On her way to Kearney, Napolitano viewed California cropland, rivers and reservoirs that have been impacted by three years of drought.
"There are areas that clearly are being allowed to remain fallow due to drought, there are hills that should be green that are brown, and there are reservoirs where you can clearly see the water mark," she said. "Through the extension service we will work with growers throughout the state to manage this the best way possible."
Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno County Farm Bureau executive director, said growers' relationship with the UC's extension field offices has historically played a big role in the success of the Valley's agricultural economy, Furfaro reported. Advances made in the lab quickly make it to the farms, he said, in large part because of how well regional centers work with farmers.
Alec Rosenberg of the UC Newsroom filed a detailed account of President Napolitano's visit to the San Joaquin Valley. The article said she met with the President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources to discuss how to engage all 10 campuses in making UC the "go-to" institution in the world for all issues related to food, including sustainability and nutrition.
Napolitano toured the Kearney REC, where she learned about UC's role in helping establish a blueberry industry in the San Joaquin Valley, efforts to preserve the safety of pistachios and other nut crops, and work underway in the center's mosquito lab.
Napolitano noted that she recently made ANR vice president Barbara Allen-Diaz a direct report to her because agricultural issues matter to California and the world, Rosenberg reported.
“It's great to see the incredible depth and breadth of California agriculture, and show the link between UC research and extension and the development of agriculture in the state,” said Allen-Diaz, who accompanied Napolitano on the tour.
Napolitano, UC's Kearney center focus on drought relief
Benjamin Genta, UCLA Daily Bruin
Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2014-15 budget contains a $142.2 million funding increase for the University of California system, which would be a 5 percent increase in state funding for UC over the previous year, reported Tim Hearden in Capital Press.
Hearden sought comment on the proposed Brown budget from the vice president of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Barbara Allen-Diaz.
"We’re very pleased with the governor’s proposed budget and encouraged by the show of support for the university,” Allen-Diaz said. “UC has always been supportive of UC Cooperative Extension as its representative in communities throughout California.”
Allen-Diaz said ANR is “committed to rebuilding Cooperative Extension and hiring more advisors.
The article noted other items from the proposed budged of interest to the California ag community, including:
- An extra $20 million for CDFA in cap-and-trade revenue for nitrogen and dairy digester research and development of renewable fuels.
- $100 million in cap-and-trade funds for the Sustainable Communities program, which includes farmland preservation, and $1 million for a food safety laboratory CDFA and UC operate jointly.
- $1.8 million and 11 new positions at the State Water Resources Control Board to tackle illegal water diversions for marijuana cultivation.
The lengthy article was written in honor of UC Cooperative Extension's 100th anniversary. The organization was formed on May 8, 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act into law.
For the story, Franson interviewed Barbara Allen-Diaz, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and several UCCE advisors who work in Northern California viticulture. Allen-Diaz noted agriculture's wide scope in the Golden State.
“We farm 400 commodities in California with a value of $45 billion,” Allen-Diaz said. UC Ag and Natural Resources focuses on healthy food systems, healthy environments, healthy communities and healthy Californians.
Rhonda Smith, a UCCE advisor in Sonoma County, said she has seen many changes since she started in 1986.
"In early days, most growers were small, independent farmers," Now most of the people Smith works with are employees of large corporations, many multinational.
In the early days, farm advisors dealt with multiple crops, and the viticultural work and research was primarily focused on improving the culture of vines. Things soon changed. “Increasingly, the trials were associated with grapevine pests, especially exotic pests,” Smith said.
Monica Cooper, UCCE viticulture advisor since April 2009, walked into a big problem when she took her job: the European grapevine moth. She also conducts research with mealybugs and leafroll virus and believes red botch virus and water issues to be important concerns for winegrape growers in the near future.
Glenn McGourty, UCCE advisor in Mendocino County, agrees.
“I’ve been telling growers that they need to learn to farm without irrigation,” McGourty said.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
The wave of UCCE advisors and specialists retiring at the end of June has surfaced concern among people in the agricultural industry.
In the August edition of Wines & Vines, Cliff Ohmart writes about “The Future of Farm Extension.” Ohmart writes: “Given what appears to be a decline in the number of advisors in the future, I am very concerned about their ability to continue being effective in this role. This is no criticism of the hard-working and talented people currently in viticulture advisor positions—or future advisors—but an observation about the workload they currently have and the increased workload that is likely in the future.”
Jim Gordon, editor of Wines & Vines, asks in his August editor’s letter “Will the UC Extension Rebound?” Gordon interviewed Bill Frost, UC associate director of Cooperative Extension and the Agricultural Experiment Station.
“The ANR leadership is firmly committed to putting resources into new positions,” Frost said. Things are happening fast, Frost said, with a little industry help and more importantly with a stabilized state budget. “Under vice president of ANR Barbara Allen-Diaz, it is by far the most aggressive hiring I’ve seen in 20 years.”
In this week’s Capital Press article “Wave of UC farm advisors' retirements continues,” Tim Hearden writes: “Allen-Diaz said the UC is committed to rebuilding the Cooperative Extension's ranks. Since the beginning of 2012, the university has hired 46 extension advisors and specialists across the state, and the UC is on track to hire another 27 advisors by the end of 2014, she said.”
Although ANR has hired 46 new UCCE advisors and specialists in the past 19 months, it is more noticeable when more than 20 of them leave at the same time. To call attention to ANR’s hiring, Bill Frost has begun tweeting whenever a new advisor or specialist signs. If you’d like to follow Bill on Twitter, his handle is @wefrost.
The article was written to bring attention to the fact that, despite the need to produce so much food in coming years, funds for agricultural research are being cut.
In December, President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recommended that the United States increase its investment in agricultural research by $700 million per year. Instead, the sequester resulted in cuts of approximately 7.6 percent.
"This is simply not sustainable," the op-ed authors note.
Read the article in the Modesto Bee.