Barbara Allen-Diaz, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, noted in the story that 2013 was the first time in recent years that UC hired more Cooperative Extension faculty than had retired. In December, she approved hiring of another 29 advisors and 16 specialists for the 2015-16 cycle.
"So we turned the corner for the first time in this long downward spiral," she said. "My goal is to continue to rebuild the footprint of Cooperative Extension."
Lee also interviewed UCCE vice provost Chris Greer, who said he expects ANR to end 2015 with a net gain of academics.
"It's not huge leaps and bounds; it's a small gain, but we're hoping as we continue this process of filling these positions, that we'll start gaining some ground," he said.
Rather than automatically refilling vacant positions, Greer said much thought is put into revamping job descriptions or creating new positions to better fit the evolving needs of agricultural business. To help prioritize which positions should be hired first, UC sought public input, receiving more than 900 individual comments last year, including from agricultural organizations.
Jim Sullins, the UCCE director for Tulare County who is planning to retire in mid-2015, said more advisors are covering multiple counties and must travel longer distances to make farm visits, so they are turning to new communications strategies in their work, such as email, social media, and other web technology. But traditional farm calls are still a mainstay service.
Katherine Pope, the new UC Cooperative Extension orchard systems advisor in Yolo County, was also featured in the AgAlert story. She talked about the importance of having enough staff to enable advisors to call on farmers personally. Pope said going out to the farm gives her a fuller picture of what she's dealing with that she can't get over the phone or with photos via email. Sometimes she may notice other issues unrelated to the original problem, or the visit may prompt other questions from the farmer.
"My job is to spread information and knowledge, and doing that in person is absolutely the best way to do that," she said.
University of California Cooperative Extension has headquartered two new specialists on the UC Merced campus, reported Scott Hernandez-Jason of UC Merced University News. Karina Diaz-Rios, specialist for nutrition, family and consumer sciences, joined UCCE on Sept. 2. Tapan Pathak, specialist for climate adaptation in agriculture, will start Feb. 2, 2015.
"These positions come with a focus on interacting with the community, conducting applied research, and translating UC research to help the ag economy and local residents,” said Tom Peterson, UC Merced Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor. “We are pleased that UC Merced can partner with UC ANR (UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources) on these important issues.”
UC ANR continuously provides research-based solutions to the California agriculture industry, said Barbara Allen-Diaz, ANR vice president.
“California agriculture is a world-recognized marvel, and we'd like to think the university, through ANR's research and outreach, is a big reason why,” she said. “Adding UC Merced to our existing, thriving partnerships with UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside will only strengthen UC efforts in helping California and the world to sustainably feed itself.”
The annual field day at the UC Intermountain Research and Extension Center held last week provided an opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of UC Cooperative Extension with leaders of the organization, reported Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press.
The research activities at the Intermountain center, situated near the California-Oregon border in Tulelake, focus on peppermint, horseradish, small grains, wheat, potatoes, alfalfa and onions. At the field day, UCCE researchers discussed the progress of alfalfa production in the Klamath Basin, suppressing white rot disease in processing onions, maximizing profitability of wheat, pest management in peppermint and other topics.
The Intermountain Research and Extension Center is one of nine centers under the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR). The 140-acre facility provides UCCE advisors and specialists the space and support needed to conduct agricultural research in a high mountain interior valley climate zone.
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.