The climate crisis makes the already unpredictable business of farming even more uncertain. COVID-19-related disruptions have compounded these challenges, by causing abrupt changes in agricultural markets and exposing vulnerabilities in the nation’s food supply. With the looming likelihood of an early wildfire season in northern California, there is urgency for sustainable solutions. Agriculture has the unique ability to transform these challenges into opportunities, offering resilient solutions to the impacts of climate change and meeting pandemic-related openings.
A drumbeat of media coverage of resilient California farmers has highlighted these opportunities over the past few months. Below are excerpts from a select few of them featuring CalCAN, advisors and partners. Visit our “In the News” page for a full list of stories about CalCAN’s work.
A Proud California Dairy Farmer Battles for Survival in Wildly Uncertain Times
By Evelyn Nieves, Inside Climate News, June 22, 2020
After 67 years of living and breathing dairy farming in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Scott Magneson cannot, will not, stop…
Two years ago, in a major conservation move, he added a $560,000 manure management and composting system, paid for by a state grant for “climate smart” agriculture projects. It’s a hopeful investment for the future, against the odds. Even before the coronavirus blindsided the world and upended the food delivery system, the iconic American family farm was already in crisis, its ranks shrinking before his eyes.
Making farms more climate resilient might protect California from wildfire damage
By Judith Redmond and Julie Morris, Sacramento Bee, Dec. 5, 2019
When you think about farms at the front lines of climate-related challenges, you may think of extreme weather, floods or drought. But did you know we’re also at the front lines of wildfire? Both of our farms — Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley and Morris Grassfed in San Benito County — have felt the stress of climate change. At Morris Grassfed, we’ve had to cut back our herd numbers so as not to overgraze during drought. Last June at Full Belly we came face to face with the Sand Fire, prompting mandatory evacuations and burning some of our farm buildings and 25 acres of heirloom wheat. One year before that, we were up-front observers of the fight to put out the County Fire that burned more than 90,000 acres, leaving still-prominent scars in the hills surrounding our farm.
Farming in the Age of Climate Change
Valley Public Radio, Nov. 22, 2019
Moderator Kathleen Schock explores how climate change is affecting agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley with panelists Renata Brillinger (CalCAN), Dr. Tapan Pathak (UC Merced), Ruth Dahlquist-Willard (UC Small Farm Program), and Fresno area organic grape and raisin farmer Steven Cardoza.
Way out past Denair, a family farms in a way that could help save the planet
By Brian Clark, Modesto Bee, Oct. 7, 2019
Seventeen years after it started to go organic, Burroughs Family Farms thrives in the foothills east of Denair. The 2,600-acre spread produces almonds, beef, milk, chickens, eggs and olive oil without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Rosie and Ward Burroughs and their children have emerged as leaders in the movement. The way they farm could do even greater good – helping to save the Earth from climate change. The family has curtailed the carbon emissions, from tractors and other sources, that have contributed to a general rise in global temperatures. And they have other practices that capture carbon in the soil and plant tissue.
“Everything is about regeneration, rebuilding and resilience,” Rosie Burroughs said during a tour for The Modesto Bee.
Farmers are living the facts of climate change. By focusing on soil, they can lead the way on climate adaptation.
By Alan Sano, Fresno Bee, Sept. 20, 2019
Here in the San Joaquin Valley, there’s not much debate anymore about the fact that our climate is changing. The 2013-16 drought made it hard to ignore; we had no surface water for irrigation, and the groundwater was so depleted that land sank right under our feet. There’s other evidence too. In Fresno in July 2018, all but three days had temperatures above 100 degrees. That summer, a national disaster was declared during the state’s worst wildfire year on record, and toxic smoke blanketed the Central Valley for weeks. The heat combined with the smoke was tough to work through at the height of tomato harvest. I don’t get sick much, but that summer I had a hard time breathing through the congestion in my lungs.
Check out our “In the News” page for a full list of stories about CalCAN’s work.