Posts Tagged: Doug Parker
Pledging to work together to solve water scarcity issues, Israel's Agricultural Research Organization signed a memorandum of understanding with UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis on July 16. The signing ceremony kicked off the 2018 Future of Water for Irrigation in California and Israel Workshop at the UC ANR building in Davis.
“Israel and California agriculture face similar challenges, including drought and climate change,” said Doug Parker, director of UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources. “In the memorandum of understanding, Israel's Agricultural Research Organization, UC Davis and UC ANR pledge to work together more on research involving water, irrigation, technology and related topics that are important to both water-deficit countries.”
The agreement will enhance collaboration on research and extension for natural resources management in agriculture, with an emphasis on soil, irrigation and water resources, horticulture, food security and food safety.
“It's a huge pleasure for us to sign an MOU with the world leaders in agricultural research like UC Davis and UC ANR,” said Eli Feinerman, director of Agricultural Research Organization of Israel. “When good people, smart people collaborate the sky is the limit.”
Feinerman, Mark Bell, UC ANR vice provost, and Ermias Kebreab, UC Davis professor and associate vice provost of academic programs and global affairs, represented their respective institutions for the signing. Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary, and Shlomi Kofman, Israel's consul general to the Pacific Northwest, joined in celebrating the partnership.
“The important thing is to keep working together and develop additional frameworks that can bring the people of California and Israel together as researchers,” Kofman said. “But also to work together to make the world a better place.”
Ross said, “It's so important for us to find ways and create forums to work together because water is the issue in this century and will continue to be.”
She noted that earlier this year the World Bank and United Nations reported that 40 percent of the world population is living with water scarcity. “Over 700,000 people are at risk of relocation due to water scarcity,” Ross said. “We're already seeing the refugee issues that are starting to happen because of drought, food insecurity and the lack of water.”
Ross touted the progress stemming from CDFA's Healthy Soils Program to promote healthy soils on California's farmlands and ranchlands and SWEEP, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, which has provided California farmers $62.7 million in grants for irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water on agricultural operations.
“We need the answers of best practices that come from academia, through demonstration projects so that our farmers know what will really work,” Ross said.
As Parker opened the water workshop, sponsored by the U.S./Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Program, Israel Agricultural Research Organization and UC ANR, he told the scientists, “The goal of this workshop is really to be creating new partnerships, meeting new people, networking, and finding ways to work together in California with Israel, in Israel, with other parts of the world as well.”
Drawing on current events, Bell told the attendees, “If you look at the World Cup, it's about effort, it's about teamwork, it's about diversity of skills, and I think that's what this event does. It brings together those things.”
Doug Parker, the director of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources California Institute for Water Resources. Parker was a guest on City Visions, a call-in talk show on San Francisco's local public radio station KALW.
"This is one of the things that has happened in past droughts," Parker said. "If you look at the drought of 1976-77, that was the beginning of a push for irrigation efficiency in California. The state put money into weather stations across the state."
The drought that ran from the late 80s to early 90s led to changes in state law that partially opened up the opportunity for water markets in California. The current drought has resulted in new groundwater management legislation.
The focus of the hour-long program, hosted by David Onek, was the impact of the drought on the food Californians eat.
Parker explained that the state's agricultural industry is part of the global food market. If California residents choose to eat foods from other areas to reduce their water footprints, they are likely increasing their environmental footprint due to impacts in those other places and transportation costs.
Boycotting certain crops perceived to be water guzzlers probably won't have the intended impact either, he said.
"Growers will shift what they do because of the drought," Parker said. "But these are long-term decisions. They don't have the flexibility to make quick changes because of the drought."
Nathanael Johnson, the food writer for Grist.org, was also a guest on the show. He agreed that boycotting California produce because of its water use is ill-advised.
"If you are choosing not to buy almonds or avocados from California, you're not supporting the farmer," Johnson said. "You're not putting water back in the aquifer. You are making it tougher for that farmers to make a profit. Boycotting just discourages farmers."
One of the people who called into the show asked about the affiliation and funding sources of the California Institute for Water Resources.
"It is a unit of the University of California, part of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources," Parker explained. "We are located at the Office of the President. We have offices in every county in the state working with growers on irrigation and other things. We are funded by the University of California and also have funding form the U.S. Geological Survey."
The same caller asked why cotton is grown in California during the drought. Johnson said there is no overarching rule that dictates what crops may be grown where.
"Individual farmers are making those decisions," he said.
Parker pointed out that California cotton acreage is just a fraction of what it used to be.
"Most of the cotton grown is of higher quality that doesn't grow as well elsewhere," he said.
More than a half million acres of California farmland has been left fallow this year, making a deep cut in the state's ag economy, reported Heesun Wee on CNBC.com.
"Land is incredibly productive. Nobody leaves land idle unless something really bad happens," said Dan Sumner, the director of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center, based at UC Davis. The bad thing that happened is four winters of well-below-average precipitation in California.
According to Sumner and his colleagues' analysis, 564,000 acres of land have been left fallow, statewide revenue losses amount to $1.8 billion, and there are 8,550 fewer farm jobs.
The dairy industry is being hit particularly hard. The economy of China, a big U.S. dairy consumer, has slowed while at the same time dairy farmers are paying higher feed prices because hay farmers have lowered production due to water shortages.
"Dairy is in a world of hurt right now," Sumner said.
Reporters Jim Carlton and Ilan Brat reported in the Wall Street Journal today about the impact of the state water board's decision to revoke some senior water rights in California.
Holders of senior water rights are concerned that the state has stricter and longer-term cuts in store for the future, cuts that could reshape how and what they grow, said Doug Parker, director of UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources. "The drought has really taught people that water supplies aren't as permanent as they thought," Parker said.
California's irrigated agriculture is suffering due to drought.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources expert for an article in Aftenposten (Evening Post), Norway's largest newspaper.
"Look at this," said west side farmer John Diener. "In this field, I tried to cultivate a type of wheat that doesn't need as much water. But it did not (thrive). We did not get enough rain. Now the entire crop has withered." (Translation by Google Translate.)
Rønneberg walked on the bank of Millerton Lake, north of Fresno, where he would have been wading through water in a normal year. He reported that the reservoir is at 30 percent of its capacity.
The reporter also touched on a common theme during the 2010-14 drought: the water needs of California's almond crop, which has more than doubled in size over the last 20 years. Each almond, the story said, requires 4.2 liters of water.
"There are many who believe that almonds require much more water than other plants. That's just nonsense," Diener said. "But there are some who have an interest in blaming farmers for water shortages, and they have chosen to use the almond as a kind of symbol."
The Norwegian newspaper reported that urban Californians were irritated when Gov. Brown's April 1 water conservation restrictions didn't include agriculture.
“Why should they give up their lawns when farmers are growing vegetables, grains and nuts?” the story asks, noting that a significant portion of alfalfa and almonds grown in California are exported to other countries.
Doug Parker, director of the UC ANR California Institute for Water Resources, said that's the wrong way to look at the issue. “So what if it is exported?” Parker said. “We also import plenty of food to California. That's how the global market works.”
Orange County Register.
The reporter spoke to a yard worker who said customers are asking for service once a week, where they used to have it twice a week.
“The grass is starting to die out because they've been told to bring down their watering times. Before, they watered two times a day, four times a week. Now, they only water once a week," the worker said.
But in time, the industry is bound to adjust to a new water-conserving reality, assured Doug Parker, director of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) California Institute for Water Resources.
“Eventually, with redesign and installation, those landscapes will need maintenance as well. So it could be in the long term, those maintenance crews come back to where they were," Parker said. "They may not be mowing as much as they were, but the bushes will still need to be trimmed.”
Other drought news:
Ag woes have big impact on San Joaquin Valley economy
Tim Hearden, Capital Press, May 21, 2015
While agriculture may seem small compared to the entire California economy, it has a big impact on commerce in the San Joaquin Valley, according to Daniel Sumner, director of UC ANR's Agricultural Issues Center. “Statewide, agriculture is 2 percent of the state's economy,” Sumner said. “That's the number, and if agriculture is cut 10 percent, that's two-tenths of 1 percent (of the economy).” But, he adds, “…That doesn't mean it's tiny.” In some communities in western Fresno County, a lack of ag-related jobs because of fallowed acres has led to an unemployment rate of nearly 40 percent.