Of Course You Want Vegetables From Overstock.com

Of Course You Want Vegetables From Overstock.comSource: modernfarmer.com ~ Author: Meaghan Agnew

Overstock.com: your go-to resource for first-apartment couches, affordable LCDs, and …. organic vegetables and locally raised grass-fed beef?

The online retailer has just launched its own Farmers Market, an ambitious, large-scale effort to bring the CSA model to the discount-armchair masses.

CEO Patrick Byrne explains that his original inspiration harkens back to his own childhood, spent on a New England farm: “I was never so happy as the time I spent on a farm in Vermont.”

But nostalgia quickly gives way to sickle-sharp business acumen as he walks through the disintegration of the country’s foodways. “Everything is supply chain theory,” he says. After World War II, “The rise of the corporate agri-business supply chain … made it uneconomical to be an old-fashioned farmer. You had to be a cog in the machine.”

The result, per the CEO: “I think the food Americans eat is disgusting. We’re so unhealthy because we’re eating this industrial food-like substance.” (Byrne is not a “Modern Farmer” reader, but at this point we enthusiastically invite him into our fold.)

A couple of years back, Byrne, himself now a vegan, learned more about the CSA model from the niece of a rancher. After doing his own research, he had the proverbial “wow” moment: why not integrate the CSA model into the Overstock.com platform?

“A lot of the CSAs don’t have good technology,” he explains. “We’ve kind of supercharged [the CSA model] with our technology and our marketing efforts.”

“I think the food Americans eat is disgusting. We’re so unhealthy because we’re eating this industrial food-like substance.”

The company acquired a list of some 1800 CSAs from the Department of Agriculture and began cold-calling,supplementing its outreach with articles and advertisements in industry publications. Ahead of last month’s launch, more than a dozen farms were officially signed up, with about four dozen more shortly on the way. Cities now served include San Francisco, Austin, Richmond, and Atlanta; Byrne’s ambitious timeline has 50 to 70 percent of the country’s zip codes eligible to participate by the end of the year, and “99 percent” by next March.

Is it truly a win-win? Well, farmers pay nothing to participate in the model, though they must have the ability to deliver their produce directly to the buyer; Overstock.com also handles the customer service end of things, which can be a welcome relief to small-staff outfits.  Consumers, meantime, get to waive any signup fee, and all O Club members — the frequent-buyer set — also receive a 5 percent cash back reward.

The only drawback thus far seems to be one born of success, with some farmers running out of shares well ahead of weekly signups. Byrne calls this a “high-quality problem. It’ll just take time to scale up to demand.”

Those customers not currently in zip code range can make due with a select number of non-local sustainable farm offerings, including grass-fed and -finished beef, raw honey, and organic fruit conserves. The new site also includes self-written farmer profiles as well as recipes inspired by the seasonal haul. Said recipes skew simple (schnitzel, mac and cheese), but that might be the point.

“What we’re trying to do is introduce our customers to this other style of eating,” Byrne says.

So at this point you’re saying … Overstock.com? But consider that Byrne is a Warren Buffett mentee, a Wall Street vilifier, and an educational and international development philanthropist. In 2001 Overstock.com launched the fair-trade artisan site Worldstock, and earlier this year, the site unveiled a pet adoption section that lets you daydream-adopt by distance, animal type, and breed. (We currently have our eye on a 5-month-old hound mix named Katniss Everdeen located just 3.6 miles away.) And Byrne is hardly one to shy away from large-scale transformation. Just consider his long-term vision for the new venture.

“If this works, we can disrupt that corporate agri-business supply chain.”

Farmers interested in joining the program can email the company at farmersmarket@overstock.com.


Mobile Cider Mill Is A Game Changer For Orchards

mobile cidermill

Source: modernfarmer.com ~ Author: Erica Scime

In the small town of Clarington, Ontario, two apple-farming brothers, Garry and Gord Geissberger, are hauling the old fashioned, time honored tradition of apple cider pressing into the modern world on the bed of a tractor trailer.

Their “mobile apple cider mill” is stationed on a 20-foot trailer, powered by a 24-kilowatt, three-phase diesel generator, stacked with stainless steel equipment with folding walls. The press is one of four in Canada and the first of its kind in Ontario.

The mobile apple cider mill came to be a couple years ago when the Geissberger brothers began looking to upgrade their pressing equipment. They contacted a fruit processing equipment manufacturer in Germany and were put in touch with the Canadian distributor, Frank Dieter.

“We got in touch with Frank and he says, ‘I have got something you need to take a look at,’” Garry says.

When Dieter, a fruit liqueurs distiller, moved from Germany to British Columbia he was surprised at the amount of apples, pears and cherries that were being wasted each season. He came up with the idea of a portable cider-making unit and fifteen years later, the first mobile mill was built. Since then, Dieter has built and sold four of the machines.

Local orchards have been bringing their apples to the Geissberger farm for more than 40 years. But the orchards could only transport so many bushels of apples and it meant a lot of driving. Many orchards have never been able to produce apple cider because the cost of transportation and refrigeration is too high. But the mobile cider mill changes all that.

The orchards could only transport so many bushels of apples and it meant a lot of driving.

“With the trailer, we thought, ‘This would sure help the orchards out and it would help us out,” says Garry. “We could just pull into their yard, set it up and pretty much press the season’s worth for them.”

The mill is made up of three main pieces of equipment and there are five steps in the process: washing, shredding, pressing, pasteurizing and packaging.

First the apples are sorted and cleaned using a high-pressure washer. The apples are then tossed into a shredder, which grates the apples into a mash. The apple mash then falls into a hopper and is pumped through a tube that runs along the floor.

When one of the Geissberger brothers is ready to press the mash, he steps on a pedal and the mash is pumped out of the tube and onto a large rack and cloth press. Once he has seven layers of mash and cloth, he uses a hydraulic pump lever to press the juice from the apples.

Although the cloth filters out most of the pulp, the juice then passes through a screen, to strain out any debris. From here, the cider travels through another tube and into a holding tank before being pasteurized.

Then the juice is packaged — though not in the traditional, charming cider jug. Instead, the Geissbergers use the kind of bag-in-box packaging that many wineries have turned to. The cider is stored in a 5-liter, vacuum-sealed plastic bag, with a spout for pouring and each bag is placed in a cardboard box.

Because the cider is vacuum sealed and doesn’t come in contact with the air, it can be stored for one year and lasts three months after you take your first sip — no refrigeration or preservatives needed.

With both of the Geissberger brothers manning the machine and one other person tossing in apples, the mill can process up to 40 bushels of apples and produce 132 gallons of cider each hour.

“Mind you, you’re hustling,” Garry says. “You’re not looking around at the scenery or nothing.”

The orchards can then sell the cider to friends, family and neighbors and at farmers’ markets, farm stores and roadside stands. The mobile mill has not only turned into a more efficient business model for the Geissberger brothers, but it has also created additional revenue for the apple orchards.

This year, the Geissbergers have taken their mobile apple cider mill to nearly 20 farms throughout southern Ontario.

“It sure has taken us around the countryside,” Garry says.

The Geissbergers are finishing up the apple cider season but will press their own cider year round. A little cold won’t will deter these apple farmers.

“Last year, the coldest we worked in was five above freezing and it sure was cold. You could just see the diesel fuel going through the pasteurizer — like pull the tanker truck in and just hook it up! Yeah, it was snowing that day,” Garry says, laughing. “It was nice.”

If you are in the market to buy or sell agriculture property in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Agriculture is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Agriculture Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction and we will our Realtors will not sell you a haunted farm.

The World’s Most Haunted Farms

Source: ModernFarmer.com ~ By

hauntedfarms_heroThere’s no denying it: farms can be creepy.

Desolate fields, creaking barns, terrifying scarecrows — as anyone who has ever seen “Children of the Corn” can attest, even the most wholesome crops can take on a sinister pallor. But is it all in our heads? The stories behind these haunted farms make us wonder.

The Old Arnold Estate (Harrisville, Rhode Island)

“Leave the lights on at night,” was the advice the Perron family got when they moved into the old farmhouse in the winter of 1970. It didn’t take the family long to understand why. Eight generations of families have lived and died in the house and few seemed to have moved on, leaving the place packed with spirits, as recounted in the 2013 movie “The Conjuring,” which is based on tales from the farm.

According to town records, three people committed suicide at the house: two hung themselves and one chose poison. There were also two people drowned and four frozen to death; to round out the horror, an 11-year-old girl was raped and murdered by a farmhand. Ever since, bone-chilling incidents have plagued the house, described by Andrea Perron in her account of the haunting, House of Darkness House of Light.

The farm’s most dreadful ghost is Bathsheba Sherman, a rumored Satanist who hung herself from a tree behind the barn in the early 19th century. Andrea’s mother told a reporter from the Providence Journal in 1977 that she once woke up to find the head of an old woman shouting, “Get out! Get out! I’ll drive you out with death and gloom.” Attacks from Bathsheba got more intense. One of the Perron girls once found her leg bleeding from a large puncture and was allegedly possessed by the spirit. Her parents asked psychic investigators for help; they ended up moving to Georgia in 1980.

The family asked a priest to perform an exorcism more than once. It helped, but only for a short while.

The Dandy House (Hinsdale, New York)

On the day that James Link and his family moved into this picturesque farmhouse, a neighbor drove up to them, yelling, “What are you doing here? You can’t move in here!” That was Link’s first inkling of the terrifying events that transpired at the farm from 1970-1974, when the Dandy family was in residence.

The Dandys had witnessed a series of inexplicable events, from hearing strange chants to seeing chimney bricks removed by invisible hands to feeling burns on their bodies. They also spotted a male spirit in a plaid shirt and blue jeans holding a rifle at the end of the bed.

The family asked a priest to perform an exorcism more than once. It helped, but only for a short while. After the Dandys moved to the West Coast, the house passed through the hands of several owners, all of whom experienced these paranormal activities. Today, the Dandy House is still a destination for ghost seekers.

Elvey Farm (Kent, U.K.)

Located in the village of Pluckley, which was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1998 as the most haunted village in England, Elvey Farm was built in 1406 and has been home to spirits ever since. Some of the spooky sounds visitors report hearing — such as mysterious footsteps and creaking floorboards — could be the work highwayman Robert Du Bois, who preyed on local villagers centuries ago until he was stabbed for his crimes. But the farm’s signature spooky happening, a voice saying “I will do it,” is none other than the ghost of Edward Brett.

Brett, who owned the farm in 1900, one day whispered those four words, walked to the old dairy barn and shot himself. His ghost apparently never left the estate. Now a boutique guesthouse, the current owners and their guests still report hearing his voice.

Monte Cristo Homestead (New South Wales, Australia)

The legend of Australia’s most haunted place began when Christopher Crawley and his wife Elizabeth built the old homestead in 1876. The family seemed to be doing well on their farm until a maid who was holding their little girl dropped the child down a flight of stairs, killing her. The maid claimed an unseen force pushed the girl out of her hands. After the death of her husband, Elizabeth left the house only twice until her death in 1933; it’s said that after that, she never left at all.

Young children suddenly feel agitated when they near the stairs, and some people feel the presence of Elizabeth’s ghost and have heard her ordering them to get out of the dining room. Visitors also report the sound of footsteps on wooden floor, despite the fact that the entire house is now carpeted.

The Ryans, current owners of the property, describe living in the house as living with another family, just one that they can’t see. At least, most of the time.

The Myrtles Plantation (St.Francisville, Lousiana)

Built in late 18th century, the rumor is that 10 people were murdered on this 600-acre land.

While only one murder is confirmed, there are plenty of spirit sightings in the house, with more than one way to let humans know they’re there. A grand piano on the first floor sometimes plays by itself, and the ghost of a curly-haired young girl wearing an ankle-length dress has been sighted floating around the house. Some people have seen children playing together.

The house was used as a location for the 1985 TV movie “The Long Hot Summer.” During filming, the crew rearranged the furniture in the game room and the dining room and left. When they came back, everything was moved back to its original place. Creepy.

The torments quickly escalated from scary sounds to physical abuse.

John Bell Farm (Adams, Tennessee)

When John Bell and his family began hearing knocking sounds on the doors and the walls and the sounds of chains being dragged around the house, they blamed their neighbor Kate Batts, who they suspected of being a witch. The torments quickly escalated from scary sounds to physical abuse: The youngest daughter, Betsy, was pinched, scratched and beaten, while John sometimes felt a stick being stuck in his throat. When John died in December 1820, neighbors believed that Batts was responsible.

Two hundred years later, visitors to the farm claim that they heard sounds of people talking when no one’s around, and mist and orbs of light sometimes mysteriously appear in pictures taken there.

Loretta Lynn’s Plantation House

The country singer Loretta Lynn bought this plantation in 1966, the same year her song “Dear Uncle Sam” ruled the radio. The mansion was built by businessman James Anderson in 1876, despite the rumor that 19 soldiers were murdered and buried there in 1863. That hasn’t been confirmed, but it seems to fit with the Lynn family’s experience.

One night, Loretta’s son Jack encountered the spirit of a Civil War soldier trying to take off his boots; another son, Ernest, saw two soldiers standing at the foot of his bed. Her twin daughters also spotted a woman dressing in white, as did Loretta herself, who came upon her sobbing on the balcony. The mysterious woman vanished when Loretta walked toward her. It’s rumored Loretta held séances in the house to try to communicate with the spirits.

The family moved out from the mansion in 1984 after Jack drowned. The singer later opened the estate to visitors but required that nothing be touched or moved in the house. The spirit of the first owner seems to agree with her: Once, a tour guide accidentally touched an object and was shoved down the stairs by an invisible force.

If you are in the market to buy or sell agriculture property in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Agriculture is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Agriculture Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction and we will our Realtors will not sell you a haunted farm.


California walnut crop exceptional, high quality

Source: westernfarmpress.com

walnutCalifornia walnuts account for 99 percent of the commercial U.S. supply and 78 percent of world supply.

The USDA NASS California Field Office recently released annual crop estimate for walnuts predicts this year’s crop will 485,000 tons.  This is slightly lower than last year’s record breaking crop of 503,000 short tons, yet the second largest crop on record if realized.

According to California Walnut Commission Chairperson Charles Crain, “We are delighted not only with the crop size but also with the high quality kernels we are expecting thanks to the mild spring and summer weather.  This excellent crop will help us continue to meet the growing consumer demand for nutritious walnuts both domestically and around the world.”

California walnuts account for 99 percent of the commercial U.S. supply and 78 percent of world supply.  In the past year, approximately 40 percent of available product was shipped domestically and 60 percent was shipped to export markets, making California walnuts the fifth largest California export.  Since 2002, domestic shipments have increased 24 percent.

“People have made eating walnuts a part of their daily routine because they are convenient, taste good and offer proven health benefits,” explained Dennis A. Balint, executive director of the California Walnut Board.

If you are in the market to buy or sell agriculture property in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Agriculture is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Agriculture Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.

Lessons from California’s urban farms

Source: CaliforniaAgNetwork.com

Image courtesy of the LA Times

Image courtesy of the LA Times

Sacramento, Calif., (October 16, 2014) – Urban farms are popping up around the state, and a UC ANR team recently took a close-up look at urban agriculture in California. In particular, we wanted to learn about farms in cities and on the edges of cities that are selling or distributing their products. We visited urban farms and interviewed farmers to find out about their operations, their challenges, and especially, what UC ANR could offer that would be most helpful. We used what we learned to create the UC ANR Urban Agriculture website, a portal where California’s urban farmers can find information they need on a wide array of topics. Here are a few of the insights we gained on our visits.

Among the 27 farms we visited, the median size was one acre (in other words, half of the farms were larger than an acre, and half were smaller). And the range in size was wide. The smallest was 3,000 square feet, while the largest was 1,000 acres! Excluding the 1,000-acre farm, the average size was 2.8 acres. Compared to the average size of a farm in California, which is 328 acres, according to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, urban farms are very small.

Two farms were multi-generation family farms started in the 1950s by the current farmers’ parents or grandparents and these farmers are highly experienced. Although their farms now operate in urban environments, they didn’t start out as urban farms. “The city came to us,” as one farmer put it. The other farmers we interviewed have been learning farming from the ground up.

Among the urban farms we visited, most are part of a non-profit organization or government agency with a larger mission. Urban farming is used as a vehicle for reaching the organization’s goals, for example, teaching business skills to youth, or improving healthy food access in under-served communities.

When asked about challenges in starting up their urban farms, the most common issues farmers mentioned were business and financial planning, marketing, and accessing land. From a business perspective, most urban farmers were still learning how to make their enterprises profitable. They also struggled with production issues such as crop planning, pests, and irrigation. And many had encountered confusing zoning issues and regulations.
Of the 27 urban farmers we interviewed, 19 were also involved in advocating for local policy change to facilitate urban agriculture. As one interviewee said: “In order to start the urban farm, we have had to jump into policy work to get it off the ground.”

One theme that emerged through our visits and discussions with urban farmers is the need for a ready and reliable source of information on everything from starting a farm to production to local regulations. With experts around the state, UC ANR has access to research and information on a wide variety of farming and related topics. The UC ANR Urban Agriculture website has been created as a resource for urban farmers in California, where we’ll continue to add helpful material, urban farm stories from around the state, and updates on policies in our metropolitan areas. We encourage urban farmers and urban agriculture advocates in California to connect.

If you are in the market to buy or sell agriculture property in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Agriculture is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Agriculture Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.

Strong Farm Incomes Hold Land Values in Check

Source: farmersnational.com 60 acres in Isleton at 15687 Isleton Road in Row Crops, contact Ron Stevenson (530)681-1092

Positive income results for farms, combined with a tight land supply, have bufferedeconomists’ previously projected downturn of farmland values, according to Farmers NationalCompany, the nation’s leading farm and ranch real estate company.

Farmers National Company recorded strong real estate sales for the first half of 2014, downsomewhat from record sales experienced in 2013. Aggressive marketing by Farmers Nationalagents and good demand for land have propelled this year’s sales.

“The big story is that the land market is stable, despite projections that farm income and landvalues would drop,” said Randy Dickhut, AFM, Vice President of Real Estate Operations ofFarmers National Company. “The anticipated large drop in farmland values hasn’t happened,as farm incomes were stronger than expected going into 2014. Original income projections of 20 percent below last year were not realized.”

In late 2013, forecasters were pessimistic for the year ahead.   However, Dickhut saideconomic trends and key market factors shifted in a way that paints a more positive picture forthis year.

While land values nationally are slightly down a few percent or stable,  Dickhut said valuesoverall remain historically strong. The northern plains area has experienced the mostsoftening of land values due to weather conditions and lower commodity prices last year.Still, good quality farms sell well as demand continues from buyers.   In contrast, the delta region has experienced land value increases of 13 percent due to good crop production.

Regionally, land prices remain fairly stable compared to the double-digit price increases seenin recent years. Prices per acre for high quality land range nationwide from $3,500 to as highas $12,500 per acre in parts of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. Values in the UpperMidwest remain strong overall with sales reaching $9,000 per acre in some locations.

As demand rises, prices for grass land continue to increase in places like Nebraska and Texas.Livestock producers are rebuilding depleted cattle herds, which puts pasture land at apremium. Reduced feed costs for livestock have helped boost income levels in this ag sector,allowing operators to acquire land

“The 2014 outlook for farms remains positive,” said Dickhut. “Farm owners continue tosearch for high quality land to expand their operations. I think economic forecasts overratedthe demise of the U.S. land market. Things didn’t fall apart, but instead held steady andstrong.

Profitability for operations helped to ultimately keep property values strong.”

If you are in the market to buy or sell agriculture property in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Agriculture is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Agriculture Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.


Vending Machines Go Farm Fresh


Photo illustration by Jeremy Purser

Source: modernfarmer.com ~ Author: Tove Danovich

How can we make it easier to buy local foods? It’s a question that’s plagued everyone from farmers market organizers to food activists to state governments.

In 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo set aside $2 million for a marketing campaign known asTaste NY, as well as a $60 million tourism initiative called “I Love NY.” As part of the initiative, visitors can now partake in programs such as local wine trails, where they can sample New York made wines. But perhaps more surprisingly, they’ve gussied up those much-maligned roadside features: rest stops. In addition to stores featuring local products and farmers markets, the state is now tackling vending machines, long-recognized sources of less-than-local fare.

Vending machines, invented near the beginning of the first century, have a surprisingly long past. According to Kerry Seagrave’s “Vending Machines: A Social History of the Devices,” the first one was coin-operated and designed to sell holy water. In 1888, food vending machines got their start with the advent of gum dispensers selling tutti-fruitti gum at train stations in New York City. By 1950, vendors had the ability to sell refrigerated sandwiches. Yet outside of the brief automat craze, few bothered to sell perishable goods. Until recently, the machines were mostly used to sell the 4Cs: coffee, cigarettes, cola and candy.

Then farmers and foodie companies realized the appeal of using vending machines to sell raw milk, eggs, or fresh meals on the go. Glaum Egg Ranch in Santa Cruz County, California was one of the earliest adopters, dispensing eggs with a side of entertainment. When customers purchase eggs, they’re also treated to an animatronic show complete with singing and dancing chickens. A more traditional vending machine called Farmer’s Fridge was unveiled in 2013. The company sells restaurant-quality, locally sourced meals in BPA-free containers. Farm-fresh vending machines in the United States often sport buzzwords or gimmicks to get customers (and the media) excited. In Europe and Japan, they’re a less flashy affair and many farmers use vending machines as an efficient alternative to roadside stands. The Brunimat milk vending machine was the first of its kind in Europe in 1994, long before eating local became a nation-wide trend in the United States.

New York decided to implement a vending machine program that was somewhere between practical and publicity stunt. Machines at rest stops are now selling items ranging from Red Jacket Orchard juices from Geneva, New York to Finger Lakes Fresh apple slices from Groton and Sweet Sam’s cookies from the Bronx. Health-wise, these vending machines are a far cry from dairy and eggs, but they’re getting people comfortable with the idea that local food is for everyone.

New York has installed 10 machines throughout the state and hopes to install more if they prove popular. This marks the first time local-fare vending machines have been sponsored by the public sector. Vending machines have a number of advantages over brick-and-mortar stores or even farmers markets. There’s no need to pay an employee to run the register and, unlike a weekly market, the machines can run 24/7 in many locations at once. As far as trends go, farm-fresh vending machines are surprisingly practical. They bring local foods to customers who aren’t likely to sign up for a CSA or visit their local farmers market.

Health-wise, these vending machines are a far cry from dairy and eggs, but they’re getting people comfortable with the idea that local food is for everyone.

“Tourism and agriculture in New York is a huge industry,” said Joe Morrissey, Spokesman for the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. And that means that the state wants to get the most people possible on board with the local trend.

Especially in the last decade, eating local has developed the stigma that it’s only for a certain class of people. The state’s ability to promote local food in the most everyman of government buildings — a rest stop — is a huge step toward making such foods feel more accessible. The vending machines also boost farm income and offer a bit of brand recognition. Visitors who see a farm’s name in a vending machine, for instance, might be moved to take part in a farm tour or seek out their products elsewhere.

Finding unique ways to bring local foodstuffs to people who otherwise might not consume it is an idea that is taking hold across the country. In Vermont, another state with a strong interest in promoting local food, the state government has started placing local foods in veterans’ homes, hospitals, schools and state offices.

“Vermont has taken the successful farm-to-school model and broadened it into this larger farm-to-institution initiative,” says local foods administrator Abbey Willard.

By repurposing the decades-old technology of vending machines to support local food, New York is doing the same. Often, buying local means eating out at an expensive restaurant or cooking a meal from scratch with farmers market groceries. As Morrissey points out, “Vending machines are great for people on the go.”

If you are in the market to buy or sell agriculture property in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Agriculture is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Agriculture Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.

Stanislaus farm income soars, with almonds chasing dairy for top spot

Courtesy of Modesto Bee

STANISLAUS COUNTY — Stanislaus County farmers had a record $3.28 billion in gross income last year, a report released Tuesday said, and almonds almost knocked milk from the No. 1 spot.

The 7 percent gain over 2011 came mainly from almonds, walnuts, chickens, tomatoes and grapes, Agricultural Commissioner Milton O’Haire told the Board of Supervisors.

He cautioned that the annual report does not account for production costs, notably the high-priced feed for dairy cattle. Nonetheless, board members took the 2012 total as proof that agriculture in general is thriving. Read more…

Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2013/07/23/2821374/latest-crop-report-shows-agriculture.html#storylink=cpy

FARM BEAT: Local ag has room to grow, chief says – Modesto Bee

The state’s top ag official talked over lunch this week with the Modesto Rotary Club.

Her topic: the importance of lunch — not to mention breakfast and dinner — to the health of people around the world.

Karen Ross, secretary of food and agriculture for Gov. Jerry Brown, noted the growth in California farm exports during her remarks at the DoubleTree Hotel.

She also cited the growing interest among Americans in how their food is produced, something they can learn about at produce stands, farmers markets, festivals and other venues.

“We are in a time and a place when consumers here and across the country are yearning to reconnect with their food,” Ross said.

Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2013/07/26/2829199/local-ag-has-room-to-grow-chief.html#storylink=cpy

Read more…

Ag Columnist Shares Funny Side of Ranch Life

BY RANDY DOCKENDORF randy.dockendorf@yankton.net

Amy Kirk Ag Columnist

Amy Kirk has found times in life where, if you didn’t laugh, you couldn’t help but cry.

So instead of shedding a tear, she has turned the funny misadventures of her ranch family into a weekly humor column.

Kirk and her husband, Art, raise their two teenagers on a cow-calf operation near Pringle in the southern Black Hills. She combines her passion for agriculture, the outdoors and writing into her column entitled A Ranchwife’s Slant.

Read More…