Food & Farm News

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.

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. 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

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. 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

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. 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.

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. 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.

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. 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

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. 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.


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. 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.


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. 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.


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. 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

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. 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

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. 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. 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.

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.