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.
"We are an aging population," Allen-Diaz said. "We fully recognize that we need to bring new, young, highly trained, highly skilled individuals into Cooperative Extension."
She said administrators are making decisions by studying demographic data, who is retiring and where UCCE research and outreach are needed.
"We're looking at prioritizing rolling forward so that we know over time that we are going to strategically place positions," she said.
Reporter Patrick Cavanaugh also interviewed Allen-Diaz about the amount of time UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists spend on pest control issues, which she estimated to be about one-third.