According to the Independent article, written by Mary Thieleke Jackson, director of the Santa Barbara County 4-H Management Board, a draft budget released Friday, May 10, does not include a county contribution to UC Cooperative Extension. Budget hearings are expected to take place the week of June 10-15.
Because the county faces a $10.5 million budget deficit, the board of supervisors is considering all options. If the proposed cut carries through to the final budget, 4-H will cease to exist in Santa Barbara County, the stories said.
"We have to set priorities and figure out what programs work and what programs don't," said Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino.
He says the board has to make up the budget losses somewhere and he hopes it doesn't include cutting funding for 4-H.
"I can't think of a better place to spend it than on our kids and teaching them about leadership and hard work," said Lavagnino.
California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed $97.6 billion general fund budget for fiscal 2013-14 boosts spending on education, implements health care reform and eliminates what was a $25 billion state deficit when the governor took office, reported Tim Hearden in Capital Press.
The governor's proposal increases funding for both public schools and higher education, adding $250 million for the University of California and California State University systems. The increases come after voters approved higher income and sales taxes in Proposition 30 in November, bringing relief to UC Cooperative Extension officials who feared further cuts if the measure hadn't passed, the article said.
The budget proposes a multi-year stable funding plan to strengthen the California higher education system, ensure affordability and reduce student indebtedness, according to the news release issued by Gov. Brown's office.
The article noted that grants have been helpful in recent years to conduct research, but they do not address the loss of "research capacity," a phrase the authors use to describe cuts to permanent funding that sustains faculty and staff.
"To date, 44 percent of the state’s almond acreage is not covered by a farm advisor, with current vacancies in Fresno, Madera, Kern and Glenn counties," wrote Curtis and Ludwig. "These farm advisors regularly conduct problem-solving research under regional growing conditions, often adapting and applying basic research findings, and also regularly communicate with growers and their PCAs, and farm managers through field days and farm calls. The lack of farm advisors in this important San Joaquin Valley region also puts significant strain on current farm advisors in other counties."
Merced Sun-Star puts local spin on almond story
In Merced County almonds have been the second leading commodity for some time, wrote Joshua Emerson Smith in the Merced Sun-Star.
David Doll, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Merced County, said the California Almond Commodity Board has successfully marketed the nut to the world.
"It's one thing to be able to produce a big crop," he said. "It's another to be able to sell that crop and make money."
Doll said technology has greatly improved almond yields and efficiency.
"The thing that pushed production beyond any of our hopes and dreams was the ability to apply both water and fertilizer at the same time through an irrigation system," he said. "We're able to get these nutrients in the right place at the right time."
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors agreed to a 2 percent increase over the UC Cooperative Extension budget request for the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to an article in The Business Journal.
The 2 percent increase follows several years of budget cuts. Cooperative Extension expenses for the 2012-13 year are estimated at $433,572. The county’s contribution is $294,796.
“Our budget probably won’t change,” said Stephen Vasquez, UCCE Cooperative Extension advisor and co-director. But it will be tight, he said.
In fact, UCCE in Fresno County faces another budget issue. A trust fund developed by grower donations that helped subsidize UCCE is running out.
According to another story published in The Business Journal, Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson has agreed to work with UCCE to develop a new trust fund. Acting as a private individual and not in his capacity as supervisor, Larson has planned a luncheon meeting June 25 at the Downtown Club in Fresno. Various agricultural organizations will be invited to discuss how to start a new trust fund.
"I look forward to working with you and to hearing your ideas on priorities for research innovations, priorities in your area that need science-based solutions, and ideas on strengthening our partnership in the years to come," Allen-Diaz wrote.
Allen-Diaz said UC ANR is concerned about the impact of recent budget reductions on the number of UC ANR specialists and advisors, which is currently at its lowest number in more than 60 years.
"We are also challenged by our aging work force," she said. "We expect half of our current specialists and advisors to retire in the next six to eight years. We are carefully planning for replacing these positions, and determining the specialties and locations to best serve the needs of California. This planning must be informed by our various clienteles."
New tool to fight Asian citrus psyllid
Redlands Daily Facts
Amid dire predictions for the regional citrus industry, researchers are using another weapon: a natural enemy from the Punjab called Tamarixia radiata.
"The Asian citrus psyllid is about 1/8 inch long, and this wasp is even smaller," said Tom Shea, UC Cooperative Extension staff research associate.
Shea estimated that one female wasp may kill 300 Asian citrus psyllid nymphs in her lifetime. The psyllid itself is not a serious problem, he said, but it is a carrier for Huanlongbing, a citrus disease which has ruined much of the citrus industry in Florida. HLB has been discovered in five states, including a recent discovery in Texas. To date it has not been found in California.