- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
In her column, Obra said the program's closure has UC's small farm advisors "scrambling for dollars to continue their research."
Obra spoke to UCCE small farm advisors Manual Jimenez of Tulare County and Richard Molinar of Fresno County and Small Farm Program director Shermain Hardesty, based at UC Davis.
All the academics will keep their jobs and continue to work with small-scale farmers, but Jimenez said he had to lay off a technician, and can't pay for plastic to protect his guavas this winter.
"If I don't get the plastic, they freeze and die," he was quoted.
Molinar said the program typically provides $10,000-$15,000 of his costs each year and he will scale back his work without the funding. He said it may be more difficult winning grants without the prestige of the Small Farm Program attached.
Hardesty told Obra UC ANR will achieve one-time savings of $268,000 and $140,000 in annual costs by closing the program.
The Small Farm Program isn't the only statewide program slated for closure. On Oct. 2, ANR vice president Dan Dooley announced that the Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program, the Center for Water Resources and California Communities Program will also be closing.
In a letter distributed today, Dooley said:
"Closing statewide program structures has reduced administrative costs, and is driving a restructuring of support functions to take full advantage of improved business processes, streamlined workflow, and UC-wide efforts to improve efficiency, leverage technology and to share common solutions. We can neither afford nor justify individual staff for each program area when those functions can be more efficiently handled. This is not a criticism of the hard work and capabilities of our staff, but essential and strategic restructuring for our future."