Timm Herdt, a Ventura County Star columnist, wrote that farmers' close attention to the weather has given them keen awareness about climate change.
"Anybody who's paying attention knows the climate has already changed," said Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis.
In his story about last week's conference on climate change in Sacramento, Herdt wrote if there is any group that doesn't have to be sold on the idea that government must address the effects of climate change, it's farmers. However, he called climate change a tough political issue.
"Conservatives unwilling to acknowledge the overwhelming science on global warming will continue to fight efforts to slow climate change by reducing carbon emissions. Liberals will likely resist steps that might be needed to adapt to irreversible changes that have already taken place - steps such as increased reliance on genetic engineering to help agriculture adapt and a greater emphasis on water storage," Herdt wrote.
Other recent drought coverage includes:
Alfalfa is more resilient than many crops because it can go into a drought-induced dormancy during the summer, at least for one year, according to UC Cooperative Extension advisors Rachael Long and Steve Orloff. The tradeoff is that without water there will be little yield, but research has shown the stand will persist on most soil types and yield will recover the next year, once water is applied to the field again.
California drought will hit cost of rice hardest
Debbie Arrington, The Sacramento Bee
Price increases won't be huge, but one crop will see a noticeable price spike: California rice.
“It's the exception,” said Dan Sumner, noting the international demand for the state's short-grained “sushi rice.” “It's a unique product and a major export crop. You can't have a 20 or 25 percent reduction and not see an increase in price.”
MID, TID farmers can get water-wise tips
The Modesto Bee
UC Cooperative Extension takes part in a drought workshop for farmers in the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts 6 to 8 p.m. May 29 at the Harvest Hall, Stanislaus County Ag Center, 2800 Cornucopia Way. UCCE advisor Roger Duncan will present water-saving practices.
"The climate is an angry beast and we're poking it with a sharp stick" said Benjamin Santer, a research scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The conference, hosted by UC's Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, covered water use, adaptation to a changed climate and tangible predicted impacts on California's agricultural production, the story said.
Another speaker at the event, Dan Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, said California agriculture and policy should look beyond the state's borders. As temperatures rise and weather patterns change, crops may be better adapted to other states and countries and, potentially, California less so. Already a migration toward greener pastures for range cattle has begun.
Gov. Jerry Brown was a featured speaker at the conference. He discussed a report released Monday by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences that predicts a $1.7 billion loss to California agriculture because of the 2014 drought. He said California is at the "epicenter" of climate change and called for the state's residents and people and governments of other states to work with him to halt the planet's rising temperatures.
Richard Howitt, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis and lead author of the study, predicted climate change will lead to an inevitable decline in agriculture.
"We will have more land (to farm) than water to irrigate," he said.
In a Sacramento Bee story about the conference, written by Edward Ortiz, Maximillian Auffhammer, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy at UC Berkeley, called the effects of climate change "slow moving," a pace that gives the ag industry time to deal with climatic uncertainties.
In California, Climate Issues Moved to Fore by Governor
Jennifer Medina, New York Times
Gov. Brown: California at 'Epicenter' of Climate Change
CBS News Los Angeles
Governor Jerry Brown calls for action on climate change, irks protesters over fracking
Jessica Calefati and Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News
The article said west side farming giant Harris Ranch plans to fallow thousands of acres of cropland and use it's scarce water supplies to irrigate permanent crops: almonds, pistachios and asparagus. The ranch says it will hire at least 1,000 fewer field workers than usual this year.
“The trees are there. They can't be moved, they can't be put away,” said David Goldhamer, UC Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis.“They can't be put on hold for a year.”
Most growers will be able to squeeze out a crop, although some will have to settle for sprinkling just enough water on the trees to keep them alive. Goldhamer said yields will fall by as much as 25 percent, mainly because the almonds themselves won't grow to full size.
“You'll have a crop, (but) the nuts will be small,” Goldhamer said.
The Bee article also outlined the drought's projected impact on the state ag economy. The water coalition said farm production could fall by more than $3.5 billion, nearly a tenth of the usual $44 billion in annual production. Factoring in related businesses, the state's economy could lose $7.5 billion, the coalition said.
Richard Howitt, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, said at least 20,000 farmworkers will lose their jobs, putting enormous strain on areas of California where unemployment is typically in double-digit percentages even during good times.
A post in the Rural California Report blog of the California Institute for Rural Studies painted a more detailed portrait of the California ag economy during the drought.
Philip Martin, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economic at UC Davis, says that with a $1 million reduction in farm revenue, 20 to 50 jobs are lost. However, with less water, farmers shift their water use from low value crops like cotton to high value crops like melons. These high value crops located, for the most part, east of Highway 99 in the San Joaquin Valley, are also more labor intensive. This shift in water use could limit the effects of water losses on farm employment numbers. Martin estimates that there will be a reduction of irrigated acres in the San Joaquin Valley from 5 million to between 3.5 and 4 million acres.
Dan Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, summed up the impact of the current drought as follows:
“This is a real idling of land, and there is nothing positive about it. It's not fallowing — that implies a choice. This is not like North Dakota, where we know it's going to get better. We're talking either spending huge sums on bringing water in or thousands of acres lost.”/span>
Now that a half-trillion-dollar Farm Bill has been passed by the U.S. Senate and is headed for the House of Representatives, Madeleine Brand interviewed Dan Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, to get his take on the Senate action. The nearly six-minute interview aired on Southern California Public Radio's Madeleine Brand Show.
Sumner said the Senate's Farm Bill contains substantial changes in the dairy program, the biggest of which is removal of an ancient price support program. The program, in which the government would buy powdered milk, butter or cheese if prices fell below a certain level, has not been implemented in the last two decades.
A new program will probably provide more payments to farmers, but Sumner said the "strings attached" make the provisions unhealthy for the industry in the long run.
"In order to participate, you have to agree cut back your milk production whenever the prices are low by government standards," Sumner said. "What that means, the more efficient, more innovative farms that would like to be growing have to cut back."
He said he expects the House version of the Farm Bill to be "quite different" from the Senate version.
"The speaker and the leadership in the House have been more clear they want substantial budget cuts and, given the nature of the majority in the house, those are more likely to happen on the nutrition side," Sumner said.
The federal government has promised to expedite approval, the article said. Some of the natural enemies - collected in the Punjab, Pakistan - could be carrying the fight against ACP into Los Angeles yards by the end of the year.
Hoddle also said a citrus variety he observed being grown in the Punjab appears able to survive and produce fruit despite the presence of ACP and HLB.
Drought and rising temperatures will challenge California's farmers, experts say
By Suzanne Bohan, Contra Costa Times
In the past century, the state's winter lows have warmed by 2 degrees Fahrenheit, "a significant increase," Dan Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center, told a forum last week. Although that warming trend hasn't yet disrupted crops, it is accelerating, he said. "There's potential for complete crop failure, especially cherries, apricots and other stone fruit," said Louise Jackson, a UC Davis researcher. As an example, Sumner said that as winters heat up, peach growers in the warmer southern San Joaquin Valley may have to move northward, where it's cooler. With California's diversity of crops and different microclimates, the agricultural system has a natural resiliency, although Sumner said now is the time to begin researching ways to best cope with anticipated changes. "I think the risk is we don't take it seriously enough," Sumner said. "The lesson here is you have to have enough research and development to adapt and be flexible. And I don't think we're doing enough."
In the past century, the state's winter lows have warmed by 2 degrees Fahrenheit, "a significant increase," Dan Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center, told a forum last week.
Although that warming trend hasn't yet disrupted crops, it is accelerating, he said.
"There's potential for complete crop failure, especially cherries, apricots and other stone fruit," said Louise Jackson, a UC Davis researcher. As an example, Sumner said that as winters heat up, peach growers in the warmer southern San Joaquin Valley may have to move northward, where it's cooler.
With California's diversity of crops and different microclimates, the agricultural system has a natural resiliency, although Sumner said now is the time to begin researching ways to best cope with anticipated changes.
"I think the risk is we don't take it seriously enough," Sumner said. "The lesson here is you have to have enough research and development to adapt and be flexible. And I don't think we're doing enough."
Health hazards similar in San Joaquin, Coachella valleys
Marcel Honoré, The Desert Sun
A new study on the the environmental health risks across Central California describes conditions strikingly similar to those confronting many eastern Coachella Valley residents. More than 1 million people living in the sprawling San Joaquin Valley face serious health risks from toxic air, polluted water and other environmental factors, according to a University of California, Davis, report published earlier this month.
Food chain holds promise
Doug Ford, The (Vacaville) Reporter
The Solano and Yolo County Joint Economic Summit on agriculture, held at the University of California, Davis, Alumni Center, noted that the area boasts some of the best land and water resources in the world and is ideally located between the populous San Francisco Bay Area and the state capital, with an excellent transportation infrastructure connecting us with world markets. The local "food chain industry," the article said, contributes about 10 percent of the gross domestic product of the area, and its products added up to about $2.5 billion in 2009.
Bravo Lake garden keeps local youths out of trouble
David Castellon, Visalia Times-Delta
Manuel Jimenez and his wife, Olga, spent Black Friday at the Bravo Lake Botanical Garden — the 13-acre public garden and walking trail they helped create about eight years ago — along with a group of teenage boys who volunteered to help.
“The garden is not our goal,” said Jimenez, 61, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor. “Our goal is to grow kids. Our goal is to make something of them.”/span>/span>/span>