Going to California

P1080730I’ve had this Led Zeppelin song stuck in my head for 2 days, and I’ve got an ‘aching in my heart’ – for home!  We arrived in Sacramento, California on March 13th after the better part of a week in Western Canada.  Brock Taylor, an agronomist from California specializing in irrigated cropping is our guide and chief source of knowledge for our 5 days in California.  It was raining and 15C in Sacramento upon our arrival – it’s been really dry so local farmers are happy to see this rain.

BeforeOur first day included a visit Superior Farms, the largest lamb company in the US.  A unique aspect of this company is that it is employee owned.  All employees earn shares and as a result, the company has a more engaged workforce, lower employee turnover, and higher quality work.  We saw the plant from start to finish, and it is a really efficient, clean outfit.  I used to do beef meat quality research, and it was nice to get back into a processing plant! AfterI’ve included a before and after photo.

I am particularly keen on research to move farming forward, and it was great to meet with researchers at the University of California – Davis to discuss the state of agricultural research in California.  UC Davis is a key agricultural research institution in California, with a 5300 acre campus and 31,000 students across all fields.  Their annual research budget is $678 million.  Despite the large overall budget, agricultural education, research, and extension is under financial pressure.  This is a common theme among Universities in the developed world.  I believe we are in an era where investment in agriculture and food research should be increasing, not decreasing.  I think the general public would agree.

I am learning that irrigation water is key to agriculture around the world.  In California, almost 10 million acres are under irrigation. San Luis Reservoir - irrigation water storage California is has the biggest agricultural farm gate value of any US state with a value of over $40 billion per year.  Without irrigation water, it would be a fraction of that.  In Ontario, we are sheltered from the global reliance on irrigation water because we are surrounded by the Great Lakes – the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth, with 21% of the world’s fresh surface water.P1080746


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Adam on March 16, 2012 at 9:58 am

    A picture of Dad. Clayton will be happy.


  2. Posted by Dwane Morvik on March 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    As a lamb producer in Saskatchewan it was interesting reading your bit about Superior Farms in California.


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