Posts Tagged: coronavirus
Carefully resuming in-person activities
UC ANR issued Stage 2 Safety Standards on May 20. Since then, many California counties have begun to modify stay-at-home orders to allow for additional lower risk activities to resume under advanced Stage 2 of the California resilience roadmap. UC ANR's Stage 2 protocols are still in place, but like all organizations, we are working through the challenges of resuming some community programs while continuing to protect public health. Our Risk & Safety Services group has established a process to review plans with local ANR Directors. We're learning together and sharing best practices.
We're also monitoring COVID-19 trends in counties across the state. See our website for links to statewide and local information about COVID-19 cases and trends. As counties are opening up to more activity, some counties have experienced a rapid increase in COVID-19 infections over the past few weeks. When considering resuming ANR activities, we encourage ANR academics and staff to consider their local situation, in addition to the design and implementation of the programming.
With this background, we wanted to share a few examples of how ANR academics and staff have stepped up to devise creative solutions to implement programming, while maintaining safety.
Livestock shows and auctions – while most county or district fairs have been cancelled statewide, several fairs sought ways to complete youth livestock shows or auctions. These activities were considered critical because they contribute to the food supply and 4-H and FFA families have invested time and money in the raising of these animals and need an outlet to legally sell market-ready livestock. We have worked with county 4-H staff to review the plans for the shows and auctions, ensured approval by the local health officers, and looked for compliance with state orders. In most cases, 4-H was able to participate because these activities were designed to keep the groups as small as feasible and ensure distancing, good hygiene, and other protective measures.
Master Gardener activity – The statewide Master Gardener program has developed COVID-19 safety requirements for resuming activities in demonstration gardens, farmers markets and help desks, allowing these volunteers to gradually return to these activities, as appropriate.
Farmers markets – The Master Food Preserver program has also put out COVID-19 safety requirements for their volunteers' work at farmers markets.
UC Elkus Ranch has organized small, private farm tours of the ranch to give families a fun and educational opportunity to get outdoors and learn about environmental science, California history, animal care and agricultural programs. By keeping to small family groups and maintaining social distancing during the tours, Elkus Ranch staff have devised a way to transition their usual school tours into a unique outdoor family activity.
Hopland REC is hosting a group from the California Conservation Corps for onsite and virtual training. Because this group has been isolating already, its members represent a single cohort group, which reduces the risk of any one member introducing infection. HREC was able to plan the CCC's visit to minimize contact with any UC ANR staff and implement procedures for cleaning and disinfecting the facility before and after the group's program.
These are challenging times, but with proper planning, modification of normal practices, and a focus on safety, UC ANR is finding ways to resume some activities or embark on new methods of programming with our clientele.
Dohee Kim, advocacy liaison and media relations director at UCCE in Los Angeles, shared our COVID-19 community resources website with local legislators and supervisors. Staffers for recipients responded with comments including: "Thanks very much for passing this along, Dohee!” (Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's office); "Thanks so much, Dohee. The meal-finder map alone is incredibly useful. I will definitely be sharing that link. Food insecurity and housing insecurity are the top two concerns right now among households in our district that have experienced full or partial loss of income" (Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' office); and "Thank you for thinking of us. I will share this information with the district office to distribute properly" (Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon's office).
The Statewide IPM Program has continued to partner with the UC Master Gardener program, providing training on integrated pest management and pesticide safety. Since the shelter-in-place order, Karey Windbiel-Rojas, associate director for Urban & Community IPM, and Elaine Lander, Urban & Community IPM educator, have trained more than 130 UC Master Gardener volunteers from four counties during live, online Zoom calls. They have successfully used the breakout room feature to conduct engaging “hands-on” pesticide label reading activities, ensuring UC Master Gardeners understand how to safely use pesticides and communicate pesticide safety to their clients.
Reminders concerning Stage 2 safety standards
As you know, UC ANR issued Stage 2 protocols for resuming in-person activity at the end of May. While approximately 70% of our locations have already submitted Location Safety Plans for increased in-person activity under Stage 2, it is important to remember that the state and county governments are allowing gradual and limited resumption of on-site operations. UC ANR employees and volunteers who can still work/engage remotely should continue to do so until the governor completely lifts California's stay-at-home order and UC ANR advises it is appropriate to return to in-person operations.
Based on current state guidance concerning mass gatherings, UC ANR will continue to limit all gatherings/meetings/events to a maximum of 10 participants until further notice. Stage 3 of the state's resilience roadmap allows reopening of higher risk workplaces. Since UC ANR locations have been allowed to re-open under Stage 2, we do not anticipate major changes to our operations as portions of the state gradually move into Stage 3.
Please also be reminded that UC ANR location directors should continually refer to their county data regarding respective COVID-19 case trends and adjust their Stage 2 plans accordingly. County information is available at https://covid19.ca.gov/get-local-information/ and this link provides detailed data on trends.
Thank you for your innovation and commitment in continuing our important work during these unprecedented times and for your support of community efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus by restricting in-person contacts.
Diversity, equity and inclusion input
Last week we asked you to reflect on diversity, equity and inclusion challenges at UC ANR and invited you to share your input and ideas to inform the development of actionable strategies to address these challenges. We are implementing a variety of ways for you to share your input and will provide more information tomorrow.
UCCE Livestock Waste Management Specialist Deanne Meyer received the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award from the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis. Meyer, who has directed the environmental stewardship efforts of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) since the program's inception in 1996, is being honored for her leadership in substantially improving the sustainability of California's dairy industry through research and outreach. Congratulations, Deanne!
South Coast REC has partnered with UC Irvine's UCIFresh food pantry for students and personnel in need to harvest and donate food grown at South Coast for weekly deliveries. Here's an Instagram post on one of the highlights.
The Nutrition Policy Institute and the Berkeley Food Institute have developed resources in English and Spanish for UC Cooperative Extension advisors and county directors to provide to community members: a modifiable county template on COVID-19 Community Resources, a flyer on How to Stay Food Secure and Eat Well Despite COVID-19, and Guidance on the Safe Usage of Open Spaces During COVID-19.
Town Hall follow-up FAQs
FAQs have been developed to address questions asked during the May 28 Town Hall meeting concerning safety measures related to COVID-19, budgetary impacts and more. Please visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/safety/files/327731.pdf to read the questions and answers.
BIG congratulations! Together we raised over $88,000 in new support across the state with our second annual Big Dig Day campaign. This is an increase of more than 3x the individual giving from last year. In these unprecedented times, this show of support demonstrates the impact we're having in our communities and the value that donors place on our work.
More than $65,000 of support was designated to 51 counties. We received 773 gifts from 678 donors. Thank you for your participation—and thank you to our donors who extend our reach and help us fulfill our mission for a healthier California. Please share our thank you video with your contacts!
How coronavirus is affecting the food supply
(Spectrum News) Jennifer Rufer, May 15
…Daniel Sumner, Executive Director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, tells Inside the Issues the meat shortage is a direct result of COVID-19. Because workers are typically in such close quarters, some are getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 3 percent of workers in 100 meat processing plants have tested positive for the coronavirus, which, Sumner said, could mean the production won't be as robust as it used to be.
He said one of the bigger disruptions to the industry has been the impacts on cowboys and farmers who only provide one product.
“If you're a pig farmer, that's what you've got. The pigs are ready to go. So, everyday that you keep that hog, a 300 lb. hog, ready to go, you're losing money,” he said. “The same with cattle that are ready to go and there's no place to put them. That has shown in the price of cattle, and the price of hogs collapsing.”
The Surprising Backstory of Victory Gardens
(JSTOR Daily) Madeleine Compagnon, May 15
…Cultivating the earth as a response to moments of crisis dates back over a century, but not just as a relaxing activity. During World War I, writes Rose Hayden-Smith, a major Victory Garden movement promoted the idea of gardening as a civic duty. The goal was to increase food production on the home front, under the reasoning that the conservation of resources on the home front was key to victory on the battlefield. Garden propaganda was “striking in its use of military imagery,” according to Hayden-Smith's article. Poster campaigns often depicted “regiments” of women and children as “soldiers of the soil,” marching alongside U.S. troops.
Revised Budget Features Significant Cuts to Close $54 Billion Deficit
(AgNet West) Brian German, May 15
…In his summary describing the state's economic position moving forward, Governor Newsom highlights federal assistance as playing a sizable role in structuring California's budget. Several reductions have been proposed if the state does not receive sufficient funding from the federal government, such as a 10 percent reduction in support for the University of California system. The UC Office of the President, UC PATH, and the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) would experience a decrease of more than $34 million in funding. New initiatives that were highlighted in the January budget, including the nearly $170 million in general funds for supporting a five percent UC base increase, have been now been withdrawn. The revised budget also eliminates another $3.6 million that would have supported a five percent base increase for UC ANR.
$50 ribeye to go? Expect higher meat prices at Bay Area grocery stores and restaurants – (SFChronicle) Esther Mobley, May 14
…But while the supply of beef and pork in the U.S. has been down 10-15% in recent weeks, there is no long-term threat to the nation's meat supply, and already “it's creeping back up,” said Daniel A. Sumner, director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.
However, meat prices are also creeping up, and customers nationwide should expect their favorite cuts to be 10-20% more expensive than normal, Sumner added. In the Bay Area, the consumer price index for meat, poultry, fish and eggs rose 10.4% from February to April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 5.5% for all types of groceries.
UCCE sounds alarm on looming insect threat
(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, May 14
… “Spotted lanternfly is a major threat to apples, grapes, stone fruits, roses, landscape trees and the timber industry,” said Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension entomology and biologicals advisor in San Luis Obispo, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. “The agricultural industry and the public need to be looking out for this insect to prevent its migration and establishment in California.”
How to protect your home from disasters amplified by climate change
(Science) Mary Caperton Morton, May 13
…When it comes to climate-driven natural disasters, fires are as frightening as floods. In 2017 and 2018, California wildfires killed 147 people, burned 3.5 million acres and destroyed over 34,000 structures in two of the worst fire seasons on record. And wildfires are expected to become more severe across the West, says Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Warming temperatures are melting snow sooner and drying out vegetation so that we're already seeing longer fire seasons and more available fuel.”
…In densely built areas, the houses themselves can fuel fires. “You've probably seen aftermath photos where a fire has swept through a town and all the homes have burned, but there are still trees standing and green vegetation,” Moritz says. “That's what happens when the homes themselves are the fuel. It's not a land management problem where you should have cleared more. You can't thin the fuels because the homes were the fuel.”
Vine mealybug a menace in Monterey County
(Farm Press) Lee Allen, May 13
Larry Bettiga is urging growers to keep an eye out for vine mealybugs.
As the University of California Cooperative Extension Viticulture Farm Advisor from Monterey County observes, mealybugs are spreading leaf roll virus from site to site along the Central Coast.
Larry Bettiga is urging growers to keep an eye out for vine mealybugs.
As the University of California Cooperative Extension Viticulture Farm Advisor from Monterey County observes, mealybugs are spreading leaf roll virus from site to site along the Central Coast.
New UC studies outline costs of producing irrigated pasture in the Sierra Nevada foothills
(YubaNet) May 12, 2020
Two new studies on the costs and returns of establishing and producing irrigated pasture in the Sierra Nevada Foothills have been released by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center. Ranchers in Nevada, Placer and surrounding counties may find the cost estimates useful for planning.
USDA announces food distribution program, but will it help farmers?
(NPR Marketplace) Jasmine Garsd, May 11
…Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that starting this week, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program will begin distributing $1.2 billion in surplus food to communities across the country. Professor Daniel Sumner of the University of California, Davis, says the program aims to assist those who might not be covered by other programs, like food stamps. “They are homeless or they're not eligible in other ways. One of the attempts here is to get food to the poorest, most vulnerable people.”
Covid19 Pandemic Panic Gardening
(Food Chain Radio) Michael Olson, May 9
Guest: Missy Gable, Director University of California Master Gardener Program
4-H members embrace new communication technology
(Desert Review) Kayla Kirby, May 8
Imperial County 4-Hers have taken to the internet to connect with other members, leaders, and the community to share their experiences and current practices at home.
According to Program Director Anita Martinez, people think 4-H has gone dark after showing their animals at the fair. Martinez said that couldn't be further from the truth.
“During this time of year, everyone thinks 4-H is over because the fair is over. But this is when all of the other activities, projects, and events are going on,” said Martinez.
Vineyard Mechanization: Quality at a Distance
(Wine Business) W. Blake Gray, May 8
…"Vineyard size has increased in California due to consolidation," said S. Kaan Kurtural, associate specialist for cooperative extension viticulture at UC Davis Department of Viticulture & Enology. "Mean acreage is approaching close to 260 acres. It's hard to get to all these vineyards in a normal amount of time. The cost of labor has gone up: $15 an hour plus benefits, recently. Also, people don't want to work in vineyards anymore. And vineyards are a rural industry, not close to population centers. People have to be driven from populated areas."
California Pistachios, Walnuts: Leaf-Out Problems – What's Going On?
(Ag Fax) Katherine Jarvis-Shean, May 8
Since mid-April, many advisors up and down the Valley have been receiving calls about unusual leaf-out in pistachio and walnut. The Sacramento Valley has certainly been experiencing this.
California rice growers challenged by ammonia availability
(Farm Press) Todd Fitchette, May 7
…The good news for rice growers is they have choices. University of California rice Extension specialist Bruce Linquist compared aqua-ammonia to a granular urea fertilizer and found both performed similarly in terms of yield and nitrogen uptake. "To get these results, you must make sure that the urea is applied to a dry soil before flooding and it be managed so that it gets incorporated below the soil surface before planting (or banded as you do with aqua)," writes Linquist in the UC Rice Blog.
Calif. ag shows strains under virus, shutdowns
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, May 6
…Glenda Humiston, vice president of the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said the increased reliance on web-based working, communication and education emphasized the need for improved rural broadband internet service. The university is considering installing signal towers at its Cooperative Extension offices and facilities that growers can access for automated field work, she said.
“We've known for years that rural areas are not well served,” Humiston said. “California is a leader in emerging technology … but the reality is a big chunk of California is still underserved or unserved (by broadband).
“We are having some luck in developing public-private partnerships,” she said, “but the reality is public investment is going to be critical for this.”
Welcome to the Age of Digital Agriculture
(Growing Produce) David Eddy, May 6
Growers have traditionally relied on scouts to get the information they need to make decisions. But there are a couple of problems with that. First, the data gathered isn't always 100% reliable. Second, labor costs are rising – that is, if growers can even source the increasingly scarce labor they need.
Researchers at the Digital Agriculture Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, are trying to change that. Dr. Alireza Pourreza, a University of California Cooperative Education Specialist of Agricultural Mechanization, is leading a project to employ remote sensing for nutrient content detection in table grapes.
Potential for meat shortages may go away sooner than later
(KTVU) Tom Vacar, May 6
…To avoid meat hoarding, many grocers are limiting purchases. UC Davis Professor Daniel Sumner is a renowned agricultural economist.
"As consumers, we're probably gonna pay a little more and/or another way the stores will say, 'Well, we don't want to raise our prices too much, so you'll only buy two packages,'" said Professor Sumner.
Coronavirus has shut down numerous meat packing facilities causing a shortage. Beef, pork and chicken farmers are paying a huge price. "Those folks are in trouble because they've got big supplies that can't get processed," said Sumner. As closed plants slowly reopen to workers, it will not be business as usual.
"You give them their social distance at work, that means you have to slow down everything. You have fewer people on the line. It all goes slower," said Sumner.
To assure a reliable supply, much of the nation's wholesale meat is purchased far in advance of delivery at a price determined by the futures market. With tens of millions of layoffs, supply and demand are uncertain.
"So the slaughter people are saying, 'We're not gonna pay much for those pigs three or four months from now.' And the farmer says, 'Well, in that case, it's not worth putting a whole bunch of corn and soybeans in them,'" said Sumner.
… For now, this problem seems to be short-lived. "I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone to say, 'Well, we're running out of meat.' because we're not." said Professor Sumner.
COVID-19 exposes U.S. meat supply's dependence on a few large plants
(Marketplace) Mitchell Hartman, May 6
…We've got plenty of cattle and hogs, but there's a hold-up slaughtering and butchering them with big plants shut down, says University of California, Davis, agricultural economist Dan Sumner.
“We're processing 20% or 30% less meat than we would have done a year ago,” Sumner said.
…But Sumner says industry consolidation hasn't made meat supplies more vulnerable to the virus.
“There's no particular reason to think that it's more likely to hit a large plant outside of Sioux Falls than 20 or 30 small plants circled around Sioux Falls,” he said.
Food Availability is ‘Not the Thing to Worry About' During Pandemic
(AgnetWest) Brian German, May 4, 2020
Of all the issues that have arisen related to the coronavirus pandemic, food availability should not be a concern. Domestic agricultural production continues to progress, despite complications within the supply chain while it adjusts to market changes. However, Agricultural Economist at UC Davis Dan Sumner explained there may be concerns moving forward as it relates to consumer purchasing power and eating trends.
“Higher-end items will struggle. The ones that people eat as sort of a splurge, well there will be less of that going on. Whether that's eating out, food away from home, more people packing a sandwich rather than eating at the café, going out to dinner less often, those sorts of things,” Sumner told AgNet West. “Then on food at home; ‘less steak and more hamburger,' if I can put it that way.”
Is Integrated Pest Management the future of Agriculture?
(Fresh Fruit Portal) Thomas Grandperrin, May 5
Since its formalization as a term in the late 1960s, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a strategy that has been adopted in most parts of the world. Surendra Dara, who is an entomologist with a specialization in microbial control and IPM currently working as a University of California Cooperative Extension Advisor, is one of its most active promoters.
Food Chain Radio) Michael Olson, May 2,
Guest: Doug Fine – Dr. Ellen Bruno Cooperative Extension Specialist, UC Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics & Co-author: “The Coronavirus and The Food Supply Chain”
Farm City Newsday Friday, 05-01-20
(Farm City Newsday) Brian German, May 1
…DANIEL SUMNER: If you think of middle-income people where one of two earners in a family are out of a job, well, that really takes a hit. It doesn't mean you don't eat, but what it does do is change what you eat. Higher end items will struggle. The ones that people eat as a splurge, well, there will be less of that going on. Whether that's eating out or more people packing a sandwich rather than eating at a café or going out to dinner less often. On food at home, less steak and more hamburger. All of this will shake out into farm prices, as it always does, and no one has strong projections yet.
Safety standards for resuming in-person activity
Beginning in March, UC ANR implemented remote work protocols to protect the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, program participants and our communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to your collective efforts, we've been able to continue most of our work while supporting community efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus by restricting in-person contacts.
As you know, some County Health authorities have begun to modify local shelter-at-home orders and relax restrictions on low risk activities. To ensure that we continue to protect the health and safety of our people and our communities, we have developed UC ANR Safety Standards for Resuming In-Person Activity, Stage 2 to outline protocols for our programs and work locations. The safety standards are informed by state, county, and UC best practices, and are intended to help UCCE county directors, REC directors and statewide program leaders plan for the eventual resumption of some in-person activities. For those counties that have authorized return to in-person activity under Stage 2, UC ANR directors are now required to document their plans for in-person work activity with the ANR Emergency Response team based on the Safety Standards. Local plans may vary from county to county, and may change over time to be more or less restrictive as the impact of reopening unfolds.
It is important to remember that the State is allowing for the resumption of limited onsite operations.UC ANR employees and volunteers who can still work/engage remotely, should continue to do so until the Governor completely lifts California's stay-at-home order and UC ANR advises it is appropriate to return to in-person operations.
ANR directors contributed to the development of the Safety Standards, and we've asked them to help address your questions and concerns and to reinforce the steps being taken to provide a safe working environment. In general, ANR will be taking a slow and deliberate approach to expanding in-person activities, and most of us will continue to work remotely for the immediate future.
Work approval letters
A number of ANR employees and volunteers have continued to perform essential in-person activities while the shelter-at-home orders have been in effect. We documented these approved activities via individual letters that were issued by my office in April. Those letters are effective through May 30, 2020. The approved essential activities may continue beyond May 30; we will not be issuing updated letters. Beginning June 1, all employees approved for in-person activity will be documented through the new protocols outlined in the Safety Standards.
I'd like to thank everyone for following safety protocols, modeling best practices and providing leadership in your communities. Continuing this commitment to health and safety will help us all eventually get back to “normal” operations sooner rather than later.
The Butte Cluster Nutrition Program created a new eNewsletter to keep in touch with clientele. Sent out biweekly to teachers and other extenders, it contains SNAP-Ed approved lesson plans, recipes and activities for teachers to incorporate into their virtual classrooms.
A virtual showcase is providing Glenn County 4-Hers an opportunity to display projects that would have otherwise been entered into the fair and to receive an evaluation to further their skills. See more at http://ceglenn.ucanr.edu/Glenn_County_4-H_Program_286/County_Events/Virtual_Showcase/.
ABC30 saluted Michael Yang, Fresno County UCCE small farms and specialty crops Hmong agricultural assistant, on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Congratulations!