- Author: Brent Hales
Saturday was truly a great night at the Orange County Farm Bureau Steak Fry. The Steak Fry was held on Nov. 4 at Tanaka Farms in Irvine to raise funds for 4-H, FFA and various local colleges' ag education programs. That includes South Coast REC's GROW program, which is designed to make agricultural experiences accessible to more young people across the region and introduce them to careers opportunities in agriculture. Orange County Farm Bureau also provided a small donation to the UCCE Master Food Preserver program in Orange County.
It was great to spend an evening with my UC ANR colleagues. I saw Research & Extension Center director Darren Haver, Rita Jakel, 4-H community education specialist; Colleen Clemens, UC Master Food Preserver Program coordinator; and Araceli Hernandez, 4-H region 11 program supervisor.
I felt so proud sitting with the other people attending the Orange County Farm Bureau Steak Fry listening to the four young women from Orange County share examples of how they improved their lives by participating in 4-H club activities, public speaking, leadership events, etc. They were amazing.
The following day, I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new USDA Research Center in Salinas.
It was an honor to participate in the ribbon cutting for the Sam Farr United States Crop Improvement and Protection Research Center. The research center is dedicated to retired Congressman Sam Farr, who represented California's Central Coast in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2017.
USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Chavonda Jacobs-Young, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta as well as Farr spoke.
"This new center is going to ensure that our farmers, our ag workers, our ag leaders, that they benefit from the latest knowledge in cutting edge technology in agriculture," said Robert Rivas, California Assembly speaker.
The new research center features state-of-the-art laboratories, greenhouses and the capacity to accommodate additional scientists. It expands on the current ARS Crop Improvement and Protection Research Laboratory, which houses many of our USDA-Agricultural Research Station partners such as Daniel Hasegawa, who has worked closely with Richard Smith, emeritus UCCE vegetable crops advisor, on impatiens necrotic spot virus, a disease that infects lettuce. Our own UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist Steve Fennimore, who is affiliated with UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, has an office in the ARS building.
As a congressman, Farr served on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and has been an advocate for agriculture. He is also a longtime supporter of UC Cooperative Extension.