Mark your calendars for the ANR Water Strategic Initiative Conference, which will be held in collaboration with the Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) Strategic Initiative, on March 14-17 in Ontario at the DoubleTree by Hilton Ontario Airport.
The conference will provide an opportunity for colleagues to learn about the projects, programs and research efforts related to water that are happening throughout the Division. Presentations and discussions will include:
- Climate Change
- Salinity: What are Remediation Steps?
- Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
- SGMA Town Hall Discussion: The State of Your Water Resources
- Water Conservation Goals Across the State
Time is reserved for workgroups and program teams to meet on the afternoon and evening of Thursday, March 16, and Friday, March 17. To schedule a meeting, the program team leader or workgroup chair should complete the brief form and the Program Support Unit will respond to you as soon as possible.
Registration and travel fund requests will be available in early-mid January. For conference updates, check http://ucanr.edu/sites/SIconferences/2017_Water_Strategic_Initiative_Conference_.
ANR-affiliated academics including UC Cooperative Extension advisors, UC Cooperative Extension specialists, Agricultural Experiment Station faculty, program directors, academic coordinators and programmatic staff are invited to attend. Programmatic staff should obtain approval from their supervisor and statewide program director.
Contacts for more information:
Logistics: ANR Program Support Unit, Lauren McNees, (530) 750-1257, or Danielle Palermini, (530) 750-1328.
President-elect Donald Trump promised to crackdown on illegal immigration during his campaign. Caitlin Dewey reported in the Washington Post that such a move would result in increased fruit and vegetable prices for Americans.
The Post sought information from the UC Agricultural Issues Center (AIC), a statewide program that is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. UC Cooperative Extension was credited as a source for a chart that accompanied the article that noted the crops most vulnerable to labor-cost change. Asparagus is listed as having the highest proportion of the farms' operating costs dedicated to labor: 82 percent.
"The plants must be hand cut multiple times per day during their two-month harvest season," the story said. Other crops that have high labor costs are wine grapes, oranges, sweet cherries, and all types of fruit. The article said berries, peppers, onions, watermelons and apples are also typically picked by hand.
A Texas A&M agricultural economist, Luis Ribera, told the reporter he believes U.S. farmers may not be able to produce some fruit and vegetables as a result of Trump's planned deportation of undocumented immigrants.
"We had a farm labor shortage even without Trump. Whatever he does will just compound the problem," Ribera said.
The director of the AIC, agricultural economist Daniel Sumner, doesn't express dire concern about the potential impact of the Trump administration on food prices and agriculture policy.
"I do not see big changes in immigration policy relevant for ag. Except perhaps a guest worker program, which would be positive," Sumner said. "I do not see big deportation of farmworkers coming."
UC Cooperative Extension is asking California farmers and landowners to help track the the state's wild pig population, reported Julia Mitric on Capitol Public Radio News. Signs of the pig's presence are hard to miss, UCCE advisor John Harper told the reporter.
"It looks like you came in with a rototiller and just uprooted everything," he says. "It's like ground squirrel mounds or gopher mounds on steroids because the pigs can go over such a large area."
California's wild pigs have a variety of origins. Harper says many are descended from domestic pigs who were released into the wild by humans or escaped on their own and bred with game hogs such as the Russian boar hog. Wild pigs root around in the soil for truffles and small plant roots with their sharp tusks tear, destroying plants and grasses that sheep and cattle like to graze on. They also open up the land for erosion and invasive species.
"So you might get something like 'medusahead,' an invasive grass that tends to crowd out other more desirable forage species," Harper said.
A team of UC Cooperative Extension scientists have created a GIS-based mobile app that works on Android and Apple devices to make it easy for landowners to participate in the study.
“Rangeland managers and farmers can enter data into the app from the field so that we can estimate the land area and economic impacts of feral pig damage over a longer time period,” said Roger Baldwin, UC Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist in the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UC Davis.
Learn more and sign up to participate in the study on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources news website.
UC Office of the President has issued a statement of its principles regarding the privacy and civil rights of undocumented members of the UC community. These principles may be of interest to UC ANR volunteers, program participants and other stakeholders.
In the press release, UC President Janet Napolitano said, “While we still do not know what policies and practices the incoming federal administration may adopt, given the many public pronouncements made during the presidential campaign and its aftermath, we felt it necessary to reaffirm that UC will act upon its deeply held conviction that all members of our community have the right to work, study, and live safely and without fear at all UC locations.”
Feel free to share this link to the press release: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/university-california-releases-principles-support-uc-community-members.
View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRUpdate/Comments.
This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.
True to its name, a listicle published on BuzzFeed News about genetic modification of foods caused a buzz during Thanksgiving week. Writer Stephanie Lee reported that many techniques have been used over the centuries to tinker with the DNA of fruits, vegetables and animals to make them prettier, tastier and easier to grow.
Largely based on an interview with UC Cooperative Extension specialist Alison Van Eenennaam, the article said some changes were accidental acts of nature, some from traditional cross breeding, and others are crop improvements by genetic engineering. None of these changes make food fundamentally unsafe or unhealthy.
"It's up to us as parents or humans to seek out correct information," Van Eenennaam said. "And that's why my kids are vaccinated, we drink pasteurized milk, and we happily eat GMOs."
Cross breeding and selection have transformed scrawny poultry into today's plump, meaty domestic turkey. Corn is descended from a barely edible grass. Spontaneous mutations from solar radiation produced Washington navel oranges. Seeds exposed to radiation by scientists "randomly scrambles the genes inside them and yields desirable traits," the article said.
More than 90 percent of U.S. corn is genetically modified. Most goes to ethanol plants, animal feed or processed food, but, "In 2011, Monsanto began growing sweet corn engineered with a protein that helps fight off pests. It's meant to be eaten directly and sold in grocery stores."
The article generated a few online conversations, with comments from those praising the article and others suggesting it was not balanced.
"I cannot believe this is your header Thanksgiving article," wrote one reader. "Seriously, who paid you?
Another said, "The anti-GMO movement isn't really about food safety ... it's primarily an anti-corporate movement."
The article said the FDA requires that food derived from GMO plants to meet the same food safety requirements as food from traditionally bred plants.
"What I would be more worried about is undercooking my turkey, because then I could actually be exposed to salmonella — that actually could kill people," Van Eenennaam said.