Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Posts Tagged: Glenda Humiston

UC ANR to host exchange in Northern California promoting business partnerships across the Americas

Representatives from North, Central and South America met in Florida for the 8th Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in December 2017.

The tenth Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACE) will be held for the first time in Northern California in October. To promote partnerships, the exchange will bring economic and political leaders from across the Americas and beyond to visit Northern California's world-class innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems, and to experience the best California has to offer in food, wine and local products. The milestone “ACE 10” is sponsored by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Central Valley AgPlus and other California partners.

From Oct. 21 to 27, approximately 50 high-level economic and political leaders from across the Americas, selected through a competitive application process, will participate in ACE 10, which will highlight innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

ACE 10 program themes include:

o Improving health: Bioscience, food safety, healthy food access and nutrition

o Feeding the world: Sustainable food systems & communities, food security, ag tech

o Maximizing resources: Resource management, water and energy, waste-to-energy uses

o Fostering resiliency: Environmental sciences, mobility, global leadership

o Innovation ecosystems: Innovation communities, supporting entrepreneurs, financing ventures

“The University of California is pleased to host the milestone ACE 10 in Northern California to highlight our world-class innovation and entrepreneurship that drives local and regional economic development,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “We look forward to building new and lasting partnerships across the Americas.”

The ACE 10 program will start in San Francisco at UCSF's renowned biotech research center and start-up incubator in Mission Bay, followed by a visit to NASA Ames Research Center. The tour includes stops in Santa Cruz, Monterey, Salinas, Fresno, and Davis, and will conclude in Sacramento. Site visits will focus on food and agriculture, water and energy technologies, life and environmental sciences and advances in manufacturing.

“It's a tremendous honor and important opportunity for Northern California to host the 10th Americas Competiveness Exchange,” said Valley Vision's chief executive Bill Mueller. “Hosting this global delegation gives California not just the chance to showcase our assets, but also provides an unmatched platform to build global economic and research alliances.”

Gabriel Youtsey, UC ANR chief innovation officer agrees. “Innovation and entrepreneurship are California's biggest ‘exports' to the world and we aim to set off the next wave of innovation in our state's distinct areas of strength: food, agriculture and life sciences.”

The agenda is designed to provide the delegates opportunities for interactive learning, sharing of best practices, networking and partnership development as they travel from the coast to the inland areas of the state. “During the tours, our visitors will discover opportunities and create new collaborations that will continue to flourish long after they return to their home countries,” Humiston said.

ACE toured the Arizona-Southern California corridor in 2016. The most recent exchange, ACE 8, was held in Florida in December 2017. ACE 9 will be held in Israel and Germany this June where the baton will be passed to Humiston to take lead on ACE 10.

Valley Vision—a civic leadership organization headquartered in Sacramento that is committed to building a prosperous and sustainable future—is a co-host for ACE 10, along with UC ANR. The Northern California leadership team also includes California State University, Fresno and California State University, Chico; the cities of Davis, Fresno, Sacramento, Salinas, San Francisco and Santa Cruz; Bay Area Metro and Monterey County. The successful bid to host ACE 10 is an outgrowth of the Central Valley AgPlus food and beverage manufacturing consortium.

The principal ACE convening institutions are the U.S. Department of Commerce, through the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA); the U.S. Department of State; the Government of Argentina;and the Organization of American States (OAS) as the Technical Secretariat for the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC). ACE is a core component of the Work Plan of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network.

Past examples of mutually beneficial partnerships developed by ACE exchanges include:

• Research centers and co-ops such as Organic Valley in Wisconsin and Escuela Superior Integral Lecheria (ESIL) of Villa María in Cordoba, Argentina, working on business and export development in the dairy industry;

• Young entrepreneurs from UNITEC Honduras interacting and collaborating with the entrepreneurship ecosystems led by UC San Diego;

• An industrial internship program between Canada and Mexico through Mitacs, a Canadian not-for-profit research and training organization, and Mexico's National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT).

Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 12:16 PM
Focus Area Tags: Innovation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Sarr of the Porterville Recorder also covered the event.

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

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

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

Posted on Friday, February 16, 2018 at 10:51 AM
Tags: Farm Bill (2), funding (1), Glenda Humiston (26)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Ag leaders, scientists set priorities to prevent invasive pest threats to the environment and economy

The gypsy moth, an interloper from Europe and Asia, is threatening California's majestic oaks in Ventura County.

Invasive desert knapweed, which comes from Africa, has made its first North American appearance in in California's Anza-Borrego Desert, where it has started to crowd out native plants.

Asian citrus psyllids are slowly spreading the devastating huanglongbing disease in Southern California citrus.

River rats from South America, called nutrias, are munching voraciously on wetland plants in some areas of Stanislaus, Merced and Fresno counties.

These are just a few of the insects, weeds, animals and diseases that have entered the state of California from elsewhere on the globe, causing tremendous ecological damage and huge economic losses to agricultural crops, which ultimately affect every resident of California.

Based on historical data, a new invertebrate species establishes itself in California about every six weeks, on average. They don't all become serious pest problems, but many evade eradication efforts, disrupt carefully balanced integrated pest management programs, hijack sensitive ecosystems, and spoil valued recreational resources and urban landscapes.

A diverse group of university scientists, federal and state government representatives, county agricultural commissioners and non-profit organization leaders who are battling these pests converged at a summit in the state capitol Jan. 11 and 12 to coordinate their efforts, pool intellectual resources, and plot a strategy for protecting agricultural crops, natural resources, unique ecological communities, cityscapes and residential neighborhoods.

“We are a big, beautiful, special place, blessed with great weather and diverse geography,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross at the summit. “That means a lot to our many visitors – including pests.”

Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, said research is a fundamental component of the fight against damaging invasive species.

Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, which co-sponsored the summit, outlined the goals.

“We know that collectively, we have the tools and expertise to prevent invasive species from entering California, spreading and becoming established,” Humiston said. “I am so pleased with the numbers of people here today, and the expertise that you bring.”

A fundamental component of the fight against damaging invasive species is research, Humiston said, adding that the European grapevine moth in an apt example. The pest was detected in California's wine country in 2009, and later found as far south as Fresno County. A multi-agency collaboration responded quickly.

UC ANR academics studied the moth's biology, life cycle, host range and proven management practices. They developed a pest management program that relied on mating disruption with pheromones and application of carefully timed insecticides. In short order, the moth population plummeted, and the state was declared free of European grapevine moth, lifting a quarantine, enhancing farmers' ability to export its product, and preserving the communities' economic wellbeing.

“This multi-agency collaboration contributed to a successful, science-based response plan to a serious pest threat,” Humiston said.

She noted, however, that prevention is the best option.

“This is critical,” Humiston said. “Once the pests are here, they cost us millions upon millions of dollars to manage, not to mention the devastation and destruction inflicted on our crops, natural resources and the damage to local economies.”

In 2010, CDFA created a strategic framework for addressing California's ongoing invasive pest problems and potential future introductions. Successful implementation of the framework requires partnerships involving government from the state to local levels, the agriculture industry and commodity groups, non-governmental organizations committed to the environment, and researchers at UC and other universities.

UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus John Kabashima led a break out session on arthropods during the summit.

UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus John Kabashima was instrumental in bringing the summit to fruition. Kabashima, who retired in 2015, continues to lead a battle against invasive shot hole borer pests in Southern California. The insects, originally from Asia, are killing thousands of Southern California trees, and have the potential to kill millions of trees in urban areas, natural areas and even on farms in parts of the state as far north as Sacramento.

“We convened this meeting to bring together experts in the field and people who are feeling the impacts,” Kabashima said. “We're trying to start a 21st century invasive pest program that would then be implemented and funded to address the urgent issues before they cause any more devastation.”

Summit participants prepare to vote on most pressing invasive species' issues and best management strategies.

At the end of the two-day summit, the participants voted to decide the most pressing issues and best strategies to take forward to their agencies, coalitions, research groups, legislators and constituents. Key strategies that emerged were:

  • Analyze the economic impacts of invasive species management and the cost of “doing nothing.”
  • Develop and maintain statewide surveys and map high-risk surveys.
  • Increase funding to study invasive species' biology. 
  • Create a standing rapid response workgroup to guide response to new invasive species. Fund a rapid response emergency fund.
  • Enact regulations to control high-risk vectors, such as soil, green waste, gravel, forage, straw and firewood.
  • Formalize the Invasive Species Council of California (ISCC) and the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee (CISAC).

Mark Hoddle, UC Cooperative Extension biological control specialist and director of the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside, said the summit was a valuable part of the ongoing battle against invasive pests.

“It's good to see the number of agencies and organizations involved with invasive species issues,” Hoddle said. “I'm impressed with the energy in coming up with these priority lists.”

Summit outcomes will include sending recommended action items to the Legislature for funding consideration.

“Without financial support, many of the management tools that prevent unwanted incursions, find and monitor incipient pest populations, and develop sustainable, cost-effective management programs won't be possible,” Hoddle said.

View Glenda Humiston's opening remarks here: 

Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 8:21 AM

AgPlus Funders Forum aims to improve access to agricultural business financing

In a working session, AgPlus Funders Forum participants split into groups to focus on identifying opportunities for supporting economic development, supporting small business, effective intermediaries and regional finance funds.

To enhance funding for food and agriculture businesses in the Central Valley, more than 60 people involved in small business finance gathered at the AgPlus Funders Forum Dec. 12 to contribute ideas.

Representatives from financial institutions, economic development organizations, universities, government agencies and innovative funders like community development financial institutions (CDFI) attended. Participants shared innovative financing tools for business and discussed obstacles for people in rural communities to access capital at the forum at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources building in Davis. 

Two primary challenges faced by people trying to start a new business are figuring out how to get started – such as their supply chain – and gaining access to capital to finance their endeavor, according to keynote speaker Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“There are actually an array of sources of capital beyond just the traditional bank loan, the problem is people don't know about them or how to access them,” Humiston said. She added that much more capital could be available to Central Valley businesses if residents would invest locally. “If you had brought home just one percent of the retirement accounts held by people in the AgPLUS region back in 2010, you would have had over $1 billion to invest in this region,” she said.

There are many funding sources that people aren't aware of, says Glenda Humiston

Marc Nemanic of 3CORE, Carrie Ellinwood of U.S. Small Business Administration, Ismael Herrero of Fresno State's Office of Community and Economic Development, and Catherine Howard of Northern California Community Loan Fund discussed some of the challenges for financing new businesses and alternatives to traditional bank loans.

Nemanic noted that many millennials are carrying student loan debt, which may make them averse to taking on more debt or prevent them from qualifying for business loans. 

Howard said her organization is creating a tool to help people satisfy collateral requirements for credit.

To build their businesses, entrepreneurs often need technical assistance so Herrera's office pairs young companies with experienced mentors and other services. Herrera said he is working to create public and private partnerships in rural communities, such as commercial kitchens for people to turn farm produce into value-added products to sell at farmers markets.

Panelists pointed out that jobs in the gig economy, such as driving for Uber or Lyft, don't provide the stable income that tradition lenders seek in borrowers so they need to create a flexible product.

Meg Arnold, far left, moderated a panel discussion on challenges for financing new businesses. From left, Marc Nemanic, Carrie Ellinwood, Ismael Herrero and Catherine Howard.

In the afternoon, participants split into four groups to focus on identifying opportunities for supporting economic development, supporting small business and microenterprises, effective intermediaries to connect investors with entrepreneurs, and regional finance funds. Each topic was discussed by a diverse group of people as peers and experts, bringing their own expertise to the table.

To address the interplay between higher education, student debt and the structural changes in the nation's economy, Meg Arnold, who moderated the session, said she could foresee policy implications.

“Student debt is not forgivable,” said Arnold, managing director of Valley Vision. “At the same time we are making a four-year university degree both more necessary and less affordable, the economy is also changing, to the point that some graduates may need to think of self-employment or gig economy employment.”

2012 Access to Capital Report by California Financial Opportunities Roundtable.
The discussions identified many other challenges for the food and agriculture sectors in rural parts of the state that need to be overcome to access capital.

“We need everybody who participated today to share those examples of where something kind of unique or innovative is really working,” said Humiston.

Ideas generated during the forum will be used to inform the work of the Central Valley AgPLUS Food and Beverage Manufacturing Consortium, which hosted the AgPlus Funders Forum. The information will also be used by Humiston to update the 2012 Access to Capital Report by California Financial Opportunities Roundtable (CalFOR). The report highlights financial needs for businesses in California, reviews financial tools and capital sources and provides policy recommendations. Humiston will also convey the outcomes to the California Economic Summit.

The AgPlus Funders Forum was sponsored by Chase Bank, Valley Vision, the Center for Economic Development, First Northern Bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Employment Training Panel, Blue Tech Valley, Fresno State Community and Economic Development and UC ANR.

 

Posted on Friday, December 15, 2017 at 1:10 PM

To accelerate ag, food and natural resources technology, UC ANR and AgStart receive $500,000 to cultivate the VINE

The Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship will connect entrepreneurs statewide to resources to commercialize a new product or start a business
Blue River flies a drone over sorghum research plots at the Kearney REC to collect data on plant height, leaf area and biomass.

California is constantly being challenged by pest invasions, obesity, labor shortages, water scarcity, food insecurity, climate change and more. To accelerate the development and adoption of technologies that address these challenges and advance food, agriculture and natural resources in California, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and AgStart will receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to cultivate the Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship (the VINE) 

Like a grapevine, the VINE will connect existing clusters of innovation across California and link entrepreneurs with mentors, advisors, collaborators, events, competitions, education and other services to turn good ideas into products and services people can use. 

“We want to make sure every Californian has the support system to take a novel idea and commercialize a new product or start a new business,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “They don't have to be a university inventor, they could be a farmer or a young person.”

From left, John Selep with Olivier Jerphagnon and Kevin Langham of Powwow Energy, which uses electric utility smartmeters to help growers measure irrigation water use, with no hardware installation necessary.

AgStart itself was established with an EDA i6 Challenge grant to assist agriculture and food technology entrepreneurs in the Sacramento Valley region. Since 2012, AgStart has supported more than 58 entrepreneurs and their companies.

“In 2016, of the 16 entrepreneurial companies that AgStart assisted, eight resided outside our region, and leveraged AgStart's program to make connections into our Sacramento Valley region,” said John Selep, president of AgTech Innovation Alliance, AgStart's sponsor. 

“The VINE will expand this AgStart model of connecting entrepreneurs to the resources they need to be successful, to enable entrepreneurs residing anywhere in California to connect to the clusters of resources, contacts, mentors and potential partners that have emerged across the state,” said Selep.  

“The VINE is really exciting because of its potential to unite all the regions of California in an innovation ecosystem for food, agriculture and natural resources,” said Gabe Youtsey.
Gabriel Youtsey, UC ANR chief innovation officer, said the VINE won't recreate the wheel: “There are many wonderful regional innovation hubs in food, agriculture and natural resources so we plan to bring value by amplifying their efforts, connecting regions and organizations into a more cohesive ecosystem, and bringing value-added resources that ultimately benefit all Californians through the innovations affecting our economic prosperity, food supply and environment.”

UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, who work in every county, can provide insight into real-world conditions that entrepreneurs should consider in the development stage. UC ANR's nine research and extension centers can provide locations to field-test products and demonstrate their effectiveness. For example, start-up Blue River is testing its technology by flying a drone over sorghum crops to collect data at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.

“The VINE is really exciting because of its potential to unite all the regions of California in an innovation ecosystem for food, agriculture and natural resources,” said Youtsey. “Not only will it help bridge the Silicon Valley and Bay Area with California's food-producing valleys, but it will bring opportunities for our innovators and entrepreneurs in rural communities in every part of California to participate.”

2017 Apps for Ag hackathon winners Sreejumon Kundilepurayil and Vidya Kannoly are getting help from UC ANR to commercialize their smartphone app.
For the last two years, UC ANR has hosted the Apps for Ag hackathon and has introduced the winners to mentors, tech industry advisors, farmers, funders and legal experts who can advise entrepreneurs on business structure.

The VINE, which is working with UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health and Valley Vision, is being structured to complement other efforts to establish food, agriculture, and natural resources incubation and innovation resources in cluster locations around the state, such as the BlueTechValley Regional Innovation Cluster, the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center, UC Merced's VentureLab and others.

Youtsey and Selep are seeking more VINE partners with expertise across the business spectrum.

“If our vision is successful, the VINE will make California the most fertile region in the world for entrepreneurs in ag and food technology to establish themselves, to prosper and grow,” Selep said.

Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 4:37 PM

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