For the story, Evich spoke to Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), the research and outreach arm of the University of California. UC ANR extends science-based agricultural production and nutrition information to California farmers and communities. Humiston said California agricultural industry leaders have made it clear that they don't want traditional subsidies, like price supports.
"They want help with the infrastructure to do their jobs better," she said, including more funding for research labs and data collection that can help industry solve problems.
It isn't clear whether subsidies would reduce the cost of fruits and vegetables, nor does the potential of lower-cost healthy food ensure that people will eat it, the article said.
Many consumers also lack the time or the skills to prepare and cook their perishables. And some don't care for the flavor of healthful produce like kale, kohlrabi and rapini, to name a few.
The top fruits and vegetables consumed by Americans are potatoes (french fries) and tomatoes (primarily driven by ketchup). Only 14 percent of Americans consume 1.5 to 2 fruits and veggies per day, according to State of the Plate, a 2015 study on Americas' consumption of fruit and vegetables. (See below.) The USDA's dietary guidelines recommend 9 to 13 servings of fruit and veggies per day.
The peculiar actions prompted the reporter to find out why USDA must continue to communicate with the private sector and the public. He spoke to Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, who previously served in USDA as undersecretary for agriculture and natural resources during the Clinton Administration and as California director of USDA Rural Development during the Obama Administration.
She said USDA collaborations with the university and the private sector are numerous and complex, involving satellite imagery, invasive pest control, and other issues of vital concern.
"Not only jobs could be lost, but frankly, the food supply could be put at risk," she said. "We are constantly battling pests and diseases and dealing with food safety issues and all of that requires constant communication."
As an example of the critical nature of USDA-public communication, Humiston pointed out that the USDA monitors dams, many of which are 50 to 100 years old, and, in the West, dealing with record rainfall and floods. Without transfer of data between USDA, other government agencies and the public, lives could be lost.
"This isn't just a matter of keeping reporters from doing their jobs," Humiston said. "There are real safety issues at stake here."
Janet Napolitano, who is on a two-day tour in Humboldt County, is the first UC president to visit the Northern California locale, reported Marc Vartabedian in the Eureka Times-Standard. Napolitano is joined by Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Napolitano and Humiston are visiting an Indian health services facility, a seafood company, a forest and a high school. UC has had a long presence in Humboldt County. Humboldt was the site of the first UC Cooperative Extension office in California, established in 1913.
“UC has had 100 years of research presence in the Arcata forest and many of their campuses are world leaders in ecological research,” said Yana Valachovic, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County. “We think of ourselves as the eleventh campus.”
Humiston visited local farms, the Salton Sea, and UC Desert Research and Extension Center and UC Cooperative Extension in Imperial County. She had discussions with local farmers and industry representatives about renewable energy, drought and water issues, and agricultural production.
"It's great ot have our new vice president here to learn about the programs that we have here and discuss how we can improve them and bring more resources to the area," said Khaled Bali, director of UCCE in Imperial County. "That is basically my objective, bringing more resources to the area and have more collaborative projects."
Andy Horne, a Imperial County executive, said that solar farms have expanded in the county. Projects in place and those approved will cover about 4 percent of Imperial County farmland, a level the county intends to maintain. Humiston told the reporter that she is an advocate for farmland protection because the planet as a whole has a limited surface for cultivating crops.
"As we are dealing with things such as climate change and invasive species and drought, not only protecting those acres so that they are available but keeping them healthy and making sure water is available becomes ever more important," Humiston said.
Delgado reported that Humiston's trip to the Imperial Valley is part of an effort to visit all the UC Cooperative Extension offices and the nine research and extension centers around the state to familiarize herself with UC ANR efforts throughout California.
“The issues going on here are completely different than the Central Coast, Northern Sierras or Sacramento Valley,” Humiston said. “What is important is that we, the University of California, we have these offices in each and every county and that we have these research centers because if we are going to develop knowledge and find solutions and be able to implement those, we got to be able to have people in the ground here that can really dig into the real problem. You got to have people on the ground.”
The vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Glenda Humiston, was a speaker at the summit. She said UC has calculated that 1.2 million California jobs are tied to the state's natural resources - including agriculture, fishing, mining, recreation and renewable energy. Humiston predicted there will be 300,000 more jobs in this sector over the next five years.
However, the pool of workers for the jobs is diminishing because young people in Mexico and Central America, who often fill these positions, are increasingly able to find better paying, less taxing jobs elsewhere.
"There's going to be massive upheavals in the system," Humiston said.
The article noted that nearly every industry leader at the summit stressed the importance to California agriculture of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal involving the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations.