Monthly Archives: October 2017

California Small Farm Conference turns 30

Man in front of herd of cows

The 30th anniversary of the California Small Farm Conference, a gathering for small-scale farmers, ranchers, and farmers’ market managers, will be held Sunday, October 29 – Monday, October 30 at the Robert Cabral Agricultural Center in Stockton. The conference aims to promote the success and viability of small farming and ranching operations and certified farmers’ markets through short courses, tours, workshops and networking opportunities.

For more information and registration visit

CDFA and the Office of Farm to Fork join in celebration of National Farmers Day

I love farmers #nationalfarmersdayCDFA and the Office of Farm to Fork join the rest of the country in celebrating National Farmers Day today. Here are some interesting facts about our farmers and ranchers:

  • There are roughly 3.2 million farmers in the United States—that’s less than 2 percent of our population.
  • Ninety-nine percent of farms are family-owned, and account for 89 percent of agriculture production.
  • The average American farmer grows enough to feed 165 people!
  • USDA’s latest Census of Agriculture found that 25 percent of farmers were “new and beginning” – meaning they had been operating their current farm for fewer than ten years. (But we need lots more new and beginning farmers!)
  • And there are 969,672 women farmers in the United States – that’s nearly 1/3 of all farmers.
  • Farmers are tech-savvy. Satellites, GPS systems, and other new solutions are helping today’s farmers get the most of every acre, drop of water and seed they plant.

***Cross-posted from CDFA’s Planting Seeds Blog***


California dairy kicks off #SealsForGood milk drive

 Child holding glass of milk. Text on Poster:Feed a Childhood with Milk

TRACY, Calif. — Milk is one of the most-requested staples at food banks, but among the least donated. On average, people served by food banks receive the equivalent of less than 1 gallon per person per year. To help fill this gap and support families in need in areas affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, California dairy farm families launched the Seals for Good social media challenge, which will provide up to 4,000 gallons of milk to families and children struggling with hunger.

“It is important to California’s dairy farm families to help ensure access for all to nutritious milk and dairy foods. The need is especially acute with so many families affected by the recent hurricanes,” said John Talbot, CEO of California Milk Advisory Board and Real California Milk. “Products like cheese, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese and ice cream with the Real California Milk seal are available throughout the U.S., which makes the Seals for Good campaign an easy way for people to support the people in need with just a simple social media post.”

Social Media Challenge: Post a photo of a dairy product (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, butter, ice cream) showing the Real California Milk seal on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #SealsForGood.

Timing: Kicks off September 25, 2017 and runs through December 31, 2017

Donation: For each qualifying post, $5 – representing a gallon of milk – will be donated to the Great American Milk Drive (up to $20,000 total) through Feeding America to provide vouchers for fresh milk to families in need in Florida and Texas.

“Providing fresh milk to people in need is always challenging, but it’s especially difficult for food banks during times of crisis,” said Nancy Curby, SVP of Corporate Partnerships & Operations at Feeding America. “Feeding America is grateful for the ongoing support of the dairy industry, and it’s wonderful to see our partners step up to help people when they need it most. We know that giving our network the ability to distribute fresh milk will help relieve some stress for families in disaster-affected areas as they work to rebuild.”

Each year, more than 46 million people, including 12 million children, are served by Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. It has a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs.

Visit for more information on the Great American Milk Drive.

***Cross-posted from Morning Ag Clips from October 1, 2017***

CDFA’s Secretary Karen Ross helps kickoff the State Employees Food Drive with a farm-fresh produce donation

Karen Ross holding bundle of carrots and chard at farmers market

Secretary Karen Ross visited the Capitol Mall Farmers’ Market to kickoff the State Employees Food Drive on the final Thursday market of the season. The CDFA Office of Farm to Fork organized the fresh produce drive, encouraging state employees to purchase produce at the market and donate it to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

Chard, bouquet of flowers, tomatoes, corn

Ross made several trips through the market and donated over 20 pounds of produce, including apples, tomatoes, melons, and sweet corn. She also helped designate September as Farm to Food Bank Month, recognizing the year-round need for donations.

Fresh produce donations are a triple win; they help provide healthy foods to those in need, create viable farms, and support the local economy. Throughout the market’s duration on September 21st, nearly 400 pounds of produce was donated. This is a great start to reaching the goal of 800,000 pounds of food for the 2017 State Employees Food Drive.

Visit the California State Employees Food Drive website for more information on giving.

October is Farm to School Month

Girl covering eyes with apples

October is National Farm to School Month and we are off to an amazing start! Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture signed a proclamation designating October as Farm to School Month in California last week. CDFA and the Office of Farm to Fork recognize the importance of farm to school programs in the state as a way to support California’s farmers, school children, and the economy.

Farm to School Month provides an opportunity to show all of the great work being done as well as how anyone – students, parents, nutrition professionals – can get involved and make changes to advance farm to school in their local communities. Join schools hosting farm to school activities, like Natomas Unified School District who will  take students out to visit a local farm or Oroville schools participating in local Crunch events, where students simultaneously bite into local apples to show their support for healthy, seasonal foods.   

Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with healthy food, local producers, and nature by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools. The most recent USDA Farm to School Census reported that 55% of California schools participate in farm to school activities. This represents over 3.4 million California students, or approximately half of all K-12 students.There are numerous long-standing and emergent farm to school programs throughout the state and the California Farm to School Network aims to inspire, connect, and educate both old and new.  To learn more, check out the California Farm to School Network and the National Farm to School Network.


California farmers and ranchers celebrate Farm to Food Bank Month by giving back to their communities – over 245,000 pounds of California Grown foods donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and the OC Food Bank

Mark Lowry, Director of the Orange County Food Bank, Secretary Karen Ross of CDFA, Sue Sigler, Executive Director of the California Association of Food Banks, Nicole Suydam, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, and AG Kawamura, Co-owner of O.C. Produce and former California Secretary of Food and Agriculture recognized California farmers and ranchers giving back to their communities through donations.

Irvine, September 29, 2017 – Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County hosted an event on Friday, September 29th to shine the spotlight on California farmers and ranchers who support organizations leading the way in contributing healthy California-grown products to food insecure populations.

Lundberg Family Farms made the generous donation of 82,000 pounds of rice products for the event.

Over 245,000 pounds of California-grown and produced foods were donated to the food banks for the event including 5 truckloads of mushrooms from Monterey Mushrooms, 200 Foster Farms whole turkeys, 2 truckloads of rice products, including 2 pallets of Orca beans from Lundberg Family Farms representing 82,000 pounds, 1 truckload of pears from Rivermaid Trading Company representing 40,000 pounds, ½ truck load of stone fruit from Venida Packing representing 20,000 pounds, ½ truckload of apples from Prima Frutta Packing Company, 1 truckload of citrus from Wonderful Citrus representing 40,000 pounds, 5 bottles of olive oil from the California Olive Oil Council, 15,700 pounds of potatoes from Veg-Fresh, one pallet of watermelons from Yosemite Fresh, 2 pallets of Frieda’s assorted produce, 21,000 pounds of Coman Hamburgers, and 14,000 pounds of Driftwood Dairy Milk. The food was divided between Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and the Orange County Food Bank, and ended up on the tables of food insecure Orange County residents.

Secretary Karen Ross of CDFA, Steve Linkhart, and Sue Sigler of the California Association of Food Banks discuss the process of receiving donations from farmers and ranchers.

The event featured an address from Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, who commended the farmers and ranchers who donated for their commitment to improving the lives of Californians. She also announced the news that Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. had released a proclamation that declares September as Farm to Food Bank Month, addressing the need for donations throughout the year. Remarks were also made by Nicole Suydam, CEO of Second Harvest of Orange County, Sue Sigler, Executive Director of the California Association of Food Banks, and OC Produce Co-owner and former California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura who donates product, as well as time to Second Harvest.

Nearly seven years ago, the California State Board of Food and Agriculture set an ambitious goal – work with the state’s farmers and ranchers to double contributions of fresh foods to food banks; from 100 million pounds to 200 million pounds annually. While this goal was met earlier in 2017, there are still many Californians who face hunger daily. By highlighting individual farmers who give back regularly and organizations who effectively distribute donations, the generosity can inspire others in California to do the same.