Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Farm Bureau TV show wins national award

A weekly TV program on agriculture produced by the California Farm Bureau Federation has won a national award.

From the Farm Bureau:
Described as a “complete program” with great videography and broad appeal, the California Bountiful television program and one of its feature segments earned top honors from the American Farm Bureau Federation in its annual public relations competition. The awards were presented last week in Traverse City, Mich., during a ceremony honoring work by state Farm Bureaus across the country.

The Best Video Program award for California Bountiful marked the third straight win for a program produced by the California Farm Bureau Federation; the previous Farm Bureau program, California Country, won the award in 2010 and 2011.

In honoring California Bountiful, the contest judge highlighted its wide array of segment topics and its appeal to viewers with various interests. The weekly, 30-minute program features stories on the people, places and lifestyles that make California the nation's largest food-producing state. It airs on a network of broadcast and cable stations throughout California, and nationally on the RFD-TV satellite service.

A California Bountiful segment showcasing a San Francisco Bay Area family that farms and owns restaurants won the Best Video Feature Story award, with the judge noting the story’s appeal to both the eye and the palate.

“California Bountiful connects viewers in an entertaining way with the people behind their food,” California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said. “Both on television and in print, California Bountiful highlights the connections between urban and rural California.”

The bimonthly magazine published by Farm Bureau, also titled California Bountiful, earned an honorable mention in the Best Magazine category.

The California Farm Bureau weekly newspaper Ag Alert® received honorable mention in the Best Newspaper category.

Also earning honorable mention at the competition was a graphic design illustrating the theme “Celebrating the Hands That Feed Us.” The image of well-worn hands holding work gloves has been used as a theme image for Farm Bureau events including the 2011 CFBF Annual Meeting.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 74,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer heat a benefit for California crops

In the photo, 13-year-old Ryan Packwood of Bella Vista, a 4-H member, sprays down his cow on a warm afternoon at last week's Shasta District Fair.

Most crops in interior California took the weekend's triple-digit heat in stride or even thrived on it, according to the latest crop weather report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento.

Here is their report:
WEATHER
High pressure patterns dominated the weather over California this week. Subtle changes in this
pattern created different temperature extremes in the north and south parts of the state. The Central
Valley saw hot and dry conditions develop, with highs hitting the triple digits across the Valley. The
intense heat in the interior created a sort of vacuum which drew cool and moist marine air onto the
immediate coast, created cloudy conditions for much of the week, even producing occasional high drizzles. This, along
with some isolated thunderstorm activity over the southern Sierra and Northern Trinity Mountains, was the only
precipitation noted during the week. Southern California also saw the development of an onshore flow pattern that kept
temperatures close to seasonal normal. The southeast interior deserts were typically hot, with Death Valley reporting a
high of 119 degrees on Sunday.

FIELD CROPS
Crops thrived in the hot temperatures at all developmental stages throughout the week. Over a third of the wheat crop
was harvested by week’s end. Alfalfa continued to be cut, raked and baled. Virtually all the cotton crop has been
planted, and nearly a third of the crop was squaring. Cotton was progressing well in the heat, and many producers had
finished their first irrigation cycle. The crop was being monitored for pests, since gusty winds have aided in their
movement across fields. Over three quarters of rice fields were emerged. Cotton and wheat crops were rated mostly
good to excellent; while rice crop conditions were spread between fair, good and excellent.

FRUIT CROPS
Plum, prune, peach, apricot and nectarine fruit continued to progress and develop. Harvest continued for plums,
plumcots, peaches, apricots and nectarines in the San Joaquin Valley. In the Sacramento Valley, prunes were sizing
nicely and cling peaches were thinned. Cherry harvest was winding down in the San Joaquin Valley. Apple fruits were
developing. Kiwis were flowering. Figs were leafing out and setting fruit. Jujubes were in bloom. Grapes ranged from
in bloom to developing fruit, depending on the variety and region. Grapes in the San Joaquin Valley continued to be
sprayed for powdery mildew; some growers were getting ready for sizing sprays. European Grapevine Moth counts were
remaining low; growers were preparing for another pesticide application for the second generation. Pomegranates were
blooming and fruit was beginning to develop. Olive bloom was complete. Blueberries and strawberries were being
picked and packed. The harvest of Valencia oranges and lemons continued. The late navel orange harvest was
wrapping up.

NUT CROPS
The almond crop was progressing well; limbs continued to bow under the heavy crop. Walnut coddling moth sprays
were complete for the first generation; growers were waiting for second flight to start. Pistachio shells were hardening.

VEGETABLE CROPS
Kern County reported carrots, organic vegetables and watermelon were being harvested. In Tulare County summer
vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplants were progressing well, while squash and other vegetables
continued to be harvested. Fresno County reported onions and garlic were treated with herbicides, and continued to
grow well. Transplanting of processing and fresh tomatoes continued. Sweet corn had emerged and developed tassels.
Winter vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage harvest were ending. Artichoke and asparagus harvests
were complete. Carrot fields had emerged. Bell peppers were growing well. Harvests of cucumbers, eggplants, beans,
beets, choys, chards, kales, daikon, herbs, spinach, peas, squash, turnips, zucchini and hot housed tomatoes
continued. Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew crops were planted as some fields were flowering. Potatoes,
strawberries and corn were growing well as blueberries and onions were harvested in San Joaquin County. In Merced
County, tomato planting was winding down and bean planting was complete. Radicchio harvest continued. Stanislaus
County reported corn was growing well in the heat.

LIVESTOCK
Rangeland conditions continued to deteriorate and ranged from poor to good. The foothill and higher elevation range
were in good to fair condition. Supplemental feeding increased as range quality declined. Fire season continued with
over 5,500 acres burned as the result of twelve fires started during the week. Cattle and sheep grazed idle fields, dry land
grain and alfalfa fields. Bees continued to work kiwi, pomegranate and seed onions for pollination and citrus for honey
production.
The federal Climate Prediction Center believes the cooler temperatures we're experiencing will linger for the next couple of weeks, but the next three months could be hotter than normal in most interior areas of the state.

For my story on how that could affect walnuts, prunes, oranges and other crops, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Klamath 'whistleblower' responds to op-ed

As Bruce Ross pointed out this morning, former Bureau of Reclamation official Paul Houser (pictured) responded to an op-ed by the U.S. Geological Survey's lead scientist on the Klamath project taking issue with some of Houser's assertions in a series of public appearances last month.

The op-ed by Dennis Lynch ran in both the Record Searchlight and Capital Press last week.

In a lengthy response on his website, Houser concluded:
I applaud Mr. Lynch’s commitment to accuracy in these studies, and hope that he takes advantage of my invitation to discuss these scientific concerns. Although Mr. Lynch did not mention scientific integrity in his post, his work is bound by the Department of the Interior’s Scientific Integrity Policy and Scientific Code of Conduct. This policy sets the bar very high for objectivity, conflict of interest, welcoming constructive criticism, adherence to laws protecting natural and cultural resources, communicating honestly and thoroughly, considering all viable alternatives in an unbiased fashion, and advancing science and scholarship for the purpose of serving the public with sound decision making on the part of all government agencies. During my recent interactions with many talented Klamath basin scientists, engineers and decision makers, I have heard about several innovative and economical solutions to meet the multi-objective law, environment and society goals that are not being actively considered by the draft EIS/EIR because they fall outside the politics of the Klamath agreements (Table 2-2) – it is in the public trust, and a duty of scientific integrity to actively consider these alternatives.

In summary, decision makers often use science to support predetermined decisions rather than using science to help inform decisions. Decision makers, scientists and peer-reviewers may have conflicts of interest, and biased media reports can skew public understanding. The 2011 expert panels concluded that removing the dams without addressing the water quality issues, reducing disease, enabling free migration to the upper basin, preventing hatchery salmon from not overwhelm spawning grounds, reducing predation to sufficiently low levels, accounting for climate change, addressing reductions in fall flows, and mitigating long-term sediment impacts, there is a low probability that coho salmon will thrive in the Klamath river. The outcomes of dam removal on this scale and in this unique environment have significant risks and uncertainties. A positive outcome is not guaranteed and a tragic outcome is possible. All I am trying to accomplish is to make sure that decision makers are aware of these risks and uncertainties, and account for them in their decision-making process. By only reporting the positive aspects of dam removal without the uncertainties and additional needed mitigation, the meaning of the science is perturbed, which may lead to poor decisions.
Read the entire column here.

Workshop to cover organic beer, other topics

Want to learn how organic beer is made? This and other topics will be covered in an all-day seminar on organic production July 12 in Chico, sponsored by a couple of pest-control groups.

From a news release:
WHAT: Organic Production in Northern California

All day seminar focusing on the production of organic field crops, vegetables and orchards. Subjects include: Regulations, Certification, IPM, Disease Control, Weed Control, Acceptable Fertilizers, Pasture and Orchard Management, Soil Management, Organic Beer Production and a grower panel discussing fertility and pest management organic production challenges. Charlie Hoppin, Chairman, State Water Resources Control Board will address water quality challenges. Also exhibits by firms providing products acceptable for certified organic production. CEUs are offered for Certified Crop Advisers (7.5 hours) and licensed Pest Control Advisers (4.0 hours).

WHO: Presented by the Nor Cal California Association of Pest Control Advisers and Organic Fertilizer Association of California. Underwritten by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

WHEN: Thursday, July 12, 2012, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.

WHERE: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, The Big Room, 1075 20th Street, Chico, CA

INFO: Contact Steven Beckley, (916)539-4107, sbeckley@aol.com. Program is available at https://capcaed.com/continuing-ed-seminars/organic-production/.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Labor shortage affects California farmers

We've been hearing a lot about a shortage of farm laborers, so the Capital Press is taking an in-depth look at the problem. Here's what I've found:

While some commodities in California reported little or no trouble finding enough labor, other growers have struggled to put together full crews.

For instance, asparagus farmers seemed to have enough laborers this spring, but when cherry harvests began to overlap with other tasks such as cutting grape vines, "people were having a heck of a time getting crews," said Bryan Little, director of labor affairs for the California Farm Bureau Federation.

"People are having to make decisions about leaving spring work undone," Little said. However, "I don't know of specific instances of cherries going unharvested."

Citrus growers have reported some labor shortages, but they haven't been severe enough to hinder the harvest, said Paul Story, director of grower services for California Citrus Mutual.

"We are seeing less workers for the orange harvest, but a lot of those are going to other commodities such as tree fruit, and they're doing some things with grape pruning," Story said. "The labor force is getting spread out.

"Fortunately for us now, we're over our peak harvest and starting into our slower period," he said. "We don't have to harvest quite as much. I know of folks who are having to consolidate crews to get one decent crew ... We're still getting fruit harvested, though."

In the strawberry industry, labor shortages are "always a concern" because harvests are very labor intensive, said Carolyn O'Donnell, spokeswoman for the California Strawberry Commission.

However, because the peak harvest season runs from April until November, a significant percentage of workers come back every year, O'Donnell said. Many of them move up and down the coast as the season peaks in different areas, she said.

"It's a longer season, so during the height of the season, there's an opportunity to earn a fairly good wage," she said.

Also, picking strawberries is a specific skill that workers learn.
"It's tricky," she said.

Overall, Little estimates that crews for springtime crops are 30 percent to 40 percent lighter than normal. He said it's difficult to know whether that's an indicator of a labor shortage for summer and fall harvests.

He said factors for the shortage could include problems with drug cartels at the border or fears among laborers that tree damage from the hailstorm in the San Joaquin Valley earlier this year may mean there's less work available.

"It could be ... that people who are in Mexico are staying put to see how things are going to work out and they're not going to incur the expense of coming," Little said. "Or maybe they're afraid to move through those areas of northern Mexico right now."

Little said the shortage underscores the need for a better guest worker program for agriculture, adding that only 3,000 to 4,000 of the estimated 500,000 migrant workers in the U.S. come with an H-2A visa.

"We're still working with Congress on a viable agricultural guest worker program that will get people into the country in a timely and affordable way," Little said.
If a shortage persists, "people are going to make a business decision that it's cheaper to buy diesel fuel and disk it under than harvest it," he said.

Three other reporters are also working on this project, so for much more on this topic, check CapitalPress.com later next week.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where is the outrage over spying drones?

COMMENTARY
From Andrew Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey who is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News:
For the past few weeks, I have been writing in this column about the government's use of drones and challenging their constitutionality on Fox News Channel where I work. I once asked on air what Thomas Jefferson would have done if -- had drones existed at the time -- King George III had sent drones to peer inside the bedroom windows of Monticello. I suspect that Jefferson and his household would have trained their muskets on the drones and taken them down. I offer this historical anachronism as a hypothetical only, not as one who is urging the use of violence against the government.

Nevertheless, what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes, and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. The folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government.

Don't believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the "recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel inside the United States and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them "to collect information about U.S. persons.”

It gets worse. If the military personnel see something of interest from a drone, they may apply to a military judge or "military commander” for permission to conduct a physical search of the private property that intrigues them. And, any "incidentally acquired information” can be retained or turned over to local law enforcement. What's next? Prosecutions before military tribunals in the U.S.?
Read more at FoxNews.com.

The Capital Press is probing into the EPA's reported use of drones to spy on cattle ranchers. They're all around us, and they're watching our every move. Stay tuned.

Brown's timber proposal pleases cattle group

A provision in Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget proposal that would make it easier for timberland owners preparing timber harvest plans pleases the California Cattlemen's Association.

From a CCA newsletter:
As part of the governor’s May budget revision, several proposals were put forward to enhance California’s timber industry. What is being named the “Timber Harvest Plan Reform Package” would fund the Timber Harvest Plan (THP) regulatory program based on the consumption of lumber and other wood-based construction materials; extend the length of the THP to five years with one two-year extension; limit damages from wildfire liability sought by public entities; implement a year-long pilot project to test procedures to improve the efficiency of a multi-agency review team; and, review the content of the THP application to improve the ease of preparation, continuity of plan content and reduction of applicant errors. In short, the THP Reform Package would increase in-state production of lumber while keeping in place all of California’s environmental standards.

CCA is pleased to see the Governor taking an active role in aiding the state’s timber industry and will continue to support the Forestry Association in their undertakings to seek reforms.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

USDA declares Tehama a drought disaster

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has named Tehama County as one of three counties in California to receive disaster assistance because of drought that has persisted since October.

From the USDA:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Alameda, Marin and Tehama counties in California as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by drought that occurred from Oct. 1, 2011, and continues.

“Assistance at this point and time is critically important for producers in California, especially in helping them keep their farmland healthy for the remainder of the year,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I realize that during this time of disaster, federal assistance will be needed until conditions improve and farmers strive to recover from their losses.”
Farmers and ranchers in contiguous counties, including Shasta and Trinity, will also qualify for help, according to the news release. It continues:
All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas May 31, 2012, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

Secretary Vilsack also reminds producers that the department’s authority to operate the disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30, 2011.This includes SURE; the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP); the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP); and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). Production losses due to disasters occurring after Sept. 30, 2011, are not eligible for disaster program coverage.
In the photo, University of California Cooperative Extension livestock advisor Josh Davy assesses rangeland near Red Bluff during the winter dry spell in January.

CFBF pushes for air quality program in bill

The state's largers farmers' organization is pushing to retain a federal program that rewards farmers and ranchers for measures that protect air quality.

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
Calling it a unique opportunity to improve air quality and assist in stewardship of natural resources, a coalition of groups led by the California Farm Bureau Federation and the Nisei Farmers League urged the U.S. Senate today to retain a successful air quality program in new federal farm legislation. The program, which is not included in the version of the farm bill headed to the Senate floor next week, helps farmers implement air quality projects to meet federal, state and local regulatory requirements.

California, Arizona, Texas and other states benefit from the Air Quality Initiative in the 2008 Farm Bill. In California alone, more than 1,100 farmers and ranchers partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service on projects that reduced emissions an estimated five tons per day—equivalent to removing more than 408,000 cars from California roads.

“We’ve seen tremendous success from the program and it was so popular that NRCS was able to fund less than one-fifth of the applications it received,” California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said. “We still have important work to do in improving air quality, and farmers and ranchers remain ready to help.”

The farm coalition said retaining the Air Quality Initiative in the 2012 Farm Bill should be a priority, so more farmers and ranchers can participate. The coalition noted that the program prioritizes money for areas of the country with the highest air quality concerns, thereby using federal funding strategically to provide the most benefits for the environment, public health and stewardship efforts by farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

“California farmers have shown through their actions that they are eager to implement air quality programs into their businesses,” said Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League. “We urge the Senate to capitalize on this enthusiasm and interest, and support farmers and ranchers in their pursuit of continuous improvement.”

In addition to the California Farm Bureau and the Nisei Farmers League, other members of the coalition include African American Farmers of California, Agricultural Council of California, American Pistachio Growers, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, Associated California Loggers, Association of California Water Agencies, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, California Blueberry Association, California Cattlemen’s Association, California Citrus Mutual, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, California Forestry Association, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, California Poultry Association, California Rice Commission, California Strawberry Commission, California Women for Agriculture, Far West Equipment Dealers Association, Fresno County Farm Bureau, Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers, Kings County Farm Bureau, Madera County Farm Bureau, Olive Growers Council of California, Raisin Bargaining Association, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, Texas Farm Bureau, Tulare County Farm Bureau, Ventura County Agricultural Association, Western Agricultural Processors Association, Western Plant Health Association, Western Growers and Western United Dairymen.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Voters come in waves at precincts




In the photos, from the top: Shasta County elections specialist Cathy Ashcraft takes absentee ballots from John and Debby Hamman; poll worker Skyy Miller checks a list of voters in a polling place at Sequoia Middle School; and a woman slips her absentee ballot into a slot in front of the Shasta County elections office.

Precinct workers where I voted told me that voters were coming in in waves, and that seemed to be the case at the county elections office, too. (I must say that for me, this was one of the easier elections in a while, full of clear choices. It took me less than a minute to vote.)

You can follow local returns as they come in to the county elections office by clicking here, or for statewide returns, check here. Tomorrow morning, I'll be talking to several people about the results as they relate to ag, finding out what races they'll be watching the most closely in the fall, etc. You can look for that story at CapitalPress.com later in the day.

Commitment to heat safety already exists

COMMENTARY
From Rich Matteis, administrator of the California Farm Bureau Federation:
Of all the sectors in the California economy, agriculture has been the most proactive in addressing the safety of employees who work outside on hot days.

Farmers, ranchers, farm employees, farm labor contractors, safety specialists, farm organizations and state regulators have accepted responsibility and conducted comprehensive, coordinated efforts to make sure people who work on the farm know what to do to prevent heat illness:

-- Agricultural leaders stepped forward to work with Cal/OSHA in developing the first-in-the-nation heat illness regulations in 2005; in establishing permanent regulations in 2006; and in strengthening the regulations in 2010. The regulations assure adequate water, shade, rest breaks, training and emergency preparation for people who work outside in hot weather.
-- In the past four years, more than 13,000 farmers, supervisors, farm labor contractors and farm employees have been trained in heat safety at seminars organized by California farm groups, safety organizations and workers' compensation insurance carriers. Those people, in turn, have trained hundreds of thousands of farm employees each year. This represents a sustained effort, with workshops already held this year and more scheduled.
Read more in AgAlert, which provided the photo.

The protection of farmworkers from the heat is itself a red-hot issue of late, because there's a bill in the Legislature that would impose what the Farm Bureau considers to be onerous new regulations on farms.

For my story on this issue, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Bosenko, others to take part in RB rally

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko is slated to appear with nine other north state county sheriffs at a Support Rural America rally June 23 in Red Bluff.

From a news release (via Liz Bowen):
Red Bluff, CA. – In an unprecedented event, a panel of 10 county sheriffs will address Northern California issues on June 23rd at the Tehama County fairgrounds. Time is 1:30 p.m. Public safety is the number one concern shared by all of these Northern California sheriffs, according to Tehama County Sheriff Dave Hencratt, who is hosting this Support Rural America Sheriffs’ Event. With continuing cuts in county and state budgets, sheriffs are finding their resources diminished. Yet, county sheriffs are charged with the safety and health of the people. It is an expanding dilemma.

These sheriffs are committed to the “oath of office” they took to protect their citizens and will stand on the Constitution to address troubles head-on.

This is the fourth Sheriffs’ Event held this year following other Northern California counties of Siskiyou, Modoc and Trinity; and participation by county sheriffs is growing.

Sheriff Hencratt said the gatherings, which feature a panel of county sheriffs, are basically Town Hall meetings. “It is a chance to talk about our issues,” said Sheriff Hencratt, who adds that these sheriffs truly have a “handle” on a variety of concerns and situations affecting their counties.

“We’ve got your back,” Hencratt stated. “We are here to be reasonable and do what is right.”

A rural tax base that once existed from timber, mining and agriculture are either non-existent or threatened. Over-regulations by some environmental government agencies are affecting businesses and rural society as a whole.

Sheriff Hencratt explained there are four National Forests in Tehama County. He claims, under federal law, his county government should have equal say regarding policies and regulations over those lands managed by U.S. Forest Service.

“Road closures in the National Forest will hamper our law enforcement functions,” he said, adding that a Coordination Committee is working through the process of engaging with the federal agency. The goal is to affect federal regulations and re-open roads that citizens utilize for multiple purposes, including recreation and the ability to fight forest fires.

Sheriff Hencratt is pleased so many California sheriffs are participating on June 23rd. They include: Siskiyou Co. Jon Lopey, Del Norte Co. Dean Wilson, Plumas Co. Greg Hagwood, Trinity Co. Bruce Haney, Modoc Co. Mike Poindexter, Mendocino Co. Tom Allman, Glenn Co. Larry Jones, Humboldt Co. Mike Downey and Shasta Co. Tom Bosenko.

“Every time I listen to these other sheriffs, I learn something. I am like a sponge,” said Hencratt. “And it is gratifying there are so many citizens interested in hearing from us.”

The last three events have boasted 200 to 300 attendees, who are also excited to participate and ask questions. These citizens are hungry to hear from the local officials responding to local issues.

The next event will be hosted by Sheriff Dean Wilson in Del Norte County at the fairgrounds in Crescent City on July 14 at 2 p.m.

Support Rural America Sheriffs’ Events are free. A donation bucket is passed to pay for the rental of the building and basic costs. The Tehama Event will be held in a huge air-conditioned auditorium with seating available for over 1,000. Sheriff Hencratt hopes every seat will be filled. Tehama County Patriots are sponsoring the Event.

Vendors and groups with information to share are invited to participate by renting a 10-foot space for $20. If you need a table, there is an additional $10 charge. Call Patsy Molher at 530-527-6915; Erin Ryan at 530-515-7135; or Liz Bowen 530-467-3515 to reserve your space.

Youtube videos of past events are available at www.supportruralamerica.com and www.pienpolitics.com

Rainfall and reservoirs: where we stand

Here are the May and seasonal rainfall totals and comparisons to normal for Redding and other selected California cities, according to the National Weather Service. Totals are as of May 31:

Redding: Month to date 0.05 inches (normal 1.85 inches); season to date 22.8 inches (normal 33.93 inches)
Eureka: Month to date 0.77 inches (normal 1.78 inches); season to date 38.81 inches (normal 39.58 inches)
Sacramento: Month to date trace inches (normal 0.68 inches); season to date 12.18 inches (normal 18.31 inches)
Modesto: Month to date 0.19 inches (normal 0.63 inches); season to date 8.63 inches (normal 12.99 inches)
Salinas: Month to date 0 inches (normal 0.01 inches); season to date 10.26 inches (normal 12.75 inches)
Fresno: Month to date 0 inches (normal 0.43 inches); season to date 8.15 inches (normal 11.29 inches)

Here are the percentages of capacity for Shasta Lake and other California reservoirs as of Tuesday, June 5, according to the Department of Water Resources' California Data Exchange Center:

Trinity Lake: 95 percent
Shasta Lake: 94 percent
Lake Oroville: 99 percent
New Bullards Bar Reservoir: 98 percent
Folsom Lake: 95 percent
New Melones Reservoir: 76 percent
Lake McClure: 75 percent
Millerton Lake: 84 percent
Pine Flat Reservoir: 79 percent
Lake Isabella: 37 percent
San Luis Reservoir: 62 percent

Look for my May weather story at CapitalPress.com soon.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spring weather suited growers just fine




On Saturday I went to the Redding Certified Farmers Market at City Hall. In the photos, from the top: Adrienne Sherman and Victoria Penn of For the Love of Pie talk while waiting for customers; and (from left) Brook and Tessa Bekendam of Orland-based Burlyson Farms sell cherries to customers.

The Bekendams said this spring's warm and dry weather has been good for crop development.

"We've actually had a really long bloom because there hasn't been any rain," Brook Bekendam said. "This will probably be one of our longest seasons, because I talked to my boss today and he said there are still some green ones on the trees."

I'll have a complete recap of May weather in Northern California and what we can expect for the summer online tomorrow. Check CapitalPress.com around midday.

Dick Cheney and the war for Iraqi oil

COMMENTARY
From author, blogger and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt:
The story on surging Iraq oil production in the New York Times is a wonder to read.

Iraqi oil is easing the worldwide price, providing leverage over Iran in the negotiations over the latter's nuclear program, and is likely to match Saudi output in a few years.

These are great benefits to the world, and they must be surprising to the left since George Bush and Dick Cheney invaded the country to get the oil. And the idea that Dick Cheney, pawn of Texas oil interests, forced an invasion that has now resulted in falling crude prices, well, that is going to give the left some headaches.

If the left thinks at all about the nonsense it pumped out from 2003 since. Which it has given no signs of doing or ever intends to do.

The Times asserts that the turnaround in the Iraqi oil industry began...wait for it...in 2009.

Just when the oceans stopped their rise.

Fair workshop to teach on agritourism

A state agency and the University of California will hold a workshop during the Shasta District Fair and other fairs throughout the summer to highlight the benefits of agritourism.

From the UC:
The University of California’s small farm program and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Division of Fairs and Expositions are teaming up to connect fruit, vegetable, nut and flower farmers with county and regional fairs to celebrate California specialty crops. Together they are organizing workshops and tours for farmers and agricultural leaders at seven different fairs throughout the state, to be held during the 2012 fair season.

There is an explosion of interest in urban homesteading, farmers markets, cooking classes, farm tours and food festivals. The clamor for access to the specialty crop producers has led many of these farmers to consider starting agritourism enterprises on their farms to entertain and educate visitors and to market their crops.

Agritourism is a completely new business for most farmers, combining hospitality with agricultural production, and often requires learning new skills, complying with a multitude of new regulations, managing new risks, training new staff and working with new partners. California fairs have been doing all these things for more than 100 years and are happy to share.

California's fair network dates back to before the Civil War as a way to advance public knowledge of agriculture and provide a community gathering place. That tradition continues to this day, but with modern innovations that bring home the importance and reality of agriculture to an urban population that may have little contact with farms, ranches and agribusinesses.

“We look forward to working with CDFA’s Division of Fairs and Expositions to expand agritourism opportunities; this will expand revenue sources for California’s small farmers,” said Shermain Hardesty, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis. Hardesty oversees UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ research and extension activities for small farms.

Each workshop will feature fair officials teaching farmers some of their methods for safely entertaining thousands of people. Farmers currently involved with local fairs or local agritourism will share their insights. There will also be interactive discussions on potential collaborations between specialty crop growers, agritourism operators and fairs, and guided tours of the fair facilities.

Project organizers welcome farmers and fair leaders from surrounding counties to each fair workshop, as well as county agricultural commissioners, Farm Bureau leaders, tourism professionals, farm advisors and educators, fair and festival vendors and entertainers and agritourism operators interested in new partnerships.

The workshop schedule:

Thursday, June 14 Shasta District Fair, Anderson

Thursday, July 26 Amador County Fair, Plymouth

Thursday, August 2 Ventura County Fair, Ventura

Thursday, August 9 Napa Town & Country Fair, Napa

Thursday, August 16 Yolo County Fair, Woodland

Thursday, September 13 Santa Cruz County Fair, Watsonville

Thursday, October 4 Big Fresno Fair, Fresno

For registration and more information about these events, visit http://sfp.ucdavis.edu/events/12fairs or call Penny Leff at (530) 752-7779.