Julianna Barbassa of the Associated Press in San Francisco went to UC ANR specialist Howard Rosenberg for comment on a story about an growing need for ag employers to be sure their employees are in the U.S. legally. The story was published yesterday on Ontario's dailybulletin.com and other media outlets.
"Growers are painting a bleak picture of their industry under new federal regulations that pressure employers to fire illegal immigrants," Barbassa wrote in the story.
Rosenberg, farm labor management and policy specialist at the UC Berkeley Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, manages a Web page that tracks farm employee news, policies and laws.
He told AP that the Bush administration's pronouncement doesn't change the law, it just adds a promise of enforcement that alters the odds of the gamble farmers take whenever they hire a new worker.
It's long been illegal to hire and retain anyone not authorized to work in the United States. Farmers take their chances that documents presented by the 1.6 million farmworkers hired around the country are valid or won't be closely examined, Barbassa paraphrased Rosenberg.
"The risks (of hiring illegal immigrants) have been getting higher, and if the pronouncements that accompanied this rule bear out, then they become higher yet," Rosenberg is quoted in the article.
A number of Master Gardener programs in California provide content to local newspapers on current, local gardening issues. This time of year, with summer winding down and the fall planting season looming ahead, the Master Garderners' advice is particularly helpful.
Today's Visalia Times-Delta includes a column from UCCE Master Gardener coordinator Michele LeStrange about creating a fire-safe zone around one's countryside or foothill home.
"The home-defense zone is within 30 feet of the house. The property-reduced fuel zone lies 30 to 100 feet from the house. Larger zones are needed when your home is on a steep slope or in a windswept exposure," according to the story.
Master Gardener Kathy Stoner wrote a column for today's St. Helena Star about water conservation.
"In California, we use more water on our landscapes than we do for showers, laundry and all other uses combined. A homeowner who wants to use water more responsibly can employ myriad techniques and strategies and still have a pleasant and colorful garden," she wrote, before giving a series of water conservation suggestions.
Writer Julie Eich plugs the Master Gardeners in her story on insects for mymotherlode.com.
"We gardeners are by nature control freaks, determined to impose our will on our gardens," Eich writes. "We're always messing around; rarely content to leave nature alone, we scurry here and there, staking, weeding, spraying, watering, fertilizing."
She tells readers, "If you need help identifying the problem or the treatment, call the Master Gardener office at 209-533-9696 or visit University of California's Pest Notes: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edumegarden.html."
Joan Swenson writes in a column for the Bakersfield Californian about new Master Gardener classes to be offered in Kern County.
"The instructor is John Karlik, who will cover the science and culture of landscape and garden plants. The classes were formerly offered through Bakersfield College, but now are taught as an educational outreach for the extension service," the story says.
UCCE Master Gardeners
Government agencies are continuing their efforts to eradicate the light brown apple moth in California, according to media reports.
A story in today's Salinas Californian says three airplanes will spray moth pheromones for up to three nights over northern, coastal Monterey County in an effort to stop male light brown apple moths from finding mates
The Vallejo Times Herald reported yesterday that USDA has announced that it will provide $15 million to help fund the fight to rid the state of the pest.
In the meantime, the Central Valley Business News used a press release in it's Aug. 14 edition by Stephanie Klunk of the UC IPM program with "all you ever wanted to know about light brown apple moth." The story refers readers to a new brochure produced by the IPM program, "Light Brown Apple Moth in California: Quarantine, Management, and Potential Impacts," which is available free online.
I’m back from vacation and ready to resume blogging about ANR in the news. It will take me some time to review the news of the past few weeks, but I happened to see a story yesterday in the Madera Tribune about UC Master Gardeners.
Madera Tribune columnist Ramona Frances published a column about changes in the Fresno County Master Gardener program’s budget and speculated on any effect that might have on the Madera County program.
I checked with Fresno County UC Cooperative Extension director Jeanette Sutherlin to make sure the column was accurate. Some of the details, she said, were not reported correctly. Sutherlin said the facts are as follows:
- The half-time Master Gardener coordinator position in the Fresno County UCCE office, currently held by Leslie Feathers, will no longer be funded by Fresno County.
- Funds in a UC educational trust fund held by the County of Fresno and a generous donation from the non-profit Master Gardener Association will enable the continuation of Feather’s half-time position.
- This arrangement is now settled for one fiscal year.
The director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, Dan Sumner, has become something of a regular in the news. When media call me for an ag expert, I frequently refer them to Sumner, since he is readily available and willing to supply informed comment.
Here are some examples of recent Sumner quotes:
In an AP story just this week, Sumner commented about California growers who are cashing in on China's increasing wealth and growing hunger for table grapes, almonds and other high-quality fruits and nuts that don't grow as well in the Asian nation. "There's a big enough group of people there that don't want just the cheapest; they want high-quality stuff, and they're willing to pay more for it," Sumner is quoted.
In a Reuters story, the reporter refers to a book Sumner and a colleague wrote about the Farm Bill. "There is little economic rationale for the billions of dollars the US government pays out each year in farm subsidies, experts assert in a new book pressing Congress for more ambitious reform to farm policy," the article says.
In a Sacramento Bee story, Sumner commented on specialty crop and organic farmers complaints that a current version of the farm bill shortchanges the fastest-growing sector of U.S. agriculture. "This is a last gasp, or last grasp, to try to maintain the commodity programs," Sumner is quoted.
In a Fresno Bee story, about aging farmers, Sumner said he thinks ado over aging is unmerited. "We have all been getting older," he was quoted, referring to increased life expectancy.
To my loyal reader(s), I will be on vacation for the next two weeks and unable to blog about UC ANR news. I'll play catch up when I return on Aug. 13.