Sept. 8th, Water Board Draft – Open for Discussion

For the last couple of years, we have been creating and residing in a Delta vs. Ag tug of war that, for each side, has its own financial and biological purposes which are extremely important.

The root of this quarrel resides in the ever growing in intensity battle with water. Water in areas such as San Joaquin, Coachella, Fresno, among others is becoming more and more scarce. Finding new ways to deal with the water we have has already proved to be a more effective, and more productive method.

Thus, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, has devoted itself to creating four, public workshops in which will allow those attendees to place their opinions on the most recent release of the draft program environmental impact report.

Starting soon, September 8, 2010 from 5 to 8pm the County Farm Bureau in Tulare will be accepting comments from growers who attend these workshops.

The comment period for the growers that attend is intended to provide the opportunity for those who deal with the issue of water regulations every day to voice their opinions on expanding the regulated irrigation methods in agricultural. Being such that these individuals are the ones struggling to make a living for their families, and put food on the table for more than just themselves, it would only make sense to have them involved.

For those interested in attending and voicing their opinions, please go to


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Imported Agriculture without the Regulations: Hurting the American Grower

When it comes to agriculture, many places among the U.S. come to mind. Places like California, a state in the Union that produces the fruit and vegetables for over 80% of the world. What doesn’t come to mind is places like such losing out on revenue due to imported product. Product that can be appraised at a lower selling value due to the requirements placed upon them.

Product coming from countries like Mexico and Peru are not currently required to meet the same regulations as crop coming from the United States. So, when John, a local Southern California grower wants to sell his asparagus to a buyer he’s met with the issue of competition offering the same crop, for a lower, undercut price.

When the grower is not required to regulate his pesticide and herbicide applications, or mandated to reach a certain safety ordinance, he can then grow his crop in the least expensive manner, bidding out growers like John who have abided by USDA regulations.

Another issue that factors into the over cost that is an increasingly persistent problem, is labor costs. Many crops are very labor intensive costing the grower several man hours to get the job done. When he then goes to sell his crop, he’s forced to factor in this cost, thus again getting him outbid by an imported product.

As these issues become more relevant and demanding, the American grower can only hope that organizations like the USDA step in and place stronger, fairer mandates on imported product. While a large amount of our specialty crop is exported out of the U.S. implementing such regulations can be tricky and potentially hazardous to the export market.

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Making It Easier to Grow a California Almond

When it comes to growing almonds, many had been facing challenges, whether they are organic or not.  It has become increasingly difficult in recent years to compete with the foreign prices.  The USDA has been enforcing, as of 2007, a law that required almond growers to make a postharvest treatment using either steam or chemicals to prevent a salmonella outbreak.  This law was adopted in 2007 due to Salmonella outbreaks have previously been traced back to almonds in 2001 and 2004.

These regulations are making it very difficult for California almond growers to compete with foreign markets.  Foreign markets are currently not regulated by the same laws, making it difficult for California growers to compete financially while having increased postharvest costs.  In addition, there have been some who believe that the postharvest treatments performed on the raw almonds can have an impact on the flavor of the almonds.  California almond growers supply roughly 85% of the world’s almonds.

Some think that organically produced raw almonds are much safer and cleaner due to the strict regulations that they must follow.  One such regulation requires growers to keep animal waste away from the plant, and also prohibits the use of pesticides.

According to Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, a professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that studies have shown that less than 1% of all almonds are contaminated by salmonella.  He also points out that several other products have a much higher contamination rate.  Regardless of these statements, we do know that foreign products are not subjected the same regulations as those grown in California, yet both compete for shelf space at the markets.  Hopefully this will get sorted out shortly, so that our almond growers in California can get back to doing what they do best, producing an amazing harvest of almonds and providing a quality product worldwide.

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Water, California Still Struggles

Over the years there are many environmental issues that we have taken for granted. Issues included would be something like gas prices. Gas has jumped in price ever since its use was needed. The question is why? By increasing the amount of road for vehicles to travel on, by increasing the amount of vehicles, and the demand for them are high due to rising population. Therefore, gas demand increases as do gas prices.

Water, also something we consider a plentiful resource is one of the most abundant resources we have on Earth is something that we never really thought about in the past. We have always had it, and while in portions in the north and Midwestern areas don’t consider what others go through, the ever rising population in areas such as Southern California is causing a problem. This is where introducing 200,000 extra Californians each year seems to be peachy; yet figuring out how to provide them water is now becoming much of a troubling interest when it had not been much of a problem before.

As California reaches its third consecutive year in drought conditions, many look at where the water travels from and where it heads to. While folks in the Northern region find it hard to understand the concept of conservation, those in the South know no other word. The Southern region of California currently receives its water from the Delta. The delta provides irrigation for a little over 3 million acres, along with giving drinking water for over 25 million California residents. Along w/ the water issue, the Delta also holds a large amount of endangered species, one of which is the Delta smelt.

While the Delta smelt holds its own specific purpose, those in agriculture find the need for water to be more important. The delta in Southern California provides for about 45 percent of the fruits and vegetables in the entire nation. Seeing these water prices rise and rise will definitely have an impact as far as the East Coast on grocery prices.

While the battle between the two stays prolonged as the fisherman drop their hooks for an answer while the farmers dig for theirs, it’s only a matter of time for those in California to discover an answer that works well for both parties.

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CAWG New President

Back on May 6, the statement was made by a Kim Ledbetter Bronson, the California Association of Winegrape Growers [CAWG] group chairwoman. The statement was “(Aguierre’s) experience in government affairs as well as the unprecedented parallels between the Oregon Association of Nurseries and CAWG made him the top choice.” The choice you ask?

The choice was to make, John Aguirre, a longtime executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries the new president of CAWG. Starting June 1, 2010 the Sacramento-based advocacy organization will accept in Aguierre for a number of reasons.

Aguierre grew the budget for the Oregon nursery association which had 1,200 members. Bringing many new programs, services, and an increase in their association’s profile made Aguirre a prime selection. With government experience as well it seemed she [Kim Ledbetter Bronson] made it clear that they were confident about their selection.

Congratulation goes to John and we hope he continues to move forward with CAWG as he had with the Oregon nursery association.

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Roundup-Proof Weeds, Are We Breeding a Superweed?

When general society thinks of how to deal with weeds, they generally think Roundup. But they aren’t the only one. Growers, farmers, and ranchers alike have all been using the weed destroying product for generations. But, has the product we all depend on to win the war on weeds given the other side a new fighting chance?

A recent article, “Farmers Cope with Roundup-Resistant Weeds” discussed the creation of a new weed, a weed that is sprouting up in over 22 states, California included. The weed that hit headline news is not like others we are accustomed to, instead it is to be said, “Roundup-proof”.

But the question remains is, is it something we did ourselves? Is it true, did we grow a new form of weed? One author and contributor to the Times suggests differently going so far to say as, “[this phenomenon was predictable.]”

An overview of the discussion leads into one alternative, yes our own predictability and consistency allowed for such occurrence. Pollan stated that long-term sustainability can be achieved along with resilience by diversifying the planted fields by switching seed selection.

In Pollan’s perspective, Monsanto [Roundup] suggests that genetically modified crops are a shiny new paradigm, which in disagreement he believes they bring forth their own destruction.

For more information on the topic refer to this piece by Pollan,

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Looking Back on Water Conservation

When it comes to water, the world generally doesn’t consider that we are in a problem. Unfortunately, only small areas of our country are realizing the crisis that is going on.

California, the nation’s leader in agricultural production also happens to rank as the nation’s top water user. While looking back on history, many different issues have been brought to attention over the years. One we have never really been concerned about until recently is our water. With the United States using approximately 400 billion gallons of water per day, it isn’t any wonder why we are now asking ourselves, “Where will it all come from?”

Out of that 400 billion gallons of water, about half, is allocated to create energy. With using this water for such uses, is then returned to its source be it river or reservoir. This would be classified as renewable energy, but where does the other 200 billion go?

Currently, Agriculture is the nation’s leading user in water consumption. Using more than 80 billion gallons per day, it is our main source that which we should try to cut back from.

Unfortunately many questions still rest unanswered. How can we be more efficient? How can we use less? How can we reuse what we have already used? How can we hold rainfall that isn’t being used affectively? These are all questions on the minds of many government leaders and agricultural dependants.

While looking into history, we can see many things that indicate a quality improvement in water consumption, yet it still is not enough. Between 1980 and 2000 the California Farm Bureau Federation reported that crop production increased by a whopping 35%. Seeing these production increases it would only make sense that water allocation would need to be increased, but this is not the case. With growers moving to more economical and efficient irrigation systems, along with using different types of fertilizer products like Ferticell, it ever increasingly tells us that there are steps to be taken to rid our over dependency on water.

Hopefully we can someday look back and recognize which methods we should have stepped forward to rectify more hastily like we are already doing today.

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