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Media, including AIC in the news: media articles, quotes and citations

See also: General Online News Sources and General agricultural news (via RSS feed)

PANEL

AIC Director Dan Sumner (L) adresses the Climate Change: Challenges to California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Conference in Sacramento.
See media article: California’s agricultural community must adapt or face climate consequences...

The coming rise of pure, premium, American olive oil

Study aims to boost health of immigrant Latino farmworkers

Drought puts California rice in a sticky situation NPR

Drought and Consumer prices, NPR audio

U.S. forage products expand in export markets

California Seeing Brown Where Green Used to Be
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/14/us/california-seeing-brown-where-green-used-to-be.html?_r=0

California farms lead the way in almond production

http://www.freshplaza.com

California Farmers Brace for Drought, Unemployment
ABC News. 2/2/2014
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/california-farmers-brace-drought-unemployment-22335597

Calif. Rancher Still Optimistic Amid Record Drought
Fox News. 2/5/2014
http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2014/02/05/calif-rancher-still-optimistic-amid-record-drought/

Californians brace for year of 'mega-drought'
ClarionLedger.com 2/5/2014
http://www.clarionledger.com/interactive/article/20140205/NEWS03/140205042/Californians-brace-year-mega-drought-

California farmers brace for drought, unemployment
Huffington Post.  2/2/2014
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20140202/us--california-drought-unemployment-1st-ld-writethru/

California farms lead the way in almond production
LA Times. 1/12/2014
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-california-almonds-20140112,0,5408540.story#ixzz2sxTGnJ3E

California Drought Impacts Produce Departments. How California's Drought Will Change Your Diet
Prevention News. 2/2014
http://www.prevention.com/food/smart-shopping/california-drought-impacts-produce-departments#

California Drought And The U.S. Food Supply
onpoint.wbur.org.  1/27/14
http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/01/27/california-drought-food-supply

U.S. farm bill a bonanza for California growers
SFGate.com.  2/5/2014
http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/U-S-farm-bill-a-bonanza-for-California-growers-5205139.php

Business as usual: $956B Farm Bill is "impossibly complex and unreadable"
says economist
Yahoo finance.com  1/31/2014
http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/a--business-as-usual--farm-bill-185312304.html

California Egg, Dairy Producers Win Big in Farm Bill
KQED  1/29/2014
http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2014/01/29/california-egg-dairy-producers-win-big-in-farm-bill-2/

Why groceries cost more in the Bay Area
SFGate

Experts Say Growing Pork Demand is Key Trend Going Forward

AIC Director Dan Sumner interviewed.
The Pig Site, 08 January 2014

Country of Origin Labelling
AIC Director Dan Sumner interviewed.
NPR Marketplace Morning Report for Friday, November 22, 2013


WTO helping resolve trade disputes in world markets even without a new world trade agreement.
Western Farm Press, Dec. 4 2013.
AIC Director Daniel Sumner on changes and the outlook for world trade dispute resolution.
See also: Presentation slides on Agricultural Opportunities in the Pacific Rim

Presentations by AIC Director Dan Sumner
- Effects of Farm Subsidies for the Rich on Poor Farmers
- Economic  Forces Driving Agriculture and the Seed Industry
- Economics of California Agriculture and Water Quality and Quantity
- Issues Driving the Outlook for Specialty Crops
- Recent and Potential Trade Disputes Over Technical Barriers

WTO helping resolve trade disputes in world markets even without a new world trade agreement.
Western Farm Press, Dec. 4 2013.
AIC Director Daniel Sumner talked about changes and the outlook for world trade dispute resolution in a presentation at the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers annual meeting in Reno, Nev.
See also: Presentation slides on Agricultural Opportunities in the Pacific Rim

New publications from OreCal:
Did Rapid Growth of Ethanol Production in the US Affect Global Food Price Volatility?  By Michael J. Roberts and Anh Nam Tran
How Does the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Affect the United States Economy? By Jeffrey J. Reimer 
A Regional Look at the Distribution of Farm Program Payments and How It May Change with a New Farm Bill By John Antle and Laurie Houston
For previous issues of briefs published by OreCal, visit: OreCal.org

New working paper on AIC Associate Director Julian Alston’s Vinecon website:
The Costs and Benefits of Pierce’s Disease Research in the California Winegrape Industry
Julian M. Alston, Kate B. Fuller, Jonathan D. Kaplan and Kabir P. Tumber

AIC Associate Director Julian Alston’s paper in ARE Update, Mar/April 2013:
 "The Elasticity of Demand for California Winegrapes." Fuller, Kate B. and Julian Alston.

AIC Director Dan Sumner article in Atlantic magazine:
'The World's Most Outdated Law': Why the Next Farm Bill Should Be the Last

AIC Director Dan Sumner on NPR radio:
Food Stamps: Fighting Hunger Or Draining Resources?

AIC Director Dan Sumner in media article on sugar program debate: “It's sweet vs. sweet in D.C. fight”  
AIC Associate Director Colin Carter article on fracking and agricluture:  “Will fracking bring farmers a boom?”        
See also this related ARE Update article:   Carter, Colin A., and Kevin Novan. "Shale Gas Boom: Implications for California Agriculture."

AIC Associate Director Colin Carter China trip:   UC Davis agribusiness execs headed to China   

ARE Update article by  AIC researchers Xiong, Bo, William Matthews, and AIC Director Daniel Sumner: New Demand for an Old Food: The U.S. Demand for Olive Oil.

Honeybees at Risk of Extinction? Or, a Lot of Buzz About Nothing?
AIC Director Dan SUmner on CCD and honetbee pollination.
smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com 4/16/2013.

Report examines role of insurance for specialty crops
Ag Alert, March 27, 2013.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been named an inductee of the National Women Business Owners Corporation “Decades of Excellence” Hall of Fame.
Karen Caplan is a member of the AIC Advisory Board.
Orange County Breeze

Jump in US corn imports forecast
AIC Associate Director Colin Carter quoted.
usa.chinadaily.com 4/1/3013.

State expects little impact from new FDA food safety rules
Cites AIC Director Dan Sumner.
January 08, 2013.
http://www.appeal-democrat.com .

Need for Research Instead of Subsidies (audio)
AIC Associate Director Julian Alston.
Agnet West, October 4, 2012.

State officials on defensive about business climate
Cites AIC Director Dan Sumner.
Sacramento Bee, Sep. 29, 2012.

California’s Proposition 37: Effects of Mandatory Labeling of GM Food.
AIC Associate Director Colin Carter, Guillaume P. Gruère, Patrick McLaughlin, and Matthew MacLachlan, ARE Update Jul/Aug 2012.

Need for Research Instead of Subsidies (audio)
AIC Associate Director Julian Alston
Agnet West, October 4, 2012

State officials on defensive about business climate
Cites AIC Director Dan Sumner.
Sacramento Bee, Sep. 29, 2012.

In Prop 37 food fight, is fair play losing out?
California's Proposition 37. AIC Director Daniel Sumner quoted.
San Jose Mercury, 10/01/2012.

California exports dip, ending 32 months of growth
Falling demand overseas isn't the only factor making California's export total shrink. Daniel Sumner, director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, said a collapse in dairy prices – California is the nation's dairy leader – has shrunk the value of the state's formerly $1 billion-a-year dairy exports business. Sacramento Bee, 9/12/2012.

Food Stamps: Fat Times For Food Companies, Recipients in $72B Program
Julian Alston, U.C. Davis professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, has studied the question in depth, producing studies that include "U.S. Food and Nutrition Programs: Costs, Effectiveness, and Impact on Obesity" (for the American Enterprise Institute) and "Likely Effects on Obesity From Proposed Changes to the U.S. Food Stamp Program" (for the journal 'Food Policy').”
ABC News, September 7, 2012

Why Taxpayers Pay For Farmers' Insurance    (listen to the NPR episode)
“In spite of the drought, many U.S. farmers will do just fine this year. They are, after all, covered by crop insurance — a program that costs U.S. taxpayers $7 billion a year. On today's show, we travel to Fairbury, Illinois. We meet three generations of farmers who tell us that, even without government-subsidized crop insurance, their farms would survive the drought.”
NPR, August 14, 2012

Drought Pushing Corn Prices Toward Record Highs
"For consumers in California, it means livestock products will be a bit more expensive, milk and eggs especially because they are a bit more tied to grain production," said Daniel Sumner, UC Davis agricultural economist.
Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2012

Corn for Food, Not Fuel
NY Times Op-Ed article by AIC Associate Director Colin A. Carter and Henry I. Miller.
New York Times - Jul 30, 2012

Record crop forecast for California almond industry
“Daniel Sumner, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of California at Davis, said that despite the already large output, California almonds have great growth potential.”
Merced Sun-Star - July 11, 2012

Ace Tomato has new owner
“With increasing consolidation among retailers, including nationwide supermarket and restaurant chains, that sell the bulk of fresh tomatoes, it makes sense for vegetable distributors to achieve the same scale, said Daniel Sumner, a University of California, Davis, agricultural economist and director of UC's Agricultural Issues Center.”
Stockton Record  July 18, 2012

Farm Bill Would Replace Dairy Subsidies with Insurance
Congress is looking to replace the usual subsidies for dairy farmers with a new type of insurance to protect their bottom lines during hard times, but the supply-management will force some farmers to scale back production. "The California industry, just over the last several years, has become efficient enough to become competitive internationally," says Daniel Sumner, UC Davis agricultural economist. 
Los Angeles Times 07/13/2012

Agriculture is bright spot in California economy
"Our agricultural economy is connected to the rest of the planet," said Dan Sumner, an agriculture economist at the University of California-Davis. "Poorer countries around the world are turning into middle-income countries and they want fruits and vegetables, which we do well here."
Bloomberg 7/26/12.

Record crop forecast for California almond industry
Daniel Sumner, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of California at Davis, said that despite the already large output, California almonds have great growth potential.
Modesto Bee, Jul. 10, 2012

Farm Bill passes in Senate, heads to House.
Daniel Sumner of the UC Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis joins the show to discuss the contents of the bill and how it will affect farmers here in California.
The Madeleine Brand Show for June 22, 2012. KPCC

California Dairy Farmers Split Over Milk Payments In Farm Bill. Listen to audio here:http://www.capradio.org/174266
"University of California, Davis economist Dan Sumner says that because the plan requires farmers to cut back milk production in tough times, it will punish those trying to grow."
NPR June 21, 2012

Peripheral Canal, a giant tunnel or something, says new report
Threats to the water systems in California need to be addressed now if the state’s economy is to grow in the face of droughts and water shortages caused by a changing climate, says a report released Wednesday evening by the Public Policy Institute of California.
CVBT May 30, 2012

Outlook for 2012 remains positive for most crops
"Coming out of a robust water year in 2011, the lack of rain and snowpack so far this winter has been worrisome, said Dan Sumner, a UC Davis, agricultural economist and director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center.
"Weather is the wild card here," he said. "If we get normal weather, I see this being a pretty good year for agriculture."
Daily Democrat 1/13/2012

AIC founding director Harold O. Carter  Dec. 13, 1932 — Sept. 22, 2011.

Cattle producers face a high-priced future, experts say
... $130 per hundredweight for much of November, explained Dan Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center at the University of California-Davis.
Capital Press 12/9/2011

Nuts about nuts. Worldwide almond demand exploding.
"State's farmers have reached that level by doubling production in six years."
Dan Sumner cited in article.
Stockton record, December 4, 2011.

Climate Change and Agriculture in California: Adaptation to Extreme Events
Dan Sumner's presentation at the CDFA forum on " Extreme Climate Risks and California's Future - Agriculture and the Food System",  November 16, 2011.
See also media coverage: Drought and Rising Temperatures Will Challenge State's Farmers, Experts Say
In the past century, the state's winter lows have warmed by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Dan Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, said that while the warming trend has yet to disrupt crop production, it is accelerating, and the potential for failure exists. Louise Jackson, a UC Davis researcher, was also quoted as saying, "There's potential for complete crop failure, especially cherries,  apricots and other stone fruit." San Jose Mercury News, 11/23/2011

Winegrapes and Nuts: Historical Review of Production in the SJV and Implications for the Future
.
AIC researcher Jim Lapsley spoke at the 30th Annual Agribusiness Management Conference at Fresno State.

Solano and Yolo County Agriculture Current Basis for Planning for the Future
AIC director Daniel Sumner presented at the Solano & Yolo Counties Joint Economic Summit in November 16 2011.
Documents and presentations can be found here.

Winegrapes and Nuts: Historical Review of Production in the SJV and Implications for the Future. AIC researcher Jim Lapsley, at the 30th Annual Agribusiness Management Conference at Fresno State.

A grant application with the USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant program to fund a study of the domestic and international market potential of the California olive industry was recently approved. William Matthews will be a leader in this project. This funding will enable us to document the impact of European Union (EU) trade and support policies for olives on the competitiveness of the California olive industry. In addition, we will analyze the effects and market implications of regulating quality control standards for olive products.  The results from this project will identify opportunities for the California olive industry that may result from changes in EU trade and support policies and olive product standards. 

AIC participated in the ANR Sustainable Food Systems Strategic Initiative Conference.  Click here for pdfs of posters from that event.

AIC Director Daniel Sumner recently met with Dr. Hu Yuankun from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.

AIC Director Daniel Sumner recently met with a group of international visitors sponsored by USDA and spoke on
California agriculture and exports.

R&D, Innovation and the Economics of California Dairy
AIC Director Daniel Sumner's presentation at the Cal Poly Dairy Symposium in San Luis Obispo, October 14, 2011.

South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement will lower export barriers for California products. AIC Director Dan Sumner and ARE Research Economist Hyunok Lee publish article in California Agriculture magazine.
The United States and South Korea negotiated a bilateral trade agreement in 2007. After final legislative approval, likely later this year, high tariffs on exports of most California agricultural products to South Korea will be gradually eliminated. Already, with the tariffs in place, South Korea ranks among the top six destinations for many California agricultural exports. More-open access to the South Korean market will create significant opportunities for major commodities produced in California such as almonds and dairy products.
-See also media article on this topic: http://link.westernfarmpress.com/u.d?v4GojkmSOGSpWQ83GUE=10

AIC Director Dan Sumner has assumed the role of Academic Director for the UC Davis Agribusiness Executive Seminar. The program provides an opportunity for top executives to discuss management cases and related issues over an intensive three day program. UC Davis organizes and manages the seminar together with Wells Fargo Bank, and with guidance from a steering committee of leaders in California agribusiness. Participation is strictly limited to about 100 top leaders from agricultural firms and industries.

AIC cited in Ag Alert magazine article by CDFA Secretary Karen Ross and State Board of Food and Agriculture Kerry Tucker:  “ As food needs grow, we in agriculture must collaborate

UC examines cost of producing strawberries.
AIC Associate Director Karen Klonsky, Western Farm Press, 7/12/2011.
A new study showing the costs for growing strawberries on California's Central Coast is now available from the University of California Cooperative Extension.

Why are there 'systematic errors' in wine alcohol labels?
AIC Associate Director Julian Alston.
San Francisco Chronicle, ‎Jul 7, 2011‎.
Related link: Splendide Mendax: False Label Claims about High and Rising Alcohol Content of Wine. (links to abstract)
Julian Alston (AIC Associate Director), Kate Fuller (UC Davis), James Lapsley (AIC Researcher), Kabir Tumber (UC Davis), George Soleas (LCBO)

AEI seeks radical farm policy reforms – again
Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center: U.S. commodity programs “are an artifact of an earlier era.”
Feedstuffs.com, 7/11/2011.
Related links:
  -How U.S. Agricultural Policy Hurts the Developing World. National Center for Policy Analysis. July 25 2011.
   - Picking on the Poor How US Agricultural Policy Hurts the Developing World,   AEI, by Daniel A. Sumner.
   - It’s Time To Kick Farmers Off The Federal Dole, Forbes, 7/18/2011

AIC profiled in UC Davis CAES Outlook magazine. Spring Summer 2011.

AIC Projects - joint climate change project featured in CAES Outlook magazine. Spring Summer 2011.

AIC Projects - joint nitrogen use project featured in CAES Outlook magazine. Spring Summer 2011.

Bay Area's business ties to Cuba could grow.
"They are too poor to buy much of our horticultural exports or wine," said Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center.
Cubaheadlines.com 6/13/2011.

Get the fertiliser out. We can feed the world.
Matt Ridley quotes AIC Director Dan Sumner in London Times article.
Times article (requires subscription) or the same article on Matt Ridleys blog.
Related commentary: Commentary: Ox-scam slam CattleNetwork.com

Growing Almonds Getting Pricey
05/31/2011, CAPITAL PUBLIC RADIO
Net returns per acre are shrinking for many almond growers in the northern San Joaquin Valley, according to Karen Klonsky, an agricultural economist at UC Davis and associate director at AIC.

California dominates U.S. in organic agriculture
AIC Associate Director Karen Klonsky, Agricultural and Resource Economics, UCCE Vine Lines May 13, 2011
Western farm Press, May 13 201.

Preventing Cruelty on the Farm: Economics in the Hen House
May 12, 2011. AIC Director Dan Sumner in New York Times Opinion Pages.

Advocates fear end of Calif. agricultural land conservation program could lead to development.
Associated Press.April 29, 2011.
Article about Williamson Act, quotes AIC Director Dan Sumner.

Beef prices at all-time high.
Stockton Record 4/24/201. Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center at the University of California, Davis, said the primary price driver is the short beef supply. ...

AIC Director Dan Sumner was interviewed by:
    - KQED radio about food and prices (audio file)
    - The Reedley Sentinel on exports to Japan in light of the recent tragedies
    - KCBS radio about eggs and egg prices

Agriculture exports remain in limbo
Lodi News-Sentinel, 4/19/2011.
Interviewed AIC Director Dan Sumner on exports to Japan.

Delta Ecosystem Restoration and Agriculture. (link includes video of the workshop).
AIC Director Dan Sumner spoke to the Delta Stewardship Council Workshop, April 14-15, 2011. The main points the workshop addressed were:
1.    What is your vision of the future role of agriculture in a sustainable Delta ecosystem that achieves the co-equal goals?
2.    What are the top priorities for agriculture that the Council should consider in developing the Delta Plan?
3.    What are opportunities to achieve ecosystem restoration benefits for the Delta that consistent with sustainable agriculture?

AIC co-sponsor for Wine law seminar at UC Davis with focus on appellations
A seminar focusing on wine laws related to wine trade names and appellations — the legally defined and protected geographical regions where wine grapes are grown — will be held June 2 to 4, 2011, at the University of California, Davis. See the link for further information on attending.

Evaluations of Policy Alternatives to Benefit Agriculture in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of California
(February, 2011, pdf, 707kb) Daniel A. Sumner and John Thomas Rosen-Molina. This report, prepared for CDFA,  looks specifically at agriculture in the Delta itself and ask how its prospects might be improved.  The study examines the efficacy for the Delta of some of the kinds of proposals that have been made to stimulate agriculture and rural communities in other regions.

Women find their place in the field
Contra Costa Times 04/13/2011
AIC Director Dan Sumner quoted on small scale farms operated by women in Contra Costa County.

Stanford puts focus on China with new center at Peking University
Scott Rozelle, AIC Associate Director, discusses Peking University's new Stanford Center at PKU (SCPKU)

AIC researcher Bill Matthews presented two similar talks:
The Export of California Specialty Crops: Current Situation and Future Prospects, California Farm Bureau Leaders Conference , March 14, 2011
The Importance of California Agricultural Exports: Situation, Outlook and Policy Prospects, with emphasis on the Korea Free Trade Agreement. California Fresh Carrot Advisory Board, March 15, 2011

Sébastien Pouliot, former AIC researcher, and now Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, is currently working on the following grants:
1. Network on the Structure and Performance of Agriculture and Agri-products Industry,Price incentives for food safety.
2. ERS/USDA cooperative agreement, Traceability and Incentives for food safety.

Karen Caplan, a member of AIC's Advisory Board and President & CEO of Frieda's Inc. celebrates the 50th year in business for Frieda's Inc
http://www.perishablenews.com/index.php?article=0014346

AIC researcher Bill Matthews interviewed about AIC on California Ag Network 4/8/2011
California Ag Network

South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement will lower export barriers for California products
Hyunok Lee and AIC Director Daniel A. Sumner. California Agriculture April-June 2011.

California leads nation in organic agriculture production
References AIC Associate Director Karen Klonsky's Statistical Review of California’s Organic Agriculture 2005 – 2009.
UC Davis news and Information. 3/11/2011

Winegrape growers want Congress to OK U.S.-Korea free trade agreement
Cites 2009 study. Central Valley Business Times, March 16, 2011

Organic crop value up; Sonoma County lags
References AIC Associate Director Karen Klonsky's Statistical Review of California’s Organic Agriculture 2005 – 2009
Santa Rosa Press Democrat, March 6, 2011

Weather Disasters and Food Prices
"...Daniel Sumner, of University of California at Davis, believes that current price levels are not exceptional by historical standards."
ICTSD International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Bridges Weekly, February 10, 2011

Egypt, Inkblots, Agendas and Feeding 9 Billion 
Cites AIC Director Dan Sumner's paper "Recent Commodity Price Movements in Historical Perspective" as well as AIC Associate Director Julian Alston's co-authored book "The Shifting Patterns of Agricultural Production and Productivity Worldwide"
NY Times February 7, 2011
Also see: Paul Krugman Blames Egypt Crisis On Global Warming, Newsbusters.org, February 7, 2011

Don Curlee: Climate tweaks affect California's farming

Visalia Times Delta Feb 7, 2011
Discussion of ARE UpdateSpecial Issue: California’s Climate Change Policy: The Economic and Environmental Impacts of AB 32

U.S. Wine Market Is Most Lucrative
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium Sacramento California
Jan 2011, Wines and Vines
Quotes Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center

Sweet wine comeback entices California vintners

James Lapsley of the UC Agricultural Issues Center and UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology quoted at a conference on production and marketing options for sweet dessert and dried fruit wines.
Western Farm Press. Jan 1, 2011

Competing in World-Wide Wine Markets
AIC Director Daniel Sumner interviewed at the San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium, January 2011. Californiaagnet.com.

High prices have US farmers planting more cotton

Article quotes AIC Director Daniel Sumner.
Associated Press, WOI, Jan 07, 2011

Food Safety Legislation: How Will It Affect Producers?
References Sebastien Pouliot of Iowa State and Daniel Sumner of the University of California.
Cattlenetwork.com. Nov 30, 2010.

Impacts of AB 32 on Agriculture
A recent article by AIC Director Daniel A. Sumner and Researcher John Thomas Rosen-Molina examines the effects on agriculture of California climate policies under the implementation of AB 32. Impacts of AB 32 on Agriculture is one of six articles in the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics publication ARE Update, Vol. 14, No. 1, September/October, 2010 Special Issue: California's Climate Change Policy: The Economic and Environmental Impacts of AB 32.
(see media coverage here)

Foreign imports and USDA program
Article concerning imports and USDA Trade Adjustment Assistance quoets Dan Sumner
Stockton Record, Aug 29, 2010.

Egg recall
Another article quoting Dan Sumner
SF Chronicle, Aug 27, 2010.

Egg recall
Dan Sumner quoted in article on salmonella outbreak.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Aug 24, 2010

Russian wheat
Dan Sumenr quoted in another article about wheat and Russia
Sacramento Bee, Aug. 21, 2010

Wheat prices and Russia
Dan Sumner in interview for American Public Media. Aug. 16, 2010

Karen Jetter - co-investigator on NIH grant
"UC Davis receives $1 milllion NIH grant to improve health of local Native Americans"
SF Examiner, Aug. 10, 2010

Orchards or Vineyards
More coverage of the recent Outlook and Issues for the World Wine Market symposium
Farm Press, Aug 6, 2010, by Harry Cline

EU awash in oversupplied wine market
Coverage of the recent Outlook and Issues for the World Wine Market symposium
Farm Press, Aug. 5, 2010, by Harry Cline

Law extends state's egg mandates to imports. Dan Sumner cited in article referencing extension of voter-approved mandates for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens in California. San Francisco Chronicle. July 7, 2010

New book co-edited by AIC Associate Director Julian Alston.
The Shifting Patterns of Agricultural Production and Productivity Worldwide
.
Edited by Julian M. Alston, Bruce A. Babcock, and Philip G. Pardey

Peach growers fight imports. Associate Director Colin Carter quoted in article.
Sacramento Bee. Sunday, May, 2010

"Economist William Matthews painted a positive past and future economic outlook for California crop agriculture" in this Western Farm Press article. Major ag issues take center stage. Dec 7, 2009.

Don Curlee: Seed crops project California's dominance.
Blog article about William Matthews paper "The California Seed Industry: A Measure of Economic Activity and Contribution to California Agriculture." Visalia Times Delta, January 19, 2010.

Winter Ag Meeting set in McArthur for farmers, ranchers
"Finding new crops to compete in the global economy is one of the issues that will be covered at the Winter Ag Meeting from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Inter-Mountain Fair grounds in McArthur."ReddingRecord Searchlight, January 15, 2010.

California's agricultural bounty
Refers to Agriculture's Role in the Economy. Western Farm Press, January 13, 2010.

Cornelius (Corny) Gallagher, AIC Advisory Board member and Global Agribusiness Executive for Bank of America, has been selected as the California Chapter, ASFMRA's Distinguished Agriculturalist for 2009 . See announcement here.

AIC staffers star in ag movie
Antoine Champetier de Ribes and Omid Rowhani star in a movie for 6th grade students called The Business of Farming, produced by The Futures Channel. The intent of this short film is to familiarize students with where their food comes from and to demonstrate that math and statistics are an important tool for agricultural economists to measure supply and demand.

Fueled again
Ted Cox, Sacramento News and Review Apr.02.2009
Company offers ethanol and biodiesel to Sacramento drivers as food-for-fuel debate continues

Obama farm subsidy cut won't revive Doha -experts
Roberta Rampton, Reuters  Feb.25.2009

Farmland in retreat?
Reed Fujii, Stockton Record      Feb. 22. 2009
Ag census shows (San Joaquin) county's farm production value up while acreage on the decline

Lack of research threatens farmers
Don Curlee, Capital Press Feb. 5. 2009

Public Funding For Specialty Crops Inadequate Research Suggests
ScienceDaily Feb. 14. 2009
Specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops, have become increasingly important compared to other categories of agriculture in the United States over the past 50 years.

US farm subsidy review
Australian broadcast Commission Feb. 30.2009
A US trade analyst says President Obama's scrutiny of American farm subsidies is nothing more than political game-playing.

Research suggests public funding for specialty crops inadequate
UC Davis News and Information. Feb.3.2009
Julian M. Alston, associate director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center and a professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis, and Philip G. Pardey from the University of Minnesota

Census: ag numbers grow
Capital Press Agriculture Weekly Feb.5.2009 by Tim Hearden
Agricultural and resource economics professor Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Davis-based UC Agricultural Issues Center , advises people "to be judicious in calling something a trend" -- referring to a sharp jump in the market value of California commodities.

California farmers struggle with impending drought
San Jose Mercury News by  Ken McLaughlin Feb.5.2009
A UC Davis study estimates that $1.6 billion in agriculture-related wages  and as many as 60,000 jobs across the Central Valley will be lost due to the state drought.

 

 


Obama farm subsidy cut won't revive Doha -experts
Roberta Rampton, Reuters  Feb.25.2009

President Barack Obama's pledge to cut subsidies to big U.S. farm businesses falls short of the cuts needed to revive moribund world trade talks, proponents of an expanded global trade agreement said on Wednesday.

"Anything that would reduce payments to farmers in the U.S. would be looked on favorably by the rest of the world," said Ross Korves, an economist at Truth about Trade and Technology, a group that promotes free trade in agriculture.

"It's what happens next when times get tough" that would spell out the longer-term impact of U.S. domestic farm policy on WTO talks, Korves said.

In his address to Congress on Tuesday, Obama said his 2010 budget would "end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them."

U.S. trading partners have long attacked the payments, which total about $5.2 billion a year. The payments, handed out no matter what farmers grow or what prices do, are popular among U.S. farmers and Congress members from big farm states -- particularly southern states rich in rice and cotton.

U.S. spending on farmers has been one of many points of contention in World Trade Organization talks and trading partners want to see more concessions.

Some groups think Obama wants to cut direct payments to farmers in half to $40,000 a year. The U.S. Agriculture Department has declined comment. U.S. lawmakers from farm states have routinely fought off similar attempts.

Total U.S. crop and dairy subsidies are estimated to tally only about $7.5 billion this year due to relatively strong crop prices. In 2005, when prices were lower, farmers racked up subsidies of more than $16.4 billion. The WTO limit is around $48 billion.

Canada's farm minister Gerry Ritz said Obama's pledge to cut the subsidies was a "good right step" to reviving the Doha round of WTO talks, which are in their eighth year.
"It's one of the aspects. On the top 10 list, it's one of them," Ritz said.

CUTS MISS TARGET

But the direct payments are not as trade-distorting as other subsidies that that go up when prices plunge or crops fail. Those are of greater concern to trading partners.
Some analysts said Obama would help the U.S. case at the WTO by cutting other programs that support prices or revenues.

"A cut in direct payments would do little or nothing for the talks," said Dan Sumner, an economist at University of California-Davis who specializes in farm and trade policy. "It is hard to see the current (U.S.) leadership moving forward on trade opening or paying much attention to the WTO ," Sumner said.

"Restarting Doha requires more than just tinkering with U.S. support payments," added Gary Blumenthal, analyst with World Perspectives.

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Farmland in retreat?
Ag census shows county's farm production value up while acreage on the decline
Reed Fujii, Stockton Record      Feb. 22. 2009

San Joaquin County is an agricultural powerhouse with production valued at nearly $1.6 billion in 2007, according to a newly released agricultural census.

But the county's rank as No. 7 in farm value, among the more than 3,000 U.S. farm counties, seems threatened as the census also shows the number of farms dropped about 10 percent, along with farm acreage, in the previous five years.

Scott Hudson, the county's agricultural commissioner, said he suspected local farmland was in retreat.

"The good news part is the value of production - even though we're growing on less farms and less acres, the value of production has increased," he said.

Part of the jump in value from $1.2 billion in 2002, though, was simply that the price of many commodities rose sharply over the five-year period.

Hudson noted that the amount of harvested cropland in San Joaquin County held fairly steady going back to 1964.

Figures from the Census of Agriculture, conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, show cropland varying from as low as 538,000 acres to as many as 594,000 acres from 1964 to 2002. The county ended that period at 575,000 acres of cropland, but then it dropped 13 percent, to 454,000 acres, in the latest count, done in 2007.

Over the decades, as the county's cities grew and subdivisions and shopping centers displaced orchards and fields, growers used new cultivation and irrigation techniques to turn once marginal land into producing cropland. More recently, however, that option has played out.

"I think we've pretty much developed the marginal lands that we can farm," Hudson said. "Any more development will see a net decrease in cropland, farmland."

The area's agricultural industry could well remain in place, or it could go the way of Los Angeles County - which once the led the country in agricultural production value.

"What farmers tell me, to maintain agriculture in an area, it needs to be economically viable," Hudson said. "That's a function where there are markets that remain available, where farmers can sell their crops; they get a good return for their crops, and they're able to operate in an environment that encourages their business of farming."

Many factors affect farm economics, said Bruce Blodgett, executive manager of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau. Today, growers are trying to cope with the rising cost of cultivation and California's increasingly limited water supply.

But the pressure of urban encroachment will be hard to resist.

"Land values for urban development always outpace the value of land for agriculture," Blodgett said.

"We're going to have to figure out a way to compensate people to keep that property in agricultural production."

Public opinion may seem to favor preservation of U.S. farms, but that support fades quickly when it comes to tax-supported farm conservation programs or even consumer demand for domestic - perhaps higher-priced - fruits, vegetables and meats.

"If they want agriculture to remain viable, they're going to have to support local growers and ask for those products at the grocery store," Blodgett said.

Other highlights from the 2007 Census of Agriculture - which can be found online at www.agcensus.usda.gov - include:

» While ranked No. 7 in the U.S. for total agricultural production, San Joaquin County was sixth in the nation for the value of plant crops at nearly $992 million.

» San Joaquin County ranked third in the nation for grape production with a 2007 crop valued at $82 million among of 2,040 U.S. counties growing grapes.

» The county ranked No. 6 for its almond crop, pegged at $42 million, among 157 almond-producing areas.

» Among nearly 2,493 milk-producing counties, San Joaquin ranked No. 8 in the nation with a 2007 value of $407 million.

» Of San Joaquin County's 3,624 farms - down from 4,026 in 2002 - 1,916 showed a net profit, while the other 1,708 ran into the red.

» Among profitable farms, the average return in 2007 was $246,579; five years earlier, the average was $161,325.

» For those taking a loss, the average was $45,153; in 2002, the average loss for farms in the red was $28,677.

» Nearly half of San Joaquin County farms - 1,710 - had annual sales of less than $25,000.

That number of small farms is not unusual, said Daniel Sumner, professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis.

"There are lots of very, very small operations that are counted as farms in the numbers," he said.

Often such ventures serve as a retirement activity or more of a hobby for the owner, not as a principal source of income.

"Very few of those are commercial farming operations," he said.

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Lack of research threatens farmers
Don Curlee, Capital Press Feb. 5. 2009

The average food consumer has little concern for the research that made many of his or her food choices possible, and that's OK.

But legislators at both the state and federal levels and some other policy-makers have the same lack of concern, and that's not OK.

Appreciation for the enormous role food and agricultural research plays in productivity and the world's food supply is the thrust of the editorial overview in the most recent issue of California Agriculture, the University of California's quarterly journal of peer-reviewed research and news.

Three economists with agricultural research backgrounds collaborated to write the overview: Julian Alston, University of California; Philip Pardey, University of Minnesota; and Jennifer James, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

"Long-term and sustained growth in productivity is mainly the result of technological innovations adopted by farmers," they say. "Public investments in agricultural science have paid handsome dividends for society."

Their analysis has shown that $1 of research investment today will generate a stream of future benefits equal to an immediate dividend of $20 or more.

In California, aggregate agricultural production has increased by 350 percent over the past 50 years, according to their analysis, even through the quantity of inputs has increased by less than 70 percent. They suggest that the added productivity fueled by research and development has saved resources to the tune of $20 billion a year.

The writer trio observes, however, that the growth of agricultural productivity has slowed significantly since 1990. That has been the case in developed countries generally, and in the United States and California specifically.

California policy-makers in particular need to be aware. First, California agriculture is huge, widely diversified and very different from the agriculture of other states. Second, California farmers cannot depend on others, either in the private sector, the federal government or overseas to invest the money required for research.

The investment must sustain an internationally competitive, environmentally sound and prosperous agricultural sector. There's that word "sustain" again, the base of "sustainability" that seems to enter every ag discussion these days.

The authors call the situation systematic underinvestment. A lot more needs to be invested in research and development in agriculture if the state's agricultural empire expects to be sustained. (What did we ever do without that word?)

So here's the bottom line from the authors: "Reinvigorated investment by the state government and the private sector, potentially in new funding partnerships, will be required if we are to reverse the disturbing trends." Just what the governor wanted to hear.

As if to bolster the points made by the writers, the entire issue features research-oriented articles from studies done to control sudden oak death syndrome to new pistachio varieties and the stunting of lettuce and broccoli plants through something called allelopathy.

If the threat of allelopathy doesn't convince policy-makers and investors to pitch in, wait until we learn that more research is necessary to maintain production of potato chips, onion dip, or beer.


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US farm subsidy review

Australian broadcast Commission Feb. 30.2009

A US trade analyst says President Obama's scrutiny of American farm subsidies is nothing more than political game-playing.

Last week, America's new Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, said he'd review the subsidy program, which helps prop up the country's farmers during tough times.

But trade analyst Daniel Sumner, from the University of California, says the government only plans to review one small part of the program.

He says the review is to appease Secretary Vilsack's Iowa voters where subsidies aren't popular amongst the state's smaller growers. "The polite word for that would be bullshit. I don't think he means it at all," Mr Sumner says."But frankly, he's referring to a very specific provision of US subsidy law, where the people who produce the most get most of the subsidy."


 

Research suggests public funding for specialty crops inadequate

UC Davis News and Information 2.3.2009

Julian M. Alston, associate director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center and a professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis, and Philip G. Pardey from the University of Minnesota, are the authors of an article that reviews trends in the economic importance of specialty crops and their public funding, concluding that research in the area is underfunded.

Specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops, have become increasingly important compared to other categories of agriculture in the United States over the past 50 years. These crops have continued to grow in production value, but this growth has not been matched by growth in public agricultural research spending. In fact, spending on specialty crops research has remained constant during a time period when the value of production for these crops has increased significantly.

A recent article published in the August 2008 issue of HortScience reviewed trends in the economic importance of specialty crops and public funding for research on these crops. Researchers Julian M. Alston of the University of California, Davis, and Philip G. Pardey from the University of Minnesota, questioned the adequacy of funding for specialty crops and whether the share of funding allocated to research these crops should be increased.

Previous research has indicated that government involvement in agricultural research and development is justified, because the private sector typically invests too little in certain types of R&D. The rates of return to publicly funded agricultural research have been very high, suggesting that government intervention to date has been inadequate, and that the U.S. government could have profited from spending much more on agricultural R&D, especially in the area of specialty crops.

Agricultural research in the United States is funded from a variety of sources. Historically, the majority of funding has come from the U.S Department of Agriculture. Other agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development have been increasing sources of funding over the last several years. Overall spending on R&D grew rapidly during the 1960s and 70s, but since then, growth has slowed and become erratic. In general, support has stagnated.

The growth in the value of production of specialty crops has not been matched by commensurate growth in public agricultural research spending. There could be many benefits to increasing funding in this area. One possible benefit is that there can be a much larger social rate of return if it makes fruit and vegetables less expensive and more available to more Americans, encouraging people to eat healthier diets.

The authors concluded that although the evidence is mixed, specialty crops research is underfunded and that a case can be made for increasing funding going for research of these crops. They suggest that a producer check-off program with a matching government grant could be one way to give incentives to both private industry and government agencies to enhance research funding. The Australian government has implemented such a program with much success. Another option would be to simply redirect funds that would otherwise be spent on other types of agricultural research.

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Census: ag numbers grow

Capital Press Agriculture Weekly 2.5.2009 by Tim Hearden

Agricultural and resource economics professor Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Davis-based UC Agricultural Issues Center , advises people "to be judicious in calling something a trend" -- referring to a sharp jump in the market value of California commodities.

Farms in California are getting smaller and farmers are getting older, but the number of farms is increasing and the value of their products is booming.

Those are some of the findings of the latest Census of Agriculture, a complete count of all farms and ranches by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which was released Wednesday.

In 2007, California's 81,033 farms covered more than 25.36 million acres, averaging 313 acres per farm. That compares to the 79,631 farms that encompassed more than 27.5 million acres in the state in 2002, according to the census.

In the United States, there were a little more than 2.2 million farms covering 922 million acres in 2007, compared to more than 2.12 million farms using more than 938 million acres five years earlier. The average farm size nationally in 2007 was 418 acres.

The market value of commodities sold in California shot up by 32 percent since the previous census. The state's value of ag production in 2007 was a best-in-the-nation $33.885 billion -- including $22.9 billion for crops and nearly $11 billion for livestock -- up from nearly $25.74 million in the previous census.

Each farm in the state generated an average of $418,164 in 2007, obliterating the national average of $134,807 per farm. But that doesn't mean farms and ranches nationwide have been hurting; their output rose dramatically from the $200.6 million in total market value and $94,245 per farm recorded in 2002.

Fresno County led all U.S. counties in production value, generating $3.7 billion or 1.2 percent of the total U.S. value, said Vic Tolomeo, director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento. Nine of the top 10 ag U.S. counties are in California, he said.

The sharp increase in market value shouldn't get people overly excited, asserts Daniel A. Sumner, an economics professor in the University of California-Davis Agricultural Issues Center. Commodity prices were high in 2007, particularly for milk and some other products, and they've receded a bit since, he said.

"Looking at a snapshot in agriculture is dangerous business," Sumner said. "We know the weather in that particular year and the market prices in that particular year can be different, so you have to be judicious in calling something a trend."

One thing that hasn't receded is the average age of farmers, both in California and nationwide. The average age of U.S. farm operators increased from 55.3 in 2002 to 57.1 in 2007, while the number of operators 75 or older grew by 20 percent since 2002, according to the census.

In California, the average age of the farm's principal operator in December 2007 was 58.4, up from 56.8 in 2002.

Sumner attributes the age increase partly to the fact that some people turn to farming after retirement, using their pensions or savings as their principal source of income. In many of those cases, the farms themselves aren't money-makers.

The Agricultural Census is much like the overall U.S. Census, except that it's done every five years instead of 10. For the purposes of the census, a farm is defined as any agricultural operation that produces at least $1,000 in sales, Tolomeo said.

The ag census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other aspects of farming and ranching, according to its website.

Forms were mailed to farm and ranch operators in late 2007 and were due back in by February 2008. The information was then compiled and put into highly extensive lists and spreadsheets, which can be viewed at www.agcensus.usda.gov.

California has seen a steady increase in its number of farms since 1974, when there were 67,674. The number peaked in 1997, as 87,991 farms were operating in the state.

According to the latest figures, the vast majority of California farms - 66,297 of them - are 179 acres or smaller. The highest number - 28,080 -- are between 10 and 49 acres. By contrast, only 2,261 are 2,000 acres or larger.

The significant decline in the number of California farms reflected in the 2002 census was likely caused by an undercount of small farms, Tolomeo said.

"We needed to make an extra effort" in 2007, he said. "If there was $1,000 in sales ... they got a questionnaire. That took some extra door knocking."

Among the state's leading commodities, fruits, tree nuts and berries generated a little more than $11 billion in market value in 2007. Livestock, poultry and their products weren't far behind, registering just below $11 billion in market value.


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California farmers struggle with impending drought

San Jose Mercury News by  Ken McLaughlin 2.5.2009

This article states that a new UC Davis study estimates that $1.6 billion in agriculture-related wages  and as many as 60,000 jobs across the Central Valley will be lost due to the state drought.

Farmer Lax Iyers is standing on the side of a country road that splits his almond orchard into two different worlds — one abloom, the other in danger of choking in a cloud of dust.

The trees on his left appear sickly because they depend on water from hundreds of miles away, delivered by the Central Valley Project — the increasingly scarce "federal water.'' The trees on his right are healthy trees that get all the water they need, because they rely on a local irrigation district that enjoys water rights stemming from when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.

Within months, the trees that rely on the federal water — an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars — could be dead.

Never since the Central Valley Project was authorized in 1935 have California's farmers been so worried about the lack of water. Three years of too little rain combined with pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have created a nightmare scenario: The federal government might soon cut off the state's largest supply of agricultural water — the first time in California history.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do,'' said Iyers, an Indian immigrant who fears his cherished 13-year-old business — his American dream — could collapse.

But as Iyers' patchwork of water sources so dramatically illustrates, when it comes to water and farming in California, even in the midst of a drought there are haves and have nots. Some farmers draw their water from abundant wells. Some get their water from the huge state and federal water plumbing projects that irrigated dry valley lands and built California's agricultural industry. Some of the luckiest have long-term water rights obtained in the '30s and '40s. Others are hooked into more environmentally progressive water distribution systems, like the one in Salinas Valley.

The drama sure to play out in the next few months will demonstrate which parts of California's water network are fragile and which are secure, and may lay the course for California's water future.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation won't announce this year's water allocation until Feb. 20. But last week, state water officials announced that California's snowpack — which feeds the state's elaborate systems of reservoirs and canals — was only 61 percent of normal. The drought, officials warned, could become the worst in modern California history.

Water shortages are a severe threat to the state's agricultural industry, which uses more than 80 percent of the water consumed by Californians and produces more than half of the country's vegetables, nuts and fruits. The industry, the state's largest, generates more than $30 billion annually in sales.It provides 1.1 million jobs in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation — 9.3 percent.

Already many farmers are letting their fields lie fallow — in some cases even letting their crops rot. Fresno County's farmers plan to grow about half the lettuce they did last year. Other farmers are panicking and spending millions to dig expensive wells that mostly yield poor-quality water.

A new University of California-Davis study estimates, $1.6 billion in agriculture-related wages — and as many as 60,000 jobs across the Central Valley — will be lost in the coming months because of the drought.

In the hard-hit west side of the valley near Fresno, the drought's epicenter, the farming economy is already crumbling. The unemployment rate in Mendota, the self-styled Cantaloupe Capital of the World, now stands at more than 40 percent.

Businesses that sell tractors and other farm equipment are reeling. Feed, fertilizer and small trucking companies are seeing their business dry up. "And, of course, it all trickles down to hairdressing shops, restaurants and other small businesses in town,'' said Sarah Woolf of the Westlands Water District, which provides water to more than 600 family-owned farms in western Fresno and Kings counties.

The district, like three million agricultural acres around California, depends on the federal Central Valley Project. The project, which mostly provides water to farmers, is complemented by the nearly half-century-old State Water Project, a similar system that irrigates 755,000 acres of farmland and provides water to 23 million Californians. State water officials expect their water allocation to be about 15 percent of normal.

The Delta is the switching yard for California water, the place where the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers come together.

A finger-sized fish called the Delta smelt is on the verge of extinction, so a federal judge has restricted pumping that kills the fish, reducing the amount of water that flows south to farmers in canals.

"We're only in the third year of a drought and starting to feel its impacts,'' said Westlands' Woolf. "Normally that doesn't happen until the fourth or fifth year.''

The environmental restrictions have angered farmers.

"It does hurt,'' said Iyers, the almond farmer. "You would hope that people are more important than fish.''

Doug Obegi, a staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says environmentalists aren't insensitive to the plight''of farmers. "It's just that we've created a water policy that doesn't work for fish or people.''

So what's going to happen?

Farmers, of course, are praying that more rain in the next several weeks will allow federal and state water officials to increase allocations — at least enough to let them save orchards, if not this year's crops.

Farmers and by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are also pushing to build new dams and reservoirs. And a strong movement has revived the idea to construct a Peripheral Canal to redirect water flowing from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers directly to man-made aqueducts headed south and west. But some environmental groups have vowed to fight these ideas.

Newman almond farmer Jim Jasper sighed: "Mark Twain once said that in California 'Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fight over.' ''

The Natural Resources Defense Council is advocating the concept of the "virtual river'' — a combination of water-use efficiency, water recycling, improved groundwater management and recapture of storm water that normally runs into the ocean.

Amid the debate, the Salinas Valley — which years ago rejected participating in both the state and federal water projects — is a model of water management that is good for the environment and good for farmers. Its two reservoirs are pretty full this year.

"I think our ancestors had the foresight to put in a system that constantly recharges our aquifers,'' said fourth-generation farmer Dirk Giannini.

It was a crisis in the Salinas Valley that led to a solution that has won plaudits of both environmentalists and farmers.

The problem was salt water intrusion, where sea water gradually replaces fresh water near coastal land. The solution was to recycle wastewater — yep, that includes toilet water — from Monterey County's cities to irrigate farmland in the northern part of the Salinas Valley around Castroville.

Within a couple of years, the availability of water will be even greater after a rubber dam is completed on the Salinas River. The dam, which will be able to go up and down to address environmental concerns, will inject even more water into the system.

But the farmers in Steinbeck Country aren't gloating.

"We really feel for those guys in the Central Valley,'' said Chris Drew, 33, production manager for Sea Mist Farms. "We are eternally grateful for the people who planned for us to have this water.''

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Research suggests public funding for specialty crops inadequate

UC Davis News and Information 2.3.2009

Julian M. Alston, associate director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center and a professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis, and Philip G. Pardey from the University of Minnesota, are the authors of an article that reviews trends in the economic importance of specialty crops and their public funding, concluding that research in the area is underfunded.

Specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops, have become increasingly important compared to other categories of agriculture in the United States over the past 50 years. These crops have continued to grow in production value, but this growth has not been matched by growth in public agricultural research spending. In fact, spending on specialty crops research has remained constant during a time period when the value of production for these crops has increased significantly.

A recent article published in the August 2008 issue of HortScience reviewed trends in the economic importance of specialty crops and public funding for research on these crops. Researchers Julian M. Alston of the University of California, Davis, and Philip G. Pardey from the University of Minnesota, questioned the adequacy of funding for specialty crops and whether the share of funding allocated to research these crops should be increased.

Previous research has indicated that government involvement in agricultural research and development is justified, because the private sector typically invests too little in certain types of R&D. The rates of return to publicly funded agricultural research have been very high, suggesting that government intervention to date has been inadequate, and that the U.S. government could have profited from spending much more on agricultural R&D, especially in the area of specialty crops.

Agricultural research in the United States is funded from a variety of sources. Historically, the majority of funding has come from the U.S Department of Agriculture. Other agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development have been increasing sources of funding over the last several years. Overall spending on R&D grew rapidly during the 1960s and 70s, but since then, growth has slowed and become erratic. In general, support has stagnated.

The growth in the value of production of specialty crops has not been matched by commensurate growth in public agricultural research spending. There could be many benefits to increasing funding in this area. One possible benefit is that there can be a much larger social rate of return if it makes fruit and vegetables less expensive and more available to more Americans, encouraging people to eat healthier diets.

The authors concluded that although the evidence is mixed, specialty crops research is underfunded and that a case can be made for increasing funding going for research of these crops. They suggest that a producer check-off program with a matching government grant could be one way to give incentives to both private industry and government agencies to enhance research funding. The Australian government has implemented such a program with much success. Another option would be to simply redirect funds that would otherwise be spent on other types of agricultural research.

TOP


Census: ag numbers grow

Capital Press Agriculture Weekly 2.5.2009 by Tim Hearden

Agricultural and resource economics professor Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Davis-based UC Agricultural Issues Center , advises people "to be judicious in calling something a trend" -- referring to a sharp jump in the market value of California commodities.

Farms in California are getting smaller and farmers are getting older, but the number of farms is increasing and the value of their products is booming.

Those are some of the findings of the latest Census of Agriculture, a complete count of all farms and ranches by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which was released Wednesday.

In 2007, California's 81,033 farms covered more than 25.36 million acres, averaging 313 acres per farm. That compares to the 79,631 farms that encompassed more than 27.5 million acres in the state in 2002, according to the census.

In the United States, there were a little more than 2.2 million farms covering 922 million acres in 2007, compared to more than 2.12 million farms using more than 938 million acres five years earlier. The average farm size nationally in 2007 was 418 acres.

The market value of commodities sold in California shot up by 32 percent since the previous census. The state's value of ag production in 2007 was a best-in-the-nation $33.885 billion -- including $22.9 billion for crops and nearly $11 billion for livestock -- up from nearly $25.74 million in the previous census.

Each farm in the state generated an average of $418,164 in 2007, obliterating the national average of $134,807 per farm. But that doesn't mean farms and ranches nationwide have been hurting; their output rose dramatically from the $200.6 million in total market value and $94,245 per farm recorded in 2002.

Fresno County led all U.S. counties in production value, generating $3.7 billion or 1.2 percent of the total U.S. value, said Vic Tolomeo, director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento. Nine of the top 10 ag U.S. counties are in California, he said.

The sharp increase in market value shouldn't get people overly excited, asserts Daniel A. Sumner, an economics professor in the University of California-Davis Agricultural Issues Center. Commodity prices were high in 2007, particularly for milk and some other products, and they've receded a bit since, he said.

"Looking at a snapshot in agriculture is dangerous business," Sumner said. "We know the weather in that particular year and the market prices in that particular year can be different, so you have to be judicious in calling something a trend."

One thing that hasn't receded is the average age of farmers, both in California and nationwide. The average age of U.S. farm operators increased from 55.3 in 2002 to 57.1 in 2007, while the number of operators 75 or older grew by 20 percent since 2002, according to the census.

In California, the average age of the farm's principal operator in December 2007 was 58.4, up from 56.8 in 2002.

Sumner attributes the age increase partly to the fact that some people turn to farming after retirement, using their pensions or savings as their principal source of income. In many of those cases, the farms themselves aren't money-makers.

The Agricultural Census is much like the overall U.S. Census, except that it's done every five years instead of 10. For the purposes of the census, a farm is defined as any agricultural operation that produces at least $1,000 in sales, Tolomeo said.

The ag census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other aspects of farming and ranching, according to its website.

Forms were mailed to farm and ranch operators in late 2007 and were due back in by February 2008. The information was then compiled and put into highly extensive lists and spreadsheets, which can be viewed at www.agcensus.usda.gov.

California has seen a steady increase in its number of farms since 1974, when there were 67,674. The number peaked in 1997, as 87,991 farms were operating in the state.

According to the latest figures, the vast majority of California farms - 66,297 of them - are 179 acres or smaller. The highest number - 28,080 -- are between 10 and 49 acres. By contrast, only 2,261 are 2,000 acres or larger.

The significant decline in the number of California farms reflected in the 2002 census was likely caused by an undercount of small farms, Tolomeo said.

"We needed to make an extra effort" in 2007, he said. "If there was $1,000 in sales ... they got a questionnaire. That took some extra door knocking."

Among the state's leading commodities, fruits, tree nuts and berries generated a little more than $11 billion in market value in 2007. Livestock, poultry and their products weren't far behind, registering just below $11 billion in market value.


TOP


California farmers struggle with impending drought

San Jose Mercury News by  Ken McLaughlin 2.5.2009

This article states that a new UC Davis study estimates that $1.6 billion in agriculture-related wages  and as many as 60,000 jobs across the Central Valley will be lost due to the state drought.

Farmer Lax Iyers is standing on the side of a country road that splits his almond orchard into two different worlds — one abloom, the other in danger of choking in a cloud of dust.

The trees on his left appear sickly because they depend on water from hundreds of miles away, delivered by the Central Valley Project — the increasingly scarce "federal water.'' The trees on his right are healthy trees that get all the water they need, because they rely on a local irrigation district that enjoys water rights stemming from when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.

Within months, the trees that rely on the federal water — an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars — could be dead.

Never since the Central Valley Project was authorized in 1935 have California's farmers been so worried about the lack of water. Three years of too little rain combined with pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have created a nightmare scenario: The federal government might soon cut off the state's largest supply of agricultural water — the first time in California history.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do,'' said Iyers, an Indian immigrant who fears his cherished 13-year-old business — his American dream — could collapse.

But as Iyers' patchwork of water sources so dramatically illustrates, when it comes to water and farming in California, even in the midst of a drought there are haves and have nots. Some farmers draw their water from abundant wells. Some get their water from the huge state and federal water plumbing projects that irrigated dry valley lands and built California's agricultural industry. Some of the luckiest have long-term water rights obtained in the '30s and '40s. Others are hooked into more environmentally progressive water distribution systems, like the one in Salinas Valley.

The drama sure to play out in the next few months will demonstrate which parts of California's water network are fragile and which are secure, and may lay the course for California's water future.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation won't announce this year's water allocation until Feb. 20. But last week, state water officials announced that California's snowpack — which feeds the state's elaborate systems of reservoirs and canals — was only 61 percent of normal. The drought, officials warned, could become the worst in modern California history.

Water shortages are a severe threat to the state's agricultural industry, which uses more than 80 percent of the water consumed by Californians and produces more than half of the country's vegetables, nuts and fruits. The industry, the state's largest, generates more than $30 billion annually in sales.It provides 1.1 million jobs in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation — 9.3 percent.

Already many farmers are letting their fields lie fallow — in some cases even letting their crops rot. Fresno County's farmers plan to grow about half the lettuce they did last year. Other farmers are panicking and spending millions to dig expensive wells that mostly yield poor-quality water.

A new University of California-Davis study estimates, $1.6 billion in agriculture-related wages — and as many as 60,000 jobs across the Central Valley — will be lost in the coming months because of the drought.

In the hard-hit west side of the valley near Fresno, the drought's epicenter, the farming economy is already crumbling. The unemployment rate in Mendota, the self-styled Cantaloupe Capital of the World, now stands at more than 40 percent.

Businesses that sell tractors and other farm equipment are reeling. Feed, fertilizer and small trucking companies are seeing their business dry up. "And, of course, it all trickles down to hairdressing shops, restaurants and other small businesses in town,'' said Sarah Woolf of the Westlands Water District, which provides water to more than 600 family-owned farms in western Fresno and Kings counties.

The district, like three million agricultural acres around California, depends on the federal Central Valley Project. The project, which mostly provides water to farmers, is complemented by the nearly half-century-old State Water Project, a similar system that irrigates 755,000 acres of farmland and provides water to 23 million Californians. State water officials expect their water allocation to be about 15 percent of normal.

The Delta is the switching yard for California water, the place where the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers come together.

A finger-sized fish called the Delta smelt is on the verge of extinction, so a federal judge has restricted pumping that kills the fish, reducing the amount of water that flows south to farmers in canals.

"We're only in the third year of a drought and starting to feel its impacts,'' said Westlands' Woolf. "Normally that doesn't happen until the fourth or fifth year.''

The environmental restrictions have angered farmers.

"It does hurt,'' said Iyers, the almond farmer. "You would hope that people are more important than fish.''

Doug Obegi, a staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says environmentalists aren't insensitive to the plight''of farmers. "It's just that we've created a water policy that doesn't work for fish or people.''

So what's going to happen?

Farmers, of course, are praying that more rain in the next several weeks will allow federal and state water officials to increase allocations — at least enough to let them save orchards, if not this year's crops.

Farmers and by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are also pushing to build new dams and reservoirs. And a strong movement has revived the idea to construct a Peripheral Canal to redirect water flowing from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers directly to man-made aqueducts headed south and west. But some environmental groups have vowed to fight these ideas.

Newman almond farmer Jim Jasper sighed: "Mark Twain once said that in California 'Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fight over.' ''

The Natural Resources Defense Council is advocating the concept of the "virtual river'' — a combination of water-use efficiency, water recycling, improved groundwater management and recapture of storm water that normally runs into the ocean.

Amid the debate, the Salinas Valley — which years ago rejected participating in both the state and federal water projects — is a model of water management that is good for the environment and good for farmers. Its two reservoirs are pretty full this year.

"I think our ancestors had the foresight to put in a system that constantly recharges our aquifers,'' said fourth-generation farmer Dirk Giannini.

It was a crisis in the Salinas Valley that led to a solution that has won plaudits of both environmentalists and farmers.

The problem was salt water intrusion, where sea water gradually replaces fresh water near coastal land. The solution was to recycle wastewater — yep, that includes toilet water — from Monterey County's cities to irrigate farmland in the northern part of the Salinas Valley around Castroville.

Within a couple of years, the availability of water will be even greater after a rubber dam is completed on the Salinas River. The dam, which will be able to go up and down to address environmental concerns, will inject even more water into the system.

But the farmers in Steinbeck Country aren't gloating.

"We really feel for those guys in the Central Valley,'' said Chris Drew, 33, production manager for Sea Mist Farms. "We are eternally grateful for the people who planned for us to have this water.''

 

 

 

 

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