SCCAN Ag group meeting with Juan Hidalgo, Dave Sanford  Agriculture Commission Office      11/19/19. Attendees for SCCAN Carol, Susan, Magi, Pauline

Cordial discussion on a wide variety of agriculture topics, centered on our proposal to the County Supervisors.

We’re asking the Board to find funds to accelerate the transition to ”Climate Smart Ag”. The supported farming methods can greatly increase soil water retention and overall soil health reducing expenses for water and fertilizers. They will also put carbon back into the soil and help reduce long-term climate change.

We would like the county to provide supplemental grants to HSI, SWEEP applicants and well as smaller, simpler mini grants.

Our discussion included:

  • 1. Dissemination of info to farmers? – UCSC Extension Valerie Perez
  • 2. How does the Ag Commission Office work? – CA has one for each County  – close relationship with farmers

The Commission office primarily checks that regulations are followed state/fed/export.

Also handles communication/education with and for farmers. They collaborate with UCSC extension.

UC Ext. Valerie Perez helps with SWEEP applications; Mark Bolda specializes in berries, working to find solutions to pest problems, transitioning to less poisons, crop rotation with lettuce or broccoli. Also trapping insect pests with pheromones.

Other issues – water conservation SWEEP program – lots of drip irrigation.  (Some lettuce farmers may be still using overhead watering). Water is expensive and likely to become more so.

Compost?   County has 20% organic farming with compost use.

Encouraging cover crops – Fava bean and vetch, rye, conventional farmers also use these. The practive helps increase water retention.

Pajaro Valley Water Management – College Lake – farmed for 3 months – part of the year is a natural lake – proposal – use as a reservoir for irrigation water.

Salt water intrusion is an increasing problem. Info map at the end and a link.

Current HSI (Healthy Soils Initiative) and SWEEP (State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program) grant processes involve excruciating details – Onerous! Potential helpers – UC extension Valerie Perez, RCD Sasha Lozano, helping with applications and high tech water monitors etc. ? RCD is funded through private, state, and federal grants –

3. How to connect with more farmers?  Many are already “Savvy”  – more communication on Climate Change might help – talk to RCD Sasha Lozano.

4. Ed Kelly – PV farmer, EFT farming, berries – putting in a recharge basin – personal project.

5. Upcoming workshop on reduced tillage – Dec 6, Triple M Ranch, 420 Hall Rd Watsonville, flyer attached

(Juan’s office did not have this info prior to our visit – we left 2 flyers)  

The Ag commissioner’s office will be sending someone to Jan 2020 Asilomar Eco-Fair

6. Most farm workers are Spanish speakers – Pauline will send Climate slideshow info.

7. Pajaro Valley farming is very intensive with closely spaced parcels.  In 15 yrs many practices have changed. Many “organic” methods are now being conventionally used.  UC. Ext helps to distribute this info.

8. Methyl Bromide no longer allowed (a few exceptions) since 2016 (methyl iodide never allowed in CA). Still using chloropicrin 1-3 & di-chloro-propene. Now banned within ¼ mile of attended schools if any drifting is possible. There are currently no regulations near housing. County-wide the population growth is exerting pressure to extend housing into farming areas.

9. Pollinators – state programs – bee-hives  – previously a lack of communication between bee keepers and farmers sometimes led to hive deaths from pesticides- new high tech improvements will help protect bees.

10. Native plant strips? – RCD already encouraging mustard, vetch etc. between apple orchard rows.

11. Glycofosphate usage is decreasing compared to 10 yrs ago.

12. Is increased demand for organics increasing the practice?  – to a point but price is still an issue. UC Davis would have info on cost of conventional/organic. Transition is a 3 yr. process – cannot sell product as organic for 3 years.

13. All farmers need to follow rules to minimize drift from applications, but this relies on neighbor communications. Violations reported to Ag Comm. Their work includes unannounced visits. Pesticides are applied by conventional and organic farmers. (different compounds used.)

14. Our suggestions to Supervisors ? – Juan thinks they are good, but they would probably be implemented through RCD and UC ext. (Probably NOT Ag Commissioner)

Note for future follow-up Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, 141 Monte Vista Ave.Watsonville, CA 95076
Office Hours: M-F, 9:30-12, 1-4:30,  Phone: (831) 724-1356,  Fax: (831) 724-5821

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Map of Pajaro Valley Saltwater Intrusion

Salt water Intrusion Info at