Tuesday, September 2, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Secretary: Students needed for ag careers

By
From page A1 | November 14, 2012 |

Karen Ross, California agriculture secretary. Courtesy photo

California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross made her pitch to UC Davis students on Tuesday about the need for fresh ideas in farming and ranching — and how vital communication skills are for the industry.

“To grow enough food to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050, we need every one of you to bring your creativity, your smarts, your problem-solving skills that you’re learning on this campus to agriculture,” she said. “This whole food system needs you and needs your dedication.”

Ross spoke at the Memorial Union before members of the Aggie Ambassadors, students who promote majors within the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences to potential students.

Needed, Ross said, are experts in water use, plant science, water quality, air quality, labor. Needed are entomologists and veterinarians. Needed are men and women interested in careers in public policy or in promoting U.S. agriculture abroad.

And needed are researchers who can build the sensors and robotics and other tools needed to meet the challenge of producing more on less arable land, with less water, while meeting stricter environmental rules.

In the 1950s, a farmer might be responsible for feeding fewer than 20 people. Now, a farmer feeds more than 155. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who operate a farm or ranch has shrunk to 2 percent, Ross said.

“They’re feeding everyone else with the lowest cost per capita that’s ever been in this country, which is less than 12 percent of disposable income,” she said. “It’s really important that we’re good communicators so that people understand how agriculture is relevant to their daily life.

“We could spend all day talking about the disconnect between eaters and farmers, but what’s more important is that each one of us is involved in helping people connect to how their food got there, how it was produced and who produced it.”

One example of a gap in understanding: genetically modified crops, or GMOs. Californians recently voted down a ballot measure that would have labeled food products containing them.

Ross said it’s a discussion that needs to go beyond “30-second sound bites.”

“Right now, many people perceive GMO as something that’s only helping some large corporations make a big profit,” she said. “When people can see that there’s something in it for them and they can understand the environmental benefits that can happen, you can have a better, informed discussion.

“At the end of the day, everyone is an environmentalist. Everyone wants food safety. But really what people are yearning for is transparency in the food system because they feel disconnected from it. I think we’ve gotten ourself into this quandary with science getting so far ahead of where the population is. … We don’t have a population that can easily understand it.”

Ross said she supported the contention of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, whom she formerly served as chief of staff, that “a continuum of business and farming practices” is good for farmers and consumers.

“It’s critically important that we don’t try to drive this one way or the other but allow for that diversity which will give us resiliency in our food system,” she said.

More understanding is also needed on the part of people “embedded in government’s lower levels … who are locked into a 1960s, ’70s mind-set that farmers are just out to destroy the Earth.”

In fact, environmentalists and farmers began coming together more often in the late 1980s, when environmentalists saw the gains that could be made by working with private landowners, she said.

In Sacramento, she said, Gov. Jerry Brown has encouraged members of his cabinet to “smash the silos” and think about how a change in policy might affect, say, farmers, endangered species, water quality, air quality and labor, rather than just one of those areas.

Ross said California should remain of central importance in solving the world’s pressing food needs, in part because of its geographic location, with ports serving Asia, its cutting-edge technology and farming practices, and its 400 crops.

“We grow what everyone understand they need more of,” she said. “When you think about the USDA dinner plate and the revised nutritional guidelines, it has California written all over it in great big letters: more fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, lean dairy proteins, whole grains.”

— Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Comments

comments

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Planning begins for Davis Neighbors’ Night Out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

     
    Davis is not immune: Are you ready for a big quake?

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    6 militants killed in U.S. strike in Somalia

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    San Francisco is first to test urban farming law

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Sword-attack suspect awaiting trial in Davis

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Tickets still available for DHS Hall of Fame dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Cuddle up at Project Linus’ meeting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A3

     
    International folk dancing offered Sundays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Rose garden bricks to be dedicated Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    It’s About Time plays Davis Farmers Market’s Picnic in the Park

    By Anthony Siino | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Learn about RNA at Science Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Google Glass will be discussed, demonstrated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Register year-round at Davis Chinese School

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Tesla has state walking a tightrope

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A4

     
    Special-needs passengers ignored

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

    A cure for Davis’ problems

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

     
    A good use for the MRAP

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A4

     
    Have the facts before you judge

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Marriage vs. male instinct

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Fruits of their Labor Day

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    DHS boys looking to replicate a big cross country performance

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Life without MacDonald starts Friday for DHS

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Clark recalls his hole-in-one — the first at Davis Golf Course

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD roundup: Aggies edge Quinnipiac in overtime

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Baseball roundup: Aces end River Cats’ season

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B3

     
    Sports briefs: Hot Shots basketball tryouts coming up

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Junior Blue Devils strong in home debut, winning 3 on the field

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7