MARCH 23, 2022
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2 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
How agricultural technology can help improve sustainability S ustainable agriculture is an approach to farming that will allow modern farmers to meet the needs of a growing population while enhancing environmental quality. That can benefit both current and future generations, and technology will play a vital role in realizing the goals of sustainable agriculture. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, sustainable agriculture is designed to meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. That’s a worthy goal, especially in the face of a growing global population that the United Nations estimates will increase by two billion persons by 2050. There are numerous benefits to utilizing sustainable agriculture technology, which can be especially advantageous to modern farmers. Efficient land management Modeling technologies can be utilized to make more efficient use of land. According to Sustainable Brands, a global community of brand innovators, modeling technologies can be employed in a host of ways, including
to identify tillage practices and the status of tile drainage. Certain agricultural technologies have been designed to predict the performance of cropland, which can allow farmers to more effectively and efficiently use their land. Farmers also can employ modeling technologies to determine soil health and water needs and usage, which can benefit the land and ensure resources aren’t wasted. Utilization of such technologies ensures farmers can meet the needs of modern consumers without affecting future farmers’ ability to do the same.
Reduce runoff The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that runoff poses a significant threat to the environment. When runoff occurs, fertilizer, bacteria and other pollutants find their way into streams, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Sustainable Brands notes that nanotechnology is an efficient way to deliver nutrients to crops that can improve both the efficacy of the nutrients and reduce runoff.
Protect crops Sustainable Brands notes that agricultural biologicals are inputs derived from natural materials that have low toxicity. That low toxicity reduces their environmental impact. Agricultural biologicals utilize the properties of such things as bacteria, fungi and even
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insects to support healthy crops, potentially improving yield without adversely affecting the environment. Sustainable agriculture technologies can help modern farmers and their successors meet the needs of a rapidly growing global population.
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3 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
The challenges climate change poses to agriculture C
limate change poses an array of challenges. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes that the impacts of climate change on various sectors of society are interrelated, a connection that mirrors the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The human health crisis that arose during the pandemic affected all aspects of life, as illnesses limited worker productivity, thus affecting the global supply chain, including the availability of food. Scientists warn that a similar scenario could play out as a result of climate change. The agricultural sector could face considerable challenges in the years to come. The Fourth National Climate Assessment is a governmentmandated report that must be delivered to the United States Congress once every four years. Among the many aims of the report are to provide an analysis of the effects of global changes on the natural environment and agriculture. The report also must project major trends for the next 25 to 100 years. The most recent report, delivered in 2018, noted that changing precipitation patterns could intensify in the coming years, leading to more intense periods of heavy rain and longer dry periods. Those shifting patterns and other changes could lead to an increase in conditions and
weather events that pose unique challenges to the agricultural sector. • Flooding: The Union of Concerned Scientists notes that many agricultural regions of the United States have already experienced increased flooding. The effects of flooding on
the agricultural sector are often devastating and include accelerated soil erosion, water pollution and damage to infrastructure that challenges farmers’ ability to get food from their farms to stores and, ultimately, consumers’ dinner tables.
The basics of vertical farming F
arms often inspire awe thanks to their beauty and the serenity of the areas that surround them. Though no farms may inspire such feelings as strongly as those in the heart of the countryside, another type of farm can induce a sense of awe as well. Vertical farms vary in size, but the largest ones mimic the appearance of skyscrapers if the skyscrapers were made from plants. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, increasing production of fresh greens and vegetables near urban populations will be a necessity in the decades to come. That’s because estimates from the United Nations indicate the global population will exceed nine billion persons by 2050, by which time two-thirds of the world’s people will live in urban settings. Vertical farming could be vital to meeting the demands for healthy foods by 2050, making it worth anyone’s while to gain a basic understanding of this unique way to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. What is vertical farming? Vertical farming is a type of controlled environment agriculture (CEA). According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, CEA combines engineering, plant science and computer-
managed greenhouse control technologies to optimize plant growing systems. CEA systems enable stable control of the plant environment, making it possible for growers to control temperature, light and CO2 during the growing process. Vertical farms grow foods in stacked layers, which gives large vertical farms their skyscraper-like appearance. Some vertical farms employ techniques similar to greenhouses, utilizing natural light when it’s available and augmenting that with artificial lighting to ensure the plants grow regardless of the conditions outside. What are some advantages to vertical farming? Perhaps the biggest advantage to vertical farming is the potential for the practice to meet future food demands in a way that the USDA deems environmentally responsible and sustainable. Vertical farming operations in urban areas can offer lower emissions because fresh fruits and vegetables will not need to be transported from rural areas to urban locales. The USDA also notes that vertical farming operations reduce water runoff by a considerable margin, helping to conserve water. The Vertical Harvest farm in Jackson,
• Drought: The National Integrated Drought Information System reports that the primary direct economic impact of drought in the agricultural sector is crop failure and pasture losses. The Government of Canada notes that areas of western Canada are already experiencing frequent and severe droughts, and scientists expect other areas of the country to be affected by drought more often in the years to come. The same goes for the United States, which the UCS notes has already dealt with severe drought in California, the Great Plains and the midwest. Depleted water supplies are a byproduct of drought, and such depletion can take a toll on crops and livestock. • Economics: The effects of climate change on crops and livestock may force farmers to change the nature of their farms. The UCS notes that farmers may be forced to choose crop varieties and animal breeds that are suited to the new conditions sparked by climate change. Going in a new direction could force farmers to make potentially costly investments in machinery and other changes as they make the transition. Climate change will pose unique challenges to the agricultural sector that could force farmers to make some difficult decisions in the years ahead.
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Wyoming, produces 100,000 pounds of vegetables per year and uses a fraction of the water of traditional farms with similar outputs. Utilizing hydroponics and moving carousels, Vertical Harvest consumes 90 percent less water than traditional farms. Access to nutrient-rich foods is another benefit to vertical farms. As urban populations grow and climate change affects crop yields, city dwellers may struggle to procure healthy, nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Vertical farming operations that are not vulnerable to climate change can eliminate that concern, ensuring urban populations access to healthy, nutritious foods. Vertical farms can be awe-inspiring and figure to play a vital role in the future of agriculture.
Agricultural technology, often referred to as “AgTech,” is playing an increasingly bigger role on modern farms, and that role is evident when examining AgTech startups’ growing access to venture capital. Data from PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association’s PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, a quarterly report on venture capital activity in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, indicates that AgTech startups received $6.1 billion in VC investments in 2020. That reflects a nearly 60 percent increase in investment over 2019. Weaknesses in the agricultural and food supply chain revealed during the pandemic undoubtedly drove some of that investment. Widespread recognition of a need for improvements within the agricultural sector so it can meet the demands of a global population that the United Nations estimates will increase by two billion people by 2050 also likely contributed to the considerable rise in VC investment in AgTech startups.
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How to involve more young people in agriculture T
he agricultural industry will undergo exciting changes as it looks to overcome developing challenges in the decades ahead. Technology will continue to play a pivotal role in the agricultural sector, making agriculture an evolving and exciting career path for young professionals. Much has been made of projections that suggest the world population is increasingly looking to urban areas to call home. Though data from the United Nations indicates urban areas could grow by 2.5 billion people by 2050, more recent UN data indicates that 90 percent of that increase will take place in Asia and Africa. All told, estimates indicate that rural areas will remain home to 3.1 billion people by 2050. A sizable rural population and the challenges climate change and population growth will present underscores how important the agricultural sector will be in the coming decades. That means there should be plenty of opportunities for young people to make an impact, especially if more efforts are made to encourage them to consider careers in agriculture.
• Encourage agr iculture-based curriculum. After recognizing that the majority of Kenyan students had no access to farming training and education, the organization Farm Africa initiated a program to make agriculture more accessible to students. Students who participated learned about everything from keeping livestock to marketing produce for global markets. Similar programs can be encouraged in developed countries where opportunities in the field of agriculture figure to increase in the years to come. • Emphasize technological advancements in the field. Modern young people are growing up with technology all around them, but few may be aware of the vital role technology plays in the agricultural sector. Young people’s ears may perk up upon hearing terms like “robotics” technologies are now a big part of life on the farm. Recognition of that may compel more young people to pursue careers in agriculture. • Highlight the challenges ahead and how agricultural professionals can help overcome them. UN projections indicate the
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global population will grow by more than two billion people by 2050. Finding a way to feed all of those people in the face of climate change will be no small task, but it’s a task that will require dedicated agricultural professionals. Educators and parents can emphasize these challenges when speaking to young people about a career in the agricultural sector, noting that such careers will present real opportunities to make a difference. Young people looking for rewarding careers in an exciting, ever-evolving field can be encouraged to consider the agricultural sector.
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5 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
Saving bees one hive at a time: S The basics of backyard beehives cientists and environmentalists have been warning the public for years that honeybees are disappearing at alarming rates. Scientists were initially uncertain in regard to what was decimating bee populations. Even though no single cause is to blame, data has pointed to pesticide use and the mysterious colony collapse disorder, which is a name given to the dwindling colonies seen around the world. National Geographic News says bees are essential because of their roles as pollinators. Agriculture industries rely on honeybees, especially managed honeybees, to keep commercial crops pollinated and productive. Estimates indicate that roughly one-third of U.S. crops rely on honeybees — accounting for more than $15 billion in crop production. Without bees, the costs of everything from blueberries to apples to broccoli would rise, as farmers would have to use a different, more expensive pollination method. Even though backyard beehives or bee farms may not be crucial to consumer agriculture, bringing healthy colonies back to various areas is beneficial to the environment overall. The art of beekeeping has become an important endeavor, and just about anyone with some time and resources can start their own apiary. • Start by studying bees. Interested beekeepers can begin their journey by reading all they can on beekeeping. The American Bee Journal or backyard beekeeping books and articles are great places to start. Local beekeeping associations also are invaluable resources for information on local bee species and traits. • Know the laws. It’s important to get the go-ahead from local authorities before introducing bees into the community. By checking city or town ordinances, potential beekeepers will know how many hives are allowed and which type of property sizes are amenable and allowable. • Get the right supplies. Research can help prospective beekeepers understand the type of equipment they will need. One can purchase this equipment, but
some beekeeping organizations may be willing to lend or rent it to interested parties. Hive boxes, bottom boards, a veil, a jacket, a smoker, and a top feeder are just some of the supplies needed. • Order bees. Bees can be acquired from other beekeeping enthusiasts or can be ordered online. The bees will
need to consist of the queen, drones and worker bees. According to the resource Bees Brothers, a starter set of bees is called a “nuc.” Bee suppliers start selling in the winter for spring swarms. • Place the hive. It’s important to set up hives away from foot traffic. In addition, face hives away from strong
winds, with the ideal directions being east and south. Hives need sunshine and some shade on summer afternoons, advises BackYardHive. With time, homeowners can become successful beekeepers and do their part to replenish much-needed bee colonies.
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7 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
Protecting private drinking water sources M
any people do not give much thought to their drinking water or where it comes from, only paying mind if the color, taste or pressure is unusual or if warnings are issued in the event of a water main break or flood. Water for homes and businesses is often sourced from municipal water sources, but private wells also provide water. According to the U.S. Census Housing Survey 2015, 13 million households in the United States rely on private wells to supply their water. Many of these homes are located in hard-to-reach or rural areas where municipal water pipes do not travel. Public water supplies are typically overseen by a governing body, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency. However, these organizations may not regulate private wells, nor will they provide recommended criteria or standards for individual wells. As a result, it is up to individuals to make sure their well water is safe for consumption. Private well owners may be surprised to learn that, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, at least 20 percent of private wells contain contaminants, of
which 23 percent have levels high enough to be a potential health concern. Well water is groundwater found in subterranean aquifers. This groundwater comes from rainfall that is absorbed in the soil and slowly seeps downward through the dirt, rock and various underground spaces. Along this path it can pick up contaminants. Common sources of contaminants include farm waste, fertilizers and pesticides, chemical spills, poorly maintained septic systems, and seepage from landfills. Arsenic is also naturally occurring in groundwater, and in some areas the levels are above the EPA threshold for safety. Unfortunately, many contaminants are undetectable to the eyes, nose and mouth. And unlike public drinking water systems, people with wells typically do not test their water as often as they should. The EPA says that well water should be tested annually for bacteria and nitrates. The environmental medicine experts at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey suggest testing for lead, arsenic, radon, uranium, and other heavy metals every three to five years. The National Groundwater Association
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says county health departments can conduct water tests for bacteria and nitrates. Those who want to test for other substances can conduct water tests for bacteria and nitrates.
Those who want to test for other substances can get a list of state-certified drinking water testing labs. In the United States at https:// water.usgs.gov.
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8 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
Solutions for meat and poultry shortages C
OVID-19 continues to disrupt businesses all over the world. Supply chain interruptions and a generalized slow down of transport and shipping have become the norm since COVID has wreaked havoc on the globe. The meat and poultry industry continues to be adversely affected by COVID-related interruptions. COVID has complicated the path from the farm to the grocery stores. Various reports indicate that more than 30 plants that produce beef, pork and chicken shut down between late April and early May as a result of virus outbreaks among workers. Plant operators say it’s difficult to curtail coronavirus when it spreads so easily among plant workers in the cold, damp temperatures. In turn, shoppers are not only finding severe shortages on these products, they’re also seeing beef, chicken and pork prices rising. Kroger, Costco, ShopRite, and many other grocery store chains have restricted how much meat customers can buy at a time. Nearly one-fifth of Wendy’s restaurants in the United
States removed hamburgers and other beef products from their online menus, according to Stephens Inc., due to shortages. Other restaurants have had to increase prices. Many consumers are seeking alternatives to meat in response to shortages and rising prices. This may be a time when some turn more readily to vegetarianism, or at the very least, incorporate more meat alternatives into their diets until the wave of shortages has subsided. Here are some plant-based foods that can bridge the gap until meat and poultry supplies are back to pre-coronavirus levels. • Eggplant: This vegetable has a meaty, earthy texture and can be prepared in many ways. From dips to stews to ground veggie patties, eggplant holds up in many recipes. • Mushrooms : Large portobello mushrooms have long served as burger substitutes. Chopped or sliced mushrooms also provide meaty texture and bite. • Jackfruit: The texture of jackfruit is quite similar to shredded chicken and it can be a replacement for pulled pork.
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• Soy products: From tofu to seitan to tempeh, soy often can replace other proteins in many different dishes and long has been a staple of plant-based diets. • Cauliflower: This mild vegetable has been replacing many different foods for years. Cauliflower has been used in lieu of potatoes, eggs and even flour in pizza crusts. It can serve as a healthy, non-meat alternative to meatballs. • Lentils: Lentils have a very high level of protein by weight and they’re only 1 percent fat. They’re an excellent ingredient to add bulk to stews and soups. In the face of meat and poultry shortages, consumers can turn to plant-based alternatives to keep meals satisfying and flavorful.
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Career paths in agriculture
s the world population grows, the role of the agricultural sector will become even more prominent. There should be significant demand for agricultural professionals capable of meeting the challenges facing the world as it confronts climate change and food shortages. That makes now a perfect time for students to explore potential career paths in the agricultural sector. Agricultural engineer: Agricultural
engineers employ engineering principles to solve issues related to agricultural production. An agricultural engineer may design facilities or machinery or develop solutions to address problems related to irrigation and soil conservation, among other projects. Students interested in a career as an agricultural engineer can expect to study mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer engineering, and, of course, engineering
analysis and design as they pursue their degrees. Agronomist: Agronomists work with crops and soil management and may work as analysts, environmentalists or forecasters. Agronomists may be tasked with analyzing soil structure and chemistry and study how water is moving within soil. Students will study agriculture, biology, chemistry, and physics en route to earning a degree that will help them become an agronomist. Mathematics also will be part of their studies, and statistics courses will be part of those studies. Biochemist: Biochemists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and biological processes. Within the agricultural sector, biochemists will contribute to the development of agricultural products, including those that will serve a medicinal function. Biochemistry, chemistry, biology, calculus, and physics will be part of students’ courseload as they pursue degrees that prepare them for a career as a biochemist. Climatologist: Climatologists will figure prominently in the agricultural sector as the effects of climate change manifest themselves more readily over the next several decades. Climatologists study climate change, variability and the biosphere. Climatologists
offer insight about the effects of climate change on the growth and development of agricultural products, including fruits, grains and vegetables. The natural sciences feature prominently in climatologists’ educations, and students also will study meteorology as part of their coursework. Food scientist: Food scientists study chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and engineering so they can assist in the development of new food products. Food scientists may manage processing plants and some serve as researchers in an effort to solve problems related to food production. Plant pathologist: Plant pathologists specialize in analyzing issues related to plant diseases. Research features prominently in plant pathologists’ work, and many work in university settings. Some plant pathologists work for companies attempting to develop pest-resistant plants. Advanced degrees are necessary to work as a plant pathologist, and students will study mycology, bacteriology, virology, and physiology, among other subjects, as they pursue their degrees. The agricultural sector employs millions of people across the globe. Many of those people do interesting work as they attempt to address issues facing the agricultural sector.
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Nitrate Well Testing, Replacement Water Program Expanded R
esidents of rural areas surrounding Modesto and Turlock now have more choices to ensure the water they drink from their wells is safe, thanks to a new collaboration between a local nonprofit and the State of California. Valley Water Collaborative (VWC), a local organization of farmers, businesses and cities, has been offering free well testing to rural residents since May 2021. Thanks to a new $5.5 million grant from the State Water Resources Control Board and its SAFER/Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund program, VWC is now offering more comprehensive water testing and expanded options for dealing with wells that are contaminated. “When we started this program in May 2021, we only tested wells for nitrate contamination,” said Parry Klassen, Executive Director of VWC. “While nitrate is a common pollutant in rural wells,
residents need to be aware that other potential contaminants, such as arsenic and pesticides, are being found in private wells. “This new partnership with the State enables us to test domestic wells for other potential contaminants that were previously not covered by our program. When a problem with the other contaminants is identified in the water supply of a disadvantaged household or households in disadvantaged communities, we can now provide a water treatment or filtering option to ensure people have access to clean drinking water.” The $5.5 million grant also opens the door to providing more choices for safe water. Before the grant, VWC provided free bottled water delivery to eligible residents when nitrate was identified as a problem. The newly expanded program opens the
door for other alternatives, such as in home treatment systems, which are shown to be effective with contaminants found in the region including arsenic, 1,2,3-TCP, and DBCP, among others. Since VWC initiated its nitrate testing program in May 2021, more than 600 applications have been received for free testing of drinking water wells located in the semi-rural areas surrounding cities in the Modesto and Turlock groundwater basins. Unlike cities with public water systems managed under rigorous water sampling and health standards, private domestic wells are largely unregulated and depend on landowners to ensure the water is safe to drink. Because public water systems deliver safe water, residences connected to these systems are not eligible for the program. As the expanded program rolls out in mid-March, VWC will notify its 200 existing
water recipients that their wells can be tested for the other contaminants for free. Also, previous program applicants whose wells tested below the nitrate standard. “The goal of VWC is to make available to any private well owner a free water analysis and if problems are identified, free water treatment,” added Klassen. “This new SAFER support will be a tremendous help in meeting this goal.” Rural residents who depend on private wells for drinking water and are interested in learning more about the program and applying can visit the VWC website at www. valleywaterc.org. The VWC website also hosts an interactive map where residences can enter their address and see if they are located in an area with historically high nitrate levels.
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12 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
Fifteen facts about horses D
ogs may be man’s best friend, but horses have been companion and assistance animals for millenia. In fact, archaeological evidence indicates that humans formed intermingled relationships with horses nearly 5,500 years ago. Horses provided people with much of the essentials they required for group survival. Khan Academy indicates that the domestication of the horse ushered in an era of innovation in transport and communication. Horses also were invaluable animals on the farm or in early villages. Horses still serve many practical functions, but they’re more often than not companion animals or relied on for riding hobbies and sport. Horses are majestic and fascinating animals, and these 15 interesting facts show just how incredible these beautiful animals are. 1. Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up. 2. Horses have the largest eyes of any mammal that lives on land.
3. People once believed horses were colorblind. In fact, horses can see colors, but are better at detecting yellows and greens than purples and violets. 4. A horse’s body contains 205 bones. 5. Because a horse’s eyes are on the side of its head, it is capable of seeing nearly 360 degrees at one time. 6. The fastest sprinting speed ever recorded for a horse is 55 miles per hour, though they generally trot at around four miles per hour. 7. Horses evolved from a very small animal about the size of a dog or baby lamb that was called a hyracotherium. This ancestor lived in tropical rain forests in North America and ate leaves. 8. Hooves are made from the same protein that comprises human fingernails and hair. 9. The Przewalski’s horse is the only truly wild horse species still in existence. The last remaining wild population is in Mongolia. 10. A male horse is called a stallion, while
a young male horse is a colt. A female horse is a mare, while a young female is a filly. 11. Ponies are not immature horses. They are a small variety of horse. 12. Estimates suggest there are around 60 million horses in the world. 13. Early civilizations used horses as a form of food. But in 732 A.D., Pope Gregory III said the ritual consumption of horse meat was a pagan practice and had to be abolished. Islamic and Jewish communities also advocated toward avoiding horse meat. Today there is no specific law in the U.S. banning horse meat, but most people still steer clear of it. 14. An adult horse’s brain weighs 22 ounces, or about half the weight of a human brain. 15. Horses like sweet flavors, which is why you can tempt them with sweet treats like apples and sugar cubes. TF207119
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13 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
Women In Agriculture: Jennifer Dickey
By: Anna Genasci, Stan Co Farm Bureau In this article, we get to know Jennifer Dickey, an exotic animal enthusiast, farmer, pesticide applicator and, probably her favorite job, auntie. Jennifer was born in Sacramento to Ag Teacher parents. Her dad, Randy, grew up in the Turlock area, and when Jennifer was about five, they moved back to the area to help her grandpa farm. Jennifer graduated from Turlock High School and headed to Merced Junior College. Not for an agriculture degree, but to study exotic animals. Jennifer was very involved during her 4-H and FFA years, raising pigs and even creating a swine breeding program. But as she headed off to Merced JC, she wanted to chase her passion. During this time, she worked at Fresno Zoo. Before long, Jennifer was accepted to Moorpark College to work towards a degree in exotic animal training management. She even worked with elephants at Marine World. It was a, tooclose-for-comfort encounter with an elephant that helped Jennifer make her decision when she was accepted to Cal Poly. At Cal Poly, she studied Agriculture Business and Animal Science. Following her
graduation she worked for Lodi Zoo for a couple of years, but her passion for farming and her love of helping farmers, brought her back to Stanislaus. As Jennifer grew in her career, she became a Pesticide Inspector with Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner’s office. During this time, she got the opportunity to work with growers and help ensure safety and compliance in the field. “I really love knowing the rules and figuring out how to implement on the farm,” said Jennifer. It was that love of navigating regulations and helping growers that propelled Jennifer to her next job. She joined the team at MVP, now Cal Ag Safety, and became a Food Safety expert. It is here in Jennifer’s journey that the tables turned. Her dad, Randy, was running a custom farming and spraying business and was looking to bring on someone interested in eventually taking the reins. This was a no brainer for Jennifer and for the last 12 years she has been working for the family business, CR Orchards. Now, don’t think for a second that Randy gave Jennifer a cushy role. Jennifer started at the
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bottom, running the sweeper, stacking brush and putting in long hours during harvest. While the long hours haven’t changed much over the years, her responsibilities have grown. Today, Jennifer is in charge of HR, hiring, scheduling and manages the day-to-day operations. What I have yet to mentioned, and it is important to truly understand Jennifer’s work ethic and dedication, is that she has been battling vertigo for the last several years. To just say that Jennifer is dizzy, does not do it justice. Over the past years, Jennifer has seen specialist after specialist, tried multiple medications, therapies and at times has had to walk with a cane to avoid falling. All the while she has worked. During busy times like harvest or spray seasons, she has had to hire multiple drivers. “I have a driver for the mornings, one for evenings and one for the weekends.” Just because Jennifer can’t drive, because of her vertigo, doesn’t mean the work stops. About a year ago Jennifer, from the request of her doctor, took 30 days off. Now, I don’t just mean didn’t go to work for a month, but she rented a cabin, turned off all devices and gave her brain a chance to heal. What she did bring was music and a Bible. “I would spend several hours a day reading the Bible sitting in the sun,” shared Jennifer. Jennifer’s 30 days paid off, in multiple ways! When she first arrived at the cabin, she couldn’t maneuver much without a cane, by then end of the month she was walking on her own and even taking short trips with the golf cart. And even better than he ability to move around more, was her deepened relationship with God. I love how she describes it. “I have always believed in God. But it was like I was walking down the street and He was on the other side, like ‘hey over there,’ but that was about it.” Today Jennifer and God are on the same sidewalk. Another element to all of Jennifer’s hard work, are ALL of her animals. Jennifer has about 70 exotic animals, that take about 2-3 hours a day to care for. “I have snakes, lizards, tortoises, a fox, porcupine, skunk, alligator, and an owl – they all bring me joy. In addition to the farming and caring for her animals, Jennifer runs a small non-profit, Cruzin’ Critters. Cruzin’ Critters is a nonprofit animal education organization that travels throughout the Central Valley of California providing animals and presenters for any event. Our animals come to you and create an interactive educational experience unmatched by books or television by providing hands on experiences with fun, innovative learning. Our programs are fun for children and adults alike. All of our
animal ambassadors have come to us with their own unique story they would love to share with you. At Cruzin’ Critters we provide homes for injured, displaced, non-releasable, unwanted, and geriatric animals. These animals have become ambassadors to help us educate you about the marvels of the animal kingdom. More information: https://www.cruzin-critters.com/ I admire Jennifer’s passion and perseverance through her vertigo. As she humbly says, when I said, “I don’t know how you do it,” her reply, “what other choice do I have?” Jennifer’s goals don’t end here. Jennifer wants to grow the family business, look for ways to improve and innovate. And I believe it is her thoughtfulness with her customers and employees she will make it happen. Jennifer’s customer recently lost her husband just before harvest. Of course, CR Orchards was there to help. But Jennifer took the time to drop off flowers and a bag of almonds to say, “I am sorry for your loss.” Or, when I ask her about the challengers of leading a harvest crew, she says with a smile, “for the last four years the same guys have come back to us to work harvest. We want them back, they want to come back and we give them opportunities to learn new equipment. I really respect them, I listen to their ideas and I try to speak in Spanish – the best I can,” smiled Jennifer. I cannot wrap this article up without mentioning Jennifer’s nephews. She is definitely the “cool auntie,” hosting sleepovers, time with her array of animals, those boys definitely have her heart. Thank you to Jennifer for your commitment to agriculture, your faith, and your passion for critters – the four legged and two legged ones.
y Farm Bureau Thanks Wayne Zipser for his County New Farm Bureau Thanks Wayne Zipser forCaitie his dStanislaus Welcomes Executive Director, D Contributions and Welcomes New Executive Director, Caitie Diemel 14 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
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Diemel earned her Bachelor ’s odesto, Ca – The Stanislaus County During Zipser’s tenure, he prevailed in a Degree from UC eight Santa Cruz in Business Farm Bureau (SCFB) Board has lawsuit with Stanislaus County vs Building County, has spent the last years serving 14 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022 named Caitie Diemel as the new Executive Industry Association regarding farmland Management Economics and graduated growers herLeadership role as from the California Farmin Bureau after attending Fresno he returned Director. Diemel currently serves State, as the mitigation, chaired theStanislaus Stanislaus WaterCounty Programs Director for SCFB and will step Advisory Committee and co-founded East Program, Class of 2016. for SCFB and Growerwhile providing programs to assist its farms home with his father. After serving on Programs Director In her current role, she is responsible for into thisto rolefarm this Spring. San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition. family members and educate the general budgeting, Relations with East growing San membership, Joaquin events, Waterand Zipser. Zipser We thank Zipser for his commitment to the Diemel SCFBsucceeds BoardWayne for several years, he became public of needs and importance of agriculture. has been involved with Farm Bureau for agriculture and his passion for the farmers, advocating for growers and providing helpful Quality Coalition. Executive Director in 2003. resources. more than 35 years, first as Director, Officer, ranchers and dairymen in this county. for our members ever before. We ’s President and currently Executive Director. As Zipser retires from official Farm Diemel earned herthan Bachelor During Zipser’s tenure, he prevailed in a to lead this wonderful team Zipser oversees all operations of SCFB and Bureau business, he leaves the organization have a tremendous team of highly talented Degree from UC Santa Cruz in Business staff members and a very forwardis an integral part ofStanislaus the managementCounty of East in vs goodBuilding hands. About Stanislaus Cou lawsuit with thinking board who continue to serve San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition. Diemel, born and raised in Tuolumne Management Economics and graduated To serve as the voice of S Industry regarding farmland Zipser wasAssociation born and raised in Ceres, and County, has spent the last eight years serving Stanislaus County agriculture. I am so proud from the California Farm Bureau Leadership to lead this wonderful team,” said Diemel . after attending Fresno State, he returned StanislausWater County growers in her role as agriculture at all levels of g mitigation, chaired the Stanislaus About Stanislaus County Farm Bureau home to farm with his father. After serving on Programs Director for SCFB and Grower Program, ClassToof 2016. providing programs to as serve as the voice of Stanislaus County Advisory Committee co-founded East the SCFB Board for several years, and he became Relations with East San Joaquin Water In her current role, she is responsible for agriculture at all levels of government, Executive Director in 2003. Quality Coalition. family members and edu
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15 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
16 | Farm & Ranch • March 23, 2022
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