The article was written to bring attention to the fact that, despite the need to produce so much food in coming years, funds for agricultural research are being cut.
In December, President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recommended that the United States increase its investment in agricultural research by $700 million per year. Instead, the sequester resulted in cuts of approximately 7.6 percent.
"This is simply not sustainable," the op-ed authors note.
Read the article in the Modesto Bee.
"We are an aging population," Allen-Diaz said. "We fully recognize that we need to bring new, young, highly trained, highly skilled individuals into Cooperative Extension."
She said administrators are making decisions by studying demographic data, who is retiring and where UCCE research and outreach are needed.
"We're looking at prioritizing rolling forward so that we know over time that we are going to strategically place positions," she said.
Reporter Patrick Cavanaugh also interviewed Allen-Diaz about the amount of time UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists spend on pest control issues, which she estimated to be about one-third.
A wave of retirements among the ranks of UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists in recent years and in the near future is carrying away decades of institutional and technical knowledge, reported Tim Hearden in Capital Press.
"Obviously we are losing a huge amount of knowledge and experience in a very short time," Barbara Allen-Diaz, the UC's vice president for agriculture and natural resources, told the Capital Press in an email. "We are trying as rapidly as possible to ensure continuity of programs and capacity to respond to existing, new and emerging needs in the state."
The article opened with comments from UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor William Krueger, who is planning to retire in June after serving Glenn County growers for 32 years. The looming absence of such long-time advisors concerns Rich Mathews, who grows olives for oil in Oroville, Calif.
"I think there's a vast resource of experience and expertise that is really going to be sorely missed," Mathews said. "Just to bring someone new in, you don't have the history of discussions with growers and you don't have the knowledge base."
Mathews also expressed concern about the consolidation of UCCE positions. The article noted that, of the seven advisor and specialist positions listed on the UC ANR jobs website, five will serve multiple counties.
"I look forward to working with you and to hearing your ideas on priorities for research innovations, priorities in your area that need science-based solutions, and ideas on strengthening our partnership in the years to come," Allen-Diaz wrote.
Allen-Diaz said UC ANR is concerned about the impact of recent budget reductions on the number of UC ANR specialists and advisors, which is currently at its lowest number in more than 60 years.
"We are also challenged by our aging work force," she said. "We expect half of our current specialists and advisors to retire in the next six to eight years. We are carefully planning for replacing these positions, and determining the specialties and locations to best serve the needs of California. This planning must be informed by our various clienteles."
New tool to fight Asian citrus psyllid
Redlands Daily Facts
Amid dire predictions for the regional citrus industry, researchers are using another weapon: a natural enemy from the Punjab called Tamarixia radiata.
"The Asian citrus psyllid is about 1/8 inch long, and this wasp is even smaller," said Tom Shea, UC Cooperative Extension staff research associate.
Shea estimated that one female wasp may kill 300 Asian citrus psyllid nymphs in her lifetime. The psyllid itself is not a serious problem, he said, but it is a carrier for Huanlongbing, a citrus disease which has ruined much of the citrus industry in Florida. HLB has been discovered in five states, including a recent discovery in Texas. To date it has not been found in California.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Sybil Lewis, The Daily Californian
UC Berkeley professor Barbara Allen-Diaz has been appointed University of California systemwide vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources, reports the Daily Californian, the UC Berkeley student newspaper.