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Monthly news roundup: November 2017

The shot hole borer beetle could kill 38 percent of all trees in the L.A. region
Akif Eskalen Shannon Lynch, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 30, 2017
The shot hole borer could kill as many as 27 million trees in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties — roughly 38% of all trees in the urban region. Because such an unusually wide variety of tree species are susceptible to this pest-disease, it has spread quickly throughout urban forests, wildlands and avocado groves across Southern California.

Sudden oak death rampant in Sonoma County after two wet winters, raising longterm fire risks
Guy Kovner, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Nov. 29, 2017
After two wet winters, the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death reached a record level of infection this year, reported the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Results of the latest UC survey showed a 10-fold increase over 2015 — from 3.8 percent to 37 percent this year — in the sudden oak death infection rate in an area that includes Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Petaluma. The spread of sudden oak death could further transform North Coast forests already ravaged by drought and altered by climate change, increasing their vulnerability to catastrophic fire, said UCCE specialist Matteo Garbolotto.

Village Nurseries donates 300 plants to UC Davis/UC ANR field trials for landscape water needs
Village Nurseries, BusinessWire, Nov. 29, 2017
To help meet California's mandatory landscape ordinances for water conservation, Village Nurseries donated 300 plants to the University of California Landscape Plant Irrigation Trials. The studies, to be conducted at UC Davis and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine, aim to determine water needs for landscape plants. The goal is to develop information on water use of landscape plants in both locations. Principal investigator of the project is Karrie Reid, the UC Cooperative Extension Environmental Horticulture advisor in San Joaquin County. Darren Haver is the project manager at SCREC.

Video: Los más recientes esfuerzos educativos en Santa María (Video: The most recent educational efforts in Santa Maria)
Univision, Nov 28, 2017
A Spanish-speaking UCCE nutrition educator explained that the UCCE educators visit low-income schools to teach children how to improve their diets. For example, they remind the students that punch drinks are very high in sugar. Another educator says the lessons include directions for gardening and incorporating the fresh vegetables into meals.

California fire policies sidestep one key factor: wind
Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 26, 2017
The causes of the Northern California wildfires in October are under investigation. But for a number of the fires, the prime suspects are sparking power lines and electrical equipment downed by winds that gusted to more than 70 mph. A few highly flammable parts of the world are taking tougher stands. National planning regulations in France now require communities in the country's fire-prone south to bar development in certain high fire-hazard zones. “It's not terribly popular. But they do have the ability to make that happen,” said Susan Kocher, a natural resources advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension who spent a sabbatical in France and recently published a research paper on the topic.

Many college students going hungry, need donated food groceries and food stamps
Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 23, 2017
A 2015 University of California survey of 9,000 students conducted by the UC Nutrition Policy Institute's Susanna Martinez and Lorrene Ritchie, and UCSB's Katie Maynard, sheds light on student hunger. It said nearly 1 in 5 students, 19 percent, said they had too little to eat “due to limited resources.” Another 23 percent routinely ate substandard food with little variation.

Open space committee priority list in the works
Independent News, Nov. 23, 2017
Funds for acquisition of open space lands in eastern Alameda County are available as a result of a legal settlement in connection with expansion of the Altamont Landfill. A subcommittee comprised of Livermore Councilmember Bob Woerner and Sierra Club representative Dick Schneider will work with Van Butsic, UCCE specialist, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management at UC  Berkeley, to identify priority areas that could be purchased.

UC researchers take a look at the ecological impact of pot farming
Julie Mitric, Capital Public Radio, Nov. 21, 2017
Marijuana farms break up continuous stretches of forest into small pieces, and impact that is ecologically significant because it influences how nutrients cycle through the ecosystem and how wildlife moves. "It impacts what habitat are available for different species. Some species like large continuous areas of forest and other species like to live on the edge of forest. And so more fragmented forest may be better habitat for them," said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Van Butsic said.

Sweet potatoes are very taty and healthy, too
Modesto Bee, Nov. 21, 2017
Thanks to the Merced River, the county's sandy soil is ideal for sweet potatoes, says Scott Stoddard, UCCE advisor who counts sweet potatoes among his specialties. Unlike, say, citrus, which is being hit by citrus greening disease, sweet potatoes haven't been struck by pestilence, beyond nematodes (which are always are a bane).

An afternoon of learning at Liberty School in Santa Maria: 4-H students apply new knowledge of nutrition, gardening, community service
Gina Kim, Santa Maria Times, Nov. 18, 2017
4-H members from five low-income schools prepared dinner for more than 100 guests after hands-on learning taught them about nutrition, gardening and community service. The project, called 4-H SNAC (Student Nutrition Advisory Council) Clubs, is a collaboration between UC CalFresh Nutrition Education and UC 4-H Youth Development in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and the schools.

Students battle it out in Agribee
Dani Anguiano, Chico Enterprise-Record, Nov. 17, 2017
The Butte County Farm Bureau and the UC Cooperative Extension nutrition education program put on an “agribee” program to educate students about agriculture and the role it plays in Butte County. The students spell and define words like xylem, weevil, phosophorus, anvil and apiary.

Good works
Orange County Register, Nov. 17, 2017
The Orange County Farm Bureau has donated nearly $1 million dollars to four colleges and universities establishing scholarships and permanent endowments to support ag education. In January, a gift of $500,000 was made to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, which established the OCFB Presidential Chair for Agriculture Education at the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine. The gift was matched by the university to create a $1 million endowment. Three additional gifts of $165,000 each were given to Cal Poly Pomona, Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Greener pastures aren't always the best
Natalie Cowan, The California Aggie, Nov. 16, 2017
Huanglongbing disease of citrus may lie dormant in a citrus plant for years before symptoms become visual. By the time growers are aware that a plant is contaminated, the disease may have spread among the grove. “While you're allowing these trees to be productive and potentially making money from them they are the Typhoid Mary,” said Carolyn Slupsky, a UC ANR food science researcher. Slupsky and other researchers are studying new early detection methods.

Burned trees in North Coast fire areas pose dilemma for homeowners
Guy Kovner, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Nov. 16, 2017
Tree advocates are urging restraint in removing burned trees and shrubs following wildfire in favor of waiting at least until spring to see if fresh green growth emerges from vegetation that has adapted to survive fire. UCCE advisor Steven Swain believes landowners should consult with an arborist before removing large trees. “Oaks survive fires when when they look terrible, with the leaves burned off,” he said.

Kids learn about food and farm at Agriculture Field Day
Dani Anguiano, Oroville Mercury Register, Nov. 16, 2017
Every year more than 150 fourth-grades learn about local agriculture and commodities at an agricultural field day sponsored by the Butte County Farm, Home and 4-H Support Group and coordinated by the Butte County Cooperative Extension's UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program. “It gives them hands-on exposure to agriculture in the county,” UC CalFresh Program Coordinator Rita Palmer said. “For many of them it's their first exposure to agriculture and there's a lot of excitement.”

These Sacramento suburban neighborhoods face the highest risk of wildfire
Ryan Lillis, Sacramento Bee, Nov. 13, 2017
Urban and suburban areas are susceptible to devastating blazes in Northern California. “I think (the Santa Rosa fire) served as a wake up for us that that sort of destruction could happen on such a scale,” said Susie Kocher, UCCE natural resources advisor. “We've gotten comfortable thinking it's a Southern California problem, but clearly it's not. This is California – we have to be thinking about all the hazards in our landscape.” The state's Cal Fire agency maps fire hazard severity zones for California's 58 counties. UCCE forestry specialist Bill Stewart, who helped draft the most recent maps in 2007, said the data was generated by examining a region's topography and vegetation, and otherwise “wasn't the most sophisticated model.”

What Is a GMO?
Jenny Splitter, Mental Floss, Nov. 13, 2017
it's hard to find an organism in any way connected to humans that hasn't been genetically modified, says Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension animal biotechnology specialist. "I might argue that a great Dane or a Corgi are 'genetically modified' relative to their ancestor, the wolf," she said. "'GMO' is not a very useful term. Modified for what and why is really the more important question.”

Santa Maria's 4-H SNAC clubs provide nutritional education to low-income families
Kasey Bubnash, Santa Maria Sun, Nov. 13, 2017
The 4-H Student Nutrition Advisory Council (SNAC) clubs are providing local students with healthy food tastings, nutritional presentations, and gardening lessons so those kids can in turn teach their classmates and families about healthy choices. The 4-H SNAC program is a collaborative effort between UC CalFresh Nutrition Education, UC 4-H Youth Development, and the Santa Maria-Bonita School District. “For nutrition education, reaching low-income populations is critical and crucial,” said Shannon Klisch, Cal Fresh Community Education Supervisor. “We know a lot of low-income communities don't have the same access to healthy foods or places to get active.”

A day at the 6th Annual Hopland Sheepdog Trials
Hillary Mojeda, Ukiah Daily News, Nov. 13, 2017
For three days last weekend, sheep, dogs and humans participated in the 6th Annual Hopland Sheepdog Trials at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center. Forty-six border collies and their handlers from all over the state took their turns showing their skills as herding dogs. At the end of each day, winners were announced based on how well the border collies and their handlers maneuvered four sheep through the course.

Drought-tolerant garden dedicated at UC Extension Office
Jim Smith, Woodland Daily Democrat, Nov. 12, 2017
Morgan Doran, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Yolo County, dedicated drought-tolerant demonstration landscaping at the Woodland office last week. The landscape also controls flooding and offers better security. The garden was dedicated to UCCE advisor emeritus Kent Brittan, who died in March 2016.

New app gives real-time warnings of coyote sightings
Sharon Chen, Fox 5 San Diego, Nov. 8, 2017
Coyote Cacher, which was started by the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, helps collect information on coyote encounters in California. Niamh Quinn, a UCCE human-wildlife interactions advior who helped develop the app, said this time of year is prime for coyote activity and sightings. “This is what's called dispersal season, it's when a juvenile leaves the den to begin a life of their own,” Quinn said.  “They'll look for other mates and other coyotes to link up with.”

Cal Fire Says It's Focusing on Fire Prevention; But Critics Say Current Efforts Leave State Vulnerable to More Mega Fires
Liz Wagner, Robert Campos, and Michael Horn, NBC Bay Area News, Nov. 7, 2017
UCCE forestry specialist Bill Steward said Cal Fire isn't equipped to coordinate aggressive fire prevention strategies. “I think Cal Fire at its core is basically a fire department,” Stewart said. “I do think fire mitigation is going to have to go up. That's just been considered kind of a sideline program at Cal Fire.”

Buying legal marijuana in California could be pricey enough to keep the black market healthy.
Aaron Smith, CNN Money, Oct. 31, 2017
Between customers, retailers and growers, taxes on cannabis may reach as high as 45 percent in parts of the state, according to a Fitch Ratings report. Those high taxes may keep consumers away from legal marijuana stores once the recreational retail market goes live on January 1. Black market farmers also face other obstacles to becoming compliant with state law. UC Cooperative Extension specialist Van Bustic, a specialist in the environmental impact of cannabis cultivation, said that registering with the state and becoming compliant will cost about $100,000. He said that many Humboldt farmers are unlikely to shoulder that cost if they can continue to operate in the dark.

Cooperative Extension is key to unlocking public engagement with science
Elise Gornish and Leslie Roche, Ecological Society of America, November 2017
U.S. land-grant mission and the Cooperative Extension system have initiated, developed, and implemented models of public engagement for the past 100 years. Cooperative Extension engages through trusted and established relationships, and collaboration and co-development of projects with the public.

Santa Rosa fire victims face tough decisions on rebuilding
Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press, Nov. 4, 2017
Families whose homes were reduced to white ash by the October wildfires in Northern California must decide whether to rebuild quickly as things were, rebuild defensively against future fires, or abandon their burned neighborhood entirely. Ultimately, “all of us as taxpayers are sort of picking up the bill in one way or the other” for wildfires, said Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension fire science specialist. If the public is subsidizing the costs, it should also have a say through regulations to determine where and how people can build, he said.

Understanding smoke taint
Lexi Williams, Wine Spectator, Nov. 3, 2017
Fortunately for Northern California's 2017 vintage, most of the grapes had been harvested by the time the fires broke out there. People were concerned that the smoke could affect the already-picked grapes in fermenters, but according to Anita Oberholster, an UCCE enology specialist, that's unlikely. "During fermentation these wines should have been protected due to a protective ‘blanket' of carbon dioxide released during fermentation," she told Wine Spectator via email. "However, even if some volatile phenols from the smoke [are] absorbed in the wine, we do not expect any glycosylation to take place. So the problem of non-volatile precursors will not exist."

What UCR and a Riverside firm are doing to stop invasive weevil from decapitating Southern California's iconic palm trees
David Downey, Riverside Press Enterprise, Nov. 3, 2017
UCCE entomology specialist Mark Hoddle is a principal player in the fight against the South American palm weevil. Hoddle and the Riverside biotech firm ISCA Technologies are teaming up to develop formulations from naturally occurring compounds to lure weevils to small but lethal doses of pesticide. Through this approach, less than one-hundredth of the volume of pesticide in traditional spray applications is used.

Why we still kill cougars
Ryan Sabalow and Phillip Reese, Sacramento Bee, Nov. 3, 2017
Californians voted to ban hunting of mountain lions back in 1990, but lions can still be killed with a depredation permit if they have attacked a domestic animal. Since Proposition 117 passed, an average of 98 mountain lions have been killed each year. When eight 4-H club goats were killed in a mountain lion attack last spring, the families chose not to acquire a depredation permit and instead made sure their livestock enclosures were secure against mountain lions.

Sponsored research funding aids UC Davis in taking on major challenges
Kriti Varghese, The Aggie, Nov. 2, 2017
UC Davis receives $760 million in funding, allowing faculty to tackle some of world's most pressing issues. Among the programs noted in this article is the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program. “We're funded to provide nutrition education for obesity prevention to help transform  low-income communities and individuals, to improve access to healthy foods, to reduce food insecurity, to increase physical activity and to reduce obesity,” said David Ginsburg, the director of UC CalFresh.

State ag secretary speaks in Orland innovation conference next week
Chico Enterprise, Nov. 1, 2017
UC ANR researcher and UC Davis professor of biological and ag engineering David Slaughter will speak at the North State Innovations in Agriculture Conference at the Glenn County Fairgrounds. His topic is “The SmartFarm Initiative at UC Davis – a vision of the farm of the future.” California Ag Secretary Karen Ross is also on the agenda.

Napa County's natural, agricultural landscapes face wildfire recovery
Barry Eberling, Napa Valley Register, Nov. 2, 2017
UCCE advisors Monica Cooper and John Roncoroni organized the Napa Valley Vineyard Technical Group meeting in Napa for owners of private lands with the burn areas of the Atlas, Nuns and Tubbs wildfires of October 2017. “There are going to be days when you feel like you're making it up as you go along,” said Greg Giusti, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus. “You are. You haven't done this before.” Giusti talked about forest health and recovery strategies.

UC Riverside, biotech firm receive grant to combat palm tree pests
MyValleyNews.com, Nov. 2, 2018
The Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research awarded a  $150,000 grant was awarded today to UC Riverside and a Riverside-based biotech firm to bolster their work in developing pesticides capable of eradicating insects that are destroying palm trees in California and elsewhere. “This funding has arrived a critical time. We need to get ahead of the weevil invasion in San Diego and this support provides the boost we need,” said UCCE specialist Mark Hoddle, director of the  Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside.

State ag secretary speaks in Orland innovation conference next week
Chico Enterprise, Nov. 1, 2017
UC ANR researcher and UC Davis professor of biological and ag engineering David Slaughter will speak at the North State Innovations in Agriculture Conference at the Glenn County Fairgrounds. His topic is “The SmartFarm Initiative at UC Davis – a vision of the farm of the future.” California Ag Secretary Karen Ross is also on the agenda.

But first we're going to have to get less squeamish about bugs
Sophia Mendelson, New Food Economy, Oct. 31, 2017
The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program defines IPM this way: “A process you can use to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. IPM can be used to manage all kinds of pests anywhere—in urban, agricultural, and wildland or natural areas.”

 

Posted on Friday, December 1, 2017 at 9:01 AM

Monthly news roundup: October 2017

Burning question: Can California prevent the next wildfire?
Glen Martin, California Magazine, Oct. 31, 2017
The incentive for city council members and county supervisors is to encourage development and expand tax bases, said UC ANR researcher and UC Berkeley professor Scott Stephens. As a result, homes are often built in wild land “interface” areas with extreme fire risk. “UC Cooperative maintains programs in every California county, so we already have a network of educators and communicators,” Stephens said. “We could coordinate with state agencies and the governor to create and implement wildfire safety and response programs that could be very effective. And because the basic structure is already in place, it wouldn't be very expensive.”

UC Merced County Extension programs boosted by local endowment
Todd Fitchette, Western Farm Press, Oct. 31, 2017
Several years ago, UCCE advisor David Doll came up with a plan to crowd source some funding to help the county Extension office pay for projects that otherwise fell to the wayside as slim sources of revenue found other priorities. “Over the years there has been a consistent erosion of base funding for our services, not only from UC, but from county and federal governments,” Doll said. Through his contacts with almond growers in his county, Doll secured about $14,000 from less than 10 donors now part of an endowment which the Merced County Extension can budget annually in perpetuity.

Most USDA new farmer trainees still in the industry, survey finds
Tim Hearden, Capital Press, Oct. 31, 2017
More than half the participants in new farmer training projects the USDA has spent more than $150 million on since 2008 are still working in agriculture, a group's survey has found. The survey's findings should encourage the UC to seek more grant funding for similar projects elsewhere, said Jennifer Sowerwine, an extension specialist based at UC Berkeley who was on an advisory board for the USDA's evaluation. “As the metropolitan agriculture and food system specialist, I see several opportunities ... to expand (the UC's) offerings to support aspiring and beginning urban and peri-urban farmers,” Sowerwine said.

Marin sudden oak death infections surge
Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal, Oct. 28, 2017
The sudden oak death infection rate in Marin has doubled to more than 21 percent since 2015, according to Matteo Garbelotto, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and director of the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory.

UC Davis is producing a more natural organic egg, but how does it taste?
Sally Schilling, Capital Public Radio, Oct. 27, 2017
UC Cooperative Extension poultry specialist Maurice Pitesky says the USDA may stop allowing the organic chicken egg producers to use a synthetic protein supplement, called methionine. His group of researchers is trying an alternative protein source: black soldier fly larvae. “This might be a way to move away from that synthetic methionine and try something that the chickens naturally have an inclination to eat,” Pitesky said. He held a tasting event to determine if the larvae influence egg flavor.

Restoring California's ability to recharge groundwater a more cost-effective drought strategy
Judy Corbett, California Economic Summit, Oct. 26, 2017
Last year, UC ANR and the California Economic Summit brought together 25 innovative land use decision makers and 25 water experts to determine how they might better work together to implement groundwater recharge policies and projects. Their conclusion, land use and water supply entities should reach out to flood control agencies to jointly identify and preserve lands for the dual purpose of recharging groundwater recharge and providing flood protection.

We need novel ways to stave off wildfires
Francie Diep, City Lab, Oct. 26, 2017
Pacific Standard spoke with three California residents, all of whom have interesting, well-supported, yet often little-known ideas for wildfire prevention strategies. One of the interviewees was UCCE specialist Max Moritz. He said people need to start thinking of wildfires the way they do tornadoes and earthquakes: as inevitable natural disasters.

Non-GMO food labels are incredibly misleading—and could be harming you and the environment
Michael Tabb, Quartz Media, Oct. 26, 2017
One recent diet fad is to avoid genetically modified food. It's led to an sharp increase in non-GMO labels. According to Pam Ronald, UC Cooperative Extension specialist whose husband is an organic farmer, farms going non-GMO to meet consumer demand are causing major damage. “These non-GMO labels have proliferated, and they're really a problem,” Ronald told Quartz. “Because there's no regulation, they can just spray anything they want. So what's happening is… they're going back to using [far] more toxic compounds. And I think that's really a disservice to the consumer to market it as somehow being more healthy—when of course, it's not, and it's also more harmful to the environment.”

Milk, salads, kitty litter, condoms: ‘Non-GMO labels sow confusion
Geoffrey Mohan, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 25, 2017
Clover Sonoma to jump into the trend of labeling products as free of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which some consumers fear could cause health and environmental damage, despite firm rebuttals from the country's top scientific and medical organizations. "It's like unicorn-free milk," said Alison L. Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension genomics specialist. "There aren't any GMOs in milk anyway."

My beef with killing the meet industry
Matthew Hable, The Lumberjack (Humboldt State student newspaper), Oct. 24, 2017
Eliminating the meat industry would do more harm than good to our planet. “Agriculture cannot be sustainable without animal agriculture,” said Frank Mitloehner, UC Cooperative Extension specialist. “That is something I'm sure of.”

Don't get fooled by the calendar. October is deadly month for fires in California
Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler, Sacramento Bee, Oct. 24, 2017
Although the risks from new fires have abated in Northern California in recent days, officials cautioned that the perils haven't been completely extinguished despite the light rains that swept through the area last week. “In two days, it'll be as dry as it was before the rains, roughly,” said Bill Stewart, the co-director of UC Berkeley's Center for Fire Research and Outreach.

California needs to rethink urban fire risk after wine country tragedy
Max Moritz, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 24, 2017
The Northern California fires revealed that we have key gaps in our policy and planning related to assessing risk in fire-prone environments. An essential step is to shift our perspective from a focus on hazard to one that more comprehensively includes human vulnerabilities.

Trees and People: SOD Workshop
Bill Pramuk, Napa Valley Register, Oct. 23, 2017
The Sudden Oak Death blitz in Napa County delivered good news. The county had a very low infection rate. UCCE specialist Matteo Garbelotto will present the Blitz results and practical information at a free session Oct. 28 in Napa.

We're with you: Australian wine producers' message to California
Tyne Logan, ABC Australia, Oct. 23, 2017
Australia's two peak wine bodies have sent a letter offering support and condolences to the Californian wine industry following deadly wildfires. The wildfires have caused significant loss to those directly involved but the industry as a whole would not suffer big production losses, said Jim Lapsley, of the UC ANR Agricultural Issues Center. He said the biggest impact for the Californian wine industry would be on the high-value wine, for which the region is most renowned.

Sudden oak death moves into urban locales in East Bay and on Peninsula
Lisa Krieger, Mercury News, Oct. 22, 2017
A highly contagious disease that has already killed millions of rural California trees is spreading into urban areas in the East Bay and on the Peninsula, according to a major new University of California survey. Once-untouched areas must now “face disease impacts and management decisions,” said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Matteo Garbelotto, who heads the Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory at UC Berkeley. While it does not mean that all oaks in those areas will die, it indicates that they are at elevated risk.

Experts call for changes in wake of deadly wildfires in Northern California
Cheri Carlson, Ventura County Star, Oct. 22, 2017
California is ahead of a lot of the country with respect to preparing to handle wildfire, said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension. “But we still have a lot to learn,” he said. Do the building codes already in place work under such severe conditions, and how do you get people out in time? “That's what we're going to be asking ourselves as we pick up the pieces and look at what happened here,” Moritz said.

Do you care if your fish dinner was raised humanely? Animal advocates say you should
Clare Leschin-Hoar, NPR The Salt, Oct. 20, 2017
Mercy for Animals is beginning to lay the groundwork for a campaign that will target the aquaculture industry and shine a light on the conditions in which finfish like salmon, tilapia, catfish, trout, pangasius and other species are raised.  Thrying to shift the aquaculture industry won't be easy. The vast majority of the farmed fish Americans eat comes from countries like China, Indonesia, Canada, Norway, Chile and Ecuador. "Welfare rights are primarily a Western phenomenon," says UC Cooperative Extension specialist Fred Conte. "You go to Central America or China and you're not going to find welfare standards."

What's to blame for wine country fires? PG&E isn't the only suspect
Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee, Oct. 20, 2017
Max Moritz, a fire specialist at the University of California Cooperative Extension, compared the Tubbs Fire to the Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires that regularly rip down the canyons into Southern California suburbs, with the added twist of bigger, denser Northern California vegetation, dried like mega-kindling. Such fires have not been the norm in cooler, damper NorCal, but the occurrence of such a monster here this year “forces us to consider that this kind of fire could happen in lots of places,” Moritz said.

Why were California's widlfires so deadly? The answer lies in the forest
Eric Holst, Environmental Defense Fund, Oct. 20, 2017
In a Q&A article with the Environmental Defense Fund, UCCE farm advisor emeritus Greg Giusti adi the driving force of the California widlfires was wind. Other factors responsible for the devastation include 100 years of fire suppression, early and mid-20th century logging converting old growth forests to more densely populated stands of trees, suburban and rural sprawl spreading out into wildlands, and programs and actions addressing fire prevention relying too heavily on fire suppression.

Rain brings relief for burned soil, but expert worried about runoff
Ashley Tressel, Ukiah Daily Journal, Oct. 20, 2017
UCCE Mendocino County advisor emeritus Greg Giusti believes recent rain was enough to get some seeds germinating, so Mendocino County might begin to see some green in the next couple of weeks, if the weather stays warm.

Sudden oak death likely exacerbated deadly Northern California wildfires
Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 20, 2017
A dramatic increase this year in the number of oaks, manzanita and native plants infected by sudden oak death likely helped spread the massive fires that raged through the North Bay, according to Matteo Garbelotto, UCCE forest pathology and mycology specialist. In a recently released study he reported that 37 percent of the trees sampled in fire-ravaged eastern Sonoma County — prior to the fires — were infected by sudden oak death.

Urban conflagration: Fire scientist on climate change and what makes California's wildfires different
Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, Oct. 20, 2017
“Lots of trends that we've seen over the last several decades in fire have been related back to climate change,” said UCCE specialist Max Moritz. “There's pretty conclusive evidence for a link to climate change for many of the fires that we've seen in the last couple of decades. And the trends match up with what we expect from climate change and from our models.”

Citrus crisis
Elizabeth Lorenz, Palo Alto Weekly, Oct. 19, 2017
Asian citrus psyllid has been found in eastern Santa Clara County as well as other Bay Area counties. It is considered established in Southern California. "So far, the term 'eradication' has only been used early on in the invasion and in agricultural production areas. Residential treatments are voluntary but highly recommended by the state at this time,” said Andrew Sutherland, UC Cooperative Extension IPM advisor the San Francisco Bay Area.

Why California wildfires are infernos in October
Lesley McClurg, KQED Science, Oct. 19, 2017
It typically doesn't rain in California all summer. “By October California has dried out,” said University of California, Berkeley fire expert William Stewart. “So every hillside is basically fuel waiting to burn.”

“Like a blowtorch”: Powerful winds fueled tornadoes of flame in Tubbs Fire
Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 18, 2017
The Tubbs Fire was driven by a steady 40 mph winds. “Just like water flows from higher to lower elevation, winds flow down a pressure gradient as they go from high pressure to low pressure,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the UC Cooperative Extension. “When they get concentrated, like through a mountain pass, they will speed up, like a river going through a narrow channel.”

Northern California fire victims may want to rebuild. But can they find someone to do it?
Stuart Leavenworth and Anita Chabria, Sacramento Bee, Oct. 18, 2017
Families that lost their homes in the Northern California fires will be competing for contractors to rebuild. “It was hard to get workers before the fires, because the living costs in Sonoma and Napa are so much higher than elsewhere,” said Philip Martin, a labor economist UC Davis. “Most people would say it is even going to get even harder to find workers after the fires.”

How California's North Bay fires became the state's deadliest
Tara Lohan, NewsDeeply, Oct. 17, 2017
Nearly two weeks after more than a dozen devastating wildfires erupted across Northern California, experts are beginning to ponder what happened.  “We don't know what triggered the ignition, but once a fire ignited the real story is that there was receptive vegetation everywhere that could carry that fire,” said Yana Valachovic, forest advisor in Humboldt County. It was “extreme fire weather,” said Yana Valachovic, forest advisor in Humboldt County. The driving force of the fire was wind that gusted up to 70 miles per hour and pushed embers a mile head of the fire, she said. “It's a lot like being in a horizontal hailstorm of coals.”

Northern California is facing catastrophic wildfires more typically seen in the south. Experts aren't sure why
Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 16, 2017
"These kinds of fires and the losses are very uncharacteristic of that part of the world," UC Cooperative Extension specialist Max Moritz said of the firestorm that ignited in Northern California last week, killing dozens of people and torching thousands of homes. "It has all the signatures of a massive, Southern California Santa Ana wind event.”

Devastated suburb was exempt from fire rules
Doug Smith and Nin Agrawal, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 15, 2017
California fire officials developed hazard maps in the 2000s that for the first time tied building codes to geographies based on risk. Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension fire scientist, said the maps were an important step forward in assessing fire danger. But the Coffey Park catastrophe has shown that the methodology, and the law underlying it, were too narrow. “With a lot of hazard mapping, once you get into a density of development, it's mapped urban and it's considered unburnable,” Moritz said. “From its core, our whole approach to fire behavior modeling, we are not talking about burning in urbanized environments.”

Firefighters begin to feel relief in Napa County wildfires
Maria Sestito, Napa Valley Register, Oct. 14, 2017
Firefighters from all over California, bordering states, Mexico, Canada and Australia have been pitching in to control the wildfires in Northern California. “They basically just keep putting more and more people on,” said William Stewart, co-director of the UC Center for Fire Research and Outreach at UC Berkeley. “They're trying to figure out how to rotate people out as fast as they can.” Stewart said the fires were the biggest and most complicated ever in Northern California. “I've never seen anything like this.”

California blazes are part of a larger and hotter picture, fire researchers say
Geoff Brumfiel, Valley Public Radio, Oct. 13, 2017
In Northern California,a wet spring caused the hills to grow thick with grasses and shrubs. That foliage then died and dried out over the hottest summer in California history. The winds caused small fires to grow extremely quickly. "Everybody from firefighters down to homeowners has commented on just how incredibly fast the fires were moving," says Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension specialist. "That's really a wind-related phenomenon."

Cannabis farmers get no help from UC farm advisors
Hanford Sentinel, Oct. 12, 2017
UC Cooperative Extension is a source of information on a wide variety of agricultural crops, but not cannabis. "We are prohibited by law from making any comments on marijuana,” says Tulare/Kings farm advisor Kevin Day. Humboldt County farm advisor Yana Valachovic said UC gets federal funding and the word has come down some time ago "not to get involved.” However, UCCE specialist Van Butsic says “we can track what goes in the fields and in greenhouses but not in those big warehouses" in the future. As for acreage, he expects most marijuana farms will be an acre or less and the statewide total may come to 50,000 to 100,000 acres.

Spending more on fire suppression won't reduce losses
Scott Stephens, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 12, 2017
Australia, in contrast to California, has developed a more effective “Prepare, stay and defend, or leave early” policy. With this approach, trained residents decide whether they will stay and actively defend their well-prepared property or leave early before a fire threatens them. By examining the Australian model, we might approach a more sustainable coexistence with fire. However, some California communities are so vulnerable that a “Prepare and leave early” strategy might be the only option.

How this week's wildfire outbreak became one of the deadliest in California's history
J.J. Gallagher, ABC News, Oct. 12, 2017
The Tubbs blaze may be one of the deadliest wildfires in California history. "When a fire moves that quickly, there really is no evacuation notification system that can keep up," said Scott Stephens, a UC ANR fire science researcher at the University of California Berkeley. "We're talking about just minutes."

California wildfires: Why have they been so destructive?
Julie Turkewitz, New York Times, Oct. 11, 2017
Parched landscapes can increase fire size and duration, said Scott L. Stephens, a UC ANR researcher of fire science at the University of California, Berkeley. But it is important to note, he added, that climate change is not necessarily causing specific fires to occur. Wildfires are a natural part of a forest's life cycle and have been part of the state's history since long before anyone called it California.

Wildfires destroy at least 6 Northern California wineries
Eric Chaney, The Weather Channel, Oct. 11, 2017
Any of this year's harvest still in the fields is threatened not only by flames, but also by smoke, which can ruin grapes that have not yet been picked. Still, most of this year's crop was already picked and next year's fruit won't likely be affected, UCCE specialist Anita Oberholster told the AP. "Even if wines now were heavily affected by smoke, it doesn't carry over to the next season, only in the fruit itself," she said.

What needs to be done to stop wildfire in drought-killed forests
Matt Weiser, Water Deeply, Oct. 11, 2017
UCCE specialist Van Butsic, who recently published a study that proposes a new way to manage forests, is featured in a Q&A format. Bustic discusses how California forests are impacted by the drought, how much prescribed fire is needed to bring forests back to a healthy state, and laws and procedures followed by state and federal agencies on fire suppression.

How the deadly Tubbs Fire blitzed Santa Rosa, overwhelming residents and firefighters
Jill Tucker, Lizzie Johnson, Joaquin Pamomino and Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 11, 2017
The narrow path of destruction westward from the Napa Valley to Calistoga was “a classic example of wind-driven fire,” said Scott Stephens, a UC ANR researchers and fire science professor at UC Berkeley. He said a canyon that slopes downhill on the outskirts of Santa Rosa allowed the blaze to churn into something much bigger right before it collided with homes and businesses. “The winds were just ferocious, and by chance, and very sad chance, they happened to vector the fire right toward the city of Santa Rosa,” Stephens said. “It doesn't surprise me that the eastern areas were hit on the urban-wildland interface, but the fire penetrated the city by three-fourths of a mile or more.”

Here's why October is California's most dangerous month for wildfires
Jennifer Calfas, Time Magazine, Oct. 10, 2017
With a combination of dry fuel and fast winds this late in the season, “there's a very big chance you're going to get big, terrible fires,” said UCCE specialist Max Moritz. “All you need is ignition and you have the perfect storm, really.”

Tracking the damage of a disaster-in-progress
H. Claire Brown and Joe Fassler, New Food Economy, Oct. 10, 2017
Smoke taint in wine grapes is a condition that makes them unpalatable and not viable for sale. “The fruit gets tainted with various phenolic compounds and creosotes [that] give these smoke flavors that aren't pleasant,” says Glenn McGourty, a Mendocino-based farm advisor for the University of California Extension. “If they tasted like bacon, it would be great, but they don't taste like bacon. They taste like ash trays.”

UC, nonprofit receive $500,000 grant to start entrepreneurs' network
Tim Hearden, Capital Press, Oct. 4, 2017
The University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and AgStart will use the money to cultivate the Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship, which will provide assistance for businesses. “We want to make sure every Californian has the support system to take a novel idea and commercialize a new product or start a new business,” Glenda Humiston, the UC's vice president for ag and natural resources, said in a statement. “They don't have to be a university inventor. They could be a farmer or a young person.”

UC Riverside to take avocado breeding program global
David Downey, The Riverside Press-Enterprise, Oct. 2, 2017
The avocado industry is confined to cool coastal counties. If a variety could grow on a wide scale in the San Joaquin Valley, it would be a game changer. “That's one of my dreams

Posted on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 8:38 AM

Monthly news roundup: September 2017

Rice acreage is down, and yield seems to be too
Steven Schoonover, Chico Enterprise, Sept. 30, 2017
The Sacramento Valley rice harvest, now underway, is expected to come in about 10 percent lower than normal because of late planting due to the wet spring and extended heat waves. UCCE Colusa County advisor Luis Espino said some farmers may have skipped or rushed some of the steps they normally take in preparing the fields for planting, and that could have consequences at harvest time. UCCE Yuba-Sutter advisor Whitney Brim-Forest said the plants made “too much foliage, too fast” because of the summer heat, giving them less energy for producing rice grain.

Booming demand for hay in Asia, Middle East driving agribusiness in the California desert
Ian James, Desert Sun, Sept. 28, 2017
Less than 6 percent of the alfalfa grown across the U.S. is exported, said UCCE specialist Daniel Putnam. Domestic dairies continue to buy the most hay, and California alone has about 1.5 million dairy cows, many of them in the Central Valley. In a report last year, Putnam and his colleagues said exporting hay is likely to be a permanent phenomenon in western states as foreign demand continues to grow and as “scarce land and water limit production” of hay in Asia and the Middle East.

UCCE to offer Oct. 28 seminar on Sudden Oak Death
Napa Valley Register, Sept. 28, 2017
UCCE specialist Matteo Garbelotto presents a free training session on the prevention and management of Sudden Oak Death Oct. 28. He will discuss the results of the 2017 Sudden Oak Death bio-blitz and provide practical information on Sudden Oak Death disease.

Lodi Library to host series of nutrition classes
Danielle Vaughn, Lodi News-Sentinel, Sept. 27, 2017
UC Cooperative Extension will hold an eight-part nutrition class at the Lodi Library. “We wanted to help out the community in our area there in Lodi. It's something new for them to try because some people don't have access to these classes for free,” said Claudia Montelongo, UCCE nutrition educator. “Some people have to go to Delta to take some of these classes and some of these lessons we are covering in the series.”

Student organic garden association hosts CA Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross
Jenny Weng, The Daily Californian, Sept. 27, 2017
UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jennifer Sowerwine was part of the contingent who spoke with CDFA secretary Karen Ross when she visited the Berkeley campus at the behest of the Student Organic Garden Association. They discussed the campus's plans for a housing development on the Oxford Tract, where the students currently cultivate an organic farm. Sowerwine talked about her work in urban farming and sustainability.

UC Merced launches new standalone Ph.D. program in public health
Sierra Sun Times, Sept. 24, 2017
UC Merced's new Ph.D. program in public health includes the opportunity for community outreach. Students can work with Karina Diaz Rios, a UC Cooperative Extension physical activity and nutrition specialist. “Karina is a real asset to our program and she offers something unique to our campus,” said Nancy Burke, professor and chair of public health at UC Merced. “She's on the ground working with a variety of community-based intervention programs. She's plugged into different groups of scholars and she provides access to a great network for students and faculty.”

Blueprint for produce: How fruits & vegetables are designed for the market
Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 22, 2017
With UC Davis a top agricultural research center, the Central Valley's excellent growing conditions and new farm technology constantly emerging from Silicon Valley, a lot of seed development is happening quietly in the Bay Area's backyard. “The seed industry is essential to agriculture — we have to have seeds to start — but it's sort of a hidden part,” says Kent Bradford, professor at UC Davis' Seed Biotechnology Center. “It's where the new technology comes in.”

Concours d'Elegance raises money for youth agriculture programs
Kyla Cathey, Lodi News-Sentinel, Sept. 22, 2017
The former chair of the California State 4-H Foundation, Gail Kautz, now chairs an annual car show at the Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, which raises funds for the Ironstone Concours Foundation. The foundation donates $10,000 to State FFA headquarters in Galt each year and presents scholarships at the California State Fair and the Calaveras County Fair. The foundation also helps support 4-H programs like the leadership conference, guide dog and horse projects.

In the West, communities pioneer cooperative approach to fighting wildfires
Jessica Mendoza, Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 21, 2017
As climate change leads to hotter, drier summers, and populations grow in fire-prone regions, fire professionals have increasingly turned to strategies beyond fire suppression. “It's almost a shelter-in-place mentality,” says UCCE specialist Max Moritz. “If we're going to see more events that are more extreme ... we're going to have to learn to live in tune with the natural hazards of the environment where we are.”

Agritourism provides cash cow amid drying revenue streams
Sara Hayden, Half Moon Bay Review, Sept. 20, 2017
Natalie Sare of Santa's Tree Farm east of Half Moon Bay remembers when it was possible to make a living just by farming. That's less common now. “It's changed a lot in terms of the fact that in order to survive, you need to be able to offer something a little bit more,” Sare said. Many farmers are turning to agritourism, said UC agritourism coordinator Penny Leff.  “They do (agritourism) to connect with their communities and educate. They're genuinely really interested in doing what they do,” Leff said.

Growing popularity of Moringa powder could be a boon for Valley farmers
Dale Yurong, ABC Channel 30 news, Sept. 19, 2017
San Joaquin Valley farmers are always looking for new crops to grow their profits. UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisor Ruth Dahlquist-Willard believes local farmers can find a niche with Moringa. “It has very high nutritional content, especially in the leaves, so a lot of development projects overseas will use it as a powder to add to food to give more vitamins and nutrients to people. And it's actually grown here in Fresno by some Hmong and Filipino farmers,” she said. The valley's extreme summer heat poses a challenge, however.

Five Lodians to be inducted into Ag Hall of Fame
Danielle Vaughn, Lodi News-Sentinel, Sept. 15, 2017
UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus Joseph Grant was one of five local agriculturalists to be inducted into the Ag Hall of Fame. “It's kind of awesome. I mean when you look at the other people that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, I don't consider myself in that class of people so it's humbling,” Grant said. For most of his career Grant focused his research on walnuts, cherries, apples, olives and other tree crops. He retired in 2016.

Rabid bat cases coincide with beginning of fall migration
Elizabeth Larson, Lake County News, Sept. 14, 2017
Lake County's public health officer said a second bat in Lake County has tested positive for rabies. The danger is the potential for a dog or cat to be infected, and then expose people. The level of rabies in bats “is really a numbers game,” said UC Cooperative Extension advisor Rachael Long. More bats with rabies are being seen because more bats are migrating. Bats that have rabies are easy to distinguish, she said, as they usually are so sick they're paralyzed. If you come across such an animal, it should be tested.

Yolo tomato field contaminated by branched broomrape
Jenice Tupolo, Woodland Daily Democrat, Sept. 13, 2017
Branched broomrape was found in a Woodland tomato field. The field was quarantined and treated to eradicate the pest. Three years ago, a different broomrape species — Egyptian broomrape — nestled itself in Solano County. “The canning tomato industry and CDFA cooperated on an eradication effort in the Solano County tomato field,” said UC Cooperative Extension advisor Gene Miyao. “This was the first report of this introduction in North America.”

Wildfires are raging across western North America and climate change is contributing
Hilary Beaumont, Vice News Canada, Sept. 12, 2017
Climate change is contributing to 2017's extreme fire season. As of Sept. 12, 62 fires were burning in the western half of Canada and the United States. Some of these areas are already fire prone, so it's harder to blame those fires on climate change, said Max Mortiz, UC Cooperative Extension fire science specialist. But some fires have struck areas that are normally wet with precipitation, but this year had hot, dry conditions.

First baby born during 4-H Week to receive a gift basket
Red Bluff Daily News, Sept. 9, 2017
The first baby born in Tehama County during National 4-H Week Oct. 1-7 will received a basket of handmade, store bought and cash donations courtesy of 4-H volunteers. Other events that coincide with National 4-H Week are National 4-H Youth Science Day, which takes place on Oct. 4 when members are encouraged to learn more about fitness by building their own wearable fitness tracker.

Improving water management: Can Silicon Valley help?
Michael Cahn, Growing Produce, Sept. 7, 2017
many high-tech start-up companies have developed well-intentioned products without first understanding the constraints of most vegetable production operations. Silicon Valley may have the know-how to develop high-tech tools that can help achieve better water management, but these companies will need partnerships with the agriculture industry for their investments to pay off.

Sonoma County grape growers working long nights, days to bring in crop
Guy Kovner and Martin Espinoza, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sept. 7, 2017
The four-day heat wave over Labor Day weekend threw the wine grape harvest into high gear. Rain would be unwelcome at this time, since it could trigger botrytis. Rhonda Smith, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sonoma County, said botrytis infections are “ubiquitous” and ever present. The real concern, she said, is whether high humidity and mild temperatures persist long enough to allow the fungus to trigger “disease onset.”

Group aims to tackle Sonoma County food waste
Christi Warren, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sept. 6, 2017
a group of Sonoma County nonprofits aim to divert food waste to the homes of the estimated 82,000 local residents who go hungry each month. The project's creation was made possible through a $5,000 grant from Impact 100 Redwood Circle, said Mimi Enright, a program manager at UC Cooperative Extension Sonoma and coalition member.

Holy guacamole! Avocado prices rise to record highs
Benjamin Parkin, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 6, 2017
A small crop in California coincided with a tough season in Mexico to drive wholesale prices to around $80 a case, which is threatening the bottom line at restaurants as they try to meet rising demand for the fruit. “The market is growing faster than the supply,” said Mary Lu Arpaia, UC Cooperative Exltention subtropical horticulture specialist.

Reading the tea leaves of alternative crops
David Eddy, Growing Produce, Sept. 2, 2017
Director of the UC Kearney REC, Jeff Dahlberg, has one word for those who scoff at the notion of growing tea in California: blueberries. About 20 years ago, when a UCCE advisor suggested blueberries, “Everyone laughed at him,” Dahlberg says. Now California producers have yields that double those of blueberry farms in a traditional location like Michigan. Craft California tea may be the next big thing.

California farmers say they don't have enough workers – but it's not because of Trump
Stephen Magagnini, Sacramento Bee, Sept. 1, 2017
The slowdown of illegal workers coming from Mexico has transformed California agriculture, resulting in higher wages and mechanization, said UC ANR agricultural economist Philip Martin. “In 2000, about 1 in 3 California farmworkers was what the government called a newcomer – young, single males about 25 who went wherever they were needed,” Martin said. “Over the last 20 years, the arrival of new illegal workers was sort of the grease that kept the farm labor market running smoothly.” But while about 55 percent of the nation's farmworkers are still undocumented, Martin said the average age is almost 40 and these workers have established homes and don't migrate any more.

 

Posted on Monday, October 2, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Monthly news roundup: August 2017

Grants to fund development of disease resistance in strawberries
Mark Anderson, Sacramento Business Journal, Aug. 25, 2017
A team of researchers from UC ANR, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and University of Florida received a $6.3 million from the federal government and the California Strawberry Commission to fund research to improve disease resistance in strawberries. Disease resistance is a looming concern for growers as the fumigant methyl bromide is banned for use this year.

How Driscolls reinvented the strawberry
Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker, Aug. 21, 2017
Driscoll's most forbidding competition has come from UC Davis, where for a nominal royalty fee, any grower wishing to use its plants. UC also shares crucial information about horticulture derived from its research. Every farm the university supplies was another acre not given over to Driscoll's.

Merced County farmers organized 100 years ago
Sarah Lim, Merced Sun-Star, Aug. 19, 2017
Merced County UC Cooperative Extension marked its 100th anniversary Aug. 20. As part of the centennial celebration, UCCE and the Merced County Farm Bureau created an exhibit for the Courthouse Museum to show how farming has changed over the past 100 years. The two organizations also hosted a celebration in Courthouse Park, with food, activities and information booths.

Riverside residents asked to help save state's citrus industry from deadly disease
Mark Muckenfuss, Riverside Press-Enterprise, Aug. 27, 2017
Riverside residents are being enlisted in the battle against huanlongbing disease of citrus. The best defense is controlling the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads the disease. UCCE subtropical horticulture specialist Peggy Mauk said nonchemical treatments aren't effective enough. “One individual that's (infected) can infect many trees,” Mauk said. In killing the psyllid, “You need to get as close to 100 percent as possible.”

Verify: Are half of California farmworkers undocumented?
Barbara Harvey, KXTV ABC Channel 10, Aug. 16, 2017
“Nine of 10 California farmworkers are immigrants. At least five in 10 are undocumented,” said Dianne Feinstein when discussing a bill that would give farmworkers a path to citizenship. However, Egan Reich, a Department of Labor spokesman, said the NAWS statistics do not track “farm workers." While it may be a matter of semantics, it's an important distinction. Philip Martin, a professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis, highlighted the difference, pointing out that livestock workers could also fall under the broad definition of “farm worker.”

Agriculture's careful use of chlorpyrifos pivotal in EPA decision
Cecelia Parsons, Western Farm Press, Aug. 16, 2017
Pest control advisors and UC IPM specialists often advocate the use of softer materials and new strategies including mating disruption for crop protection, but note there are specific instances where this restricted use material cannot be matched in effectiveness against invasive pests and endemic pest outbreaks and as a resistance management tool. Entomologist Lori Berger of the UC Statewide IPM Program said a UC critical use study helped the EPA understand how and why chlorpyrifos is used in agriculture.

How safe is chicken imported from China? 5 questions answered
Maurice Pitesky, The Conversation, Aug. 13, 2017
Under a new trade deal, cooked poultry meat can be imported to the U.S. from China. UC Cooperative Extension poultry advisor Maurice Pitesky wrote that this is no food safety risk from viruses or bacteria if the meat is cooked properly. However, poultry meat can also contain contaminants, such as heavy metals, and antibiotic residues if birds are treated with antibiotics in an inappropriate fashion. “These risks are probably greater for poultry raised and processed in China than for poultry raised and processed in the United States,” he wrote.

4-H and Google team up to bring tech to America's youth
Christopher Walljasper, AgWeb.com, Aug. 11, 2017
California is one of 22 states in the nation where a new Google career education program was launched. The Internet search giant has donated $1.5 million to the National 4‑H Council to build skills youth will need for the future, like computer science, computational thinking, communication and collaboration,

How will President Trump's immigration plan affect California farm labor?
Lemor Abrams, CBS News Sacramento, Aug. 3, 2017
There is concern among Republicans and Democrats that President Donald Trump's immigration plan will cut into California's shrinking supply of low skilled farm labor. But UC ANR researcher Phillip Martin, who specializes in immigration, says it won't. Contrary to what critics believe, promoting high skilled workers won't hurt low skilled immigrants.

San Jose teen prepares for Santa Clara County Fair
Gillian Brassil, San Jose Mercury-News, Aug. 2, 2017
Santa Clara 4-H member April Alger, 17, raises market goats at the Emma Prusch Farm Park in San Jose. She's been raising animals since she received a chicken for her 10th birthday. This year she'll be selling two goats at the Santa Clara County fair, which she said is a little sad for her. “They're not pets, but they're a little like pets,” she said.

Posted on Friday, September 1, 2017 at 9:32 AM

4-H and Google team up to teach youth computer science

California is one of 22 states in the nation where a new Google career education program was launched today. The Internet search giant has donated $1.5 million to the National 4‑H Council to build skills youth will need for the future, like computer science, computational thinking, communication and collaboration, reported Christopher Walljasper on AgWeb.

Google.org choose to partner with 4-H to provide education to the nation's youth.

The funding lays the foundation to launch the 4‑H Computer Science Career Pathway, which will reach more than 100,000 kids in its first year. 4-H members in Alabama, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia will have access to new devices, curriculum and training.

President of National 4-H Council Jennifer Sirangelo said the career pathway will translate abstract concepts to relatable, practical experiences the 4-H members can use to explore the field of computer science, beginning from interest to studying computer science to choosing computer science for a career.

"We're excited to partner with all the enthusiasm and energy of the Googlers," she said.

Charlotte Smith of Google.org noted that 4-H is the largest community based organization in America.

"We already have 22 states signed up. That's more than we dreamed of," Smith said.

Smith said Google wants kids to develop the skills they will need in the future.

"We don't know what the jobs of tomorrow will look like," Smith said. "Some of them might require computer science skills, but it's much more than that - problem solving, collaboration. We want to give kids as many kinds of tools as we can so they can succeed in any discipline and any field."

Posted on Friday, August 11, 2017 at 3:01 PM

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