Food & Farm News

Volume 25, No. 23Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Nurseries report strong sales of holiday plants
Poinsettias and other holiday greenery have been selling well at California nurseries. One Sacramento-area nursery chain says its poinsettia sales have doubled from a year ago. Marketers say people appear to be decorating their homes early during the pandemic, but add that poinsettia sales to churches could decline due to restrictions on indoor services. Nurseries say precut Christmas trees have also been selling briskly.

Wineries adjust marketing strategies during pandemic
Virtual events and e-commerce have become more important to wineries during the pandemic, and agricultural business experts say wineries have been working to transition their marketing plans. One analyst says smaller wineries have been especially hurt, but even larger operations have struggled to maintain profits. Another expert says wineries have made much greater use of social media offerings such as live online events, chat tools and instant messaging.

Wheat farmers look to fill demand for local grain
Growing demand for local wheat, whole grains and heirloom varieties has encouraged some California farmers to try to serve those specialty markets. The California Wheat Commission has been attempting to develop the state’s local grain markets, and created an online database to connect farmers with small millers, bakers and other end users. Although California has large wheat milling capacity, relatively little of it is dedicated to specialty milling.

Advisors say heating soil with steam kills weeds
Steam treatments of soil appear successful in reducing weeds in vegetable fields, and University of California farm advisors say they’re studying ways to make the process more practical. Heating soil to about 150 degrees with steam can kill weed seeds before they germinate, but can be too expensive and time-consuming. By treating a narrow band of soil in the field, farm advisors say the process becomes more affordable.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 22Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Pandemic changes demand for holiday foods
Throughout the California food business, farmers and marketers have been trying to gauge changing demand for holiday-related items. The head of the California Poultry Federation says people have been buying more turkey breasts and fewer large turkeys, as they downsize holiday gatherings. If more people cook at home, demand for dairy products and other foods could change. Wine marketers say they expect a strong fourth quarter, as usual.

Sweet potato consumption increases
They’re a staple of holiday meals, and sweet potatoes have also achieved more year-round popularity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the nation’s per-person consumption of sweet potatoes has nearly doubled in the past 20 years. The average retail price for sweet potatoes is lower than a year ago, according to the annual American Farm Bureau survey of Thanksgiving foods. The total cost for the Farm Bureau food basket declined 4%.

Robots may help with irrigation tests
To help farmers optimize water use, University of California researchers will test robots to collect leaf samples in fields. The leaf samples help farmers determine when to irrigate their crops, but UC says the process can be time-consuming. Researchers received a grant to automate the sampling, which could provide farmers with more and faster information on crop water needs. The project team hopes to have its first prototypes built by next spring.

Products aim to enhance wildfire safety
California companies have earned grants to explore aspects of wildfire prevention and safety. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the grants. A company in Torrance will test small, automated fire weather observation sensors. A Riverside company will produce synthetic insect pheromones to protect trees from beetles. A firm in Newark is working on small, low-cost gas sensors intended to help protect wildland firefighters.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 21Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Winemakers expect smaller 2020 vintage
While they continue to evaluate the impact of wildfire smoke on crop yields, California winemakers say they expect high quality wines from the 2020 vintage. A new report from the Wine Institute describes this year’s harvest as “challenging,” with smaller-than-average yields due to an August heat spell and the intense wildfire season. Vintners in several regions say wildfire smoke ruined some grapes, but report high quality on the grapes that were harvested.

Alliance makes climate-policy recommendations
In an effort to guide development of federal climate policy, groups from the farm, food, forest, environmental and governmental sectors have allied to offer recommendations intended to support positive change. Known as the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, the group released a set of more than 40 recommendations Tuesday. The recommendations stress voluntary, incentive-based programs to promote adaptation in rural communities.

Survey shows strong trust in U.S. farmers
Trust in American farmers has increased during the pandemic, according to survey results released by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The nationwide survey showed nearly nine in 10 respondents trust farmers, up 4% from a survey taken earlier in the year. The survey also gauged Americans’ attitudes about agricultural sustainability practices, and found nearly 60% rated farmers’ practices positively.

USDA reports on turkey production, consumption
Americans will eat about 16 pounds of turkey per person this year, an average the U.S. Department of Agriculture says has remained fairly stable for the last few years. California ranks eighth in the nation in turkey production. Most California turkeys are marketed fresh. The USDA says wholesale prices for frozen birds have risen this year, though retailers often offer special prices on turkey for the holidays.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 20Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Wildfire smoke reduces grape crush
A combination of lighter yields and smoke damage could reduce the California winegrape crush by 15% or more, according to a grape growers’ cooperative. Analysts had expected the winegrape crush to be smaller—but then wildfires in some regions exposed grapes to smoke that made them unmarketable. The Allied Grape Growers cooperative estimates as many as 325,000 tons of winegrapes may have been rejected due to smoke exposure.

Applications continue for pandemic aid
With markets for crops and farm commodities continuing to fluctuate due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers have another month to apply for federal aid to help offset some of the losses they have suffered. Applications for the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program end Dec. 11. The current program offers aid to farmers of a wider range of crops that have seen prices drop and supply chains disrupted by the pandemic.

Pecan farmers forecast market growth
It’s still a fairly small crop in California, but farmers and marketers say they foresee growth for pecan production in the state. Markets for pecans have been hampered this year by the pandemic and international trade tensions, but farmers say they expect long-term growth for pecans as a snack nut as well as an ingredient. This year’s pecan harvest is well underway in the northern Sacramento Valley and begins this week in the San Joaquin Valley.

Biological control aims at invasive coastal plant
Tiny flies appear to be establishing themselves in an invasive weed along the California coast. Agricultural scientists describe that as a hopeful sign that could allow biological control of the weed, known as Cape-ivy. Native to South Africa, Cape-ivy already covers more than half a million acres in the state. Researchers say the flies will act as a natural enemy to the weed, and will attack only the Cape-ivy. (reading time :23)


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 19Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Lumber prices ease a bit from record highs
Pandemic-related effects have changed both supply of lumber and demand for it—sending prices to record highs. Analysts say lumber production slowed due to stay-at-home and social-distancing guidelines affecting mills. At the same time, individuals bought more lumber to work on home repair and expansion projects. Lumber prices have declined sharply since mid-September, but remain higher than previous records set in 2018.

Cotton farmers monitor markets
As they approach the halfway point in their harvest, California cotton farmers say the market for the crop may be stabilizing. Farmers had already reduced cotton acreage due to water shortages and trade uncertainties, when the pandemic further disrupted markets by reducing demand for cotton products. Farmers say prices have started to rebound a bit, and report a good-quality California cotton crop with better-than-average yields.

Flower growers express concern on import ruling
Low-priced flowers from Central and South America have driven many California flower growers out of business—and representatives say a new decision may accelerate that trend. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office says it will allow roses from Ecuador to enter the U.S. duty-free. The California Cut Flower Commission describes its members as disappointed, and says imports have already pushed more than three-quarters of U.S. rose growers out of business.

Share of income spent on food stays stable
On average, Americans spend about 10% of their disposable income on food, according to an updated report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA says that proportion has stayed relatively stable for the past 20 years. Americans have spent a rising share of income on food consumed away from home, at restaurants and other eating places. The figures go through 2019, so don’t include changes in eating habits caused by the pandemic.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 18Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Wildfires reduce feed supplies for livestock
Hundreds of thousands of acres of scorched rangeland leave livestock ranchers with limited options for finding more feed for their animals. California wildfires have damaged both private and public rangelands, killed animals and ruined fences, corrals, water systems and other equipment. The president of the California Cattlemen’s Association says the loss of rangeland may force some ranchers to sell off their animals early due to lack of feed.

Trespassers, thieves trouble walnut farmers
Walnut farmers say they’re confronting two problems this harvest season: low prices for the crop and thieves who trespass into orchards to steal nuts. A number of counties have enacted ordinances to slow thefts by people who may then sell nuts on roadsides, but farmers report ongoing problems. Because of low prices, farmers say they need to sell as many nuts as they can to recoup their costs, and don’t want to lose more of their harvest to thieves.

Pandemic leads to tough year for lemon farmers
Closure of restaurants and bars due to the pandemic brought “major hurt” to the lemon business, marketers say, and improved sales at grocery stores have only partially compensated for the losses. Farmers and marketers say lemon sales to food-service customers have improved somewhat since dropping sharply in the spring, and shoppers have bought more lemons at retail. But people in the lemon business say farmers have seen their incomes drop significantly.

China receives first shipment of California rice
California-grown rice unloaded at a Chinese port Tuesday completed the first shipment of U.S.-grown rice to China. The USA Rice Federation says the premium, medium-grain rice from California will be sold by a Chinese retail chain known as Sungiven. Chinese importers visited California and two other rice-growing states last year as part of a longstanding effort to open the market to U.S. rice.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 17Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fires, pandemic cause winegrape losses
About one-quarter of the winegrapes in Sonoma County will go unpicked this year, according to an estimate released Tuesday. The Sonoma County Winegrowers organization says wildfires and pandemic-related economic troubles led to the losses, which could total more than $150 million. More than 70% of farmers surveyed by the group say at least some of their grapes will go unpicked or be rejected by wineries due to wildfires or related smoke.

Produce business adjusts to swings in demand
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect demand for fresh fruits and vegetables. Farmers and produce marketers say they expect demand from restaurants and other food-service buyers to stay muted due to ongoing, pandemic-related restrictions. But demand at supermarkets and other retailers remains strong. As one marketer puts it, “People will still crave and eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and will seek them out at the retail level.”

Farm groups protest local groundwater plan
As local agencies implement a new state groundwater law, farmers fear water costs could rise to unsustainable levels—and farm groups say that appears to be happening in one area. The California Farm Bureau and Western Growers say an agency in the Indian Wells Valley of eastern Kern County has imposed a water-replenishment fee so high farmers can’t afford it. The groups have asked the agency to respect farmers’ overlying water rights.

UC quantifies state’s organic farm production
Cow’s milk leads in sales of organic products from California farms. A new study from the University of California names milk, strawberries, carrots and grapes as the state’s top organic products. The report says California farmers produce more than 360 organic crops and commodities, with sales of more than $3 billion. San Diego County has the most organic farmers in the state and Kern County leads in organic farm revenue.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 16Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Farm groups pledge to work with Biodiversity Collaborative
It will be up to a new California Biodiversity Collaborative to help enact Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order to conserve natural and working lands. The order establishes a goal to conserve 30% of California land and coastal water by 2030. Agricultural organizations say they plan to participate in the collaborative, to assure state agencies recognize ongoing stewardship work by farmers and ranchers.

Proposals would expand water storage
Plans to expand two federal reservoirs in California would help the state adapt its aging water system to meet “significant and steadily mounting water insecurity issues,” according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. The Farm Bureau and other groups say expansion of Lake Shasta and San Luis Reservoir would benefit the environment and economy. On Tuesday, the White House announced creation of a Water Subcabinet to streamline federal water management.

Pumpkin patches modify their businesses
The pandemic has changed operations at California pumpkin patches. Many have closed altogether. Those that remain open require masks, have scaled back activities and revamped their spaces, for example by realigning corn mazes. Some pumpkin patches require advance ticketing to assure social distancing or have converted to a drive-through format. But farmers say customers appear grateful the patches offer a safe, family activity.

Kiwifruit farmers add new varieties
New varieties of kiwifruit, with red or gold flesh in place of the traditional green, may allow farmers to expand markets for the crop. One San Joaquin Valley farmer has been working for more than 20 years to refine growing techniques for a red kiwifruit variety he says has a sweeter flavor. Others now offer gold-fleshed or extra-large green fruit. California farms produce nearly all the kiwifruit grown in the United States.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 15Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Wildfire damage may lead to crop insurance claims
Farmers and ranchers who have crop insurance and have suffered wildfire-related losses should contact their agents within 72 hours, according to the government agency overseeing crop insurance. Winegrape growers who fear their crops may have been damaged by smoke may be covered by insurance, though they must provide evidence of a laboratory test. Private labs have been backlogged, but state and university labs have offered to help test grapes.

Smoke prevents raisin grapes from drying efficiently
Hazy skies caused by wildfire smoke has slowed progress of the California raisin crop. Farmers say it’s been taking up to two weeks longer than usual to dry grapes into raisins in San Joaquin Valley vineyards. The smoke won’t affect the quality of the raisins, but the delay in drying could reduce the size of the crop by leaving the raisins more vulnerable to insects or to damage from an early rain.

Service encourages grazing of potential wildfire fuel
A new, online service attempts to match landowners who want to reduce wildfire fuels with livestock owners whose animals could graze the land. Called Match.Graze, the website was developed by University of California Cooperative Extension. The extension service says grazing can provide an affordable alternative for decreasing grasses and other fire fuels—especially on steep, rocky terrain or land in the urban-wildland interface.

Water watchers hope for a wetter season
California started a new water year Oct. 1, with the state hoping to avoid a second straight dry year. Good reservoir storage from a wet 2019 tempered the impact of a dry 2020 in Northern California. Long-term forecasts point to the development of a La Niña climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which has brought dry weather in the past. The water year ended with reservoirs at 93% of average storage.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 14Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Wildfires damage, threaten crops and livestock
As wildfires rip through wine-growing regions near the North Coast, farmers wait to assess impact to their vines. The Napa County Farm Bureau says it may be several days before farmers can return to property that’s now behind fire lines. The Glass Fire has damaged several wineries in the region, and farmers say smoke from the fire also threatens grapes. State officials say they have opened fairgrounds in Petaluma and Gridley to house animals evacuated from fire zones.

Farm Bureau announces positions on ballot measures
In announcing its positions on statewide ballot measures, the California Farm Bureau reiterated its opposition to an initiative to create a split-roll property tax. Farm Bureau opposes Proposition 15, which it says would raise food prices by increasing taxes on trees, vines, barns and dairies. Farm Bureau said it supports a proposition to increase penalties for certain crimes and opposes one to abolish cash bail.

Food-box program reaches milestone
More than 100 million food boxes have now been delivered to families needing assistance during the pandemic, according to an announcement Tuesday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases fresh produce, meat, milk and dairy products to be included in food boxes distributed to food banks and other agencies. A third round of purchases has extended the program through October.

Consumer prices for fresh fruit decline
Americans paid less for fresh fruit during the first seven months of the year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Tuesday the Consumer Price Index for fresh fruit declined from January through July, before rising slightly in August. The USDA attributed the decline in part to the pandemic, as sellers directed more fresh fruit to retail outlets and less to restaurants and other food-service customers that closed or curtailed operations.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 13Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Farmers, ranchers measure damage from wildfire smoke
Smoke and ash from wildfires cause concern for California crops and livestock. Laboratories that test winegrapes for damaging chemicals in smoke say they’re backlogged, so it may take some time for the overall impact on the grape crop to be known. Smoke can cause respiratory problems for cattle, especially young animals. Hazy skies caused by the smoke have slowed drying of raisins and other crops.

Hot weather affects avocado crop
The full impact won’t be known for a while, but an early September heat wave appears likely to reduce the size of next year’s California avocado crop. Temperatures as high as 118 degrees during the Labor Day weekend have caused fruit to drop from trees. But marketers say the current crop will be larger than first expected. Farmers say demand has fluctuated during the pandemic, but that people appear to be buying more avocados for at-home use.  

Expanded pandemic-aid program accepts applications
Effective this week, farmers and ranchers could begin applying for a new round of federal aid to help offset losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the latest version of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture expanded the program to include more types of losses and more crops. For example, grapes, sunflowers and pima cotton have been added to the hundreds of crops and commodities eligible for aid.

Sacramento Valley farmers plant more pistachios
As Sacramento Valley farmers look for alternative crops, more have been planting one that has long thrived in the southern San Joaquin Valley: pistachios. Demand for the crop, combined with the soil and water in the region and the development of new varieties, make pistachios attractive for farmers north of Sacramento. Small acreages of pistachios have grown in the area for many years, but the crop has now emerged as a top-10 crop in Yolo County.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 12Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Full accounting of fire losses will take some time
Timber, grazing and ranch lands appear to have borne the brunt of the agricultural impact so far from California’s destructive wildfires. A Cal Fire information officer says damage-assessment teams have begun their work, and county agricultural commissioners say a full accounting of the losses could take weeks or months. Smoke from the fires also threatens winegrapes, which can absorb chemicals that produce an off-taste in wine.

Farm Bureau coalition supports wildfire bill
A wildfire-mitigation bill goes before a U.S. Senate subcommittee Wednesday, and a coalition of Western state Farm Bureaus says the measure would help the region address its “catastrophic wildfire crisis.” Thirteen state Farm Bureaus and the American Farm Bureau express support for the bill, the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act. It would implement projects to manage forests, remove hazardous fuels and accelerate post-fire restoration and reforestation.

Farmers say they’ve hopeful about rice crop
Rice harvest will gain momentum in the Sacramento Valley this week. Rice farmers and marketers say they’re optimistic about the crop and its prospects, though they say the pandemic has created an unusual marketing situation. In the early days of the pandemic, Americans stocked up on rice and other staple foods. That trend has eased, and demand from restaurants and other food service businesses remains low, but most export markets for the crop look promising.

Produce business responds to pandemic disruptions
The fresh-produce business has shown resilience in response to pandemic-related swings in demand, according to a University of California professor. UC Davis assistant professor Kristin Kiesel says the pandemic caused “astonishing disruptions” to the produce business, especially as sales to restaurants and other institutions mostly evaporated. She says the overall produce business is now operating at about 20% below pre-pandemic projections.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 11Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Variety of forces affects winegrape harvest
As winegrape harvest accelerates around California, farmers navigate forces that include high temperatures, wildfire smoke and the marketing impacts of the pandemic—on top of large supplies that left some grapes unharvested a year ago. Analysts expect this year’s harvest to be about the same size as last year’s. Marketers say the pandemic has shifted wine demand to retail outlets, with less being sold at restaurants or tasting rooms.

Pandemic widens gap in farm and retail meat prices
Impacts of the pandemic continue to reverberate through the meat business. An American Farm Bureau Federation analysis shows the gap between the retail price and farm price of beef is the largest in 50 years of recordkeeping. A similar gap exists in pork prices. While pandemic-related demand boosted retail prices, slowdowns at meat processing plants led to a backup of animals in the marketing chain that drove farmers’ prices down.

Fires damage university agricultural facilities
Agricultural and forestry research and teaching projects have suffered damage from California wildfires. A representative for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo says it could take months for a full assessment of damage to its Swanton Pacific Ranch in Santa Cruz County, where structures including classrooms burned. Fires also hit six reserves managed by the University of California, with researchers still working to determine the impact on their projects.

UC studies how birds can reduce orchard pests
Bug-eating birds can help farmers reduce populations of a damaging orchard pest, according to University of California research. The project showed wintertime feeding behavior by the beneficial birds reduces larvae of the codling moth, which can damage walnuts, almonds and other crops. Some birds can themselves damage crops, but the researchers say in nut orchards, the benefits of attracting beneficial birds outweighs any risks.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 10Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Farmers, ranchers deal with aftermath of fires
In the wake of wildfires scorching parts of Northern California, affected farmers and ranchers work to rebuild irrigation systems and take other steps to save remaining crops and commodities. Farmers in the path of the wildfires face costs to rebuild or replace damaged structures and equipment. The fires have also burned thousands of acres of grazing land, leaving ranchers with difficult decisions about managing their livestock.

Beekeepers struggle with wildfire losses
Beekeepers in the region around Vacaville say the LNU Lightning Complex fire caused severe losses that threaten their businesses and their ability to provide pollination services to almonds and other crops. In part, that’s because the fires hit at a time of year when beekeepers repopulate their colonies for almond pollination the following February. The fires also damaged or destroyed bee habitat and forage.

Tomato farmers expect heat to reduce yields slightly
Heat waves during the growing season have reduced the size of the processing tomato crop, but crop estimators still expect the harvest to be slightly larger than last year’s. Farmers say they believe the heat may reduce per-acre crop yields, but they still anticipate a good-sized supply for use in tomato products. Marketers say those products have sold well during the pandemic, as people seek foods to cook at home.

Estimators forecast record walnut harvest
As they begin their harvest this month, California walnut farmers anticipate record crops from their orchards. The U.S. Agriculture Department forecast a harvest of 780,000 tons. Walnut marketers say they’re preparing to sell the larger crop. The California Walnut Board and Commission says it will encourage Americans to eat more walnuts as snacks, while working to expand export markets in Europe and Asia.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 9Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Farmers, ranchers assess wildfire damage
Wildfires that have burned swaths of Northern and Central California have scorched rangeland and damaged or threatened crops and livestock throughout the region. Smoke and ash from the fires have also slowed harvests and led to concerns about potential impacts to crops. County agricultural officials and local farm groups have distributed N95 respirators to farmers and farm employees, due to poor air quality caused by the fires.

Congressional letter seeks on-farm protective gear
Twenty-five members of Congress from California asked the White House Tuesday to make more N95 respirators available to farmers and their employees. The masks are required for outside work when air quality worsens during wildfires. The bipartisan request asked the White House Coronavirus Task Force to work with state and local authorities to ensure farmers and farm employees have “priority access to the protective gear they need to do their essential work.”

Almond farmers start harvest of large crop
Widespread wildfires have had an indirect effect on Northern California almond farmers as their harvest begins. Farmers say hazy skies and high humidity slow the drying of almonds that have been shaken to the ground at the start of harvest. Other than the potential delay, the smoke and haze don’t affect the crop. California farmers expect a record-sized almond harvest this year, and also anticipate large crops of pistachios and walnuts.

Dairy marketers assess prospects for autumn
Sales of milk, cheese and other dairy products typically increase during the autumn—but, of course, this is not a typical year. The usual, seasonal rise in fluid-milk sales to schools will be muted, as many schools maintain distance-learning protocols due to the pandemic. Marketers say some of that demand may shift to at-home consumption. Cheese sales may also be affected due to delays or cancellations of sporting events and other gatherings.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 8Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Farmers work to help coastal crops weather heat wave
Hot weather along the California coast places a strain on cool-season crops. A University of California specialist advises farmers on the Central Coast to irrigate their vegetable crops the proper length of time to prevent heat damage. Another farm advisor reports losses to strawberries from the high temperatures. UC Cooperative Extension also says avocados require care to prevent hot weather from harming trees and fruit.

High school, college ag instructors adjust to virtual teaching
As schools reopen—in many cases, virtually—agricultural instructors must figure out how to provide the hands-on learning their classes require. At colleges that can combine distance and in-person learning, physical lab sessions have altered schedules or shop spaces to assure social distancing. High school agricultural instructors say they have distributed lesson kits, supplies and other materials to allow students to do projects at home.

Virtual classes bring changes to school food service
School districts starting the academic year with virtual classes have adjusted how they buy food. Many districts continue to offer curbside meal delivery to students and their families. As a result, they’re now buying fruits, vegetables and other foods in individual servings, rather than in bulk for display at salad bars and cafeteria lines. That has required produce packinghouses to change how they package foods sold to schools.

Pandemic reduces supplies of equipment parts
The pandemic has complicated work for California farmers who need replacement parts for machinery. In some cases, parts have been in short supply. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers says plants in Mexico slowed parts production during the early weeks of the pandemic, making certain spare parts hard to come by. Farmers and equipment dealers say supplies have stabilized, especially for American-made parts.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

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Volume 25, No. 7Wednesday, August 12, 2020

USDA expands pandemic-relief program
As farmers and ranchers continue to struggle during the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday it has made more crops and commodities eligible for relief under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Farmers of 42 new fruit, vegetable and nut crops may now apply, along with producers of cut flowers and nursery crops, farmed fish and other products. USDA extended the application deadline to Sept. 11.

Pandemic alters demand for mushrooms
Mushroom farmers around California say they have reduced production as the pandemic cut demand from restaurants and other food-service customers. Shipments had hit record highs late last year, before customers began cutting orders as restaurants closed or reduced business. Several mushroom farmers say they have cut volumes as much as 30% as they adjust to see-saw markets. California ranks second in the nation in mushroom production.

State Senate won’t hear livestock-feed bill
A bill that could have reduced recycling of food waste to feed livestock has been pulled from consideration before a state Senate committee. The bill, to have been heard this week, would have prevented livestock producers from receiving food byproducts from restaurants, grocers and others. Farmers recycle and upcycle the food waste as livestock feed. Opponents say the bill would have forced more food waste into landfills rather than being used to feed animals.

Researchers report more progress against citrus disease
A few days after authorities said an insect carrying a deadly plant disease had been found for the first time in a California commercial citrus grove, University of California scientists described progress in possibly counteracting HLB disease. UC Riverside researchers say they created models of the bacterium that causes HLB, which could help manage it. Another UC Riverside team recently announced progress on a treatment.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 6Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Shortage of N95 respirators complicates farm work
With the state’s wildfire season beginning to intensify, farm groups say they’re looking for solutions to a lack of N95 respirators. State regulations require the respirators to be available to outdoor employees when wildfires worsen air quality, but the masks have been in short supply during the pandemic. Groups representing the fresh-produce business have asked Congress to include resources for farm employee safety in the next COVID-19 relief package.

Wildfire smoke may lead to crop damage
Farmers in Northeastern California say they expect smoke damage to crops from the Caldwell Fire, which has burned nearly 81,000 acres of land in Modoc and Siskiyou counties. Officials continue to assess damage to grazing land scorched by the fire, and farmers say smoke will likely hurt the quality of hay, potatoes, onions and other crops. One farmer says irrigated farmland acted as a buffer that stopped the fire from spreading to some areas.

UC study shows forest impact on water supply
New research quantifies how forest-management activities such as mechanical thinning and prescribed burns contribute to increased downstream water availability. By studying 20 years of data and satellite imagery for the Yuba and American rivers, scientists at the University of California, Merced, determined the forest-management actions could enhance runoff in the basins by up to 10%—enough water for as many as 4 million people.

Pandemic boosts demand for fresh produce
The pandemic has spurred people’s interest in fresh food, and speakers at a virtual conference of fresh-produce professionals said they expect that could continue after the virus fades. A firm that researches trends in the food business says more people now value freshness and health in their foods. As restaurants continue to struggle, produce suppliers say they’re trying to package fresh fruits and vegetables in ways that require less labor in restaurant kitchens.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 5Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Senate pandemic bill includes farm relief
Additional pandemic relief for farmers and ranchers would come at a critical time, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. A trillion-dollar relief package introduced in the U.S. Senate this week, known as the HEALS Act, contains $20 billion intended to benefit farms, ranches and rural communities. The American Farm Bureau says the pandemic has brought “steep challenges” as farmers and ranchers react to unprecedented changes in markets and supply chains.

Unsolicited seed packets raise concerns
Californians who receive unsolicited seed packets should not open them and should contact their county agricultural commissioner’s office: That’s the advice from the state Department of Food and Agriculture. The U.S. Agriculture Department says suspicious packages have been received around the country. Most appear to have been shipped from China. Officials warn against planting seeds from unknown origins, citing concerns about plant diseases the seeds could carry.

New knowledge could slow grape pest
By mapping the genome of a key grapevine pest, University of California scientists say they have learned how the insect spreads, which could help them learn how to stop it. The research involves phylloxera, which feeds off and damages grapevines. Working with colleagues in France, UC Riverside specialists identified genes that allow the insects to colonize vines. That could lead to breeding of grape rootstock that resists the pest.

Grape Commission ads promote rural communities
Seeking out California-grown grapes at the grocery store benefits rural communities around the state, according to the California Table Grape Commission, which has developed a marketing campaign encouraging shoppers to support the state’s farmers and their employees. The campaign will feature radio ads in Spanish and English. California farms produce practically all the table grapes grown in the U.S., but face competition from imported grapes.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 48Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Klamath farmers avoid further water reductions
Already facing a record-low water allocation, farmers in the Klamath Basin learned Tuesday their supplies would not be cut further. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced it will maintain the earlier allocation, based on improved flows into Upper Klamath Lake. The bureau said last month it might need to cut the allocation to protect fish—and farmers organized a tractor convoy to draw attention to the potential water cutback.

Water remains tight on Central Valley farms
After a dry winter, reduced water availability has led Central Valley farmers to plant fewer crops and water districts to seek additional supplies, as state and federal agencies dispute management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Federal and state water projects expect to deliver only 20% supplies to most agricultural customers. Water agencies say the wet winter of a year ago prevented even more severe cuts.

Cheese prices rise to record highs
With restaurants reopening, though at partial capacity, and sales continuing through retail, export and food-aid programs, cheese prices have surged to records. Analysts describe the price movement as “eye-popping,” given that milk prices had plunged at the start of pandemic-related restrictions. Dairy farmers have yet to see the effects of the cheese-market surge, though it may show up in their June income.

Plant nurseries see unusually high demand
Edible plants remain top sellers at California plant nurseries, where business surged at the start of the pandemic, slackened for a while but has picked up again. One Ventura County nursery operator says customers wanted vegetables in March, then demand focused on fruit trees, but now rose bushes are starting to sell. A Stanislaus County nursery operator says he’s sold out of citrus trees but sales of ornamental plants have been less robust.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 4Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Vegetable farmers face complicated planting decisions
Renewed restaurant closures further complicate decisions for California vegetable farmers. With restaurants restricted to outdoor dining, takeout and delivery, people in the vegetable business say food-service demand has dropped for a number of crops. Farmers must decide soon on what crops to plant for winter harvest, and how much, and say they expect “roller coaster markets” when those crops reach maturity.

Voluntary river-flow agreements hit snag
Efforts have slowed to reach voluntary agreements on river flows to benefit protected fish, as federal and state administrations focus on litigation over management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The voluntary agreements could avoid severe cuts to water supplies for people in the northern San Joaquin Valley. But efforts to negotiate the agreements have stalled, as state and federal administrations disagree about delta operations.

Cattle ranchers face drought impacts
With more than half the state’s rangeland rated in poor or very poor condition, California ranchers and their animals feel the effects of drought. Ranchers who lease land from public agencies say their main obstacle often becomes finding enough water for their livestock. When ponds and other natural water sources dry up, ranchers may have to truck in water or move their animals, even if feed remains sufficient.

USDA reports improvement in dairy exports
Noting that the U.S. dairy business has faced a “tumultuous period” during the pandemic, a report says exports of several dairy products have risen compared to a year ago. The U.S. Agriculture Department says the outlook has “brightened considerably” for U.S. dairy exports, as markets around the world have adjusted to shifting demand. Exports of U.S. milk powder, whey and other products have increased, though USDA forecasts lower exports of cheese and butter.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

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Volume 25, No. 3Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Farm employee shortages persist
Despite high unemployment rates during the pandemic, California farmers say they continue having trouble filling their harvest crews. Some farmers say people laid off from other jobs did move into farm work, but that slowed as businesses began to reopen. At the same time, farmers have stressed the need to maintain employee health and safety. The California Farm Bureau launched a new round of public-service announcements this week with COVID-19 safety messages.

Legislation could modify payroll program
Rules governing the federal Paycheck Protection Program have made it difficult for many farmers to qualify for the program, which helps employers meet their payroll obligations during the pandemic. The American Farm Bureau Federation says fewer than 2% of employers in agriculture and related sectors have received loans through the program. It supports legislation in Congress making technical fixes to help more farmers participate.

Pandemic adds to issues weighing on cotton market
Pandemic-related effects on top of other concerns have led California farmers to plant less cotton this year. The pandemic brought mill closures around the world and has caused people to buy less new clothing. Those factors, plus inventory from last year’s crop, trade disputes and water shortages, prompted California farmers to cut cotton acreage 20% compared to a year ago. Harvest will start this fall.

Miniature backpacks provide health data on chickens
Fitting chickens with tiny backpacks has helped University of California specialists learn how to recognize when parasites bother the birds. UC Riverside scientists say the small sensors caused chickens no discomfort, and gave researchers data about bird behavior that signaled parasite attacks. The scientists say the information could be used by farmers to protect their birds from parasite damage.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Phone: 916-561-5550
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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 2Wednesday, July 8, 2020

UC Riverside announces treatment for citrus disease
After a five-year search, scientists at the University of California, Riverside, say they have found a naturally occurring product that controls the fatal citrus disease HLB or citrus greening. The disease has devastated citrus in some regions and has so far been confined to residential trees in California. UC Riverside said Tuesday geneticist Hailing Jin found the peptide while studying plants that resist the disease.

Grazing cattle reduce wildfire fuel
In reducing wildfire risk, cattle grazing represents an important tool, according to a study prepared by University of California specialists and a private consultant. The study says grazing cattle removed an average of 650 pounds per acre of potential fire fuel. Saying additional research could pinpoint target levels of fuel reduction, the study recommends grazing in areas of high fire severity and risk of fire ignition.

Pandemic brings lingering changes for dairies
Americans’ shopping and eating behaviors will likely be altered for the next 12 to 18 months as a result of the pandemic, and a new analysis says dairy supply chains will need to adjust. The cooperative lender CoBank says people have bought more fluid milk and processed cheese during the pandemic. With stay-at-home orders affecting restaurant demand, the report says, some dairy processors will need to retool to make products for at-home consumption.

Water availability drives farmland values
As the pandemic sends shock waves through the agricultural economy, the long-term driver of California farmland values remains access to reliable water supplies. Speakers at an online agricultural business conference said local agencies face a “daunting task” of balancing water supplies with demand. Agencies will work to increase supplies and will likely employ solutions that include land idling and water markets.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 25, No. 1Wednesday, July 1, 2020

New North American trade pact goes into effect
Additional sales opportunities for some California farmers and ranchers should open with implementation of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that takes effect Wednesday. Farm groups say the effective date of the agreement comes at a crucial time, as the agricultural economy struggles with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada ranks second among foreign customers for California farm products; Mexico ranks fifth.

Farmers reduce acreage of most field crops
Plantings of most California-grown grain and field crops will be lower this year. A government report issued Tuesday estimated reduced acreage for nine of the 13 crops listed. Analysts predicted record-low California acreage for hay, winter wheat, upland cotton, barley and safflower. Field crops with increased plantings in California included rice, oats, sunflowers and beans.

Almond crop moves toward harvest
In California almond orchards, observers report the crop appears to be progressing toward harvest beginning later this month. Almond hulls have begun to split in the western San Joaquin Valley, according to the Blue Diamond Growers cooperative, which predicts earliest harvest by the third week of July. An initial forecast predicted a record-sized California almond crop; an updated forecast will be released next week.

Online tool aims to anticipate weather extremes
To help farmers protect their crops, University of California specialists are developing an online tool that translates climate data to predict extreme heat or cold that might threaten farm fields. The work represents part of UC Cooperative Extension research into how a variable and changing climate could affect crop production. UC says the studies could affect farmers’ future decisions on crop varieties, planting and harvest dates, and pest management.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 16Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Farmers, ranchers assess impact of power outages
Operations are returning to normal at California farms, ranches and agricultural businesses that endured public-safety power shutoffs. The widespread outages interrupted harvest schedules for winegrapes, rice and other crops, and caused scattered produce losses due to lack of refrigeration. The outages also disrupted water deliveries for irrigation and livestock, and caused logistical problems for wineries and food processors.

Crews complete delta habitat-restoration project
An intentional levee breach in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Tuesday completed a years-long habitat-restoration project. Known as the Tule Red Tidal Restoration Project, the work aimed to create wetland habitat for endangered and threatened fish. Customers of the State Water Project provided funding for the work, and said the project would also benefit flood protection. Land for the project had previously been used for duck hunting.

 Volume of avocado harvest exceeds expectations
Despite a damaging heat wave as the fruit developed, California avocado farmers will produce a larger-than-expected crop. The avocado season officially ends at the end of October, and marketers say the California harvest could be as much as 30% higher than preseason estimates. Even so, the harvest was relatively small. The California Avocado Commission says the upcoming crop could be much larger, if weather remains favorable.

 Campaign describes Beef Quality Assurance program
People who want to learn more about how beef is produced now have new resources. The Beef Quality Assurance program has launched a campaign to let people know about how it works with ranchers on cattle handling, health, nutrition and transportation. The campaign includes a video, website and social media components. Most beef produced in the U.S. is grown under the quality-assurance program, which requires ranchers to complete training courses every three years.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 50Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Study details farm costs from pandemic
The pandemic has already caused $2 billion in losses for California farms, ranches and agricultural businesses, and a study released Tuesday says the impact could go much higher. The study, commissioned by the California Farm Bureau and other organizations, said losses could reach $5.9 billion to $8.6 billion by year’s end. The impacts come both from lost sales and from rising costs of food production and processing.

County fairs struggle amid canceled events
Stay-at-home protocols have caused severe losses for county fairs. Some fair boards have said their operations may not survive losses in revenue from canceled events at local fairgrounds. The closures have also hurt students who raise livestock for 4-H or FFA projects. County fairs have organized online auctions to sell students’ livestock, and at least one has managed to hold on-site livestock competitions with social-distancing rules.

Poinsettia growers try to gauge holiday demand
Although Christmas remains six months away, poinsettia growers had to decide a few weeks ago how many plants to prepare for the coming holidays—and the pandemic has made that harder to judge. At least one Central California nursery has announced it won’t grow poinsettias this year. But others say they’re either maintaining or even increasing production, figuring that people may stay home more and want to use poinsettias to brighten their holiday decor.

Program will use artificial intelligence in agriculture
A new Digital Agricultural Fellowship program at the University of California, Riverside, will employ artificial intelligence to tackle farming problems. Specifically, the program will gather and analyze data involving drought issues and pest problems in the Colorado River Basin and Salinas River Valley. The university received a $10 million federal grant this week to jumpstart the program.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 49Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Winemakers, growers assess tasting room reopening
As tasting rooms reopen at many California wineries, vintners and grape growers wait to see how customers respond to new requirements. Counties that have allowed tasting rooms to reopen also require smaller groups of patrons, observing social distancing, with masks for staff and visitors. The closure of tasting rooms during the pandemic has been especially difficult for small wineries that depend on them for most of their sales.

Online sales aim to aid artisan cheesemakers
To help artisan cheesemakers who have lost sales during the pandemic, the California Milk Advisory Board has partnered with a private firm to offer boxes of assorted cheeses for sale directly to consumers. The California Cheesemakers Select boxes will feature four different cheeses in each collection, available online. The Milk Advisory Board says artisan cheesemakers have suffered from restaurant closures and restricted retail offerings during the pandemic.  

Survey points to changes in snacking behaviors
Many Americans have been snacking more during shelter-in-place protocols. A survey commissioned by the California Walnut Board shows nearly half of respondents acknowledging they have been snacking more, with 40% saying they expect that trend to continue as the mandates recede. About 30% of survey participants said their snacking had led to weight gain. The Walnut Board says people might avoid that by snacking on walnuts.  

Almond farmers expect record harvest
The crop in California almond orchards is so heavy that when high winds blew through the Central Valley earlier this month, a number of trees toppled. Observers still expect the crop to reach a record of around 3 billion pounds. Farmers and crop advisors credit the large crop to near-perfect weather when trees bloomed. The Almond Board of California says both domestic and export shipments rose during the early weeks of the pandemic before declining in May.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 47Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Klamath farmers face early water shutoff
With their water supplies due to run dry by mid-June, farmers in the Klamath Basin say they face the “heartbreaking” prospect of watching crops wither. Farmers planted crops based on an April allocation from the federal Klamath Project—only to have the allocation cut sharply in May. After a dry winter, project operators reduced irrigation supplies out of concern for protected fish.

USDA analyst says food system remains resilient
Despite the shocks the pandemic has delivered to the food system, the chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture says people “can continue to rely on abundant food supplies.” USDA economist Robert Johansson says food markets remain well-supplied, and describes disruptions as “temporary and limited.” He says the food system has weathered impacts of the pandemic well, though it’s hard to predict how conditions will evolve.

Pepper growers see robust demand
On-farm prices for California-grown green bell peppers have been sharply higher than a year ago, but farmers say that has more to do with short crops in other regions than pandemic-related changes in demand. In the Coachella Valley, farmers say they’re harvesting red and yellow bell peppers along with green bells. Fewer peppers than expected from Mexico have been reaching market, heightening demand for the California crops.

Agritourism farms adapt their operations
As farmers adjust to how the pandemic has changed markets, those who run agricultural tourism businesses modify their operations to fit the times. With school tours and other offerings suspended, agritourism farms have focused on farm stands, subscription services and drive-through markets. A Northern California farmer who runs a pumpkin patch says he’ll start planting this month and still plans to open this fall, though with some changes.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 46Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Cattle ranchers face difficult decisions
This would typically be a prime marketing time for California cattle ranchers, but pandemic-related slowdowns at meat processing plants have created a bottleneck in the beef market. Ranchers say the situation is forcing them into tough decisions about their market-ready animals. One rancher describes the situation as a waiting game, as ranchers monitor cattle markets and the status of grass on drying pastures.

Pandemic program provides food aid
People who need food assistance during the pandemic have started receiving California-grown food through a new federal program. The Farmers to Families Food Box program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture buys fresh produce, meats and dairy products to be delivered to food banks and other nonprofits. The program intends to help both people in need and some of the farmers, ranchers and food distributors who lost business due to stay-at-home protocols.

UC Davis asks people not to disturb research areas
Rural sections of the University of California, Davis, campus are attracting more visitors, as people look for new outdoor recreation spots during the pandemic. But the university says the additional foot and vehicle traffic threatens to harm habitat and agricultural research. Officials say increased dog walking or jogger activity could unknowingly disrupt sensitive research projects and harm farm animals housed on the Davis campus.  

Most cherries withstand mid-May storms
Cherry growers in the northern San Joaquin Valley say they avoided severe losses from mid-May rainstorms that threatened the ripening fruit. The San Joaquin County agricultural commissioner estimates the rains may have damaged up to 15% of the crop, but says most cherries came through the rain OK. Farmers were working to harvest as much of the fruit as possible before this week’s 100-degree days set it.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 44Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Produce markets show signs of stabilizing
People who grow and sell fresh produce say they expect markets to stay unusually volatile for months, though they indicate they’ve seen some stabilization. The head of a produce-marketing cooperative says sales volumes have risen to more than half of average—after plummeting due to restrictions on restaurants and other food-service buyers. Vegetable farmers will likely adjust planting plans to try to bring supplies back in line with demand.

Retail avocado sales come back from initial drop
Avocado marketers say they weathered a couple of “very stressful” weeks after stay-at-home orders took effect, but since have seen retail sales recover. The California Avocado Commission says sales have “held up fairly well” during the pandemic. Farmers reduced harvest in March but have since increased the amount of fruit reaching market. A bank report says retail avocado sales rose 20% year-to-year during the first month of shelter-in-place rules.  

Rice farmers work to finish planting
Despite occasional slowdowns caused by rain, California rice farmers have had good weather for planting their 2020 crops. But acreage may be less than estimated, as some water districts have restricted irrigation supplies. Farmers have also struggled with reduced availability of a key fertilizer, because imports faced pandemic-related shipping delays. Farmers strive to finish rice planting by June 1.

One-fifth of California rural roads rate as ‘poor’
Rural roads and bridges in California have “significant deficiencies,” according to a new study. A national research group rated 21% of California rural roads in “poor” condition, the 11th worst in the country, and said fatalities occur in rural accidents more than twice as often as on the state’s other roads. The researchers said the pandemic has heightened the importance of rural roads for moving food and other essential supplies.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 45Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Signups for pandemic aid program to start next week
Farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to apply for a federal aid program, beginning next week. The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Tuesday signups will start May 26 for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The American Farm Bureau says many farmers have faced “unprecedented losses” from a breakdown in distribution channels during the pandemic.

Pandemic has also hurt farmers’ off-farm earnings
Along with roiling markets for farm products, the pandemic has cut off-farm income for many farm families. Most farmers or ranchers supplement agricultural income with off-farm jobs, but nearly half of those who responded to a California Farm Bureau survey said they had lost off-farm income due to the pandemic. An agricultural economist calls off-farm income “critical” for small farms, and said many larger farms count on it, too.  

Record blueberry supplies head into a difficult market
Blueberry production from California farms will peak during the next two weeks and marketers say that, combined with the pandemic and a surge of imports from Mexico, has driven prices lower. The California Blueberry Commission says COVID-19 has slowed demand at both retail and restaurants as California builds toward a record crop. The commission says some farmers may have to decide whether to harvest all their blueberries this year.  

CVP water allocations rise a bit
April showers brought a slight increase in water availability for customers of the federal Central Valley Project. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, said Tuesday it will increase allocations for agricultural customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to 20%, up from 15%. The Friant water unit also will see a 5% increase in allocations, to 60%.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 43Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Survey shows California farmers losing sales, income
Most farmers responding to a California Farm Bureau survey reported they had lost sales or customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the voluntary survey, 57% said they had seen sales drop, mainly due to stay-at-home orders that reduced restaurant demand. Another 42% of respondents to the survey said they or a family member had seen their off-farm income decline.

Drop in home building reduces timber demand
The economic impacts of the pandemic include a drop in home construction, which has hurt sales of timber. One California sawmill operator says he has had to cut production in half as a result. Though housing starts have dropped, market analysts say lumber sales at home-improvement stores have been rising, as people take on remodeling projects, including conversion of rooms into home offices.

Flower growers hope for Mother’s Day boost
With Mother’s Day approaching, California flower growers received welcome news when the state allowed florists throughout California to reopen for pickup services, beginning Friday. The California Cut Flower Commission says there will be plenty of flowers available, though transportation and sales obstacles remain. Flower sales have recovered slightly, after a sharp initial drop caused by postponement or cancellation of weddings, graduations and other events. 

Farm exports to China rise, but lag behind goals
The flow of U.S. farm exports to China has increased since the two nations signed a “Phase 1” trade agreement in January, but an American Farm Bureau Federation analysis says sales to China have so far not kept pace with commitments in the agreement. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a role, AFBF says, in part because it has slowed U.S. meat processing for export.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 42Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Pandemic brings ‘one-two punch’ to farm economy
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic reverberate through California agriculture, according to speakers at an online forum. During a virtual town hall hosted by chairs of the Legislature’s agriculture committees, economists said changes in diets and buying habits have disrupted every aspect of the farming business. One analyst said agriculture faces a “one-two punch” from the pandemic shutdown and a slow economic recovery.

Food box program works toward implementation
By mid-May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to begin shipping food boxes to food banks through a new program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. An analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation says the food boxes will be packaged for household use, and will contain fresh produce, dairy and meat products. AFBF says more Americans will likely need food assistance due to pandemic-related job losses.  

Fresno State farm maintains operations
Though classes have transitioned to virtual instruction, the student farm at Fresno State University continues operating, while observing social-distancing protocols. The university says its Agricultural Laboratory has maintained a “near-normal pace” the past month. Students continue to care for livestock and to manage orchards, vineyards and vegetable crops on campus. The farm market at Fresno State has remained open as well.  

Study examines grazing, oak recovery
Nearly two years after wildfire scorched a research facility in Mendocino County, University of California specialists say they’re learning more about how oak woodlands recover. The 2018 fire caused significant damage at the UC Hopland facility. The fire brought much less initial impact in areas where livestock had been allowed to graze. Long-term studies are showing how to manage grazing to assure oaks regenerate.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

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Volume 24, No. 41Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Food system adjusts to new demand patterns
Lost or disrupted markets, plant closures and other effects of the COVID-19 pandemic add extra layers of uncertainty for California farmers and ranchers as peak harvest season approaches for a number of crops. A food distribution system composed of many different channels continues working to reconfigure itself to match supplies with demand—including increased demand at food banks from people who have lost income due to the pandemic.

Farm stands encourage safe shopping methods
Roadside strawberry stands are opening for the season in the Central Valley—and this year, many display new signs informing customers how to shop while practicing social distancing. University of California farm advisors developed the signs and distributed them to small-scale strawberry growers. The signs encourage farm-stand customers not to touch, sample or taste the berries, and to maintain a 6-foot buffer with other people at the stand.

Pandemic affects wildfire prevention efforts
Some work to prevent California wildfires has been scaled back due to the pandemic, but government agencies say they’re maintaining other efforts to reduce fuel loads in the state’s forests. The U.S. Forest Service suspended controlled burns, but CalFire says all its fuel-reduction methods remain available. The California Farm Bureau says timber operations, grazing, mechanical brush clearing and other tools can all reduce wildfire threat.

Fair cancellations alter youth livestock sales
Cancellation of many county fairs around California due to the pandemic will have ripple effects for participants in youth and junior livestock events. Students who raise animals to show and sell at a fair often use the proceeds for college savings or to reinvest in future projects. County fairs that have already canceled are looking at alternatives, such as online sales, or making other arrangements for the students to sell their animals.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 40Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Dairy farmers grapple with drop in demand
Sales of milk and dairy products to restaurants, schools and other institutions have declined rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving dairy farmers with excess milk supplies. Farmers are being asked to slow production, find alternative buyers and, in some cases, discard milk. The drop in demand comes at the “worst time,” farmers say, as warmer spring weather encourages cows to produce more.

Farmers plant tomatoes amid market uncertainty
Tomato farmers say they’re “rolling the dice” as they plant their crops amid tumultuous markets. Demand for canned tomato products has risen during the pandemic, but sales to restaurants and other food-service customers have dropped. Farmers say they’re maintaining their planting plans for processing tomatoes that will be harvested this summer, and that they have also adjusted operations to accommodate new employee safety measures during the pandemic.

Scientists work to enhance nutrients in lettuce
As one of the most consumed fresh vegetables, lettuce plays an important role in American diets—and researchers say increasing nutrients in lettuce could improve health without asking people to change their dietary habits. At a Future of Lettuce Symposium, California scientists described progress in breeding lettuce higher in nutrients such as vitamin C, antioxidants and beta carotene, and lettuce that lasts longer after harvest.  

U.S. farms, ranches reduce per-unit emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture continue to decline, according to government data analyzed by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The AFBF analysis says agriculture accounts for less than 10% of total U.S. emissions. On a per-unit basis, methane emissions from livestock operations have declined, even as production has risen, and crop farmers have been able to grow more on fewer acres.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 39Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Pandemic brings changes for small-scale farms
Small farms that lost business from restaurants and other food-service clients have been looking for alternative customers or business models during the COVID-19 pandemic. More farms now offer food-box options for pickup or delivery, and a number have collaborated with other farms to lend variety to their food-box offerings. Some farms have also tried e-commerce as a potential way to expand their customer base.

Fruit processors work to keep up with rising demand
Shelf-stable foods such as canned peaches and pears have seen demand leap during the pandemic. The head of the California Canning Peach Association says retail demand the past month has been “unprecedented.” Processors have changed their operations to replenish depleted store shelves and ship products quickly to retail customers. School districts are using fruit cups in the “grab and go” school meals they provide to students.

At nurseries, sales of edible plants jump sharply
The pandemic has brought a sharp shift in demand at retail nurseries and garden centers. Sales of landscaping plants have slumped, but sales of vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and other edible plants have skyrocketed. One nursery owner described sales of vegetable plants as “crazy—off the hook.” Nurseries say many of their sales have been to first-time gardeners who hope to avoid trips to the supermarket by growing more of their own food.

Time spent on food preparation increases
Americans have already been devoting more time to food preparation, even before restaurants constricted operations and people were advised to stay at home. A new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the amount of time people devoted to food preparation increased 18% in a decade’s time—to about 27 minutes a day. The time span for the study predates the COVID-19 crisis.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

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Volume 24, No. 38Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Farms, ranches ensure social distancing
In fields, orchards and vineyards around California, farmers and their employees have been observing new social-distancing protocols to avoid spread of the novel coronavirus. Training sessions have been held to reinforce the need for additional precautions. Where necessary, farmers have adjusted operations to allow for distancing. Hand washing and other sanitary procedures are already routine to ensure food safety.

Pandemic leads to turbulent beef markets
As people hunker down and cook more meals at home, they’ve been buying more beef. That has led to surging demand, particularly for hamburger. But demand for higher-end cuts has suffered, due to restrictions on restaurants and on export sales. The turbulent markets, combined with dry weather in recent weeks, have left cattle ranchers facing complicated decisions about how to manage their herds and when to send animals to market.

Flower growers see sharp drop in sales
The closure of most retail florists and postponement or cancellation of public events and weddings has caused flower sales to plummet. Flower growers say they saw demand fall by 90% or more after stay-at-home protocols took force. The California Cut Flower Commission says at least one large farm has closed permanently. Others have suspended operations or are trying to find new outlets for their blooms.

Wineries adjust to stay-at-home protocols
Vines have started budding for 2020 winegrape crops, at the same time as wineries alter their marketing practices to accommodate stay-at-home protocols that have closed tasting rooms and reduced restaurant sales. Wineries have taken steps such as offering free or low-cost shipping, or curbside pickup, for online orders. Some offer virtual wine-tasting sessions online. Analysts say the market pressures will ultimately filter down to grape growers.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 37Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Many farmers markets required to close have reopened
With certified farmers markets now defined as an essential service for distribution of food supplies, many of the markets that had been temporarily closed by local agencies or property owners have now reopened. Some markets lost their permits after authorities issued stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, and not all the markets have reopened. Markets have instituted added safeguards for social distancing.

Plant nurseries maintain services to farmers, gardeners
Spring represents a crucial season both for farmers and for home gardeners who grow produce—and a group representing plant nurseries and garden centers says that makes those businesses essential during the COVID-19 crisis. The Plant California Alliance says nurseries and garden centers remain open to provide services to farmers, urban gardens and community-supported agriculture operations.

Surging food demand includes dairy products
Grocery stores and farm groups have been urging people to buy only the food they can use, but a number of staple products have seen surges of demand, including dairy foods. Analysts say people have been stocking up on milk, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products. One small-scale milk processor in the San Joaquin Valley says he’s been operating at 140% of capacity to keep customers supplied.

Rice fields test fish-friendly farming methods
Transmitters implanted into young salmon will help scientists learn if allowing the fish to grow in flooded rice fields helps them survive their journey to the Pacific Ocean. While flooded for the winter, the fields provide abundant food, allowing the fish to bulk up fast before they’re released into the Sacramento River. Researchers have been testing four different methods of making rice fields more fish-friendly.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 36Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Farmers markets cope with COVID-19 response
Reaction to the novel coronavirus has led some local governments and property owners to suspend operation of farmers markets. Market managers say they should be considered an essential public service, similar to grocery stores. Though some farmers markets have been temporarily closed, others remain open and have instituted additional measures to prevent close contact among customers and vendors.

Restaurant reductions affect farmers
Temporary closures or reduced occupancy by restaurants, work-site cafeterias and other outlets have ripple effects to the farmers and companies that sell fruits, vegetables and meats to such food-service businesses. Food wholesalers say they’re working to find alternative customers for farm products. Though sales at restaurants and institutional clients have declined, outlets that offer drive-through, pickup or delivery service have seen their business increase.  

Flight cancellations complicate food shipments
Travel restrictions intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus have led to canceled flights, reducing options for shipping California-grown foods to foreign customers. Shipments carried on passenger planes complement shipments via ocean and air freight. With passenger flights reduced, perishable cargo such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, meats and dairy products will compete for space on aircraft with other commodities and express shipments.  

March storms help pastures and snowpack, a little
Pasture grasses around California have turned brown due to dry weather for much of the winter. Ranchers say mid-March rains helped. But grass on many rangelands has matured to a point that it won’t produce as much vegetation, even after the rains. In the Sierra, weekend storms boosted the snowpack—but to only 46% of average statewide, compared to 38% before the storms.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

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Volume 24, No. 35Wednesday, March 11, 2020

New coronavirus may affect demand for farm products
As public health officials grapple with the impacts of the new coronavirus, farmers and agricultural marketers assess the impact on their businesses. Analysts say slower economic growth, reductions in travel and trade slowdowns caused by reactions to the virus could contribute to declining demand for certain farm products. In addition, some agricultural trade missions and conferences have been canceled or postponed.

California-grown cabbage fills St. Patrick’s Day market
Cabbage has been heading to market for St. Patrick’s Day in plentiful supply. California farmers say warm, dry weather during the growing season has caused cabbage to mature rapidly. Wholesale prices have been much lower than at the same time a year ago. Farmers along the Central Coast and in the desert have been harvesting cabbage prior to the holiday. California leads the nation in cabbage production.  

California grape crush declined in 2019
Fewer grapes were crushed for wine in California last year. A report issued Tuesday says wineries crushed about 4.1 million tons of grapes in 2019, down nearly 9% from a year earlier. The average price earned by grape growers also declined, about two and a half percent. Some grapes went unharvested last year because of an oversupply. Chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon remained the most popular winegrape varieties.  

Study says wild plants could help their domesticated cousins
Wild relatives of crop plants could help crops grow successfully with less fertilizer, according to new research. A professor at the University of California, Riverside, says wild plants can interact more successfully with soil microbes than their domesticated relatives that were bred for high yields. The study indicates that breeding some of those traits back into domesticated crop plants could improve plant growth.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

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Volume 24, No. 33Wednesday, February 26, 2020

CVP announces initial water allocations
A reduced snowpack leads to cautious water allocations for San Joaquin Valley farmers. The federal Central Valley Project said Tuesday it expects to provide agricultural water contractors south of the delta with 15% supplies. The CVP says the allocation would have been less had it not been for new operations plans signed last week. Farm water contractors north of the delta received a 50% allocation.

February weather affects pastures, orchards
Warm, dry February weather has ranchers providing supplemental feed to their animals, and farmers checking their orchards. Pastures around the state have dried due to lack of rainfall, though a farm advisor says forage plants could recover if rains return in March. Fruit and nut trees need a certain amount of chilling to set a crop each year. So far, experts say, trees appear to have gotten enough chilly weather to go fully dormant.  

Lower lemon prices result from increased supplies
Lemon prices have been lower than a year ago. Farmers say larger crops and overlapping harvests from other growing areas have put more fruit on the market. More farmers are harvesting a new, seedless variety they hope could boost lemon sales. Most demand for lemons comes from food service buyers, because the most frequent use for the fruit is as a condiment. California farms produce about three-quarters of the lemons grown in the U.S.

USDA reports on crop-automation investments
With farmers reporting ongoing trouble in hiring enough people to harvest fruits and vegetables, the U.S. Agriculture Department says it has invested nearly $300 million in research into automation and mechanization of specialty-crop production. In a report to Congress, USDA said it has funded more than 200 automation projects during the past decade. The agency says it has also worked to improve digital connectivity in rural areas.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 32Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Legislation would enhance pest inspections
Efforts to keep agricultural pests and diseases out of California and the U.S. would receive a boost from legislation passed by Congress. The bill provides funding to add more agricultural inspectors and “sniffer dogs” at airports and seaports, to check for produce and animal products that might carry exotic pests. Supporters of the bill say invasive pests and diseases cost the economy and environment alike. President Trump is expected to sign the bill.

UC to document impact of grazing for fire prevention
More frequent and damaging wildfires have heightened the need for updated research on how livestock grazing helps reduce fire hazard, and the University of California Cooperative Extension says it will begin such a study. A UC livestock advisor says grazing is the most widespread practice to lessen grasses and reduce the speed and intensity of fire—but notes that some public land management agencies don’t allow grazing.

Mushroom farmers battle rising production costs
Rising business costs have put the squeeze on California mushroom farmers. Growers say higher wages and other costs contribute to a decline in mushroom production. California remains the No. 2 mushroom-producing state, behind Pennsylvania. Farmers grow mushrooms inside, under strict climate control, with a growing cycle that usually takes 11 or 12 weeks.

Berry powder can delay ice cream from melting
To help keep ice cream from melting too fast, researchers have come up with a new, natural solution: freeze-dried strawberry powder. A scientist at a U.S. Agriculture Department lab in Albany tried powder from several different berries to act as a stabilizer in making ice cream, and determined strawberry powder worked best. The powder could be used to complement other products now being used, though ice cream makers would need to account for the added berry flavor.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

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Volume 24, No. 31Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Coronavirus outbreak disrupts trade missions
Concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in China have led some farm groups to postpone trade missions to the country. Heeding the advice of market representatives in China, the California Prune Board, for example, will not take a delegation of growers to China and Hong Kong this spring to promote the product. China’s efforts to contain the public health crisis also call into question whether it will be able to meet its obligations under the U.S.-China Phase 1 trade agreement, which takes effect Friday.

Environmental footprint of California dairy farms shrinks
New research in the Journal of Dairy Science finds that the climate footprint of milk production in California shrank dramatically between 1964 and 2014. This is attributed to improved nutrition and more efficient use of water, among other factors. One San Joaquin Valley dairy farmer said that although there’s still work to do, the numbers show dairies have come a long way.

Technology on the rise in the field—and the farm office
A recent agricultural-technology summit in Modesto focused not just on the flashy, but also the mundane. One farm-tech officer spoke of the need to use technology to track finances in real time, as a way to help farmers make more informed decisions about money. Getting the next generation interested in the business is the focus of one educator who helps teens find internships with equipment makers.

Farm Bureau leader helps kick off World Ag Expo
Billed as the world’s largest agricultural equipment show, the World Ag Expo opened a three-day run in Tulare Tuesday. More than 100,000 visitors from 65 countries will explore displays of equipment, technology and services for farms and ranches. Opening the show, American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall described agriculture as the most exciting and important business in the world.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

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Volume 24, No. 30Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Valentine’s Day plants trending upward
Live plants are gaining in popularity for Valentine’s Day, with social media trends leading the way. Orchids are a top seller at one Sacramento-area nursery, with blooming succulents, tropical plants and African violets not far behind. One San Diego County grower said she’s selling a lot of plants with pink blooms or leaves, as well as Anthuriums with heart-shaped flowers.

Tomato tonnage about steady this year
California tomato processors expect to handle about 12 million tons of fruit this year, a figure essentially unchanged from 2019. That’s good news for the state’s processing tomato growers, whose 2019 crop fell short due to late-season rain and hail. As export challenges linger, growers expect more of their harvest to be used domestically in products ranging from soup to salsa.

Natural and working lands offer potential for carbon reduction
California’s working lands can help the state achieve negative carbon emissions by 2045, according to a study by Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Scientists found that increasing the uptake of carbon in natural and working lands, as well as converting waste biomass to fuels and storing the CO2, could together reduce annual carbon emissions by 109 million metric tons of the 125 million needed to reach the goal.

Oak trees may hold answer to devastating citrus disease
Scientists have found that applying oak leaf extracts inhibits the bacterium that causes the devastating citrus crop disease huanglongbing, or HLB. The disease has reduced Florida’s citrus crop by 90% and led to plant quarantines in Southern California after being found in residential citrus trees. Scientists from the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture investigated oaks after farmers observed citrus trees planted near oaks survived HLB.


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Volume 24, No. 29—Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Desert vegetable harvest picks up momentum
Winter vegetable harvest in the California desert has picked up the pace after something of a slow start. Farmers say rains in late December and early January delayed planting and harvest in the Imperial Valley. Occasional cold weather has meant farmers had to wait until midmorning to begin their daily harvests. The desert valleys of California and Arizona produce most of the nation’s lettuce, spinach and other vegetables during the winter.

Ranchers hope for rains to sustain pastures
Rainfall the next few weeks will make a big difference in how California cattle ranchers manage their herds through the spring. Ranchers say rainfall so far this winter has been adequate to keep pastures green, meaning enough grass for their cattle. But cool weather has meant the grass hasn’t grown as fast as ranchers would prefer. In some cases, ranchers say they’re buying hay just in case they need to provide supplemental feed for their herds.

Lack of employees slows orchard, vineyard work
In the orchards and vineyards of California, winter means it’s time to prune fruit trees and grapevines. Farmers in many parts of the state say they’re having trouble hiring enough people to do the work. One Central Valley peach farmer who used to hire 40 people to prune his trees says he could only hire eight this year. Mechanical pruners have become available for vineyards. Peach farmers say their crops generally need to be pruned and harvested by hand.  

USDA predicts worldwide citrus production
Worldwide production of most citrus crops will likely decline in the current harvest year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A USDA report projected reduced global crops of oranges, tangerines and mandarins, and lemons and limes. But the report said worldwide grapefruit production could set a record high. USDA said orange harvests in the U.S. and China should increase, but a smaller crop in Brazil will bring global supplies down.


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Volume 24, No. 28Wednesday, January 22, 2020

USMCA to be signed soon
President Trump says he plans to sign the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement soon. Speaking to farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Austin, Texas, Trump said he would sign the agreement when he returns from a trip to Europe. The Senate gave final congressional approval to the deal last week. California farmers say it will solidify two of the top foreign markets for the state’s farm products.

Celery prices settle after 2019 surge
Celery prices have largely returned to Earth after skyrocketing last year in the wake of an Internet-fueled celery-juice craze, with Ventura County growers reporting normal supplies and pricing. Organic celery, once going for upward of $70 per carton in the spring, is back to about $18. Ventura growers report no weather-related challenges this season, other than late-fall rain that interrupted planting.

Almond orchards buzzing as bloom time nears
As more almond orchards come into production, beekeepers are racing to keep pace. More than 2.5 million beehives will be moved into California orchards over the next few weeks in preparation for bloom season. With 300,000-plus acres of almonds expected to begin producing nuts over the next few years, beekeepers say an additional 600,000 new hives will be needed to ensure the young trees are pollinated.

New strawberry variety lasts longer
A new strawberry variety released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been shown to have a significantly longer shelf life than several other popular varieties. The spring-bearing ‘Keepsake’ strawberry is also reported to have excellent flavor and sweetness, a juicy texture and reliable yields. The variety was increased for distribution at a Northern California nursery.


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Volume 24, No. 27—Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Almond farmers expand bee health actions
In advance of the annual pollination season, almond farmers and processors have announced a Pollinator Protection Plan to protect honeybees. The Almond Board of California said Tuesday it will enhance its ongoing work to benefit bees. Plans include expanding the number of farmers who provide pollinator habitat, funding five new studies by bee experts, and holding on-farm workshops on best management practices for bee health.

Field-crop production decreases
Production of most California-grown field and grain crops declined during 2019, according to an annual report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers sold less rice, cotton, wheat, corn and most other field crops last year. Production of hay rose slightly, and marketing of California potatoes and barley also bucked the general trend by increasing.  

Protein appears to control plant growth
Discovery of a protein that controls plant growth could ultimately help crops withstand challenging conditions. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, found the protein while studying plant cells. They say the protein, called IRK, sends a signal to root cells on when not to divide. Knowing how to control the protein might allow plants to grow under conditions they might not otherwise.  

County Farm Bureaus earn national recognition
Three county Farm Bureaus from California have been chosen to highlight outstanding activities during the American Farm Bureau Federation convention next week in Austin, Texas. The Humboldt County Farm Bureau created a program to encourage high school students to pursue agricultural careers. The Sacramento County Farm Bureau created its own mobile app. The San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation showed adults how to prepare healthy meals with local products.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

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Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 26Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Farm groups analyze state water portfolio
The new year began with the Sierra snowpack and California reservoirs at near-average levels, and with release of a California Water Resilience Portfolio by state agencies. The agencies outlined a number of actions intended to improve California water quantity and quality. A California Farm Bureau analyst said the organization appreciated the document’s substance and its urgency. Comments on the draft plan will be accepted through early February.

Senate committee approves trade agreement
A new agreement smoothing trade among the United States, Mexico and Canada moved a step closer to ratification Tuesday, with approval by the Senate Finance Committee. Farm groups welcomed the action, which sends the agreement to the full Senate. The House approved the deal last month. It must also be approved by legislatures in Canada and Mexico. Canada ranks No. 2 in foreign purchases of California farm exports; Mexico ranks fifth.

Strawberry supplies could set record
Record supplies of California-grown strawberries could reach market between Easter and Independence Day, according to a survey from the California Strawberry Commission. The survey indicates strawberry farmers will plant nearly 4% more acreage this year. That, combined with planting of higher-yielding varieties, should increase strawberry supplies compared to last year, if typical weather patterns hold.

Avocado crop should be much larger
Expect to see more California-grown avocados on the market. The California Avocado Commission projects a crop of 369 million pounds, up from about 215 million in 2019. Hot temperatures during crop development reduced California avocado supplies last year, but the commission says it expects a “great” 2020 crop. California farmers harvest avocados all year, with peak volumes anticipated in May, June and July.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

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Volume 24, No. 25Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Committee action sets up House vote on trade pact
With the House of Representatives set to vote this week on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, farm groups say they welcome progress on the pact. The House Ways and Means Committee voted Tuesday to send the agreement to the full House. The Senate will likely act on it next year. Farm organizations say the agreement will improve the flow of agricultural trade in North America, which supports jobs in rural and urban areas alike.

Almond sales remain strong to export customers
New advertising and marketing programs in different countries have helped almond marketers expand exports despite retaliatory tariffs in China and other countries. At an annual conference, people in the almond business said overall export sales have risen even though sales to China fell by about one quarter. In all, California almonds are sold in more than 100 countries, with exports to other nations compensating for the drop in Chinese purchases. 

U.S. will import less meat next year
Drought in Australia and New Zealand will contribute to reduced meat imports in the U.S. next year. Most beef and lamb imports come from the two nations, and the U.S. Agriculture Department predicts a second straight year of declines in 2020. Pork imports will decrease due to record U.S. production and strong demand in Asian nations suffering outbreaks of swine flu. Imports represent about 8% of U.S. red meat consumption.  

Families dominate nation’s farm ownership
Farming remains overwhelmingly a family business, according to an annual government report. The report says 98% of farms are family farms of varying sizes, accounting for 88% of farm production. Many operators of small and mid-sized family farms rely on off-farm work to supplement their agricultural income. The report says more than 70% of farms receive no farm-related government payments.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 24Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Vote nears on agricultural immigration bill
With Congress poised to vote on immigration legislation affecting agricultural employees, the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation says the bill would benefit farmers, their employees and rural communities. CFBF President Jamie Johansson urges approval of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which he says would improve agricultural visa programs and accommodate immigrant agricultural employees already in the United States.

Farm Bureau welcomes progress on trade pact
Agreement between the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi clears the way for a vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and the California Farm Bureau says it’s happy about the development. Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson says the USMCA will help California agricultural products gain improved market access to two top export customers. Canada is the No. 2 importer of California farm goods; Mexico ranks fifth.

Christmas tree farmers report strong sales
Their season got off to a soggy start, but farmers who operate choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms say sales remain brisk. Farmers say their customers have taken advantage of breaks in the rain or braved soggy weather to maintain the tradition of a fresh-cut Christmas tree. Reports of a nationwide tree shortage may also have prompted shoppers, but that relates more to farms that produce trees for wholesale rather than choose-and-cut operations.

Three earn honors for Farm Bureau service
A farmer who has served on the San Benito County Farm Bureau board for more than 70 years has been honored for distinguished service by the California Farm Bureau Federation. Ninety-four-year-old Al Bonturi of Hollister received the award at the CFBF Annual Meeting. The organization also presented service awards to retired CFBF Administrator Rich Matteis and retired San Diego County Farm Bureau executive Eric Larson.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 23Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Storms bring relief to farms, ranches
After two dry months to begin the California rainy season, farmers and ranchers generally welcome December storms that deliver rain to lower elevations and snow to the Sierra. State water officials point out that precipitation last year didn’t pick up until after Thanksgiving, but eventually brought a wet winter. Reservoir levels remain generally above average as a result, though the State Water Project issued its initial allocation at only 10% supplies.

Reclamation bureau seeks to repair Central Valley canal
A federal agency has officially kicked off the process to repair a key Central Valley waterway. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday it will begin accepting public comment on plans to repair the Friant-Kern Canal. The canal has lost much of its capacity due to land subsidence. It delivers water to farms in Tulare and Kern counties, and also serves a quarter-million residential users.

Sorghum study pinpoints drought tolerance
Knowing more about how sorghum plants survive during drought could help other cereal plants during water shortages, and University of California researchers say they’ve gained important information. A study of sorghum grown at a Fresno County research center shows how the plants turn certain genes on and off during and after times of water scarcity. UC specialists say the study gives them real-world examples of how to help plants tolerate drought.

Americans pick up the pace of meat consumption
Meat consumption among Americans has increased, according to analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA says total consumption of red meat, poultry, fish and shellfish rose nearly 8 percent in the most recent four-year period. Beef consumption rebounded, the report says, due to an improving economy and stable retail prices. Chicken remains the most-consumed meat, at about 52 pounds per person per year.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 22Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Portable pens help with emergency livestock housing
To help house farm animals displaced during disasters, portable livestock pens have been deployed to fairgrounds around California. The pens were formally dedicated Tuesday during a ceremony in Yuba City, and were purchased jointly by the California Farm Bureau Federation’s charitable foundation and the state Department of Food and Agriculture. They can be distributed to fairgrounds to help animals evacuated due to wildfires, floods or other emergencies.

Bill in Congress could reduce farms’ estate tax burden
Farm organizations welcome introduction of legislation that would ease the potential federal estate tax burden for family farmers and ranchers. Cosponsored by Salinas-area Rep. Jimmy Panetta, the bill would assure property would be appraised as farmland rather than at its development value when determining estate taxes. Supporters say the bill would make it less likely a family farm would need to be broken up to pay estate tax.

Annual turkey consumption remains stable
With the big turkey-eating holiday coming, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Americans will consume an average of more than 16 pounds of turkey per person this year. That’s similar to levels of the past decade. California ranks eighth in the nation in turkey production. USDA reports wholesale turkey prices up slightly from a year ago. But an annual American Farm Bureau retail-price survey shows turkey prices to be down.

Americans spend more time on food prep, less on eating
How much time do you devote each day to eating? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend an average of 64 minutes a day on eating or drinking as a primary activity. That’s down slightly from a decade earlier, but the time Americans spend on preparing food has gone up. So has time devoted to cleanup, grocery shopping and buying non-grocery food, such as from a fast-food restaurant.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 21Wednesday, November 20, 2019

House committee to discuss agricultural immigration bill
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider an agricultural immigration bill. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 would improve agricultural visa programs and accommodate immigrant agricultural employees already in the United States. The California Farm Bureau Federation announced support for the bill last month, and more than 300 groups and companies wrote to House leaders this week, urging a vote on the measure.

Agreement boosts rice sales to South Korea
Rice farmers and marketers welcomed announcement of improved access to the South Korean market. Trump administration officials announced Tuesday an agreement they said would give the U.S. a record volume of guaranteed rice sales in Korea. The California Rice Commission described South Korea as one of the state’s top overseas customers, and said the agreement will provide greater access to Korean consumers.

Songbirds provide natural pest control on farms
Planting native trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers near farmland can attract songbirds, which in turn can help farmers control insect pests. A University of California study says songbirds can reduce insect pests by up to 46%. The researchers say planting habitat along the borders of fields benefits songbirds and provides natural pest control, because those bird species eat insects and don’t damage crops.

Grant aids nutrition incentives at farmers markets
Access to fresh produce for food-assistance recipients will benefit from a grant provided to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The $7 million federal grant will help the state offer nutrition incentives to shoppers who use CalFresh benefits at farmers markets and small retail outlets. For every benefit dollar spent, the program provides an additional dollar to spend on California-grown fruits and vegetables.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 20Wednesday, November 13, 2019

California working landscapes provide economic vitality
California farms and businesses associated with agriculture continue to be economic powerhouses, according to a new study. It analyzed the economic contributions of California’s “working landscapes” and found that agriculture and other support activities account for 6.4% of the state’s economy, support more than 1.5 million jobs and generate $333 billion in sales. The value of the state’s working landscapes comes in ahead of health care, real estate, retail and construction industries.

Survey says U.S. is No. 1 in food affordability
Americans have the world’s most affordable groceries, according to an American Farm Bureau Federation analysis. The organization reported that people in lower-income countries spend much more of their household budget on food than those in high-income countries, and added that agricultural trade and policy can take some of the volatility out of global food prices.

California to exchange agricultural expertise with two countries
Two agreements have been finalized for agricultural information sharing between California and researchers in the Netherlands and India. The California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality have committed to exchanging knowledge on topics including climate-smart agriculture, agricultural sustainability, water management and food waste. The second agreement between Fresno State University and Punjab Agricultural University in India involves sharing research on subjects such as water management, irrigation technology, agricultural mechanization and crop improvement.

Power shutoff may have boosted fire risk
A power shutoff meant to stave off a wildfire meant a Ventura County avocado and citrus farmer couldn’t irrigate his crops for nearly two days―and when the Maria Fire burned its way into his groves, he couldn’t help firefighters battle the blaze. That scenario is frustrating a lot of growers dealing with power shutoffs and the threat of fire. In Sonoma County, losses from the Kincade Fire are still being tallied, but one agricultural commissioner thinks vine damage may be worse than in 2017.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 19Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wildfires damage crops, pastures, buildings
Nearly 200 acres of avocados and lemons have been damaged or destroyed in Ventura County, after wildfires that broke out last week. The county agricultural commissioner’s office says it hasn’t yet had a chance to assess all the farming areas affected by the fires. In Sonoma County, farmers and ranchers say the Kincade Fire destroyed pastures, barns and winery facilities. The fire also hit grapevines, which often acted as firebreaks.

Power shutoffs lead to agricultural losses
The frequency and duration of public safety power shutoffs led to hardships for farmers and ranchers, especially small-scale operations that lost products during the blackouts. One Mendocino County farmer who runs a goat dairy said she had to milk her goats by hand and discard the milk, because she couldn’t use her milking equipment or cold storage. Other farmers said the shutoffs interrupted irrigation schedules and in some cases forced them to abandon crops.

USDA releases new red spinach
In a development a plant breeder says will “bring excitement to the spinach market,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released what it calls the world’s first true red spinach. Known as USDA Red, the new spinach variety was developed at the department’s facility in Salinas. Other types of spinach have had red veins, but the new variety has red leaves—and also boasts higher antioxidant levels than other spinach varieties.

Revenues from agricultural tourism increase
Agricultural tourism continues to grow, according to the latest U.S. Census of Agriculture. Figures show agritourism revenues more than tripled between 2002 and 2017. A government study says commodities such as grapes, fruit and nut trees, and specialty livestock had a positive impact on tourism revenues. The report says agritourism could offer a strategy that helps small and mid-sized farms in particular to bring in additional revenue.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 34,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 18Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Kincade Fire sweeps through farming region
Assessing agricultural damage from the Kincade Fire will take some time, once the fire has been contained. Flames have destroyed or damaged wineries, barns and other structures in Sonoma County. A 107-year-old cattle ranch lost nearly all of its buildings. Reports indicate between 10 and 20% of the region’s winegrapes remain on the vines. The county Farm Bureau has helped relocate evacuated farm animals and organized a hay drive.

California almond, walnut crops to be smaller
Rainy spring weather that reduced California almond and walnut crops will lead to ripple effects on world markets. A government report says world almond production will be down 3% this year, mainly due to a smaller California crop though production will also be down in Europe. However, world walnut production will rise 6%, despite a reduced California harvest, because better weather in China allowed its production to rise sharply.

Drought-tolerant plants could result from research
In work that could help plants resist drought, a research team at the University of California, Riverside, says it has developed a chemical to help plants retain water. Known as O.P., the chemical mimics a natural hormone plants produce in reaction to drought. Researchers say the O.P. chemical could ultimately allow farmers to treat plants that would otherwise wilt from lack of water. The treatment slows a plant’s growth, so it won’t consume more water than available.

Pumpkin crop looks healthy
It may be obvious from looking at jack-o’-lanterns on front porches around the state, but California has produced a “healthy” pumpkin crop this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. California ranks third in the nation in tonnage of pumpkin production, behind Illinois and Texas, but ranks No. 1 in crop value, because nearly all the state’s crop is sold in the ornamental market. San Joaquin County leads the state in pumpkin production.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 17Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Federal agencies update biological opinions for delta fish
New biological opinions for fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta should add flexibility to the state’s water system, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. Federal agencies announced completion of the opinions Tuesday, affecting operations of water projects in the delta. California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson said the opinions enhance existing protection for fish while adjusting water-project operations to improve supplies.

Congressional subcommittee discusses farming technology
California farmers and ranchers stand ready to adopt new technology, according to congressional testimony—especially if it’s readily available, scientifically tested and affordable. Speaking Tuesday to a congressional subcommittee on behalf of the California Farm Bureau Federation, Fresno County farmer Don Cameron recommended continued investment in federal cost-share programs, and urged flexibility in applying new technology to California’s diverse farming environment.

Processing tomato harvest heads to finish line
As farmers finish their harvest of processing tomatoes, they report their crops will be smaller than anticipated. The California Tomato Growers Association says late-season rain and hail contributed to reduced yields of processing tomatoes, which are used to make ketchup, sauces and other products. That will likely reduce inventories of tomato products, and encourage planting of more tomatoes next year.

California Farm Bureau celebrates centennial
The state’s largest farm group, the California Farm Bureau Federation, turns 100 years old Wednesday. It was founded Oct. 23, 1919, when delegates from 32 county Farm Bureaus met in Berkeley. The organization has since grown to 53 county Farm Bureaus representing all forms of agriculture throughout the state. Farm Bureau leaders gathered in Sacramento Tuesday to mark the centennial and dedicate the organization’s new offices.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 15Wednesday, October 10, 2019

Farms provide more agritourism opportunities
Pumpkin patches are popular destinations this time of year, but there are other ways for people to get a taste of the countryside and experience agriculture. Farms that open their doors to the public are increasingly offering overnight lodging, farm-to-table dinners and events, and workshops to attract visitors and generate more tourism revenue. These offerings often showcase the farm’s property and what it produces.

 High-severity wildfires may indefinitely alter California’s forests
A new study says California’s increasingly intense fires may erase some of the state’s forests indefinitely. Scientists found that five to 10 years after a high-severity burn, many forest stands had converted to shrub fields with low diversity of plant species. Authors said current fire trends could prevent forest recovery in large portions of the Sierra Nevada landscape, and suggested the expansion of forest thinning and prescribed burning as management tools.

 Underserved and veteran farmers to benefit from $16.2 million in USDA grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will issue $16.2 million in grants to provide farmers, ranchers and foresters who are socially disadvantaged or veterans with training, outreach and technical assistance. Grants are awarded to higher education institutions, nonprofits and community-based organizations to reach historically underserved communities. The program has awarded 484 grants totaling $119.5 million since 2010.

New robotic arm aids workflow, safety in university lab
There’s a new worker in Fresno State’s citrus processing laboratory: It’s a robotic arm designed to move and arrange boxes of produce. The automated arm has a nearly 7-foot reach and a 150-pound payload capacity, and can also be tasked with inspection, packaging and machine tending. The lab and equipment are used for an industrial technology course that emphasizes citrus processing line operation, safety and maintenance.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 14Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Solving food waste will be complex, study says
New attention to reducing food waste represents an encouraging sign, but a new study says tackling the issue will involve complex solutions. A researcher from the University of California, Davis, who led the study says large, systemic factors on farms, at grocery stores and restaurants, and in home kitchens all contribute. The study indicates a need to focus on cultural and social factors rather than only on actions by individuals.

USDA profiles beginning farms, ranches
Beginning farms and ranches account for 17% of all farms in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA study says beginning farms generally operate at a smaller scale than more-established farms, and their operators rely more on off-farm income. Meanwhile, two Californians are among 20 people appointed to serve on a USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.

Fruit orchards provide larger crops
Tree fruit from California and the rest of the U.S. has been more plentiful. Government estimates show apple production up 4%, peach crops up 13% and the cherry harvest up 5% compared to a year ago. The overall U.S. pear crop will be similar to last year, but California production will be up 15%. Grape production will also be close to last year’s, with the California table-grape crop expected to match last year’s record.

UC looks into elderberries’ potential
Native California elderberry bushes attract pollinators and other beneficial insects to farms. University of California specialists say hedgerow elderberry plantings can bring additional benefits through production of elderberry products. UC advisors are researching production practices, costs and varieties. Several farms around the state already harvest elderflowers and elderberries for creating syrups, jams and other products.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 13Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Farmers, restaurants, chefs urge passage of USMCA
More than a dozen chefs and restaurants joined California food and agricultural organizations this week in urging Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. In a letter to the California congressional delegation, the coalition said the USMCA would include improvements that would help California agriculture to trade fairly, which benefits farmers, restaurants and their customers by assuring availability of high-quality ingredients and affordable dining experiences.

Water year 2019 leaves reservoirs with good storage
As the water year comes to a close on Sept. 30, a California Department of Water Resources storage summary showed all but three reservoirs listed running at or above their historical average. However, the wet year did not provide full water supplies for all. Customers of the State Water Project and south-of-delta agricultural water contractors of the federal Central Valley Project had 75% supplies, a fact some agriculture advocates say points to the need for additional storage.

Big pistachio crops find growing markets
California farmers are producing more pistachios to meet rising global demand. This year’s harvest, currently underway, is expected to produce the third-largest crop in state history, and growers expect to produce the state’s first billion-pound crop next year. Rising affluence in China and India, coupled with increasing health consciousness globally, are buoying demand for the nut, which has enjoyed brisk exports to China despite tariffs resulting from the ongoing trade war. )

UC Riverside and citrus sector unveil state-of-the-art lab
In a ribbon-cutting ceremony and press conference on Thursday, project sponsors will unveil a new state-of-the-art lab in Riverside aimed at protecting California’s $3.3 billion citrus sector from the fatal citrus plant disease huanglongbing, or HLB. The result of a partnership between the state’s citrus growers and University of California, Riverside, The Biosafety Level-3 Lab will enable scientists to conduct research with plant pathogens that previously couldn’t be done in Southern California.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 12Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Farmers, ranchers watch outcome of legislation
Governor Newsom has until October 13 to sign or veto bills sent to him at the end of the state legislative session. Farm organizations welcomed his plan to veto a bill that would preserve California environmental and labor standards from changes initiated by the Trump administration. Other bills sent to the governor’s desk include one sponsored by the California Farm Bureau, to create a rural economic advisor in the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

Rural roads remain in poor shape
Nearly one-third of California rural roads rate in poor condition—the second-highest percentage in the nation—according to an annual report from a transportation group. For farmers and ranchers, that can mean delays and danger in moving crops and livestock to market. Californians began paying higher gas taxes last year to fund transportation projects, but observers say it’s too early to see what impact that will have on rural road conditions.

Biological control may slow watershed weed
A tiny wasp shows promise in controlling a giant weed along California riverbanks. Biologists say the wasp can help reduce stands of the Arundo reed that has invaded watersheds. The wasp is native to the Mediterranean region and lays its eggs on the reed, ultimately reducing its growth. Researchers introduced the wasps near Orland and Madera, and say they have had some effect on the reeds. The wasps do not harm humans, crops or native plants.

Orange crop to be a bit smaller
The coming season’s navel orange harvest will be slightly smaller, according to a preseason crop forecast. Estimators say California farmers will harvest enough navel oranges to fill 76 million 40-pound cartons, down 7 percent from the previous season. The vast majority of the oranges will come from the San Joaquin Valley. California leads the nation in orange production.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 11Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Associations use prescribed fires to manage land
The use of controlled fires to prevent wildfires and meet other land management goals has dwindled in California—but there’s new interest among landowners and public agencies in reviving the practice. The first “prescribed burn association” in the West formed in Humboldt County last year, and new associations are being created in other Northern California regions. The associations allow landowners to pool resources to manage controlled burns.

Dogs detect plant-disease bacteria in citrus groves
Dogs trained to detect bacteria that cause a fatal plant disease found signs of the bacteria in Ventura County citrus groves, and farmers have begun removing trees as a result. The detector dogs check citrus trees for the bacterium that causes HLB, which has killed trees at Southern California residences but has not been found in a commercial grove. After the dogs alerted to more than 200 trees, farmers agreed to remove the trees as a precaution.

UC helps residents combat citrus threat
To prevent the citrus disease HLB from spreading, University of California specialists recommend Southern California homeowners remove citrus trees within two miles of known HLB infections. UC created a web app so residents can enter an address and see how close they are to confirmed HLB outbreaks. At the same time, UC master gardeners recommend alternative fruit trees to replace citrus trees in the affected areas.

Project intends to aid salmon, sturgeon
A fish habitat project north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will proceed, according to an announcement Tuesday from a federal agency. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says it will work with the state Department of Water Resources on a project to improve fish passage in the Yolo Bypass. The project is intended to allow salmon and sturgeon to move more easily to the Sacramento River during the winter season.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 10Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Grazing animals help with wildfire prevention
Demand has risen steadily for livestock to provide grazing services to attack weeds as a wildfire-prevention measure. The California Wool Growers Association says it has more requests from private landowners and public agencies than its members can fulfill. University of California Cooperative Extension says it plans to create a statewide database to match landowners with ranchers whose sheep, goats or cattle could provide grazing services.

Fish-habitat restoration projects continue
More projects are planned this fall to enhance habitat for juvenile salmon in the Sacramento River. The projects, to add side channels, will complement other habitat work. For example, crews added 12,000 tons of gravel to the river earlier this year, to develop new spawning habitat for chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Water rates paid by Sacramento Valley farmers include a restoration fund to help pay for the habitat work.

Marketers report rising demand for organic avocados
As demand for avocados has risen, so has demand for avocados grown organically. The California Avocado Commission reports organic fruit represents about 10% of the current year’s avocado harvest, and that the proportion has been increasing. Most organic avocados have been transitioned from conventional production—a process that takes about three years before the fruit can be sold as organic.

Forecast expects smaller walnut crop
Weather during the growing season has contributed to an expected smaller California walnut crop, according to government estimates. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast walnut production down about 7% compared to a year ago. The USDA says rainy winter and spring weather delayed the walnut bloom, and that local weather conditions resulted in “variable crop development” around the state. California farms produce the entire U.S. walnut crop.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 9Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Marketers report good demand for California almonds
As farmers harvest the 2019 almond crop, marketers say they expect to find plenty of demand for the nuts, despite the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute. Stormy weather during pollination reduced the size of the almond crop, and farmers say the harvest has been running behind a typical schedule. China included almonds on its list of retaliatory tariffs, but marketers report strong demand for the crop elsewhere.

Processing-tomato crop may not reach preseason estimate
Springtime hail appears to have reduced the processing-tomato crop. California dominates production of the tomatoes used in sauces, ketchup and other products. The California Tomato Growers Association says Central Valley hailstorms in May could reduce the crop by as much as 5%. Farmers say they hope to be able to finish the tomato harvest before autumn rains could cause additional problems.

Study tracks beneficial bat activity in vineyards
Oak trees in vineyards provide homes for bats, which in turn eat insects that might bother the vineyards: That’s the conclusion of researchers who monitored bat activity in 14 Central Coast vineyards. The study found 11 different species of insect-eating bats in the vineyards, and greater foraging activity in areas near oak trees. A co-author of the study says bats don’t hurt grapes, and could help vineyards by eating insect pests.

Organization helps ag-tech startup firms
More-accurate measurement of crop water needs, natural pest control and improved food-safety data are among the technological solutions for agriculture being nurtured in a Northern California business incubator. Called AgStart, the Woodland-based organization works to help people turn ideas into viable businesses. That can take time, the incubator’s director says, because agricultural projects may take longer to show a definitive impact.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 8Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Farms rely on data—and data management
Soil probes, weather stations, well monitors and other sources generate information farmers can use to help produce their crops—and that makes data management a higher priority. In some cases, farms create their own programs to digitize information that was once collected on paper. In other cases, they use apps produced by agricultural technology firms. Farmers say the information helps them avoid problems, or solve them more quickly.

Lab works to identify potential HLB treatments
Saying they wanted to make a difference in the fight against a fatal plant disease, bacteria researchers at Stanford University have identified possible treatments for the malady known as citrus greening or HLB. The research team says it has isolated 130 compounds that could show promise against HLB. The citrus disease has no cure now, and the scientists say they hope their work will give other researchers clues about avenues to explore.

Pest experts look for ways to fight invasive stinkbug
A parasitic wasp from eastern Asia could become a new tool for pest experts trying to stem infestations of an invasive stinkbug. The brown marmorated stinkbug first hit several California cities, but has now moved into farm fields and orchards, causing crop damage. A state official says he hopes to obtain a permit to release a parasitic wasp that feeds on stinkbug eggs, once he can assure that can be done safely.

Survey shows few students consider agricultural careers
When asked in a recent survey to identify agricultural careers, most students pointed to farming—but not to other careers in science, technology, veterinary medicine or other fields. The sponsors of the survey, Bayer Crop Science and the National 4-H Council, say there’s a limited pool of skilled applicants for many agricultural-science jobs. They created a project called Science Matters to try to address that gap.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 7Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Effects of Chinese trade action remain uncertain
After China announced it had suspended purchases of U.S. farm products, California agricultural exporters say they continue to assess how the action may affect them. China directed its state-owned enterprises to stop buying American farm goods as part of ongoing trade disputes. But exporters say it’s still unclear how or whether that will affect private Chinese firms that buy California-grown nuts, wine and other products.

Farmers describe progress of coastal vegetable harvest
California’s long, intense winter continues to affect vegetable production on and near the Central Coast. The wet winter delayed vegetable planting and harvest, but Salinas Valley farmers are rotating into their third crops, planting new fields of lettuce, spinach and other vegetables. Farmers report good demand for their crops, though that often dips in the summer due to local and homegrown production in other parts of the country.

Forecasters expect increased fruit production
More California-grown peaches, pears, apples and olives should be reaching shelves this summer and fall. Crop estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show California peach production up 6 percent, pears up 15 percent and apples up 20 percent. The same report estimates the total grape crop to be nearly the same size as last year. In a separate report, forecasters predicted the canning-olive crop would be much larger than a year ago.

Estimates show mixed outlook for field, grain crops
Production will be down for California’s most widely planted field and grain crops, according to federal forecasters. Estimates released this week show alfalfa and rice production off slightly, and the California cotton crop down by one-third. Bean production will also decrease. The report forecast higher production for other California field and grain crops, including oats, barley, wheat and corn.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 6Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Livestock owners look for backup water sources
The potential for power outages intended to prevent wildfires has livestock owners working to be sure they can provide water for their animals. Farmers and ranchers who use electric pumps for livestock water say they’re looking for generators and other backup systems. A University of California farm advisor says power outages could be especially troublesome for small-scale livestock owners. Utilities provide information about backup generation resources and vendors.

Many rural roads remain inadequate
Trucks carry 70% of farm and food products, making rural roads crucial to the agricultural economy. Analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation indicates many rural roads and bridges lack the capacity to accommodate growing freight travel. Congress is working on a new transportation bill. A study released this spring by a national research group rated nearly one-third of California’s rural roads as in poor condition.

USDA tracks fruit, vegetable affordability
For less than $3 a day, Americans can purchase enough fruits and vegetables to meet current dietary guidelines. The U.S. Department of Agriculture calculated costs based on retail prices and a number of fruit and vegetable combinations. Guidelines encourage Americans to eat two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables each day—but USDA surveys indicate most people fall short of those recommendations.

Research on cilantro may improve treatment for seizures
Cilantro has been used in traditional medicine to treat against seizures, and University of California research has found the underlying action that allows the herb to have that effect. Scientists at UC Irvine say this new understanding may lead to improvement in treatments for seizures. The study identified a particular component of cilantro that reduced what the lead researcher called “cellular excitability.”


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 5Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Senate hearing focuses on USMCA trade pact
Saying a new agreement would “lift the cloud of uncertainty hanging over North American trade,” farming organizations urged the U.S. Senate to ratify the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement. Farm groups and agricultural businesses testified before the Senate Finance Committee, as did automotive, trucking, small-business and labor groups. The American Farm Bureau Federation said Congress and the administration should “double down” on talks to approve the agreement.

Tariff reductions help pistachio exports
Reducing tariffs on American-grown pistachios helped sell an extra 2.3 billion pounds of the nuts to foreign customers, according to a new study. The increase came during a nine-year period as a result of lower tariffs from Israel, Mexico, China and the European Union–and before some of those nations imposed retaliatory tariffs on pistachios and other crops. Virtually all U.S.-grown pistachios come from California.

Worldwide citrus production to increase
There will be more citrus fruit on the market around the world this year. The U.S. Agriculture Department says worldwide orange production will rebound to the highest level in eight years, accompanied by record global crops of tangerines, mandarins, lemons and limes. The U.S. is among the nations producing more citrus. California leads the U.S. in fresh oranges, tangerines, mandarins and lemons, with larger crops expected for all except lemons.

Farmers report benefits from soil-health activities
Case studies released Tuesday indicate actions to improve soil health can help farm profitability as well as the environment. American Farmland Trust worked with farmers in California and three other states, reviewing practices such as composting, use of cover crops and other soil-health techniques. Researchers say the examples show farmers being able to reduce their costs and improve crop yields, while also enhancing water and air quality.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 4Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Farmers visit Capitol Hill on behalf of USMCA
Seeking action on a pending trade deal, California farmers and ranchers conduct a “fly-in” to Washington, D.C., Wednesday, to urge congressional ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Farmers will visit the California congressional delegation, asking members to support the USMCA. Supporters say the agreement would strengthen relations with two key markets for California agricultural exports.

New methods, law aim to reduce rural crime
Crimes of theft, vandalism and trespassing plague rural California. Farmers and sheriffs deputies use a number of techniques to combat rural crime, combining new technology with tried-and-true information sharing. Recently signed state legislation creates a new crime category—grand theft of agricultural property—and invests fines collected from those crimes into rural crime-prevention programs.

Winegrape harvest may be delayed
As winegrapes ripen in California vineyards, farmers wait to see how cool, rainy spring weather affected the crop. Farmers expect their harvests to come 10 days to two weeks later than usual, because of the cooler temperatures. Individual farmers say the crop looks smaller, but the leader of a Fresno-based growers cooperative says he believes the winegrape harvest will ultimately be as large or larger than last year’s record crop.

Controlling weeds would lessen chance of wildfire
Invasive weeds worsen California’s wildfire threat, and a University of California specialist says one particular group of weeds—from the genus Bromus—has become a pervasive concern. Cheatgrass and other Bromus species can be found in wide swaths of the state. The grasses can be controlled through livestock grazing, mowing, herbicides and other methods, but have to be tackled at just the right time, before their seeds mature.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 24, No. 3Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Farm groups evaluate changes to agricultural visa program
A proposal from the U.S. Department of Labor to modify the existing agricultural visa program has been met with initial support from farm leaders. California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson says he’s encouraged by the administration’s efforts to improve the system, known as H-2A. Johansson says farmers also need congressional action on wider improvement to immigration laws, to help address chronic employee shortages.

Irrigation districts recharge groundwater aquifers
Wet winters such as the one California just had help replenish underground water supplies, and a number of irrigation districts help the process along through a technique called “conjunctive use.” The method coordinates use of surface water and groundwater supplies within a region. One Fresno County water district says it has been using the technique for 100 years, moving water into recharge basins to percolate into underground water tables.

Rural areas suffer from lack of broadband service
Many urban residents now take broadband internet service for granted, but it remains scarce in some rural areas. An estimated one-quarter of rural Americans lack sufficient broadband service, including many in California. Farmers say more-reliable service would allow them to adopt technology to improve precision of water and fertilizer use and animal care. Fitful internet availability also hampers delivery of public services in rural regions.

Longtime farms, ranches to be honored
Eighteen farms, ranches and agricultural organizations that have been in continuous operation for at least 100 years will join the California Agricultural Heritage Club Wednesday. The California State Fair inducts new members into the club each year. Two farms or ranches will be honored for 150 years of operation. The Grohl Family Ranch in Stanislaus County and Wilbur Ranch in Sutter County each started in 1869.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 23, No. 46—Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rain, hail fall on Central Valley crops
Storms during the Memorial Day weekend threaten damage to a number of California crops. In the San Joaquin Valley, storms dropped large hail that could affect crops including tomato and cotton plants, plus peach, nectarine and cherry trees. Agricultural commissioners say it may be several days before the impact becomes more clear. In the Sierra Nevada, the snowpack now stands at nearly twice-average for the date.

New project evaluates changing range conditions
To see how range and pastureland respond to changing rainfall and temperature patterns, researchers will simulate a variety of conditions at a University of California facility in Yuba County. UC specialists have earned a grant to create shelters that will allow them to control the precipitation and temperature on a research plot. The project will help the researchers learn how rangeland plants and weeds perform under predicted weather scenarios.

California leads floriculture production
If you buy flowers or garden plants grown in the United States, chances remain strong that those plants come from California. A new government report shows California continues to lead the nation in production of floriculture crops. The Golden State accounts for more than three-quarters of U.S.-grown cut flowers, and also leads in categories including bedding and garden plants, and flowering potted plants.

Prune marketers rebrand their crop
Once marketed as dried plums, California prunes will now be called just that—California prunes—in a new marketing campaign. The California Prune Board says the rebranding emphasizes the “premium reputation” of the state’s crop, which is sold in the United States and dozens of countries around the world. The board’s executive director says the idea is to change prunes from an occasional choice to a “daily pleasure” that brings a number of health benefits.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Volume 23, No. 46Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rain, hail fall on Central Valley crops
Storms during the Memorial Day weekend threaten damage to a number of California crops. In the San Joaquin Valley, storms dropped large hail that could affect crops including tomato and cotton plants, plus peach, nectarine and cherry trees. Agricultural commissioners say it may be several days before the impact becomes more clear. In the Sierra Nevada, the snowpack now stands at nearly twice-average for the date.

New project evaluates changing range conditions
To see how range and pastureland respond to changing rainfall and temperature patterns, researchers will simulate a variety of conditions at a University of California facility in Yuba County. UC specialists have earned a grant to create shelters that will allow them to control the precipitation and temperature on a research plot. The project will help the researchers learn how rangeland plants and weeds perform under predicted weather scenarios.

California leads floriculture production
If you buy flowers or garden plants grown in the United States, chances remain strong that those plants come from California. A new government report shows California continues to lead the nation in production of floriculture crops. The Golden State accounts for more than three-quarters of U.S.-grown cut flowers, and also leads in categories including bedding and garden plants, and flowering potted plants.

Prune marketers rebrand their crop
Once marketed as dried plums, California prunes will now be called just that—California prunes—in a new marketing campaign. The California Prune Board says the rebranding emphasizes the “premium reputation” of the state’s crop, which is sold in the United States and dozens of countries around the world. The board’s executive director says the idea is to change prunes from an occasional choice to a “daily pleasure” that brings a number of health benefits.


Volume 23, No. 47—Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Weather brings fewer but larger avocados
An intense heat wave 11 months ago has reduced the California avocado crop. Farmers who typically would harvest fruit into early July report they’ve already finished their harvest. Southern California heat last July damaged the developing fruit. But ample winter rains allowed the remaining avocados to grow to larger sizes. Forecasters estimate the avocado crop at 175 million pounds, about half the volume of a year ago.

Ranchers welcome benefits of grass growth
Plentiful grasses stimulated by abundant rainfall have improved the outlook for California cattle ranchers. The rangeland grasses will allow cattle to grow to higher weights before being marketed, helping ranchers offset part of the impact of weaker prices. Trade uncertainties have also put a damper on the market as beef production heads toward a potential record this year, but ranchers say the improved range conditions will help them save costs.

Tomato harvest may run late
Rainy, cool weather slowed California tomato planting, but crop estimators say they still expect the state’s farmers to harvest more than 12 million tons of processing tomatoes this summer. An updated estimate says the later planting might delay harvest by about a week, but that the crop could catch up during warm summer days. Processing tomatoes are used for salsa, ketchup and other products. Fresno County leads the state in processing-tomato production.

Invasive species damage environment, economy
From the burrowing nutria threatening waterways to the small insect carrying disease to citrus trees, invasive species cause ecological damage and economic losses. As agencies commemorate California Invasive Species Action Week, they urge Californians to take care not to transport new species into the state. The University of California estimates a new invertebrate species establishes itself in California every six weeks, on average.


ABOUT CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Contact

Phone: 916-561-5550
news@cfbf.com
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.