Small Growers Play Big Role

California Small Farms Conference logo

There’s a growing, disturbing gulf between farm and fork in the U.S., but the nation’s smaller growers are in the unique position to do something about it, says the chief of the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA).

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross gave the keynote address at the 25th California Small Farm Conference, which was held Sunday through Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency in Valencia, CA. Ross said smaller growers have the advantage — through farm stands, farmer’s markets, etc. — of having face-to-face contact with consumers.

“You are ambassadors in a way that many who have larger farms yearn for,” she told the audience.

The need for such increased communication between growers and consumers can be seen in recent events, said Ross. Food scarcity, a problem in much of the world, was a key driver of the Arab Spring.

In the U.S., where Ross said the average family spends just 6% of its income on food, compared to 17% to 20% in 1950, food — and, consequently, the farmer — is taken for granted. Not only is food affordable, but it’s largely safe, and most people aren’t involved with producing it.

Not only is the average grower near 60, but Ross said 30% of farmers are 75 or older. New blood is vital, she said, noting that her former boss, the chief of USDA, Tom Vilsack, said a few years ago he wanted to see 100,000 new farms in the U.S. in five years, and she thinks it will happen.

Organizers of the California Small Farm Conference agree. The conference’s theme: “Cultivating the Next Generation.”

Next year’s conference will be held March 10-12 in Fresno, CA.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
cracked earth
Fruits
September 24, 2016
Water Woes Continue In Northeast
Hydrologist says this year’s conditions are bad but are part of a typical water cycle. Read More
Spring Valley Farms blueberries near Umatilla, FL
Berries
September 24, 2016
Time Is Now For Florida Blueberry Growers To Dig In
Coming off a challenging season, industry players must continue to adapt to curveballs thrown by Mother Nature and market forces. Read More
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Apples & Pears
September 23, 2016
USDA Approves Nonregulated Status For ‘Arctic Fuji’
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announces an extension of deregulation to a line of genetically engineered (GE) Read More
Some of Almar Orchard's organic apples were on display outside the farm market at the Scrumpy Skedaddle. After finishing the race, runners were offered their choice of several varieties of fresh apples. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)
Apples & Pears
September 23, 2016
Growers Encouraged To Monitor Fruit Temperature Going Into Storage
With early harvests, Randy Beaudry of Michigan State University says temperature monitoring is a must. Read More
Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS
Berries
September 23, 2016
What U.S. Consumers Think About Florida Blueberries
For growers, the good news is that shoppers like what you are serving up. But more can be done to whet appetites. Read More
Photo credit: USDA
Fruits
September 23, 2016
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Pressure Increasing
Scout and monitor your orchard to determine if control is needed, says Penn State University Extension. Read More
water droplet_generic
Citrus
September 22, 2016
Senate Committee Report Says WOTUS Reforms Needed
A report issued from the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee says federal agencies overreach their authority to regulate Read More
Spring Valley Farms in Umatilla, FL, from a drone
Citrus
September 22, 2016
Citrus Tax Incentive A Big Step Closer To Fruition
U.S. House vote ends in landslide of support for emergency legislation, which allows growers to immediately expense the cost of planting new trees. Read More
Action shot of an automated strawberry picker from Harvest CROO
Berries
September 22, 2016
Investors Clamoring For Automated Strawberry Picking Technology
Naturipe joins growing list of backers in the labor-saving vision and mission of ag-tech startup. Read More
Closeup of a managed bee hive next to a blueberry field
Berries
September 22, 2016
It Behooves Blueberry Growers To Protect Pollinators
Placing priority on bee care best practices will ensure sweet success for your crop. Read More
The Latest
Fruits
September 24, 2016
Water Woes Continue In Northeast
Hydrologist says this year’s conditions are bad but are part of a typical water cycle. Read More
Berries
September 24, 2016
Time Is Now For Florida Blueberry Grower…
Coming off a challenging season, industry players must continue to adapt to curveballs thrown by Mother Nature and market forces. Read More
Apples & Pears
September 23, 2016
USDA Approves Nonregulated Status For ‘A…
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announces an extension of deregulation to a line of genetically engineered (GE) Read More
Apples & Pears
September 23, 2016
Growers Encouraged To Monitor Fruit Temp…
With early harvests, Randy Beaudry of Michigan State University says temperature monitoring is a must. Read More
Berries
September 23, 2016
What U.S. Consumers Think About Florida …
For growers, the good news is that shoppers like what you are serving up. But more can be done to whet appetites. Read More
Fruits
September 23, 2016
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Pressure Incr…
Scout and monitor your orchard to determine if control is needed, says Penn State University Extension. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2016
Senate Committee Report Says WOTUS Refor…
A report issued from the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee says federal agencies overreach their authority to regulate Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2016
Citrus Tax Incentive A Big Step Closer T…
U.S. House vote ends in landslide of support for emergency legislation, which allows growers to immediately expense the cost of planting new trees. Read More
Berries
September 22, 2016
Investors Clamoring For Automated Strawb…
Naturipe joins growing list of backers in the labor-saving vision and mission of ag-tech startup. Read More
Berries
September 22, 2016
It Behooves Blueberry Growers To Protect…
Placing priority on bee care best practices will ensure sweet success for your crop. Read More
Tomatoes
September 21, 2016
Noxious Weed Detected In Processing Toma…
The infested field was placed on hold and appropriate safeguards were implemented to prevent the movement of seeds on equipment and personnel leaving the field. Read More
Cucurbits
September 21, 2016
Don’t Let White Grubs Gobble Up Yo…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this pest. Read More
Berries
September 20, 2016
How To Track Irrigation: Keep Your Eye O…
Time-tested, color-appropriate method for following water movement in plasticulture veggie crops could prove fruitful in blueberries, too. Read More
Citrus
September 20, 2016
Preventative Control Rules Now In Effect…
Facilities employing 500 or more people must meet new standards. Read More
Citrus
September 20, 2016
EPA Says Glyphosate Not Likely To Cause …
Paper says herbicide not carcinogenic at doses relevant for human health risk assessment. Read More
Farm Management
September 20, 2016
Study Says Produce Imports Good For Texa…
Imports from Mexico would add jobs in the Lone Star State. Read More
Varieties & Rootstocks
September 20, 2016
Is Citrus Ready To Break Out Of The Bubb…
Opportunity for enhanced data collection process at variety display days could give breeding and research teams a leg up in vetting sensible selections. Read More
Farm Management
September 19, 2016
PMA, United Fresh Establish Joint Workin…
The joint effort will result in greater efficiency and a more meaningful impact within the fresh produce industry. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]