Posts Tagged: Daniel Putnam
“The overseas market is extremely important,” said Jesús Ramos, a Tulare County citrus farmer. “That dictates whether you can keep a crop going or not.”
Another key to keeping crops going is the state's water situation. After four years of drought, Californians are hoping the predicted El Niño rains will live up to the forecast.
Wee interviewed UC Agriculture and Natural Resources alfalfa expert Daniel Putnam, a UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Davis. He said U.S. alfalfa hay exports to Asia and the Middle East have climbed in recent years. China's imports have risen from almost nothing in the mid-2000s to roughly 1 million metric tons forecast for 2015.
A University of Arizona water resource expert, Robert Glennon, told the reporter he was surprised to learn that 2 million tons of Western alfalfa hay, which required 100 billion gallons of water to produce, was shipped overseas.
“When I found out we were shipping bales of hay across the world, you could have knocked me over with a feather,” Glennon said.
One of the export drivers is cheap shipping to Asia in containers that might otherwise make the return trip across the Pacific Ocean unfilled. Putnam estimates shipping hay from the Imperial Valley to Tulare County can run $60 to $70 per ton. But transporting the hay from Long Beach to a port in Asia costs $25 to $45 a ton.
The director of UC ANR's Agricultural Issues Center, Daniel Sumner, was one of three guests on the one-hour talk radio program Your Call, which was broadcast on KALW, Local Public Radio in San Francisco. The topic - How would reducing our intake of meat and dairy affect the drought? - was prompted by off-the-cuff comments made by Gov. Jerry Brown in June. Answering the question, "Is part of the drought strategy to reduce meat consumption?" Brown replied, "If you ask me, I think you should be eating veggie burgers."
On the Your Call show, Sumner explained that beef consumption has little impact on the California drought.
"I do want to make clear, when it comes to water embedded in any product, it depends where the water is from," Sumner said. "We feed cattle in California with grain from the Midwest."
Dairy production is another issue. "Dairy cows are fed lots of grain, soybeans and canola coming from Canada and the Midwest, but also silage and alfalfa, much of which is from California. California dairy is a drought water issue. Beef really isn't."
UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist Dan Putnam appeared on the KTVU Evening News to discuss alfalfa water use with reporter Ken Wayne. Putnam said the drought has hurt the state's alfalfa industry.
"Statewide, it's been fairly devastating," Putnam said. "We're at the lowest acreage we've seen probably since the 1930s."
He also noted the importance of the crop, a key part of dairy cattle's diets.
"An average field of alfalfa produces approximately 2,400 gallons of milk per acre," Putnam said.