Ag Circle Winter 2018

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cal poly, san luis obispo | winter 2018

Inside ROTC

Leadership for the future

WHALEBIRD KOMBUCHA Dive Deeper. Fly Higher.

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elcome to the winter 2018 edition of Ag Circle! The Brock Center staff is so excited to bring you our team's first magazine. In this issue, we cover campus, local and industry stories, including information on Cal Poly's Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department to the importance of sound research in the agriculture industry. Our team, along with student writers and photographers, focused on capturing meaningful images and engaging topics. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Happy reading!

Scott Middlecamp, Chloe Fowler, Emma Morris, Nathan Brickman, Felipe Vallejo and Elise Regusci


Ag Circle is a student-produced magazine published twice a year. Student volunteers write the articles and contribute photography.

James Broaddus

Taylor Chalstrom

Karlye Clement

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Page 6

Page 26

Tatum Holdener

Halley Lauchland

Rachel Marquardt

Mallory Mattos

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Page 36

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Page 14

Bekah Reed

Madalyn Souza

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Roman Waskiewicz

Shelby Watts

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Kylan Morris Page 8

Jane Wood Page 10

Volume 36, Issue 1, Winter 2018 Published by the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication California Polytechnic State University Brock Center for Agricultural Communication 1 Grand Avenue, Building 10, Room 235 San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 @brockcenter @brockcenter @AgCircleMag Editor-in-Chief Emma Morris Faculty Adviser Megan Silcott Associate Editors



Chloe Fowler Felipe Vallejo Elise Regusci Nathan Brickman Scott Middlecamp

James Broaddus, Taylor Chalstrom, Karlye Clement, Chloe Fowler, Tatum Holdener, Halley Lauchland, Rachel Marquardt, Mallory Mattos, Emma Morris, Kylan Morris, Bekah Reed, Elise Regusci, Madalyn Souza, Felipe Vallejo, Roman Waskiewicz, Shelby Watts, Jane Wood Photographers Cover photo by Scott Middlecamp

Camarillo Ranch, Taylor Chalstrom, Karlye Clement, Mary Heffernan, Professor Gerald Holmes, Horticulture and Crop Science Department, Rachel LaFranchi, Halley Lauchland, Rachel Marquardt, Mallory Mattos, Scott Middlecamp, Emma Morris, Kylan Morris, Bekah Reed, Erica Sanko, Madalyn Souza, Felipe Vallejo, Roman Waskicwicz, Whalebird Kombucha, UC ANR IREC, Young America’s Foundation Graphic Designers Emma Morris Felipe Vallejo (Doggy Days, Whalebird Kombucha) Submissions to Ag Circle are welcome. Permission to Reproduce All material in this issue may be reproduced with the expressed written permission of the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication. The contents of Ag Circle are generated by students, and do not reflect the opinions of California Polytechnic State University, its administration or faculty. Printed by PRP Companies.

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Scott Middlecamp Felipe Vallejo

Mallory Mattos

Contents CAMPUS BUZZ 6



LIVE. PROTECT. EXPLORE. Experience Industry Management Department




DOGGY DAYS AT PRADO Community service with four paws





CHOOSE YOUR FRUIT San Luis Obispo County U-picks


CHOCOLATE The sweetest industry 4 | Winter 2018

WHALEBIRD KOMBUCHA Dive Deeper. Fly Higher.

FARM FRESH BOWLS Fast food with a healthy touch


NOT YOUR EVERYDAY PRODUCE Specialty crops find their niche

Halley Lauchland

Emma Morris









FINANCING REGULATION Methane digesters and the dairy industry

REAGAN RANCH The Western White House

A LEGACY LIVES ON The Camarillo Ranch

RESEARCH IN AGRICULTURE Defining the future of food

CALIFORNIA RAM SALE Historical auction advances industry

THE FUTURE OF FRESH FOOD DELIVERY A box of meat at your door

THE POLITICS OF LABOR Ag Act moves through Congress

SONOMA COUNTY TACKLES DISASTER Agriculture and Mother Nature

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Leadership for the Future

ROTC Story and photos by Taylor Chalstrom


hree days a week on Cal Poly’s campus, a group of students participate in physical training exercises at the crack of dawn. These dedicated young men and women, wearing shirts with the word ‘ARMY’ across the front, are out jogging, planking, doing pull-ups and performing other strenuous physical activities. This, however, is just the start of their day. These students also spend part of their day practicing, applying and learning the leadership skills necessary to enter military service or to simply excel in life. These students represent Cal Poly’s coveted Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, or ROTC.

An affiliate of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES), Cal Poly’s ROTC program began in the 1950s and has provided the education and leadership skills necessary to enter more than 1,300 Officers into the United States Military.

Logan Murray, a junior architecture major, is in his second year of the ROTC program. He said he was familiar with the leadership opportunities through ROTC before coming to Cal Poly. “I got a lot of help from ROTC staff at Cal Poly in getting me set up to come here,” Murray said. “I knew that I wanted to do this in high school, so it was pretty easy to set myself up. I get a lot of leadership opportunities here, and it really sets me up nicely for life.” Cal Poly’s ROTC staff members are

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referred to as “cadre,” meaning core, special or small group of people with specific training. The cadre at Cal Poly dedicate themselves to instilling the university’s Learn by Doing motto in order to successfully teach students leadership skills. Out of the 22 courses ROTC offers, 15 consist of various forms of handson or in-class leadership training. Some leadership classes have labs designed to replicate scenarios where students plan trainings on matters such as sexual harassment and assault prevention, identification and prevention of suicide, and ceremonial drills. Cadre assist with this training, but the bulk of the work is carried out by students to give them insight to important aspects of leadership.

Other leadership exercises focus on actual military maneuvers, which are practiced in order to “destroy an objective,” meaning to successfully defeat an enemy of war. The leadership aspect of the program’s training for these soldiersto-be is pertinent to their success both inside and outside the service. Whether they are entering active duty, the reserves or the National Guard, students must have the proper leadership training to effectively serve and possibly lead a larger group of soldiers. “So far, I’ve definitely picked up on the program's leadership values,” Murray said. “You surround yourself with a lot of great models. The cadre that have already been in the Army for a number of years give great insight on what the service is going to be like.” Matthew Ferrar, assistant professor of military science and a part of Cal Poly's ROTC cadre, highlights leadership training in


the military. “Leadership is definitely the cornerstone of what we teach and emphasize in the Army,” Ferrar said. “We want to build a team culture because leadership is a team aspect. This is the kind of culture that we want to create in the Army, one where everyone feels accountable to each other.” Cal Poly’s cadre aim to prepare students as effectively as possible for the service in order to ensure all-around success. Since a majority of students tend to go into active duty, cadre must make sure these students will be ready for what is to come, including accountability for each other. “People’s lives depend on this leadership training,” Ferrar said. “If they come home safely, then that’s on you. If they don’t, then that’s also on you.” When ROTC students enter active service, they are commissioned as second lieutenants and can sometimes lead platoons from 16 to 44 soldiers at a time. The success of

the program is crucial to the success of the students later on, Ferrar said. People often assume these students will be going straight to the front lines to fight once they enter the service, but according to Ferrar, this isn’t usually the case. “Most of the students here don’t actually pursue combat on the front lines, given that there's a lot of

class ended up going into field artillery, engineering, signal and military intelligence. Engineering in the military can be mechanical, industrial, electrical or even civil, all of which are courses and programs offered at Cal Poly. “Signal” involves communications experience, which can also be obtained from Cal Poly. For many students in the program, entering a branch that pertains to their major seems to be a perfect mix of military training and higher education. Ultimately, Cal Poly’s ROTC program aims to set students up for success no matter which path they choose. These students are the future of America’s military and civil service. The leadership skills they learn through ROTC are pivotal in shaping them into successful soldiers and leaders. To learn more about Cal Poly ROTC, visit

"We want to build a team culture because leadership is a team aspect." - Matthew Ferrar

demand for other jobs in the military and that students have different interests,” Ferrar said. “Additionally, infantry is one of the hardest branches of military to enter. A lot of people in the program want to go into branches of the military that pertain to their majors.” According to Ferrar, students in the 2016 graduating ROTC

ROTC students training on Cal Poly's campus before classes begin

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Live. Protect. Explore.

Experience Industry Management Department Story and photos by Kylan Morris


sk around local hiking trails, beaches and hammock spots, and it becomes apparent Cal Poly students find a niche area to study and feed their adventureseeking spirits. The students who flock to this part of California’s coast embrace nature’s beauty and relish their second home of San Luis Obispo. These same people recognize opportunities for growth in industries that simultaneously challenge and inspire them. These students allow their passions to drive them in helping restore the world, one wellplanned event at a time. This unique breed of learners call the Cal Poly Experience Industry Management (EIM) Department their learning ground. The EIM Department puts Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy into action by adding to the university’s motto with: “Live. Protect. Explore.” EIM's approximately 300 students are refining their skill sets and abilities to become even more valuable to industry employers. With a minimum requirement of 1,000 volunteer or work hours needed before graduation, EIM students have ample opportunity to fine tune their talents before

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officially embarking on their careers. EIM students say one of the most valuable components of their future success is the dedicated professors and faculty. Marni Goldenberg, Ph. D, wears many hats within her role in the EIM department, including researcher, respected graduate coordinator and beloved professor. Goldenberg’s outlook on EIM’s live, protect, explore tag line is simple.

Nicole Hoadley at the MINDBODY Conference

“That’s what we should all be doing. We should be living, we should be protecting our natural resources in our area and everything around us, and then we go out and explore,” Goldenberg said. She noted that one of EIM’s course highlights is RPTA 325: Leadership in Outdoor Experiences class. “Students have to plan and implement the entire weekend trip, everything from risk management and teaching topics to

food to equipment,” Goldenberg said. This weekend getaway destination takes place at an extension of Cal Poly, Swanton Pacific Ranch, further merging the philosophy of Learn by Doing and live, protect, explore. The EIM Department holds an expectation of each EIM student “to facilitate life-enhancing experiences for individuals, communities and the global society.” There are three concentrations associated with an EIM degree from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) that enable students to focus on one particular area of interest. These include event planning and experience management, sport and recreation experience management, and tourism, hospitality and destination management. Emily Haworth is a senior EIM student. She has a double concentration in Event Planning and Experience Management combined with tourism, hospitality and destination management and has witnessed the incredible impact of an EIM education firsthand. Haworth said she has wholeheartedly focused her love and aspirations toward the music industry. After years of being a singer and songwriter, Emily decided


to put her music to the ultimate test in her final year at Cal Poly, setting her sights toward a professional career as a singer. She performs at hot spots all around San Luis Obispo, including SLO Brew and Blast Taproom. Haworth said, “When I go to concerts or music events, I feel so motivated and happy. I want to make other people feel that way, either by performing my own music or planning a super awesome festival or event.” Haworth said her - Emily interactions with the EIM Department helped push her to further success. "The students in our major are really, really close," Haworth said. I know all of the professors and have been lucky enough to meet so many other cool people along the way.” She said a favorite memory came from coursework in RPTA 420: Festival and Event Management class. The students were given the responsibility of contributing to an organization called “Send Me on Vacation” that works to send breast cancer survivors on a much-needed vacation after rigorous treatment. Haworth said she has deep sentiments stemming from her help in coordinating trip details and setting up the organization’s social media. By cultivating strong professorto-student relationships, Haworth earned the opportunity to intern with part-time EIM faculty member Amber Karson at her company Karson-Butler Events over the wedding season this past summer. “I feel the connections I have made through my professors will land me where I will fit best in the industry," Haworth said. EIM students are often encouraged to become as engaged between coursework and extracurricular opportunities as their schedules allow. This tactic served senior event

planning and experience management concentration Nicole Hoadley well. As the 2017-18 vice president of Cal Poly’s Recreation, Parks, and Leisure National Honorary Society,

members of the Salesforce marketing team. “Attending a professional development trip such as Dreamforce leaves me excited for my future career and inspires me to work hard in planning successful corporate conferences that can have an impact on the world we live in,” Hoadley said. She added being part of the EIM Department proved to be the perfect educational stepping stone in the advancement of her professional career. After a few short months of joining MINDBODY as an event intern, she accepted a fullbelow) time position as events coordinator on MINDBODY’s marketing team. Live, protect, explore is more than just a statement for the EIM Department and its students. As Goldenberg, Haworth, and Hoadley explained, EIM brings together the Cal Poly faculty, student body, and surrounding communities. From acceptance, to graduation and then entering into professional careers, EIM students said they feel they have the essential tools and resources to succeed in the industry of their dreams.

“The students in our major are really, really close. I know all of the professors and have been lucky enough to meet so many other cool people along the way.” Haworth, EIM senior (pictured also known as Rho Phi Lambda, Hoadley had her fair share of exposure to the event planning industry. Since her sophomore year at Cal Poly, Rho Phi Lambda enabled Hoadley to take numerous professional development trips. Most recently, the club traveled to San Francisco to attend one of the largest technology conferences in the world, Dreamforce. “Dreamforce is definitely the top of the top for large, corporate conferences and it was incredible to see such a large-scale event like this in person,” Hoadley said. The officers of Rho Phi Lambda planned the visit, including a guided tour through two different expo halls and a question-andanswer period with two

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Choose Your Fruit San Luis Obispo County U-picks

Story by Jane Wood Photos provided by Scott Middlecamp and Horticulture and Crop Science Department


ove over farmers markets and make room for more U-picks. Communitycentered farmers markets remain popular in San Luis Obispo County and more U-pick-style farms are dotting local maps. One such spot is the Rutiz Family Farms just outside 10 | Winter 2018

Arroyo Grande, and another can be found right on campus at the Cal Poly Crops Unit. The Learn by Doing motto is prevalent throughout Cal Poly and known well beyond its borders. Students, faculty and the general public are encouraged to come year-round to harvest seasonal fruit

for their own consumption. Apples, peaches, apricots, plums, oranges and Satsuma mandarins are available as U-pick fruits during specific times. The Cal Poly Farm Stand is known for having fresh and moderately priced produce for students and the local community. Anywhere from 20 to 50


people can be found picking their own fruit from Cal Poly’s orchards during U-pick events. Kyle Scheuermann is the student orchard assistant and a two-year veteran of the Cal Poly U-pick program. He’s majoring in agricultural business and minoring in fruit science. Scheuermann recalled one Satsuma mandarin U-pick — the most popular U-pick of the year — that netted more then $2,000 in profits. “Folks have been coming for 20 to 30 years…it’s mostly families that roll through, and they like to tell us that they’ve been picking since before we were born,” Scheuermann said. Seasonally the Crops Unit hosts weekly U-pick days for students, faculty and locals to come and select some of their favorites right off the stem. At the Cal Poly U-pick orchards, most of the produce costs substantially less than at the Farm Stand right across the street. Scheuermann explained Cal Poly U-picks’ success is because of its location. “The interesting thing about U-picks is that you have to be near a town. You have to be near people, and that is why Cal Poly’s U-picks work well.” At Rutiz Family Farms near

Arroyo Grande, customers can find U-pick strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Owners Jerry and Maureen Rutiz have been offering U-pick berries for the past 12 years. Even though they barely break even with their U-pick system, Jerry Rutiz

at their fruit stand. As mentioned in their mission statement, the Rutiz family provides their produce to help "redefine the relationship between the community and the farmer.” For the local community of students, faculty and families, U-picks are often a financially savvy decision for bringing fresh produce home. Not only do U-picks bring the community closer to their local farmer, they also bring out the curiosity of the general public. Scheuermann said, “People want to see where their food comes from, and it is just kind of fun for them to go out and do it themselves.”

“It's about redefining a relationship between a community and the farmer.” -Jerry Rutiz

believes people are “coming out for the U-pick experience rather than to fill their freezer full of berries. Our customers are coming to us for the produce that we have, and the U-pick is just another avenue to make the connection with our customer.” For the 35-year-old family farm, the Rutiz family said it isn’t about earning a large profit; they are just one farm among many that believe in educating and encouraging the public to be a part of agriculture in their community. Along with a U-pick program, the Rutiz Family Farms has a "harvest box" that is packed with seasonal fruits and vegetables and is available for purchase every Friday

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CHOCOLATE By James Broaddus


The sweetest industry

Rich History rom Halloween candy to Valentine’s Day gifts, chocolate is a part of most major holidays in the United States. But most consumers are unaware of this sweet treat's rich history. Enjoyed by consumers aged five to ninety-five, most are unaware of how the confection became so popular. Chocolate comes from the cocoa tree, or Theobroma cacao, meaning “food of the gods.” Cocoa trees originate in South and Central American rainforests. The trees, which closely resemble apple trees, produce seed pods when they are three to four years old. Trees bear two harvests of cocoa pods per year. The pods are roughly six inches to a foot long, weigh a little over a pound, and closely resemble a football in shape. Within each pod, there are 20 to 40 cocoa beans covered with a white pulp. Following harvest, the cocoa pods

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are split open and the bean/pulp mixture is added to fermentation tanks. This process turns the pulp into liquid, allowing separation from the beans over the course of several days. After fermentation, the beans are dried, inspected and bagged. The dried beans are split to remove the internal nib – the part of the bean that is ground into cocoa powder. This cocoa powder, unlike the final creamy chocolate product, is unsweetened and bitter. Groups in the Americas drank chocolate as a bitter fermented drink. In the early 1500s, the conquistadors brought the bitter drink back to Spain. With the addition of sweeteners like honey and cane sugar, it spread throughout all of Europe by the late 17th century. According to the U.S. Department of

Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. imports its cocoa beans from Cote D'Ivoire, Ecuador and Ghana. Fully processed chocolate primarily comes from Canada, Mexico and Germany. The USDA estimates the global retail market for chocolate candy was $143 billion in 2017. Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo Chocolate Scenes Whenever Cal Poly Mustangs walk into the bookstore, looking past the stacks of books and T-shirts, they see Cal Poly-made food items, including Cal Poly Chocolate. The Cal Poly chocolate line was created in 2000 as the brainchild of Professor Tom Neuhaus, a member at the time of the Food Science and Nutrition Department, while he was simultaneously completing his doctorate at Cornell University. Neuhaus said his love of chocolate began when his aunt and uncle from Germany sent frequent shipments of the


German treat — a “thank you” for his family’s supplies after bombings during World War II. As an undergraduate, Neuhaus traveled throughout France and Austria, deepening his interest in the craft of chocolate making. While at Cornell, Neuhaus became familiar with Jacques Torres, better known as “Mr. Chocolate,” a leading chocolatier. While interviewing for a lecturer position at Cal Poly, Neuhaus said he was intrigued by the Learn by Doing method, and the Cal Poly Chocolate program was born. The Cal Poly Chocolate program started as an entrepreneurial enterprise, designed to teach students and Neuhaus how to run a business based on the chocolate industry. The project soon turned into a course, including a lab and a lecture covering the chocolate industry. Neuhaus began learning about the chocolate community worldwide. He first ventured to a cocoa-producing region of Africa in 2003 after visiting the University of Ghana. While there, Neuhaus attended a seminar series on chocolate production. “Over 75 percent of the world’s cocoa is from Africa, and most consumers don’t know anything about it,” said Neuhaus. “My class strove to educate students a little bit more about the product.”

Over the following decade, his trips to Africa continued every summer. Eventually students also joined the journeys. These trips allowed Neuhaus to expand his classroom lectures, providing firsthand experiences and pictures. “I always enjoyed learning about different cultures and languages,” Neuhaus said, “Taking students with me allowed their education to flourish outside the classroom.” In 2006, Neuhaus founded Project Hope and Fairness, a local volunteer organization based in San Luis Obispo. The volunteer organization was created to assist African cocoa farmers receive larger profits in the world cocoa trade. Despite Neuhaus’ retirement from Cal Poly in 2015, Cal Poly chocolate production continues today. Outside

chocolates in the upstairs kitchen to sell locally. Neuhaus then opened San Luis Fine Chocolates down the street from the restaurant, now named Mama Ganache. In 2018, Neuhaus plans to move to France to be closer to the region his organization supports. Today, the Cal Poly chocolate line includes nine different flavors: milk chocolate, peanut butter crunch, pumpkin spice, dark chocolate, coffee crunch, spicy cayenne, zesty orange, raspberry crisp and peppermint crunch. According to Operations Manager Molly Lear, the program produces up to 35,000 bars each year, with up to seven students working on the project at any given time. Lear said the milk and dark chocolate options are the most popular being sold in Campus Market, the bookstore, Village Market, the meat processing center, and the Poly Plant Shop. Offcampus venues selling Cal Poly chocolate includes Cal Poly Downtown, Vons, Neuhaus Crushed Grape and the Mercantile, among others.

"Over 75 percent of the world's cocoa is from Africa, and most consumers don't know about it." -Tom

of Cal Poly, Neuhaus created his own chocolate-based business. After opening Splash Cafe with his sister on Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo, he began to make specialty

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Translating Technology to Efficiency Precision in the field

Story and photos by Mallory Mattos


n early American history, five acres fed one person. Today, as little as one-third of an acre feeds one person. The world's population is growing each day, and farmers are searching for ways to maintain the food supply as demand grows. Technology and farming innovations solve many of the problems facing American farmers today. “Technology is coming at us fast and furious,” said Craig Reade, managing partner of Betteravia Farms and Bonipak Produce. Reade explained the companies’ technical team relies on new technologies due to labor shortages, and the staff carefully manage the innovation of their farming techniques. In recent years, a labor shortage pushed the company to take immediate action to

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maintain production. Betteravia Farms and Bonipak Produce are partnered companies. Known for fresh produce, including iceberg and romaine lettuce and other leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and strawberries, the farms are no stranger to labor-intensive crops. These crops must be harvested in a timely manner, which requires adequate labor. According to Reade, farmers can “make the [labor] difference up with technology.” New technology, such as automated seed transplanting systems, allow the farms to keep producing at normal rates and even exceed previous rates in some cases. The innovative machinery performs other services such as weeding, which can be done

electronically. The weeding machine uses sensors to differentiate crops from weeds. Farms also utilize drone technology to map soil, analyze seeds and predict harvest estimates. While these are all very different tasks, implementing today’s digital technology on the farm can take care of many aspects of production that would normally require manual labor. Betteravia Farms partners with outside companies that develop these innovations in-house and then take them to other farms once they are perfected. Without this partnership, many farms would not be able to


keep up with the consumers' high demand. Western Growers (Reade serves as 2018 chairman) and Betteravia Farms work together to improve growing techniques. With strawberries, for example, the two groups identified and implemented the use of drones and other testing methods to reduce the need for workers in the fields. While decreasing the need for labor,

these methods simultaneously increased efficient production. Western Growers conducts the research through data collection and then the farms dictate what steps, methods or changes need to take place, such as shifting work crews to different tasks. Reade noted that it is better to reallocate workers than to not have enough. This results in maximum production with minimum labor. The Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT) in Salinas, California, was developed in December 2015. The facility’s mission is to “develop innovative solutions to the biggest challenges facing agriculture,” states Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning, Science and

Technology Hank Giclas. As is evident with Betteravia Farms and Bonipak, Western Growers is a key player in precision agriculture. Its program is dedicated to the success of farming and the agricultural industry as a whole. Giclas explained they’ve created learning environments that allow farmers and startups to collaborate on new ideas from development to production. Through various classes and workshops, “startups can work with farmers to build and refine their technologies,” Giclas stated. These startups are “agtech” companies looking for ways to incorporate their ideas into the everyday labor supply farmers need. Since Western Growers joined the two parties, precision agriculture is benefiting at a rapid pace. “Mechanized labor will create highpaying jobs and make tasks in the fields less labor intensive,” Giclas said. Although the need for physical labor is declining, there is now an increasing demand for highly skilled technicians. Operating tasks now require people to troubleshoot and solve problems with the technology being used. Agriculture is evolving as technology progresses within the

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industry. With the collaboration of farmers, researchers and startups, the age of mechanized farming is only beginning. Farmers have always been innovative and resourceful, as seen throughout history. But today’s data access and farming techniques are taking the agriculture industry into the future.

Craig Reade in a Betteravia/Bonipak field

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Cal Poly students volunteering at Doggy Days


Doggy Days at Prado Community service with four paws

Story and photos by Bekah Reed


al Poly's Learn by Doing methodology doesn't just take place in the classroom or laboratory. It reaches beyond the campus, often positively affecting the lives of others. Students in the Animal Science Department (ASCI) are no exception to this tradition. Cal Poly students Sasha Greenlee (Animal Science '17). and Megan Parry (Animal Science '16) started Doggy Days at Prado in 2014. Held at the Prado Day Center, a homeless shelter in San Luis Obispo, the event is a veterinary clinic enterprise for Cal Poly students to serve the community. Doggy Days at Prado is a component of Animal Science 290: Animal Production and Management Enterprise, taught by Jennifer Staniec, DVM. Staniec joined the Animal Science Department in 2014 after spending 16 years as a veterinarian in San Luis Obispo. “Doggy Days at Prado provides

free general care for pets of homeless people in the San Luis Obispo area,” Staniec said. General care can include vaccination, deworming, flea and tick prevention, allergy treatment, nail trimming, ear cleanings and baths. And when

with Doggy Days at Prado. The only prerequisite is the course ASCI 112: Principles of Animal Science. Volunteers must be willing to work the required hours for this class: six hours per week in addition to class time, lab time and mandatory clinic hours. "Students gain a variety of skills from participating," Staniec said. "Students are able to provide a valuable community service while learning the entire clinic process of completing paperwork, managing inventory, purchasing product, understanding why the products are used, and DVM learning general care practices and how to administer vaccines. They also gain a great resume booster." Staniec guides and advises the students but enables them to Learn by Doing during Doggy Days at Prado. Students are encouraged to do as much as possible, and it is ensured they have the opportunity to experience every part of the process

“Doggy Days at Prado provides free general care for pets of homeless people in the San Luis Obispo area.” -Jennifer Staniec, the unexpected occurs, surgery is offered at a discounted rate. If drastic measures such as euthanasia are deemed necessary, Staniec and her students develop an action plan with the owner and consider what is best for the animal. Students of any major are welcome to participate in ASCI 290 and help

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by having them rotate from processing paperwork and trimming nails to administering rabies vaccinations. Each animal is seen by Staniec before they leave Prado to ensure all of the procedures were properly completed. Animal science sophomore Isabella Marchionne said she was happy to be a part of the class. “I think it is a really great program to give back to the community, and I was happy to contribute to that.” Marchionne said that while the students were able to do a lot to help, certain procedures just couldn't be provided because they were expensive and difficult to provide in a service setting. Marchionne said accessibility to more services and procedures would be even better for these pets and their owners. Staniec said people are excited and appreciative for the program and often ask about future services. “A lot of them [the homeless] need animals to feel safe and secure, and they have better mental, physical and emotional health because of it,” Staniec said. Animal science senior Ciara Helland

decided to join this program to gain more experience with small animals. “I learned how selfless these owners are, seeking the best treatment for their dogs with little regard for added difficulty into their own lives,” Helland said. Doggy Days at Prado occurs twice per quarter when the class is offered. Staniec said she would like to see it

posters and fliers to get people and their pets to Prado. According to Staniec, “Because Doggy Days has been in place for as long as it has, people find a way to come from everywhere to have their animals checked, even from as far as Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande.” Staniec said she sees a bright future for Doggy Days at Prado. “I would like to see it grow to include local vets and other shelters, as well as other departments at Cal Poly.” Cal Poly’s on-campus Vet Clinic on campus helps offset the supplies and funds needed to operate Doggy Days. Both Greenlee and Parry are pursuing veterinary careers. Greenlee is currently studying to become a veterinarian at UC Davis, and Parry is also studying veterinary medicine at the Ohio State University.

“I think it is a really great program to give back to the community, and I was happy to contribute to that.”

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-Isabella Marchionne happen more often and acknowledged it is difficult to run the program over the summer because most students are away for break. Staniec would like to see the program “do more for the homeless over summer break and be able to see the animals that need to be seen more often.” Students typically see up to 18 animals, mostly dogs and the occasional cat. The program is promoted through word of mouth,


Whalebird Kombucha staff photo

Whalebird Kombucha Dive Deeper. Fly Higher.

Story by Felipe Vallejo Photos provided by Felipe Vallejo and Whalebird Kombucha

Kombucha can be described as a refreshing, fermented beverage. It’s made from brewing tea using bacteria and yeast, and it's packed with active culture probiotics. Curious what fermented tea could possibly taste like? The beverage can be found in grocery stores, gas stations and even on tap in San Luis Obispo at Whalebird and Cal Poly’s University Union. The beverage is a mix of tart, dry sweetness that some kombucha purveyors describe as a hybrid of apple cider and beer. agcircle | 19


he fermentation process used to create kombucha carbonates the drink and allows probiotics to form. Kombucha is most commonly made through a double fermentation process using a scoby (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). This pancake-shaped scoby is placed in a sweetened tea mixture and left to ferment at room temperature for up to three weeks. According to Food Research International, the taste of kombucha changes during the fermentation process from a “fruit sour-like lightly sparkling flavor” to a “mild vinegar-like” taste. After the drink is fermented in the first round, it is bottled for one to two weeks to contain released CO2 and encourage carbonation. Then, the bottled kombucha is refrigerated to slow the carbonation and fermentation process. As stated by the International Journal of Food Microbiology, kombucha is a traditional fermentation of sweetened tea, “involving a symbiosis of yeast species and acetic acid bacteria.” Originating in what is now Manchuria, the kombucha beverage was consumed in 220 BC during the Tsin Dynasty for its “detoxifying and energizing properties.” Around 414 BC, a Korean physician by the name of Kombu imported the drink to Japan. It spread to Russia and Germany in the early 1900s through trade. In the 1990s, kombucha appeared in the U.S. Helping to lead the kombucha trend on California’s Central Coast is Whalebird Kombucha. Mike Durighello, co-founder and CEO, began Whalebird in January 2012 in his garage as Komplete Kombucha. Durighello studied sustainable agriculture at UC Santa Cruz, where

his interest in kombucha emerged. As his interest in kombucha grew, Durighello teamed up with friends, and they brewed their own batch in Durighello’s kitchen. From there, their kombucha operation progressed by learning through YouTube videos and brewing in the garage with a homemade, temperature-controlled fermentation chamber. The idea that began in a kitchen blossomed into a business. While growing the kombucha business, Durighello teamed with "numbers guy" Jake Pritzlaff, also known as Whalebird's chief financial officer. Unfamiliar with kombucha, Pritzlaff had his first taste and

and production. Together, the four aimed to “make the best kombucha the world has ever seen.” While the business evolved, the eager kombucha brewers knew their market presence needed to change as well. In August of 2015, Komplete Kombucha officially rebranded to what is now Whalebird Kombucha. “We didn’t want to blend in with other kombucha brands. We wanted to aim for something our customers can get lost in and enjoy,” Durighello said. The rebrand gave Whalebird Kombucha a new logo and mindset. With the rebranding, the Whalebird team’s new mission became clear: Make the best Kombucha the world has ever seen, and share its fizzy goodness across the coast. “We want people to know that Whalebird Kombucha isn’t just for the health-conscious drinker; it is also for the avid wine or craft beer drinker too,” Durighello said. He added that the positive lifestyle the company tries to emit has allowed the Whalebird team to bridge the gap between kombucha and the craft beverage industry. Customers can attest to the unique taste of Whalebird’s products with a mix of dried ingredients, edible essential oils, and wild fermentation that ultimately creates a bold and balanced flavor. Avid Whalebird customers Nicole Booten and Kayla Kline enjoy the variety the company offers. “We always go back and forth between the Dry Hopped Pamplemousse and Jasmine Bliss,” Booten said. Taste isn’t the only factor the Whalebird team stands by. The company, which values sustainability and support for the environment,

"We didn’t want to blend in with other kombucha brands. We wanted to aim for something our customers can get lost in and enjoy."

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- Mike Durighello immediately loved it. After Durighello sold his first Ginger Sarsaparilla kombucha keg to Bliss Café in San Luis Obispo, Pritzlaff officially joined the team. The garage operation turned into a full-scale brewery, expanding their kombucha team with the addition of Lee Wilkerson and Dustin Oswald in 2015. Wilkerson, a mechanical engineer, is the foundation of Whalebird’s research and development department and helped with streamlining production. Adding his 10 years of beer industry experience, Oswald joined as the master of distribution management


packages its produce in five-gallon stainless steel kegs. The kombucha kegs allowed Whalebird to enter the market faster than most competitors, which offer single-bottle distribution. The decision to package in kegs allowed the company to preserve the fresh quality better than any bottle could and solidified Whalebird as California’s on-tap kombucha. Along with these sustainable kegs, Whalebird remains environmentally conscious and provides refillable glass growlers at each tap station to encourage customers to re-use and make bulk purchases. Whalebird aims to serve as a contributing member of the San Luis Obispo community by constantly looking

for new ways to reduce waste and create a better environment for the future. Interested in tasting kombucha? Head on over to the Whalebird tasting room at 3576 Empleo Street, Suite 1, San Luis Obispo. For more information, visit

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FARM FRESH BOWLS Fast food with a healthy touch

Story and photos by Madalyn Souza


arm Fresh Bowls sets itself apart from competing establishments as a health-centered fast food company in Visalia, California. The concept of Farm Fresh Bowls was brought to life in 2013 by alumna Kristen (DeGroot) Vaz (Agricultural Business, '09 ) who merged her knowledge, the Learn by Doing motto and her entrepreneurial spirit to create the "healthy fast food drivethru." Farm Fresh Bowls has become a popular farm-to-fork breakfast and lunch spot. Vaz and her business partner, Jacque Baxley, wanted to create a restaurant where customers could be sure to get a quality fast food meal made fresh from seasonal and locally grown produce — and it’s all served up in an on-the-go bowl. Vaz and Baxley took great care in

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developing the business and selecting a name for it. Farm Fresh Bowls stems from their desire for a healthy and rapid way of serving food. Reflecting on her journey with Vaz, Baxley said, “It took about a year to put it all together and how to execute our concept.” Vaz added that by satisfying a niche market and providing something that wasn’t already available to consumers, the healthy fast food alternative was born. One of the restaurant’s appeals, according to Vaz, is how Farm Fresh Bowls serves customers quickly. She said scooping healthy ingredients into a bowl makes for efficient production. Secondly, Farm Fresh Bowls is one of the few restaurants in the Visalia area to offer acai bowls, in addition to breakfast egg bowls and a caprese orzo

salad bowl. The acai bowl consists of a thick smoothie-like acai base, topped with one of three homemade granolas — apple cinnamon, peanut butter and caramelized. The granola is topped with seasonal fruits, almonds and honey. Customers have their choice of several different acai bowls, including berry, citrus, peanut power or veggie green acai. Shelby Collins of Visalia is a sophomore nutrition major at Cal Poly. She said when she’s home, Farm Fresh Bowls is the only place she can get an acai bowl. “The acai base has that perfect thick consistency, and it’s the only place I can see fresh fruit being delivered and used daily,” Collins said, adding, “Plus there are so many options to personalize and choose foods specific to your


diet goals.” Customers enjoy the drive-thru and menu items, but pricing remains one of Vaz’s greatest business obstacles. “When you’re using healthier ingredients, your costs go up. You can only charge the customer so much because it’s a drive-thru and served in a paper bowl,” Vaz said. Vaz tries to stay true to the menu and brand name by seeking out local farmers and purveyors to satisfy the restaurant's sourcing needs. All of the milk products are bought locally from milk producer Top O’ the Morn Farms in nearby Tulare. The farm-fresh service has been greatly accepted throughout the community, increasing awareness of a healthier lifestyle and bringing recognition to the local farmers who provide produce, according to Vaz. “People associate anything coming directly from the farm as healthier than something coming from a warehouse,” she said. When considering new business ventures, Vaz said she circles back to the idea of balancing life and family,

something Cal Poly instilled in her. “We’re slow on timing because we are balancing — life, family and venture — it’s all important,” Vaz said. With intentional planning, Vaz opened another location in Fresno, California, with a large, indoor restaurant that also provides catering services. Vaz credits Cal Poly and its Learn by Doing motto for uncovering her passion in the culinary arts and nutrition. “It’s important to get out and start doing a job in a platonic way to see if you like that environment. And that’s what Cal Poly does,” Vaz said. “I took two culinary nutrition courses at Cal Poly that played a big part in my desire to go to culinary school and further that education.” After graduation, Vaz landed an internship with Farm Credit West, which helped her identify her entrepreneurial goals. When Vaz and Baxley teamed up to make their dream a reality, they each played a unique role. Both partners influenced the food sourcing and recipes, while Vaz headed up the technology and business with the knowledge she

learned as an undergraduate. Now that Vaz is out of the classroom and in the workplace, she and her business partner hold the Cal Poly motto of Learn by Doing near and dear. “You couldn’t possibly tell me all of the different scenarios that have happened to us,” Baxley. “You have to experience it, learn from it, and correct a mistake, or run with whatever is working.” Today, Vaz encourages Cal Poly students to take advantage of any Learn by Doing opportunities. “Take random classes in whatever interests you!” Vaz said. The opportunities that Vaz took advantage of during her time at Cal Poly gave her the confidence to start a successful business that she is passionate about and has earned her success as a chef and an entrepreneur.

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Not Your Everday Produce Specialty crops find their niche


Story and photos by Rachel Marquardt

iding behind the typical berries, apples and vegetables that the community of San Luis Obispo knows so well are some interesting novelty crops with a story. Four of these crops, including spicy peppers, fragrant lavender, fresh ginger and sweet pomegranates, can be found at farmers markets throughout the county. Meet biodynamic farmer Ralph Johnson. Along with tomatoes, squash and his other seasonal crops, Johnson grows two of the hottest types of peppers his customers could dare to stomach. “I focus on the really hot ones — thai, cyan, ghost peppers and Carolina Reapers,” Johnson said. Johnson, of JR Johnson Farms, began farming in San Luis Obispo 30 years ago. Due to a heat wave in fall 2017, Johnson said he has been able to successfully grow his collection of spicy peppers. “The heat wave really made the peppers start fruiting up again. Ghost peppers are actually

10th on the list of hot — Carolina Reapers are one of the hottest,” he said. According to the Scoville Pepper Scale, the Carolina Reaper is the fifth hottest pepper, and its Scoville heat units range between 1.4 and 2.2 million. This is 175 to 880 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper, which can be found in most grocery produce aisles. Johnson’s peppers and other crops can be purchased at farmers markets in Baywood Park on Mondays, Arroyo Grande on Wednesdays, in San Luis

“I met Finney in 2005. We met dancing,” Stacy said. “When he walked me to my car that night, he gave me a bottle of lavender oil and I just thought, 'Stick a fork in me; I’m done!'" On June 28, 2008, Finney and Stacy got married, using lavender bundles as the flowers for their wedding. Together, they make and sell products from the lavender grown on property Finney purchased in 1998. The Smiths produce a variety of lavender products including oils, body butters, sprays, scented pillows and all-natural deodorant using local beeswax. They also sell bulk lavender by the bundle. “Our products have kind of just evolved naturally … we try to put ecology into [growing practices], we are definitely all natural,” Stacy said. Currently, the couple is working to produce a sweet smelling and effective sunscreen with lavender. Their products can be found at three local farmers markets: San Luis Obispo on Thursdays, Avila Beach on Thursdays beginning in April, and in San Luis Obispo on Saturdays. A third niche crop — ginger — is grown at Galve Farms, with careful attention given in the greenhouses by husband and wife Osias and Maria Galve. “The ginger takes 22 months to

"Ginger can be used to add extra zing to any meal as well as assist in maintaining a healthy diet."

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-Maria Galve

Obispo and Morro Bay on Thursdays, and Templeton on Saturdays. Next on the unique growers list is husband and wife team Finney and Stacy Smith. The pair found success with another niche crop, lavender. They found that lavender is a popular fragrance among designers and consumers. Both Finney and Stacy said they had a love for lavender prior to their love for each other. Finney was looking to plant a crop that was drought resistant, while Stacy enjoyed planting lavender, using the flowers in pillows, and hanging it in her home.


grow,” Maria said. Galve Farms has a growing location in San Luis Obispo and sells ginger in Morro Bay, Templeton, Cambria and Atascadero’s Sunken Garden on Wednesdays. The couple said, “Ginger can be used to add extra zing to any meal as well as assist in maintaining a healthy diet. A small amount can be used to aid in anti-inflammatory, digestive and other health benefits.” Finally, another novelty crop found more frequently in San Luis Obispo is the pomegranate. The owners of Badasei Farms consider it their specialty. The Badasei pomegranate farm has been passed down from father to son, and they have been perfecting the craft over time. “My family has been farming since 1976. My dad began planting them 40 years ago, [and we still harvest fruit] from the same grove,” said owner Kevin Badasi. Badesi Farms sells pomegranates at farmers markets in San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay.

With an ideal climate and the increase of greenhouses, San Luis Obispo is a likely candidate for future trendy crops. As consumers become more aware of the unique nature and health benefits of specialty crops, products such as peppers, lavender, ginger and pomegranates will

continue to grow in popularity. San Luis Obispo County is an ideal place to grow these crops, both in terms of its fertile land and its diverse customer base.

Ralph Johnson with his peppers at the San Luis Obispo Thursday night farmers market

The Smiths selling lavender at the San Luis Obispo Thursday night farmers market

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Financing Regulation Methane digesters and the dairy industry

By Karlye Clement Photos provided by Karlye Clement and Elise Regusci


rotecting the environment from climate change has led to an increase in regulatory pressure from California state government officials and environmental groups to control the methane production of dairy cattle. Today, California dairy farms are searching for funding to adopt methane reduction methods, including costly methane digesters, while maintaining their production output and profit margins. In September 2016, Governor Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill 1383, making California the first state to initiate plans for reducing dairy methane emissions. The law gives the California Air Resources Board authority to set goals for reducing shortlived climate pollutants. These goals include reducing methane emissions from dairy manure management by 40 percent before 2030, according to the board. The California Air Resources Board outlined steps for implementing this new law, noting that the state would work to support improved manure practices through financial incentives, collaboration to overcome barriers and market supports. Dairymen said this support is much needed as these digesters range in price from $1.5 to $4 million. Funds totaling $50 million were allocated by the California Legislature for reducing dairy methane emissions through development of anaerobic digesters and alternative manure management practices. This funding

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is being administered through the state’s Department of Agriculture Dairy Digester Research and Development Program. According to the program, the goal is to work in partnership with dairy farmers to identify and remove barriers to the wide adoption of dairy digester systems. Digesters in Action Methane digesters differ from standard manure storage. They are

specially designed to optimize the production of biogas and allow for energy production. By using or selling the energy, biogas and byproducts, farms can turn animal waste into an opportunity for cost savings, profits and environmental sustainability. One issue with this practice, according to the Dairy Cares program, is the cost of implementing, running and maintaining a digester. Methane digestion is a process

through which bacteria breaks down manure without oxygen. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, as the bacteria works, it generates biogas, which is made mostly of methane, the primary component of natural gas. The nonmethane components of the biogas are removed so the methane can be used as a clean energy source. The first step in this process is collecting the waste in a manner compatible with biogas recovery. Most dairies use a flush system that rinses down the stalls where the manure builds up. Using gravity, the system then flushes the manure out. The manure and water go through a separator that squeezes out all the liquid. From this process, the solids get piled for later use as fertilizer, compost and livestock bedding. The liquid goes into the digester, which is a lagoon covered with a tarp to trap the methane gas. The captured methane is transported through a pipe from the digester directly to a gas-use device or to a gas-treatment system. Dairy Businesses Respond The Van Warmerdam Dairy in Galt, California, has used a methane digester since 2011. “We were able to get this digester through grants from the National Resource Conservation Service, and we partnered with Maas


Energy, who built the digester with grants from other vendors,” Leo Van Warmerdam said. Van Warmerdam said without the grants there was no way he could financially adopt the system. Van Warmerdam said the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) was instrumental in the process by finding vendors to supply grants. “The most important advantage of adopting the digester was being in compliance with the regulations put in place by the government. Many dairies are going to be struggling to find grants available when the time comes,” Van Warmerdam said. Another dairyman from Galt, California, Russel Van Steyn of Van Steyn Dairy has had an anaerobic digester since 2012. This particular digester generates up to 225 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power up to 125 homes. Similar to the Van Warmerdam’s digester, the Van Steyn Dairy was able to adopt the system because of grants from a third party. Van Steyn said the average dairy cannot afford this $1.5 million investment on their own.

“I mean you’ve got to have 3,000 to 4,000 cows, and you might be able to get that project independently going.” Van Steyn said. According to Van Steyn, the cost of installing digesters could potentially cause many small California dairies to go out of business. Joe Simoes from Joe M. Simoes &

Simoes said if they are able to make a central digester and run pipes from surrounding dairies, such as a project that is happening in Pixely, California, he believes it will be more likely for smaller dairies to get involved. “Right now, they haven’t really been costefficient unless the government pays for it,” Simoes said. Together, the California Air Resources Board and several dairy working groups are structured to research, meet, plan and gather to continue meeting the new regulation demands. As reported by the California Air Resources Board at the close of 2017, one such project is referred to as the CARB Pilot Financial Mechanism. Air quality, resource management and potentially economic benefits exist with methane digestion systems.

“The most important advantage of adopting the digester was being in compliance with the regulations...” -Leo Van Warmerdam Sons Dairy Inc. located in Elk Grove, California, said that they do not currently have a methane digester and will never install one. “It just isn’t economically feasible for small dairies because it’s harder to get the government to help pay for them, and with all of the people who would have to come through the dairy, all of the permitting and paperwork — the entire process — it just isn’t worth it,” Simoes said.

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REAGAN RANCH The Western White House

By Chloe Fowler Photos provided by Young America's Foundation


anch in the Heavens.” The name alone sounds picturesque and peaceful. To former President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, that is exactly what their ranch was: a haven and an escape for the 40th president of the U.S. and his family. Rancho del Cielo or Ranch in the Heavens, as it was named by Ronald Reagan, is more commonly known as the Reagan Ranch, and still draws visitors to experience its historical significance. The Reagan Ranch is located approximately 45 minutes outside Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Mountains. Nearly 690 acres, this property is considered a jewel in the southern coast of California, with its pastures and rolling hills visible just outside the city’s border. Reagan purchased the property in 1974 and changed the name shortly after. At that time, there was only a small, 1870s Spanish-style home that would become a family oasis. Spencer Brown is the spokesman for the Young America’s Foundation, an organization that has come to the rescue of the historic ranch with a goal of preserving it and allowing the ranch to prosper. “Young America’s

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Foundation stepped forward to save the ‘Western White House’ in the spring of 1998 to preserve it as a living monument to Ronald Reagan,” Brown said. He added many major decisions affecting the nation and the world were decided within the calm setting of the ranch. Preserved as a piece of history, the ranch is to be “a place of learning, a place of encouragement, and a place of inspiration for generations to come,” Brown said. Protecting the ranch from cultivation and urbanization also maintains the views and aesthetic quality for the highly urbanized city surrounding it. As the skyscrapers grow higher and the trees and rolling hills fall away, the pristine nature of the ranch has allowed for many to escape the concrete jungle. While the general public does not have open access to the ranch, people can still benefit from the views and preserves it offers to wildlife and nature. Only students and supporters of the Young America Foundation are allowed within the ranch property. Brown commented on how “the 688-acre property is not only beautiful, it also played a historically significant role throughout Ronald Reagan’s presidency.” He said Ronald Reagan would often find refuge in the green hills. When faced with difficult decisions, it was sometimes the best option to take in the tranquility of the ranch to gain a sense of peace before making the decision he was struggling with. Reagan grazed a small number of cattle, horses and other livestock animals. Since used for agricultural purposes, the ranch falls


under the Williamson Act, which has been grandfathered into California Legislature and has saved many agricultural preserves and producers via property tax benefits. Setting the Reagan Ranch apart from most Williamson Act properties, however, is how the ranch had to operate when the President was in office. Imagine a serene ranch with a simple house, barns and a few corrals. Then examine the hills more closely to see armed guards mounted on horseback, dotting the landscape. The Secret Service could not be relocated to the ranch quickly, so they settled for attempting to patrol hundreds of acres on horseback. While this was the best option available to the secret service, it has been recorded people still unknowingly crossed the security line several times and were ushered off the ranch upon their discovery. Some visitors were unexpected, but the Los Angeles Times documented several famous visitors that have toured the ranch. A noteworthy one was Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Albert, in 1983. The weather was stormy and rough during her visit, but the Queen’s press

secretary was quoted by the Times as saying, “She found the trip delightful and terribly exciting.” Another intriguing guest of the Reagan family was Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1992, after the Cold War era passed, Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, visited the United States to speak at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and receive the first Ronald Reagan Freedom Award. The Los Angeles Times reported they toured the ranch before the award presentation, and on that day, “Gorbachev gave Reagan an 1882 book of Russian proverbs [and] the Reagans gave the Gorbachevs Stetson cowboy hats.” The sense of tranqility previously enjoyed by royalty and world leaders is still available to students who are passionate about Reagan’s history. President Ronald Reagan often sought out his Ranch in the Heavens, where it is said to be like stepping back to a time when some of the most powerful people in the world have stood and created history.

“A place of learning, a place of encouragement, and a place of inspiration for generations to come.” -Reagan Ranch mission

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A Legacy Lives On The Camarillo Ranch

By Tatum Holdener Photos provided by Camarillo Ranch and Theresa Marvel


tanding at 4 feet 11 inches tall, Adolfo Camarillo could usually be seen wearing his signature fedora hat and a broad smile across his face. Often the shortest man in the room, his influence on the community of Ventura County was nothing short of monumental. After the passing of his father when he was just 16 years old, Adolfo and his younger brother, Juan Jr., took over Rancho Calleguas, later known as the Camarillo Ranch. To those in Ventura County, this was once known as the “largest ranch in the world.” Camarillo Ranch was granted by the Mexican government to Jose Pedro Ruiz. By 1875, the last of his descendants and other landowners sold their shares to Adolfo’s father, Juan Camarillo Sr., for approximately $30,000 and 3,000 gold coins. By 1880, the historical ranch was thriving with lima beans, barley, walnuts, citrus, avocados, and many other crops. Operating on nearly 10,000 acres along the beautiful southern coast of California, Adolfo created a legacy that would live on for generations. He helped transform the ranch from primarily cattle grazing land into a successful row crop farm.

Adolfo and his wife, Isabel, raised five children: Rosa, Ave Maria, Isabella, Francisco and Carmen in their 6,000 square-foot Victorian home built in 1892. Family often came for extended visits. Tom Marvel is the great grandson of Adolfo, and son to Rosa Petit Marvel, one of Adolfo's grandchildren. Growing up in Battle Mountain, Nevada, Marvel said he always looked forward to his time at the Camarillo Ranch and the fun he and his six siblings had. “I remember visiting the ranch two weeks out of the year growing up,” Marvel said.

through Camarillo Ranch. He employed many people over the years that the Camarillos considered family. In some cases, the Camarillos employed generations of families. “Adolfo was often told, ‘You don’t need these people working for you,'" Marvel said. He always responded, "Yeah, but these people need me,’” Marvel said. In 1921, Adolfo was attending the California State Fair, serving in his capacity as a member of the Ventura County Fair Board, when a majestic white stallion with pink skin and white eyes captured his attention. Adolfo is said to have called him “The Stallion of a Dream.” He purchased the stallion and brought him back home to the ranch, where he began a breeding operation to produce the beautiful rare white horses. The Camarillo White Horses quickly became superstars and traveled all over the state of California. They were seen in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, at the inauguration of the Oakland Bay Bridge in 1936, and at the 2000 Pasadena Rose Parade. They still take part in the Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade and the Camarillo Christmas Parade.

"I love the fact that my great grandfather was the one who started this rare breed with just one stallion."

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-Amy Seifert Adolfo successfully operated the ranch for 78 prosperous years. He donated 26 acres of the ranch to create the Camarillo Grove Park, 50 acres to help build Adolfo Camarillo High School, land to help widen Highway 101, and he granted land for the Pacific Railroad Co. to run its tracks


“To this day, my favorite part of my heritage is the white horses,” Amy Seifert, another great granddaughter of Camarillo, said. “I love the fact that my great grandfather was the one who started this rare breed from just one stallion in Sacramento, California.” Seifert remembers going to the parades and watching her mother ride these white horses. “They were so majestic with the beautiful Spanish women and silver saddles,” she said. Adolfo passed away in 1958 and the horses were passed down to his daughter Carmen. Carmen

Camarillo cared for the horses until her passing in 1987. Her wishes were for the horses to be auctioned off to stockmen across the state. In 1992 the Camarillo White Horse Foundation was founded with the purpose of preserving and maintaining the historic and rare bloodlines Adolfo created. The foundation is still active today, and the members continue to breed and parade the white horses. Twenty Camarillo White Horses remain in production, and there is ongoing genetic research being conducted to ensure the new generation is truly Camarillo White Horses.

Adolfo Camarillo was an idol in the eyes of his family and community. “The Camarillo family values remained in our family for generations, and I believe that is the true legacy that lives on,” Seifert said. “The generosity and love they have for others is what is instilled in my blood.” Today, the historic home and Camarillo Ranch still stand. The legendary property can be found bustling with tours, events and weddings.

Photos of the Camarillo White Horses throughout the years

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Research in


Defining the future of food

By Emma Morris Photos provided by Cal Poly Strawberry Center and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Intermountain Research and Extension Center


esearch is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.” Research in its purest and most unbiased form has driven human evolution and allowed for the development of the known world. It is one of the most fundamentally important parts of society — and when performed correctly, research can be a vehicle for innovation, creativity and progression. Through the advancement of the internet and constant access to information, society is inundated with financially driven research claims by companies looking to sell their products at almost every purchasing decision point. Sound scientific research is the foundation of successful production in any industry — especially in agriculture, according to the UC Davis Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Agricultural producers and consumers rely heavily on research, biased or not, for their success and product satisfaction. First-generation farmer and agricultural services business

owner Brandon Fawaz depends on agricultural research to be successful and stay in business. “I try to be progressive and ambitious when it comes to new things in agriculture,” Fawaz said. “I figure that with the right research, I can make choices upfront that set my floor for a number of years.” He explained, “If I don’t listen to the research when picking an alfalfa variety and pick one that’s not suitable to my operation, I’ll hit my production ceiling right away. That’s no benefit

companies, is almost always profitdriven. While this does not by any means make private research inherently biased, it certainly gives a much greater incentive for bias to show how one product is superior to another. “I value private research, but I want to see it done with public research standards,” Fawaz said. “I always look for a bias. If private companies do unbiased research then I’m all for it. Otherwise, it should be called promotion, sales, propaganda. At the end of the day if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” In California, most public agricultural research is conducted by the UC Cooperative Extension. This program establishes regional research facilities that conduct studies based on agricultural production in the area. Cooperative extension researchers, called farm advisors, then work closely with producers in their local zone to conduct relevant and beneficial research. Rob Wilson, UC Intermountain Research and Extension Center director and farm advisor in Northern California, also sees value in both public and private research. “The biggest difference [between public and private research] is

"I feel agriculture will rely much more on technology, including robotics, genetics and mechanization [in the future]."

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-Rob Wilson to me.” Agriculture research is conducted both publicly and privately — an important distinction. Publicly funded or governmental research is often accomplished at land-grant universities and is information-driven rather than profit-driven. Research driven by the search for information is considered to be less prone to bias. Private research, as conducted by seed, fertilizer or breeding stock


Rob Wilson showcasing potato varietals at a grower field day in Tulelake, CA

government research is unbiased and often investigates research topics that private industry isn’t interested in funding,” Wilson said. “But private industry is very important in funding research to bring new products and services to market, and it is much better suited to manufacturing and marketing products to the public.” A large portion of successful agricultural research depends on the relationship between researchers and producers. The California Cooperative Extension (CCE) system aims to advise producers on best management practices based on their research. CCE sometimes relies on producers to provide physical land or ideas for conducting the research project. “It is very difficult to stay relevant and connected if I do not interact with producers frequently,” Wilson said. “I also find many of my research ideas come from talking with producers and visiting their farms."

Nicole Stevens, a research assistant for the Siskiyou County Cooperative Extension, concurred that producerresearcher relationships are key. “If growers feel comfortable coming to us with their questions and production issues, they’ll often bring things up that we would have never thought to research," Stevens said. "It makes the research process more rewarding if producers are directly involved. “Whether it’s seeing higher yields in crops or figuring out the most effective pest control for an operation or just helping producers find the best way to grow their crops, it’s great to see them be more productive from our research,” she continued. Research and agriculture go hand in hand. Innovative progression from research in the agriculture industry enabled fewer agricultural producers and with fewer resources, to feed a growing population. “The future of agriculture research is changing rapidly,” Wilson said. “I feel agriculture will rely much more

on technology, including robotics, genetics and mechanization. I also think things like organic production, food nutrition and food safety will be very important.” Many producers like Fawaz embrace the new technologies but ultimately need innovation that is realistic and cost effective for their operations. “The reality is that we need people who care about agriculture to be researching agriculture. Research is only valuable to producers if it improves their bottom line. We need to solve our current problems and not just have gadgets for the sake of gadgets if they’re not improving producers’ profit margins,” Fawaz said. Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences emphasizes and promotes all types of research. The Learn by Doing motto lends itself to hands-on research-based collaboration between students and faculty. Many entities on campus conduct research as a method for teaching, solving unanswered questions and developing better

UC researcher Steve Orloff explaining findings in alfalfa studies

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technology and products. One such entity is the newly established Cal Poly Strawberry Center. Founded in 2014 in partnership with the California Strawberry Commission and headed by Director Gerald Holmes, the center quickly established itself as a solid research facility. “The mission of the Strawberry Center is to increase the sustainability of the California strawberry industry

through applied research (aligned with industry needs) and educational activities that lead to careers in this industry,” said Holmes. Like most research in the agriculture industry, the Strawberry Center’s research is always conducted with the consumer in mind. “The consumer is of paramount importance to our research,” Holmes said. “Ultimately, the consumer decides whether or not

to purchase strawberries.” Scientifically based and consumerdriven research is what has allowed the agriculture industry to grow rapidly in the U.S. Research will continue to aid in increased production and innovation as consumer demands change and the population continues to grow.

Cal Poly students conducting and presenting research on behalf of the Strawberry Center

Steve Orloff (pictured on p. 33 with the easel) graduated from Cal Poly in 1983 with a master's degree in agronomy. He spent 33 years working and researching for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division, including 20 years as the farm advisor in Siskiyou County. He is considered to be a leading expert in alfalfa research worldwide. He placed great importance on producer relations and had an unprecedented passion for his work and the its usefulness to agriculturists. Orloff died in October 2017 from brain cancer at age 61. His impact in agricultural research is far-reaching and will continue to benefit growers for years to come. 34 | Winter 2018


printing graphic designer editor advertising art and design marketing journalist newspaper circulation


speech writer




grant writing

elected offices


ag law




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social media

account manager

product promotion

market research

agency work

company branding

public relations

event planning


sales rep

Whether you’re into photography or policy, writing or broadcasting, Cal Poly’s agricultural communication programs can launch your career! Check out our short list of career pathways to help find your agricultural outlet. For more information, visit the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication in the Erhart Agriculture Building (No.10), Room 234.

Agricultural Communication

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What you can do with an ag com major


California Ram Sale Historical auction advances industry

By Halley Lauchland Photos provided by Halley Lauchland and Erica Sanko


ach year, approximately 500 sheep breeders and producers from across California gather for one of the largest events in the industry. At the California Ram Sale, held at the Porterville Fairgrounds in Tulare County, hundreds of producers showcase their best stock and purchase one-of-a-kind sheep to enhance their herd’s genetics. The sale is hosted by the California Wool Growers Association, whose mission is to support and grow all segments of the California sheep industry. 36 | Winter 2018

According to the California Wool Growers Association, sheep numbers in California have drastically declined since the mid-20th century. In efforts to replenish the industry with new, young producers, Wool Growers encourages people like Robert Olagaray to participate in the annual ram sale. Olagaray, of Lodi, California, is a senior crop science major at Cal Poly and a third-generation sheep farmer. He assists with his family’s operations in California and Nevada. Olagaray helps run the sale alongside his dad, John,

who is a member on the Wool Growers board. “It is a fun time getting to see the people in the industry and meet new ones,” Olagaray said. Many people work behind the scenes setting up and preparing days before the sale begins. Olagaray is one of those volunteers. He assists with such labor as setting up the pens and sale ring in an effort to provide a smooth and profitable sale. He also helps ensure the sheep and facilities are ready the day before and after the sale. “I’m in charge of bringing the rams


into the ring and taking them back to their pens. After the sale, we load all the animals into the trailers," Olagaray said. "Putting on a sale of this size is difficult." The California Ram Sale started in 1921 and has seen many generations of families attend each year to reconnect and purchase quality rams. People who participated in the sale 30 years ago still have fond memories of preparing their sheep for what some call the biggest sale of the year. The Muller/Burnett family of Roberts Island in San Joaquin County decides which sheep to sell at the sale as soon as they are born. “Based on conformation, we would select the soundest males and run them together in groups of 50-60 — culling out any which showed signs of weakness of constitution,” Sheri Burnett said. Prior to the sale, the sheep go through extensive vet checks to ensure the animals are physically sound and healthy enough to be sold. “They would automatically disqualify any animal if there was so much as an abscess on the jaw. Anything they didn’t like they culled [removed from the sale], the grower has no recourse,” Burnett said. This is an effective way to guarantee that whoever purchases the lambs get

what they paid for. It also discourages people from bringing animals that are unfit to sell. Each ram is assigned to an average range ram index value that will show which of the rams have more desirable traits, such as carcass weight or loin size. The carcass traits are of great value because they are highly heritable and produce a quicker change in the herd. According to the California Wool Growers Association, “They [desirable traits] will benefit the industry as a whole in producing a more desirable product for the consumer.” The Muller/Burnett family raises white-face commercial ewes, as well as Suffolk sheep. They run their commercial flock in the San Joaquin, Yolo and Sacramento counties and produce their range rams in the Lodi area. Burnett said, “The California Ram Sale is the premier sale of its kind for breeders to buy and sell stock for commercial range operations.” The ram sale is where the Burnetts found better genetics to incorporate into their stock to provide even better animals for the future. Thirty years ago, a Suffolk range ram brought about $400 to $500 each. At the last sale in 2017, Suffolk range rams averaged $875 per ram. Burnett said that sometimes the California Ram Sale is not as profitable as people

think because genetically enhancing certain qualities on sheep can cause prices to inflate. Some smaller breeders are unable to afford to produce such high-quality animals. Over the years, the sale has moved away from selling purebreds to more crossbred sheep. “Crossbred nature rams are tougher and have different types of genetics,” said Ryan Indart, a third-generation sheep grower and president of California Wool Growers Association. Indart raises Western white-face sheep and will be selling them for the first time at the 2018 sale. In 2017, the California Ram Sale expanded from in-person sales to online bidding to accommodate people unable to attend the sale and others interested in specialty breeds, according to Indart. The online addition proved successful and Indart said the Wool Growers hope to build the online experience to the point that buyers will look forward to the digital event as much as the in-person sale. The 98th annual sale will be held on April 7, 2018, where once again hundreds of sheep producers will gather to find the best animals to improve their herd.

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The Future of Fresh Food Delivery A box of meat at your door

By Shelby Watts Photos provided by Mary Heffernan


n the ever-changing world of technology and social media, people’s lives are on public display more than ever. While the world is ever changing, food remains a constant need. In today’s modern world, more and more conversations about food production and food availability are taking place in the public realm, thanks to social media sharing and internet access. Yet agriculture in general continues to be an unfamiliar industry to most consumers. Thankfully, members of the industry are listening to 38 | Winter 2018

consumers and continue to create new ways to communicate with the rest of the world about their products and practices. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has been a shining star in the agriculture industry for its promotion of critical communication between producer and consumer. The term “CSA” was first used in America in the early 1980s in the northeastern region of the U.S., as reported by the Rodale Institute. Most historians and agriculturalists agree CSA to be defined as a partnership between

consumer and producer to provide quality farm-fresh products, as well as transparency about how the product was made. Many CSAs focus on fresh produce. A fairly new development for CSAs is the increasing popularity of meat CSAs. This particular type of CSA commonly uses a method known as the “box model.” Consumers purchase a box of specified weight (usually between 10 to 50 pounds) for a set price. They also have the option through some CSA farms to customize the type and cuts of meat included


in their box and the frequency of box delivery. This provides an open and consistent relationship between consumer and producer. CSAs are based upon transparency in business to ensure trust is built between the buyer and seller. As the Farm Foundation reported, trust between the pubic and the agriculture industry has become more strained throughout the years due to the industry’s evolution to satisfy the public's demand. To help mend those perceptions of agriculture, small CSA operations were created to build trust between farmers and consumers. Mary Heffernan, cofounder of Five Mary’s Farms in Northern California said, “We have total transparency. People get to know our story on social media and see how our animals are raised and cared for every day. They trust their farmer.” Heffernan and her husband saw a demand for ethically and humanely raised product on a small scale with a great story behind it. So, they created that very thing and shared it with others, which led to the founding of Five Mary’s Farms in 2013. They knew other people wanted the same product experience. Today, Five Mary’s Farms processes up to 400 orders of meat products per month. Some customers repeat their order as many as 25 times. The concept and businesses of CSAs seem to be flourishing. However, Creston Valley Meats in San Luis Obispo County said one downfall

to meat CSAs in particular, is the price tag. Fruit and vegetable CSAs are fairly competitive in price when compared to grocery store purchases. Meat CSAs operate on a much different scale. When asked about the hefty price tag that comes along with CSA meat boxes, meat processor Simon Caleb from Creston Valley Meats said, “I can go to the store and buy a steak

and cook it the same way as I would one that I bought through a CSA. But the taste would be completely different. That home-raised flavor is not something you can get at the store. “A large difference between CSAs and large production in the meat industry is labor and quantity," Caleb continued. "A large operation could process anywhere between 800 to 1,200 cattle per day with automated machinery. A smaller operation, such as Creston Meats, would process five to six cattle a day with handprocessing all the way through." It’s up to the individual CSA to ensure their product value lets the customer know the quality is worth the hit to their pocketbook. Larder Meat Co. aims to accomplish this

goal carefully. “My wife, Grace, and I started the Larder Meat Co. because we wanted to have direct and consistent access to healthy, ethically raised meat,” said founder Jensen Lorenzen. On its website, Larder has a “Recipe for a Healthy Food Economy,” which includes the necessary ingredients of one friendly rancher, one happy cow, pig or chicken, one grateful chef and a conscientious consumer who cares where his/her meat comes from and how it's raised. More and more consumers are supporting small farms and CSAs throughout the nation in hopes of learning more about their food. Heffernan said CSAs are here to stay. “I think people want more of it. They want to know where their food comes from. They want animals raised right. They want to support family farms and smaller agriculture."

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The Politics of Labor Ag Act moves through Congress

By Roman Wasckiewicz Photos provided by Roman Wasckiewicz and Adobe Stock


n the U.S. only 64 percent of all hired farm workers have U.S. citizenship, according to 2012 farm labor demographic characteristics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This means about one-third of hired farm workers are non-citizens, making immigration a critical topic within the agricultural industry. Federal policy currently exists to provide worker visa authorization, referred to as the H-2A program for agricultural labor, for those who come to the U.S. solely for the purpose of working. In 2017, there was a movement within Congress to reform the agriculture visa authorization program. On Oct. 23, 2017, H.R. 4092 was introduced to the House of Representatives by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va). The bill — which is also titled the Agricultural Guestworker Act, or more commonly the Ag Act — seeks to reform the visa process allowing immigrants to legally work in the U.S. agriculture industry and would classify them as non-immigrants. The Ag Act is attempting to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, specifically by establishing a new a H–2C program to replace the H–2A program. The existing H–2A program is a special visa authorization that allows recipients to live in the U.S. temporarily while working in the

40 | Winter 2018

agriculture industry. When the bill was introduced, it was referred to three committees — the House Judiciary Committee, the Education and the Workforce Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee. Shortly after its introduction, the bill was amended and passed through the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by the author of the Ag Act, Congressman Goodlatte. The bill passed the committee by a narrow margin of 17-16. In a statement by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Oct. 25, 2017, when the bill passed through the committee, Chairman Goodlatte said, “The House Judiciary Committee today approved the Ag Act to replace the broken H–2A program with a reliable, efficient and fair program and provide American farmers access to a legal, stable supply of workers for seasonal as well as yearround work. These changes will help ensure that our meat and produce continue to be grown in America and that our nation’s agricultural industry thrives in the global marketplace.” As touched upon in the Congressman’s statement, the H–2C program allows recipients to stay for a longer period of time than the H-2A program. Under the current H–2A program, recipients must be performing qualifying agricultural labor “of a temporary or seasonal nature,” according to regulations outlined in Title 8. While H-2C workers will be allowed to stay for longer periods of time,


there are limits. The Ag Act stipulates “the maximum continuous period of authorized status as an H–2C worker (including any extensions) is 18 months for workers employed in a job that is of a temporary or seasonal nature such as harvesting seasonal crops, shearing lambs or vineyard management. For H–2C workers employed in a job that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature, such as dairy operations that run year-round, the initial maximum continuous period of authorized status is 36 months and subsequent maximum continuous periods of authorized status are 18 months.” The changes that would be instituted if the bill were to pass would allow potential workers to qualify as H–2C workers even if their positions were not seasonal, which makes labor more accessible to a wider gamut of farmers. According to Congressman Goodlatte’s office, “The program covers year-round employers, like dairies, aquaculture operations, food processors and others.” In addition to setting time limits for seasonal or temporary farm workers, as well as extending the program to allow for year-round workers, the Ag Act establishes a “requirement to remain outside of the United States,” in which H–2C workers must leave the country for a minimum amount of time based on the amount of time the worker spent in the United States as an H–2C worker. The bill stipulates if workers are in the U.S. for work of a seasonal nature, they must “remain outside

the United States for a continuous period equal to at least 1/12 of the duration of their previous period of authorized status as H–2C workers. For H–2C workers who were employed in a job not of a temporary or seasonal nature whose maximum continuous period of authorized status as H–2C workers (including any extensions) have expired, the aliens may not again be eligible to be H–2C workers until they remain outside the United States for a continuous period equal to at least the lesser of 1/12 of the duration of their previous period of authorized status as H–2C workers or 45 days.” The Ag Act further establishes a trust fund to "assure worker return,” and refers to it as a “monetary incentive for H–2C workers to return to their country of origin upon expiration of their visas,” as stated in the legislation itself. This would require employers to withhold a percentage of a worker’s wages based on type of employment and deposit into the trust fund. Seasonal workers, barring certain exceptions outlined in the bill, would have 10 percent of their gross wages withheld and paid to the Trust Fund. When it comes to year-round workers, again with exceptions made in the bill, an amount equal to federal taxes withheld from pay by employers is paid into the trust fund.

If the procedures of the H–2C visa are followed, when the worker “physically appears at a United States embassy or consulate in the worker’s home country," they will be able to receive the amount withheld from their wages and deposited into the trust fund. Other aspects of this new program include the admission process and a minimum wage requirement configured using state and federal minimum wages, along with requirements for recruitment of eligible U.S. workers before H–2C workers. Another notable aspect of the Ag Act is the enforcement of its procedures is designated to the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The H–2C program outlined in the Ag Act would create a structured worker visa authorization program that allows for visas to be granted for temporary and year-round workers in the agriculture industry. The bill would also require nonimmigrants to return to their country of origin following the end of their visa, when they can collect the money from the trust fund that their wages contributed to. The bill, however, still has yet to pass through the House of Representatives — its house of origin — and must then pass through the Senate before it has a chance of becoming federal law.

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Sonoma County Tackles Disaster Agriculture and Mother Nature

By Elise Regusci Photos provided by Rachel LaFranchi


ach year, severe weather events throughout the world cause devastation to communities of all kinds — including urban and rural areas. The past year brought unprecedented mass destruction to many areas of the United States — from Hurricane Irma in Florida and the floods in Texas to quick-moving fires across the entire state of California. With support from the agriculture community and others, farmers and ranchers affected by these natural disasters were able to clean up their lands and push through the rough days and months they endured. Local and national media covered these extraordinary weather events from coast to coast. These natural disasters can come at a moment’s notice, much to the detriment of farmers and ranchers, whose greatest assets are land and livestock. Alexandra Gambonini is a student at Cal Poly with a double major in dairy science and agribusiness. Her family’s organic dairy farm was threatened when intense fire swept through

Sonoma and nearby counties. The fires came close to their property line, but fortunately her family’s farm was left untouched. “We live on the south end of Sonoma County, but because of the fierce winds there were two fires that were close to us. One was just over the hill traveling opposite of us. Another

The majority of our land is pasture for our cattle, but the number of wineries and vineyards that were lost to the fire were many,” Gambonini said. The Sonoma community came together to assist one another in the devastation. Gambonini explained the value of knowing neighbors were willing to help their community, “The dairymen in our community definitely came together in such an amazing way. We had about nine trailers on standby to pick up our calves and heifers if the fires jumped to our property. Once we were in the clear, my dad had his trailer on standby to help out our cousins with their cattle. I was so happy to hear that people didn't skip a beat in trying to help others out.” Along with community assistance during evacuations, organizations such as the Sonoma County Farm Bureau were at the forefront of advocacy and support. The local Farm Bureau office organized donations and funds to help those in need including the Wildfire Livestock Relief Fund. “Sonoma County Farm Bureau

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau said they coordinated donations of feed and supplies for livestock and horses. They secured a storage yard and distributed feed, primarily hay, to affected farmers throughout the county.

42 | Winter 2018

came extremely close to us and actually ended at our property line,” Gambonini said. Gambonini had never experienced such a close call with a natural disaster that could have destroyed her family’s legacy. “You usually hear about a fire, show your concern for the people affected, and go on with your life. It's a completely different experience when it's all of your family and friends who are in that area being affected.


coordinated donations of feed and supplies for livestock and horses. Our organization secured a storage yard and distributed feed, primarily hay, to affected farmers throughout the county. We distributed a lot of equine supplies to those who were affected and still have supplies available,� said a Sonoma County Farm Bureau representative. More than $550,000 has been raised through a fund Sonoma County Farm Bureau organized with the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation. Many in the community encountered housing damages or even lost their homes, but the housing fund raised money to help more than 150 Sonoma County agriculture workers and their families. Funds remaining after the initial costs will go toward other housing efforts for agriculture workers in the county. In addition to organizing donations, Sonoma County Farm Bureau hosted state leaders to address the agriculture

community in the county. Guests included Secretary of the California Department of Agriculture Karen Ross, who spoke at the Agricultural and Rural Lands Fire Recovery and Resource Town Hall on Oct. 30. Sonoma County is home to a wide variety of agricultural commodities from dairy cattle to grapes. Crop values in the county in 2016 totaled close to $900 million, according to the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s 2016 Crop Report. The devastation the fires caused to Northern California in October is estimated to have caused over $9 billion in damages, according to an article in the Sacramento Bee. Even more fires ripped through the Golden State in 2017 and flames took out thousands of acres of land in Southern California. Farming communities affected by natural disasters can be blindsided when devastation occurs to the land and livestock they are rooted to and rely on. However, with the assistance of community-minded people and organizations like county farm bureaus, there is strong support toward the road to recovery.

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