- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
John Bailey, director of the University of California's Hopland Research and Extension Center, has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. Bailey's two-year term expires on Sept. 17, 2021.
The purpose of the Committee is to advise the USDA Secretary on strategies, policies and programs that enhance opportunities for new farmers and ranchers.
“As a member of the Committee, you will advise me on matters impacting beginning farmers and ranchers, including access to land and capital, recruitment and retention of farmers and ranchers, and more,” Perdue wrote in Bailey's appointment letter. “Your role is vital as I strive to obtain the public and industry perspectives on National and State strategies, policies, and programs impacting beginning farmers and ranchers.”
Before joining UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Bailey was the Mendo-Lake Food Hub project manager for North Coast Opportunities, where he developed a regional food hub with an integrated training, marketing and distribution system that allowed regional specialty crop growers to dramatically increase sales of their crops.
Prior to that, Bailey worked at McEvoy of Marin for 12 years. He started in horticultural operations in McEvoy's vegetable gardens and fruit and olive orchards and worked his way up to director of operations, overseeing product development, production and distribution of their botanical-based body care brand as well as national sales and marketing for their private label soap line. He also owned and operated Middle Mountain Farm, which grew and marketed specialty crops to retail and wholesale customers. He is currently a partner in a bulk wine storage company in addition to overseeing Hopland Research and Extension Center's 5,300 acres of oak woodland, grassland, chaparral and riparian environments for research and education.
“In my various roles related to, and diverse network of professionals contacts in, agriculture, combined with my experience in multiple business enterprises, I have gained experiences and knowledge which will help me provide solid advice to the Secretary,” said Bailey. “I am honored to be appointed to this committee and will do my best to advise the Secretary on issues affecting beginning farmers and ranchers across our state, and methods that show promise for assisting them in their agricultural careers.”
The Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers is made up of 20 members from organizations with demonstrated experience in training beginning farmers and ranchers, and other entities or persons providing lending or technical assistance for qualified beginning farmers and ranchers. Congress authorized the committee in 1992 and since its inception, the advisory committee has been an important part of the USDA strategy to engage, support and serve new and beginning farmers. The committee is funded by the Farm Service Agency. USDA's Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement provides oversight, which ensures fiscal accountability and program integrity.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Legalization of cannabis in California changes the dynamics of competing industries
Humboldt County has long been known for marijuana production. Over the last decade, the North Coast's Emerald Triangle – Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties – have experienced a large influx of growers moving to the area to get into the cannabis business.
The greatest expansion of cannabis cultivation occurred within the remote corners of these counties.
“Forested and woodland parcels became valued, not for timber or ranching, but for their capacity to support cannabis operations,” said Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension director and forest advisor in Humboldt County. “Land prices skyrocketed and a whole wave of newcomers surrounded ‘traditional' producers of forest products and beef. The nearly exponential growth of the cannabis industry has been a shock to some and there has been a steady discussion of social, economic and environmental concerns.”
Of the 71 landowners responding to the survey, 18% said they had grown cannabis on their property and 40% said they had indirectly profited by trucking or operating heavy equipment for the cannabis industry. About half of the landowners didn't indicate whether they had or had not grown cannabis.
While the burgeoning cannabis grows have brought jobs to the economically challenged county, over 60% of the landowners agreed that cannabis had contributed to labor costs, 57% agreed it had negatively affected their livestock operations and the majority reported negative impacts to their property.
“Fences have been wrecked, roads damaged, and stream water theft,” wrote one rancher.
Since cannabis has become legal in California, most landowners (64%) have maintained their views on the industry. Yet, Valachovic and her colleagues are interested in seeing how this rural community adapts to protect its environmental health and economic prosperity.
“It's not news that ranchers can have issues with cannabis farmers, but the evolving perspective is what most excites me about this survey,” she said. “The cannabis industry is very dynamic and has experienced rapid expansion, price highs and lows, and an evolving public policy discussion trying to keep up with the changes. The results of this survey reflect opinions from 2018 and with the inclusion of hemp or low THC cannabis, perspectives will continue to evolve.”
The study was conducted by Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension advisors Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeffery Stackhouse, and UC Cooperative Extension specialist Van Butsic in the Department of Environmental Policy Management at UC Berkeley.
The authors concluded that while public policy will not solve all social behaviors and competing industry needs, land-use policy can help mediate land-use conflicts and zoning to support new economic opportunities as well as existing multigenerational businesses.
“Humboldt has been at the forefront of these issues for decades and perhaps the lessons learned here can be helpful for other communities,” Valachovic said.