. However, one of them could not be reached because its phone service and website were no longer active. Another had quit the agritourism business.

http://www.redding.com/story/news/2018/02/01/shasta-county-wants-grow-agritourism/1083095001/

Dixon Siblings Win Solano Co. 4-H Chili Cook-Off

(Dixon Patch) Susan C. Schena, Feb. 1

"The Chili Cook Off is a great hands-on opportunity for youth to build confidence and spark their creativity," said Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H Program representative. " Chili team members build food preparation skills, learn food and kitchen safety, and use math and science concepts, as they develop their chili recipes."

https://patch.com/california/dixon/dixon-siblings-win-solano-co-4-h-chili-cook

 

 

 

Posted on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 1:19 PM
Tags: Agritourism (22), drought (121)

'Never ending' drought news from UC ANR

Warm and sunny winter days are no cause for celebration among the farmers, ranchers and forest managers who rely on UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' research-based information and expertise to make their work more profitable. Such is the feeling shared by UC Cooperative Extension advisor Dan Macon in his Foothill Agrarian blog. He began worrying more than a month ago about the spate of dry weather in the state.

"While I'm a worrier by nature, I think worrying about the weather is natural for anyone who relies on Mother Nature directly," Macon wrote.

The UC Food Observer blog warmly praised the quality of Macon's blog in a post titled The NeverEnding (#drought) story.

"He knows his subject and he writes well about it. I read every post, but his most recent piece about Old Man Reno, one of his farm dogs, really resonated with me. Read his blog every chance you get: it will make you feel better about life," wrote Rose Hayden-Smith, the author of the UC Food Observer.

The column included a shout-out about the recent launch of a three-video series on the drought produced by UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources (CIWR). The series opens with Cannon Michael of Bowles Farming in Los Banos. The alfalfa grower works with UCCE specialist Dan Putnam.

“There's a lot of misunderstanding about alfalfa as a crop,” Michael said. “It does take water to grow it, as with anything, but you get multiple harvests of it every year.”

Videos two and three will be launched March 2 and April 6.

The UC Food Observer also recommended a blog produced by the CIWR's Faith Kearns – The Confluence. She recently wrote about how California's idea of “natural” beauty may have shifted during the drought. 

As blossoms begin to pop on Central California fruit and nut trees, farmers are worried about the low levels of rainfall seen in the state so far this winter.
Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 3:43 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

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