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

News Feed

Are your birds safe from avian influenza?

Migrating wild birds may expose backyard ducks to disease.
Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in January 2017 killed birds at commercial poultry farms and backyard flocks in the UK, China and South Korea. Thousands more ducks, chickens and other birds were culled to contain the disease. The outbreaks are spurring University of California scientists to develop more safeguards to protect U.S. poultry from avian influenza.

To prevent outbreaks of this highly contagious virus in the United States, commercial and backyard poultry owners are being asked to fill out an online biosecurity survey. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis researchers are studying poultry-raising practices to help strengthen the industry's defenses against avian influenza.

“With changing migration patterns of wild birds and global movements of poultry, there is an urgent need to develop plans to protect U.S. poultry against highly pathogenic avian influenza,” said Beatriz Martínez López, director of the Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis.

People who raise chickens, quail, ducks, turkeys, geese or other birds anywhere in the United States are invited to fill out the survey.

“We want to hear from all poultry producers: from the large commercial farms producing chicken eggs to the poultry enthusiasts who raise a few ornamental show birds in their backyards,” said Martínez López, who is part of the University of California's Agricultural Experiment Station.

The survey asks which bird species are being raised and a few flock management questions. Is the flock is housed or kept outdoors? How often do you get new birds? What is the source of new birds? It also asks questions about location, such as the distance of the birds from ponds and other bodies of water that may attract migrating waterfowl.

U.S. commercial and backyard poultry owners are being asked to fill out an online biosecurity survey.

Immediately after completing the online survey, participants receive a biosecurity score and recommendations to help them make more informed decisions.

“Each producer will receive their own biosecurity score and customized recommendations,” Martínez López said. “Recommendations highly depend on the production system and we tried to adapt them to make the changes easier to implement for individual flocks.”

The survey data will be confidential and only summaries will be made publicly available in research reports and peer-reviewed publications.

By analyzing biosecurity and management practices on poultry operations and backyard flocks, Martínez López and visiting professor Sharmin Chowdhury will be able to identify high-risk locations and time periods for avian flu outbreaks. The information will be used to develop biosecurity education programs for poultry farmers, backyard producers and poultry veterinarians.

The survey takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. To participate, visit http://bit.ly/2kkMycf by March 1.

This study is funded by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2015–09118 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.



Beatriz Martinez López, DVM, beamartinezlopez@ucdavis.edu, (530)752-7675.


Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Registration open for California Regional Agritourism Summits

The University of California Small Farm Program and UC Cooperative Extension advisors in four California regions are working with local partners to organize Regional Agritourism Summits for everyone involved in California agritourism. The summits will be occasions for farmers, ranchers, county planners, the tourism community and others involved to share, learn and plan together. 

Small-scale farmers offering an agritourism experience.

Regional Agritourism Summits 2017

Agritourism operators, tourism professionals, county, city and state staff and officials, community organizations, agricultural organizations, tour organizers and all others who are connected to California agritourism are invited to join the conversations. Presentations and discussion topics will include county regulations; marketing plans; social media and event organizing training sessions; itinerary development; liability; financing ideas for agritourism development; and more.

Each summit was planned by a local team to best reflect the needs of the region, so each will be unique. Each summit will be a participatory, all-day session with lunch provided.

Participants are invited to bring marketing and organizational information to display and share.

To register, please see http://ucanr.edu/summits2017.  A registration fee of $25 is requested, payable online or by check.  Agendas for the summits are available on this site.

  • Yolo/Sacramento/Solano Agritourism Summit:Monday, Feb. 13, 2017
    UC ANR Building, 2801 Second Street, Davis CA 95618
  • Sonoma/Marin Agritourism Summit: Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017
    Petaluma Community Center, Lucchesi Park, 320 N. McDowell Blvd, Petaluma CA 95954
  • Stanislaus/San Joaquin/Merced Agritourism Summit: Thursday, March 23, 2017
    Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, CA 95358
  • Riverside/San Bernardino/San Diego Agritourism Summit: Wed., March 29, 2017
    La Sierra University, 4500 Riverwalk Pkwy, Riverside, CA 92505

UC Small Farm Program Agritourism resources

The UC Small Farm Program has been working for more than 15 years with UC Cooperative Extension advisors and others to develop resources and connections for California agritourism operators. The UC agritourism website hosts useful factsheets and research.  The online agritourism directory and events calendarhelps visitors find farms and ranches to visit. And, the monthly California Agritourism newsletter shares news and resources for the agritourism community.

Funding for this project was provided by the USDA Farmers' Market Promotion Program.

More information: Penny Leff, UCCE Agritourism Coordinator, paleff@ucdavis.edu, (530) 752-7779.

Posted on Monday, January 9, 2017 at 1:48 PM
Tags: agritourism (7)

Mexican children get UC help to find and focus their passions


A group of Mexicali children will learn about gardening and leadership in a club like 4-H that will be launched Jan. 20.
The vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Glenda Humiston, and secretary of the Mexican government's agricultural development program in Baja California, Manuel Valladolid Seamanduras, will sign a memorandum of understanding on Jan. 20 at the Secretaria de Fomento Agropecuario (Secretary of Agriculture Development) in Ejido Sinaloa of the city of Mexicali, Mexico. The document lays out a plan for UC Cooperative Extension, the parent organization of 4-H Youth Development, to share resources and expertise to start a program like 4-H in Mexico.

The same day, an opening ceremony launches a journey of exploration into the world of food production and healthy eating for a group of 8- and 9-year-old Mexican children.

The UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Program sponsors clubs that combine hands-on learning and positive youth-adult partnerships to help children develop skills they need to succeed in life.

“Children in Mexico also need to find and focus their passions, they need life skills and support in order to become responsible citizens and give back to the community,” said Lupita Fabregas, 4-H Youth Development advisor and assistant director for 4-H diversity and expansion. “We have decades of experience and extensive programming to offer. It is a natural partnership.”

Humiston was a member of 4-H herself as a youth and credits the program for setting in motion a successful career that includes serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, earning a doctorate degree at UC Berkeley, playing a role in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama presidential administrations, and later taking the helm at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“I encourage all children to find a place like 4-H to work with mentors, get hands-on experience, and learn about their own potential,” Humiston said. “This historic agreement will allow children in Mexico to benefit from a 100-year-old program that has had tremendous success in the United States and it will build academic, scientific, technological and cultural relations between Mexico and California for the advancement of children.”

The new club in the Mexicali community of Sinaloa will have access to two greenhouses that belong to the Secretary of Agricultural Development in Baja, Mexico, where they will grow cucumbers and tomatoes while they learn about soil science, irrigation, nutrition education and other components of agricultural science.

The children will also learn leadership skills by taking a new role in their communities, running in club elections, speaking in public and reporting on their work. The children's parents will also be encouraged to serve as volunteer leaders, mentors and educators.


University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Secretary of Agricultural Development in Baja, Mexico, sign a memorandum of understanding.

Opening ceremony for the first club modeled after the successful California 4-H Youth Development Program in Ejido Sinaloa, Baja Mexico.


Friday, Jan. 20

 9:30 to 9:50 a.m. – Memorandum of understanding signing

9:50 to 11:50 a.m. – Children take part in their first session of 4-H programming, learning “Where does our food come from?”


Secretaria de Fomento Agropuecuario
Carretera Mexicali-San Luis Rio Colorado Son. Km 22.5
Ejido Sinaloa 21620
Mexicali, Baja California


Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

Manuel Valladolid Seamanduras, secretary of the Mexican agricultural development program (La Secretaria de Fomento Agropecuario de Baja, México)

Parents, students, teachers, principal, University of Baja California personnel, 4-H volunteers, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development staff and academics


Children participating in a 4-H Club project that involves healthy eating and agricultural production.


Jeannette Warnert, (559) 240-9850 (call or text), jewarnert@ucanr.edu

View this media advisory in Spanish.

Posted on Monday, January 9, 2017 at 9:10 AM
Tags: 4-H (6), Glenda Humiston (5), Lupita Fabregas (2)

Effective farm labor management is a key to success in times of labor uncertainty

UC Cooperative Extension will hold workshops in Temecula Feb. 1 and 2 to help California farmers facing agriculture labor challenges stemming from wage and hour laws, joint liability, worker protection, workers' compensation, insurance and immigration issues and policies.

“Farmers are better prepared to face uncertainty in labor markets with up-to-date information and strategies for dealing with people management, and legal and regulatory issues,” said Ramiro Lobo, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in San Diego County and workshop organizer. Additional program partners are the California Farm Labor Contractor Association, Zenith Insurance Company and Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards.

The workshops will be at Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards, 35960 Rancho California Rd., in Temucula.  “Challenges and Strategies in Agricultural Labor Management” runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 1. The program includes a review of labor management issues in Southern California, an update on labor laws, basic strategies for legal and effective hiring and orientation, and effective management of worker injuries. The event ends with wine tasting hosted by Wilson Creek.

“Management and Supervision of Personnel for Agricultural Operations,” will be offered in Spanish on Feb. 2. The program, intended for farm owner/managers and first-line supervisors, provides information on effective supervision and management in times of labor shortage, positive and clear communications, and preventing sexual harassment and bullying. Networking and wine tasting, hosted by Wilson Creek, conclude the program.

“Properly managing personnel is critical because of the scarcity of labor,” Lobo said. “We will provide strategies to retain employees by making the workplace more attractive.”

Advance registration is available with a credit card online. Registration for the Feb. 1 workshop is $80 per person before Jan. 20, and $100 after or at the door, if space allows. Registration for the Feb. 2 workshop is $60 per person before Jan. 20, and $80 after or at the door, if space allows. A registration discount is available for participants to attend both events. For both events, registration is $120 before Jan. 20, and $140 after or at the door, if space allows.

For more information see the San Diego County Small Farm website.

Farmworker management is the focus of UC Cooperative Extension workshops Feb. 1-2.
Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 8:35 AM
Tags: labor (1), Ramiro Lobo (1)

Farmers can learn how to add value to their products at one-day UC workshop

A one-day intensive workshop on Jan. 25 will provide small-scale farmers guidelines for increasing profits by applying value-added food production strategies. Value-added involves processing raw produce into a product that will sell for more, such as infused olive oil, baked goods, jams and specialty sauces.

The workshop provides an update on laws that govern value-added products and gives an introduction to the roles of retailers, distributors and brokers.

Three producers will share their challenges and successes in marketing organic, value-added products. The speakers are Magali Brecke, who cooks and jars batches of organic bone broth; Kathryn Lukas, who uses ancient fermentation traditions to produce fresh organic kraut; and Jenna Muller, who runs a processing and catering kitchen from an organic farm.

Additional speakers are Merrilee Olson of Preserve Farm Kitchens, Danielle Shaeffer of New Leaf Community Markets, Erin DiCaprio of the UC Davis Food Science and Technology Department, and Shermain Hardesty, UC Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Davis.

The 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. workshop, organized by Hardesty, precedes the EcoFarm Conference at Asilomar, Pacific Grove. The workshop is open to EcoFarm registrants and all members of the public. Registration is $75 per person and includes an organic lunch.

Register on the EcoFarm Conference website at http://eco-farm.org/conference/2017/register-now. For more information about the workshop, contact Hardesty at shermain@primal.ucdavis.edu.

Small-scale farmers can increase profits by processing their raw produce into a product that sells for more.
Posted on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 8:43 AM

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Webmaster Email: jewarnert@ucanr.edu