- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources vice president Glenda Humiston signed a memorandum of understanding in Sacramento Oct. 26 to initiate a new partnership to advance climate-smart agriculture in California.
This partnership will provide $1.1 million to hire 10 UC Cooperative Extension community education specialists who will be deployed to 10 counties statewide to assist and encourage farmers to participate in CDFA programs aimed at increasing adoption of smart farming and ranching practices.
“Agriculture is an important part of the climate solution,” Ross said. “This funding enables CDFA and UC ANR to partner with farmers to scale-up climate smart agricultural practices.”
The new program is funded by California Climate Investments dollars through the Strategic Growth Council (SGC),
“Farmers and ranchers are key to carbon sequestration and a sustainable California,” said SGC chair Ken Alex. “The Strategic Growth Council is pleased to fund this partnership for smart agricultural practices.”
The partnership is focused on implementing on-farm solutions to improve soil health, nutrient management, irrigation management, on-farm composting and manure management – smart farming practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
- State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program
- Healthy Soils Program
- Alternative Manure Management Program
The 10 new education specialists will serve in Mendocino, Glenn, Yolo, San Joaquin, Merced, Kern, Imperial, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz counties.
Three UCCE advisors will mentor and assist the new educators: water quality and management advisor Laurent Ahiablame, based in San Diego County; area dairy advisor Betsy Karle, based in Glenn County; and irrigation and cotton advisor Dan Munk, based in Fresno County.
In addition to working with the new educators, the UCCE advisors conduct research on farming and ranching practices that boost efficiency and protect the climate, therefore serving as a conduit between discovery and implementation.
“This is a great opportunity to really support growers find the right balance between food production and effective management of natural resources,” Ahiablame said. “With the 10 community education specialists we will be one step closer to the producers across the state. I look forward to the opportunity to mentor these specialists, who in turn will be making direct impacts on the community.”
Karle said she was interested in participating in the program as a way to encourage dairy operators to try practices they are interested in but consider too costly.
“I've worked here locally with dairy producers who wanted to implement practices but need financial assistance in order to make it feasible,” Karle said. “They need assistance in the grant application process and technical support to make changes on their farms.”
- Author: Alec Rosenberg
The UC Global Food Initiative is intended to marshal the university's resources – including curriculum and world-class research, student efforts and operational efforts in place across the university's 10 campuses – to address global challenges related to food.
“This initiative grows out of a commitment made by all 10 UC campus chancellors and myself,” Napolitano said. “It is a commitment to work collectively to put a greater emphasis on what UC can do as a public research university, in one of the most robust agricultural regions in the world, to take on one of the world's most pressing issues.”
The food initiative will build on UC's tradition of innovative agricultural research to support farmers and ranchers. Future efforts will build on work already begun by UC's 10 campuses and its Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) to address internal and external issues with a variety of approaches.
UC research, for example, taught Californians how to remove salts from the alkali soils in the Central Valley, transforming that barren landscape into one of the world's most productive farming regions, Napolitano noted in her presentation to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.
Today, the World Food Center at UC Davis stands with 26 other centers dedicated to food and agriculture on that campus; students and faculty at UC Santa Cruz are transforming the field of agroecology; and the Berkeley Food Institute is studying the relationship between pest control, conservation and food safety on Central Coast farms. The cutting-edge Healthy Campus Initiative at UCLA taps all members of the campus community.
The initiative is not limited to seeking any single solution or set of solutions to the myriad food issues confronting the world, Napolitano said.
“The idea,” she said, “is to provide the intellectual and technical firepower, as well as the operational examples needed for communities in California and around the world to find pathways to a sustainable food future.”
In describing the building blocks for the initiative, Napolitano noted that the university's agricultural outreach and public service programs – in every California county and more than 100 nations – bring UC resources to individuals and communities to help them access safe, affordable and nutritious food while sustaining scarce natural resources.
The university's work also will help inform and drive policy discussions from the local to the international levels, and expand partnerships with government agencies such as the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
“This initiative shows great vision and leadership from President Napolitano and the University of California,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, “Climate change and population growth will greatly strain our ability to provide healthy food to people here and around the world.
“President Napolitano's proposal to leverage the strategic assets of the entire UC organization makes it a valuable partner in addressing the significant challenges and opportunities for our production agriculture and food system.”
Emphasizing that student engagement is key, Napolitano announced, as one of her first actions, the funding of three $2,500 President's Global Food Initiative Student Fellowships to be awarded on each campus to undergraduate or graduate students. The fellowships will fund student research projects or internships.
Among other early efforts to be undertaken as part of the initiative are the following:
- Internally, campuses will heighten their collective purchasing power and dining practices to encourage sustainable farming practices, and model healthy eating and zero food waste; food pantries and farmers markets that exist on some campuses will be spread to all 10. Partnerships with K-12 school districts to enhance leveraging procurement for these purposes also will be explored.
- Food issues will be integrated into more undergraduate and graduate courses, catalogues of food-related courses will be developed, and demonstration gardens will be made available on each campus to increase opportunities for students to participate in experiential learning.
- Data mining of existing information will be deployed to help develop insights and action plans for California agriculture and responses to climate change.
- New policies will be enacted to allow small growers to serve as suppliers for UC campuses.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
The annual Ag Day at the Capitol event, held Wednesday (March 19) in Sacramento, honored the University of California Cooperative Extension for its centennial. California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross presented a proclamation to Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources, who oversees UC Cooperative Extension.
“I want to commend my good friend Barbara Allen-Diaz and Cooperative Extension,” said Ross. “You help us take all that great knowledge from the UC System and extend it directly to farmers and ranchers. It is a circle of innovation that sets us apart. It is absolutely crucial to our future and I'm really happy to be here to celebrate 100 years with you.”
UC Cooperative Extension, which has offices in counties throughout California, will be holding local celebrations throughout 2014. For more information about the UCCE centennial, visit http://ucanr.edu/100.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
“With our administrative and statewide program staff co-located in one building in Davis, we will be able to work more efficiently to meet the needs of Californians statewide,” said Allen-Diaz. “We also anticipate savings on energy and other costs by renovating an existing building to meet LEED Certified Interior standards.”
Originally built as an indoor roller hockey rink, and later used as the temporary home of the Yolo County Library and the Explorit Science Center, the building will become the administrative home for UC ANR’s statewide programs. Interior renovations to the existing 33,000 square feet include adding 9,600 square feet of a partial second floor in the rink portion of the building.
UC ANR’s statewide programs include Cooperative Extension advisors located in 57 counties as well as nine Research and Extension Centers in different ecosystems from Tulelake near the Oregon border to El Centro in the Imperial Valley. UC ANR also manages a number of well-known statewide programs whose administrative offices will be located in the new building, including:
- Integrated Pest Management;
- Master Gardeners;
- 4-H Youth Development; and
- The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).
For more information about UC ANR, visit http://ucanr.edu.