- (Public Value) UCANR: Developing an inclusive and equitable society
From Del Norte, Siskiyou, and Modoc counties south through San Diego and Imperial counties, Californians will be seeing more University of California Cooperative Extension advisors in their communities.
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources has released 48 more UCCE Advisor positions for recruitment over the next 12 months thanks to increased 2021-22 state funding. This brings the total to 89 new UCCE Advisor positions since July 2021 when Gov. Newsom and the state Legislature provided a historic budget boost for UC ANR. During the last six months of 2021, UC ANR released 41 other UCCE positions that have been filled or are under recruitment. The full list of UCCE positions is posted online at https://bit.ly/CEpositions2021-22.
Additional UC Cooperative Extension Specialist positions will be announced for recruitment in early April 2022.
“We appreciate the people across the state who worked with UCANR to develop the UC Cooperative Extension advisor position proposals,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Input from community members and partnering agencies and organizations was critical to informing the prioritization of these UCCE positions. Now we hope our supporters will help us recruit the best scientists to work with California's communities.”
The new UCCE advisors will be providing research-based information to residents about nutrition, community development, crop production, forestry, pest management, water management, youth development, landscape management and wildfire.
In addition to traditional issues, some of the new UCCE advisors will be focusing on climate adaptation for Indigenous farmers, cultural burning and Indigenous land stewardship, repurposing green waste, and community development with Californians who are Black, Indigenous or speak English as a second language.
The following UCCE Advisor positions will be staged for recruitment to avoid overwhelming UC ANR's Human Resources colleagues:
- 4-H Community Engagement & Development Youth Area Advisor for Tulare, Fresno and Kings counties
- 4-H Animal Science Youth Advisor for San Benito, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties
- 4-H Youth Development Area Advisor for San Diego and Orange counties
- Agronomy and Weed Management Area Advisor for Merced County
- Agronomy and Weed Science Area Advisor for Tehama, Glenn and Shasta counties
- Climate Resilient Indigenous Farming and Food Sovereignty Area Advisor for San Diego and Riverside counties
- Community Development BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color) Advisor for Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and San Francisco counties
- Community Health and Nutrition Advisor for San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties
- Community Health and Nutrition Advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Tehama counties
- Community Health, Nutrition and Food Security Area Advisor for Butte, Glenn, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties
- Community Health, Nutrition and Food Systems Area Advisor for Siskiyou, Modoc and Lassen counties
- Community Health and Nutrition Older Adult Area Advisor for Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties
- Cultural Burning and Indigenous Land Stewardship Advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties
- Dairy Area Advisor for Tulare and Kern counties
- Entomology Area Advisor for Ventura and Los Angeles counties
- Environmental Horticulture Area Advisor for Fresno, Madera, Tulare and Kings counties
- Environmental Horticulture and Forestry Area Advisor for Placer and Nevada counties
- Environmental Horticulture and Water Resource Management Area Advisor for Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties
- Food Safety and Organic Production Area Advisor for Imperial and Riverside counties
- Forestry Area Advisor for Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties
- Forestry Area Advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties
- Fruit and Almond Area Advisor for Fresno and Tulare counties
- Horticulture and Specialty Crops Advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties
- Indigenous Disaster Resilience Planning and Policy Area Advisor for Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties
- IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Area Advisor for Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties
- IPM Entomology Area Advisor based at Kearney Research and Extension Center
- IPM Entomology Farm Area Advisor for Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties
- Intermountain Irrigated Grass Systems Area Advisor for Modoc, Shasta and Lassen counties
- Irrigation and Soils Area Advisor for Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties
- Livestock and Natural Resources Area Advisor for Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties
- Orchard Systems and Weed Ecology Area Advisor for Glenn, Tehama and Colusa counties
- Organic Materials Management Area Advisor for Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties
- Organic Materials Management and Agri-Food System Area Advisor for Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and San Francisco counties
- Pathology Area Advisor for Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties
- Production Horticulture Area Advisor for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties
- Restoration Ecology and Weed Science Area Advisor for Kern, Tulare and Kings counties
- Rice Farming Systems Area Advisor for Colusa and Yolo counties
- Sustainable Agriculture Systems Area Advisor for Mariposa, Merced and Stanislaus counties
- Sustainable Orchard Systems Area Advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Butte and Placer counties
- Urban Agriculture Food Systems and Environmental Issues Advisor for San Diego and Orange counties
- Urban IPM Area Advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties
- Urban Watershed Resilience Area Advisor for Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties
- Vegetable Crops Area Advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties
- Water and Soil Resources Area Advisor for Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Mendocino counties
- Water Management Area Advisor for Tulare, Fresno, Kings and Madera counties
- Water Quality-Quantity-Climate Change Area Advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties
- Weed Ecology and Management Area Advisor for Fresno, Tulare and Kings counties
- Youth, Families and Communities Area Advisor for Kern, Inyo and Mono counties
- Author: Emily Caldwell, The Ohio State University
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Study analyzes tension between legal cannabis, financial industry
Legalization of marijuana in California has helped some financial institutions in the state increase their assets. At the same time, many banks, feeling stifled by federal regulations, deny services to licensed growers, manufacturers and retailers, a new study shows.
“Licensed cannabis businesses need to bank their cash and take out loans to build their businesses, but many banks worry that by doing business with the cannabis industry, they'll be flouting federal laws,” said co-author Keith Taylor, University of California Cooperative Extension community development specialist. “Banks that won't accept legal cannabis cash deposits and don't provide loans, aren't monetizing their deposits. Marginalized cannabis communities are missing out on capital.”
Of the banks and credit unions contacted by researchers at The Ohio State University and University of California for the study, most were not knowingly involved in the cannabis industry.
Combining data on bank holdings and interviews with growers and bankers, the research –published online in the journal Agricultural Finance Review – paints an initial picture of how the marijuana and financial industries co-exist in California now, and suggests regulatory changes could create new opportunities for both.
The data analysis did make one thing clear: Legalization of the estimated $16 billion marijuana industry in California has been a boon to financial institutions. But restricted access to banking, from checking accounts to loans, perpetuates inequities for those participating in the legal production of cannabis – while unlicensed, illegal growing and exporting continues as an enormous cash-based sector of the industry.
“We need a better understanding of the economics of this industry and all of the questions and implications related to it so the impacts of policy choices are intentional,” said lead study author Zoë Plakias, assistant professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at The Ohio State University.
“If we want to have a more equitable society and allow communities to keep more of the value of this crop, how do we do that? We first need to characterize what happens in communities when you legalize cannabis.”
Plakias and Margaret Jodlowski, assistant professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at Ohio State, conducted the study with researchers Taylor, Parisa Kavousi and Taylor Giamo at the University of California, Davis.
“The tensions we are observing in the cannabis banking space comes about in part due to the inequity felt between large cannabis and small and legacy operators,” Taylor said. “The ‘big guys' are able to absorb a great deal more than ‘Ma and Pa.'”
Legalization benefited financial institutions indirectly
Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Even in states that have legalized recreational and medicinal use of cannabis, it is still a federal crime to possess, buy or sell marijuana. California legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2016, and the industry is overseen by the Department of Cannabis Control.
Data used by the researchers for this study included bank and credit union call data for the years 2015-2020. The analysis showed that assets held by financial institutions in counties that legalized marijuana had increased in that period by almost $750 million and loan activity rose by about $500 million.
These benefits are presumed to be spillover effects of better overall economic health that followed cannabis legalization in specific counties, Jodlowski said, because the interviews with financial institutions indicated there has been little appetite among banks to associate with the marijuana industry.
“It's important to remember when talking about loans that it's not possible to identify whether they were for cannabis operations, and they're probably not based on what we heard from stakeholders,” she said. “It's more of a general relationship. The bank is doing better, and they're able to lend out more in general and earn more interest from loans.”
When they narrowed the analysis to banks that operate only in California, the researchers found that for each single new manufacturing or retail license, bank assets and loan capacity grew by tens of thousands of dollars. Cannabis cultivation licenses, on the other hand, had no impact on California banks' holdings.
“This suggests that a lot of the economic benefits of legalization come from other stages of the supply chain – and it's not a foregone conclusion that farmers benefit from legalization,” Plakias said. “There's a need to think about how farmers who are producing cannabis in the legal market, often operating in rural environments with a weaker economic base to start with, can be supported in the context of economic development.”
The team also interviewed marijuana farmers and representatives from banks and credit unions in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties – the “Emerald Triangle” region known historically in California and nationally for the quantity and quality of marijuana produced there.
Cannabis growers face obstacles, risk-adverse bankers
On the financial side, bankers reported being hamstrung by ambiguous federal guidelines that pose a real risk to financing cannabis, largely because banks are required to report suspicious transactions to the federal government. They might be seen as players in a criminal enterprise even by providing banking services to employees who work for licensed members of the cannabis industry, or they could lose big on lending if cannabis-related assets backing a loan were seized by federal agents.
“What's consistent across all financial institutions is that it's very costly, and does involve taking on some risk, to be in compliance with all of the guidelines – the risk being that even if you follow all guidelines to the letter, there's no assurance that you can't still get in trouble,” Plakias said.
Cannabis growers they interviewed reported paying fees ranging from $200 to $3,000 per month for bank accounts, which they found to be cost prohibitive. These limitations leave most licensed marijuana producers and retailers in the lurch, forcing them to rely on nontraditional financing arrangements – maybe investing in friends' endeavors – or risk running cash operations.
“There is a lot of evidence that cash can be better for a local economy because cash tends to stay local – but we are now a credit-based economy,” Jodlowski said. “In this day and age it's incredibly harmful for local economic development to have an entire sector that's denied access to credit, because so much of developing as a household, or individual, or industry requires credit and requires demonstration of credit-worthiness.
“That's a fundamental harm of these sorts of restrictions.”
This research is part of a larger project on cannabis and community economic development in California supported by a grant from the UC Davis Cannabis and Hemp Research Center. As part of this project, the California authors on this paper recently published a review of the opportunities and challenges marijuana legalization poses for localities in which the crop is cultivated and sold.
“It's clear we need policies making cannabis banking and finance more equitable,” Taylor said. “It's also clear that ‘Ma and Pa' enterprises need to associate together in formal organizations so they can achieve economies of scale and harness their political power to endure the transition to legal.”
Despite the stigma attached to marijuana, even when legal, its status as California's most valuable crop – estimated to be worth more than almonds and dairy combined – attracts outsiders who are better-equipped to come up with funding to get their operations started and compete with legacy growers who have lived and worked in California for generations.
This trend necessitates development of evidence-based policies that take all participants into consideration, the Ohio State researchers say.
“Our findings speak to confusion around existing policies and the need for streamlining, clarifying and having a more unified approach to regulating this industry,” Jodlowski said.
Homeschooling families are invited to venture out to a new learning environment at UC Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay. UC Elkus Ranch is an environmental education center, providing unique hands-on learning experiences for Bay Area youth. Due to COVID-19 precautions, UC Elkus Ranch has temporarily opened to the general public for private family tours only.
UC Cooperative Extension educators lead small groups on a remote-learning walk through the pastoral fields, vegetable gardens, historic barns and animal pens at UC Elkus Ranch.
“Families can feed our sheep while learning about wool processing, hear how predators and prey adapt, view our impressive animal bone collection, take selfies with our goats and miniature donkeys, and plant a seedling to take home,” said Frank McPherson, director of UC Cooperative Extension for the Bay Area.
Tours must be scheduled in advance and all statewide and San Mateo County Health Department restrictions are being enforced. Current information on San Mateo County health restrictions can be found at https://www.smchealth.org/health-officer-orders-and-statements. For information on scheduling and pricing, please visit http://elkusranch.ucanr.edu/Visit/Family_Tours.
Elkus Ranch, property of the University of California, conducts educational outdoor programs for urban, disabled and inner-city youth in environmental science, California history, animal care and agricultural programs year-round.
Located on the central California coast in Half Moon Bay, the ranch offers diverse programs including those specifically designed for students with special needs, allowing participants to learn about the inter-relationship of the environment and themselves in a rural setting. Under normal circumstances,Elkus Ranch hosts more than 9,000 youth and adults each year from all over the San Francisco Bay Area including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.
Elkus Ranch also has a conference center that can be leased separately. The 4,400 square foot educational and conference facility is available for daytime retreats, meetings and workshops year-around. Current COVID-19 restrictions may affect availability. Additional information about the ranch and conference center, can be found at http://elkusranch.ucanr.edu/Visit/Conference_Center.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources reflected on some of its most compelling achievements in a report that provides an overview of the sweeping impacts its scientists and educators made in 2018.
UC ANR's impacts are felt across the state – in places where water is scarce, climate is changing farming practices, children need a little extra support to get to college, and families can use guidance to stretch their food budgets. UC ANR steps in with programs and services.
Of the hundreds of ways UC ANR impacts California lives and livelihoods, 40 are highlighted in the new publication, Working for the Benefit of All Californians: 2018 UC ANR Annual Report.
UC ANR has identified the specific parts of California where its vast team of highly trained academics can effect positive change. The organization is working to promote economic prosperity, safeguard sufficient safe and healthy food for all, protect the state's natural resources, promote healthy people and communities, develop a qualified workforce, build climate change resilience in communities and ecosystems, and develop an inclusive and equitable society. These values touch every person in the state.
During the period covered in the report, robust research and education programs supported agricultural communities. For example, UC ANR scientists improved the ability to predict beet curly top virus, avoiding losses approaching $100 million in processing tomatoes. A workshop offered by UC ANR educators on low-stress livestock handling convinced all the participants to incorporate the practices on their ranches. Online and in-person workshops provided to urban farmers resulted in new food safety plans for nearly all of the growers involved.
Families, farmers and natural resource managers are facing the prospect of climate change and looking for ways to continue prospering under uncertain conditions. Increasingly ferocious wildfires are causing serious losses to ranchers. UC ANR provided information on management practices to safeguard resources, prevent soil erosion and estimate the cost of forage losses so ranch owners can prepare loss claims. UC ANR has been instrumental in development of a website, Cal-Adapt.org, a clearing house to collect and disseminate climate change data.
Families and youth are a focus of UC ANR nutrition research, nutrition education and programs such as 4-H and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC. One UC ANR researcher collaborated with the Karuk, Yurok and Klamath tribes to identify culturally sound solutions to reduce food insecurity. In two Northern California counties, students were introduced by UC ANR educators to 36 local produce items. Their selection, consumption and interest in the produce served at lunchtime increased. UC ANR piloted a program that gets Latinx youth outside for environmental education.
Making food safer, enriching children's lives, extending reliable nutrition education and improving the productivity on California farms and ranches add up to significant value to the recipients of the services and to all Californians by making the state a better place to live and work.
DPR, Fresno State and UCCE create pesticide safety videos with Hmong farmers
A series of videos describing California pesticide rules and safety in Hmong is now available to view for free online. The videos were produced by California State University, Fresno and UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County with funding from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
The nine-part video series – Complying with Pesticide Laws and Regulations in California – is part of DPR's mission to reach California's farming communities. The videos cover a number of topics including using personal protective equipment, understanding pesticide product labels and application permit requirements.
The innovative educational tool blends peer-to-peer communication with traditional extension methods to include the knowledge and experience of both farmers and extension experts. Hmong farmers featured in the video helped develop scenes in which they educate other farmers, purchase and use personal protective equipment, and interact with extension staff.
“We worked with Hmong farmers who are following pesticide regulations themselves, and are now giving back to educate their peers,” said Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisor, who collaborated on the video production. “Their voices and expertise helped make the scenarios more realistic and accessible to other farmers in the Southeast Asian community.”
Michael Yang, longtime UC Cooperative Extension small farms and specialty crops agricultural assistant, stars in the videos, interacting with farmers based on his extensive experience and trusted relationships in the Hmong farming community, and narrating the educational content in Hmong.
“We hope the videos broaden the reach of our local extension programming to help more farmers understand pesticide regulations and avoid fines, as well as improve their safe handling, selection and use,” said Yang.
Dahlquist-Willard and Yang plan to show the videos at UC Cooperative Extension meetings with Hmong farmers and distribute copies on flashdrives to county Agricultural Commissioner's offices in Fresno County and beyond. The videos are captioned in English.
“DPR works with all types of farmers on pesticide issues and it's critical that they use these tools safely – regardless of the language they speak,” explained DPR Director Val Dolcini. “This video project, the first of its kind to use Hmong speakers, will help foster safer use of pesticides.”
The videos can be viewed at http://bit.ly/fs-dpr-hmong-pesticide-video. The modules in the series cover:
- Introduction to California Pesticide Laws
- Checking for Crops Registered on the Label
- Pests and Application Rates on the Label
- Understanding Signal Words
- Following the Restricted Entry Interval (REI)
- Following the Pre-harvest Interval (PHI)
- Knowing Common Restrictions on the Label
- Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Pesticide Permits and Reporting requirements
The project took 700 hours over 18 months to complete, including filming and post-production. Twelve Fresno State students were also involved in producing the videos with the Hmong farmers in Fresno County. Dahlquist-Willard and Yang provided the creative direction in partnership with the farmers involved, and Fresno State's MCJ Multimedia Production Service under Professor Candace Egan brought professional video production and editing skills to make a high-quality finished product. Fresno State student video editor Mali Lee, a fluent Hmong speaker, completed the final edits of the Hmong language material.
“This was one of the most rewarding projects I have ever worked on,” said project director Bill Erysian of Fresno State. “We brought together a unique group of agricultural specialists, students, farmers and video professionals to create a high impact, professional set of educational videos on pesticide compliance for our Hmong farmers here in California.”
DPR has comprehensive pesticide safety and outreach material available in Punjabi, Spanish and English at https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/whs/worker_protection.htm.