Friday, February 27, 2009

California unemployment tops 10 percent

According to the state Employment Development Department's latest figures.

These figures don't take into account agriculture, which is expected to lose thousands of jobs because of the drought-related state and federal water cutbacks.

OK, now I've seen everything

In our ongoing effort to conserve, now we have reusable toilet wipes. (Hat tip: The Drudge Report via the Herald Sun in Australia.)

Herald Sun blogger Andrew Bolt's observation:

Surely it’s time global warming believers marked their houses with some sign, a green pentacle or something, as a warning to visitors to enter at their own risk.

My question: Wouldn't it consume more water to keep washing the wipes after every use than to just flush the darn TP? Isn't all TP biodegradable?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why only two?

From the AP via Capital Press' updated news ticker:

VISALIA, Calif. (AP) - A former state legislator is reviving the old debate that two Californias are more easily governed than one.

Conservative Republican Bill Maze is harnessing the ire of San Joaquin Valley farmers and others as he stumps for splitting the 13 coastal counties stretching from Los Angeles to Marin from California's other 45. To that end, he is selling sponsorships in his nonprofit California Farming Industries.

More than 300 people debated the idea Tuesday at a Constitutional Convention Summit.

Maze, who termed out of the Assembly last year, said he wants to put the question to the state's voters.

Californians have been faced with the issue 27 times, most recently in the early 1990s. Most efforts make good talk-show fodder, but don't go far.

If we're going to divide up the state, why stop at two? How 'bout let's split California in three -- North California, South California and Jefferson.

Social networking: Why an ag editor uses Twitter, blogs and Facebook

When I wear my "online editor" hat for the Capital Press, I often share information with people on our staff about what's happening in cyberspace. Frankly, I struggle to show, or tell, people who may have some skepticism about all this touchy-feely computer stuff why they should care.

How do you explain blogs or Facebook or MySpace or Twitter or LinkedIn or the next big thing to someone who hasn't experienced it first hand? I'm not sure I'm up to that task, because those things offer different opportunities to different people. For some they are tools of personal expression. For others they are marketing tools. You can use them to waste time or save it. You can use them to reach out to family and friends or connect with possible customers, clients and business partners. The secret of their viral success is that they are what people make them out to be.

Perhaps really all I can do is try, in some way, to explain why I have found value in using tools like Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and how they have helped me do my job.

I tend to be a little slow to jump on the bandwagon of the new hot thing. Because the new hot thing may go the way of the Betamax videotape system, replaces quickly by a newer, hotter thing. I want to know whatever technology I personally invest time and my own money in will be around for a while. I didn't own the first generation of VCRs or CD players or MP3 players. For a long time I saw no reason to buy an iPod until after I had a chance to play with one a bit. But what finally sold me on buying one was learning I could use it in my truck, with the existing radio. It was only then that the investment seemed worth it. Now, I have my iPod with me nearly 24 hours a day and use it more often and in more places than I first even imagined. It provides background noise at work, it helps me relax and drift off to sleep at night, keeps me company on long trips and makes walking to the store a joy more than a chore.

I was a little slow to come around on some of the social networking tools available too. I didn't see a need to be on MySpace or Facebook. What got me onto MySpace was an attempt to connect more with my daughter. Once there, I found some old friends I hadn't talked to in years. What got me onto Facebook was knowing how popular it was and wanting my employer, Capital Press, to have some sort of presence there. To create a page for Capital Press, I had to create an account. Once there, I found a lot of my friends had beat me to the punch and were already there. It also gave me a chance to interact with some other agriculture journalists in a way I had never done before.

A couple of those people, namely Susan Crowell from Farm & Dairy and Betsy Freese from Living the Country Life encouraged me to try out Twitter. I was hesitant. I resisted for months. I felt like I had account overload. Did I need another online account? Another username and password? I didn't think so, and I sure knew I didn't want one. What gave me the final nudge to try it was that I could connect my Twitter and Facebook accounts and use one post to update people on what I was doing in two places. That was about three months ago. Now, I am not sure how I got by without it.

I use the @capitalpress Twitter account to post updates from our two blog sites (this one and, our main website and make other miscellaneous posts. Through that account we currently follow nearly 200 people and have more than 200 people following us.

Twitter has connected me to other ag journalists and agriculture communications professionals working for several companies, politicians (or their staffers) as well as farmers, ranchers, and others in and around the industry. It also helps me monitor news updates from ag media and mainstream media in California, the Pacific Northwest and all over the country, all in one place.

Twitter tells me what's happening in the wider world, the agriculture world and in people's personal worlds. It's a great tool. I wasn't sure I even wanted it, now I feel like I need it to do my job everyday.

There is no shortchanging the "social" nature of social networking. I feel much more connected to other ag journalists now than I did before using those tools. I have worked in ag media for more than three years now (it will be 4 in June) but I just now am starting to see myself as an ag journalist. That is largely due to those digital connections. Before I was a journalist working for an agriculture publication. Now I feel more a part of the farm and ranch media world.

It has not been all fun — or comfortable — that's for sure. I like keeping my personal and work lives separate. But the fact of the matter is my personal life informs my work life and my work life affects my personal life. I am an ag pilot's son who grew up in the country, surrounded by dryland wheat and sprinkler irrigated hay fields. Today, when I visit my old home, my parent's home (which is also their business) I can see canola, potatoes, onions and even blueberries growing nearby. There are now wind turbines on the bluff to the northwest of their place and you can see steam rising, particularly on a cold day, from the cogeneration plants at the potato processing facilities to the north.

It is my family life. It is agriculture. It is alternative energy. It is the business of the rural West.

It's part of my life and it's what I help the Capital Press cover.

I am glad there are pioneers in agriculture, ag media and ag communications operating out there in the social media networking realm. But I am also disappointed that there aren't more of my peers out there too. But I understand it. People need to see why it is valuable to them before they will be sold on social networking sites or new technology. It's also not always easy to learn new things. They need to know it will help them run their business better or make their lives better before they try to find a way to squeeze one more thing in their day. I completely get it.

Technology and social networking have improved my life — personally and professionally. I reconnected with a cousin from Nebraska this week that I haven't seen or heard from in probably more than 15 years. It allows my daughter to have a window into my life and my work if she chooses to look. It connects me with ag communicators across the country in ways that memberships in organizations like North American Agricultural Journalists and American Agricultural Editors' Association never managed to do. And it allows me to share some of the headlines, stories and posts from our blogs and main website all in one place with people who may not have seen them otherwise. I discover new personal and professional value for the blogosphere and the twitterverse every day.

It's highly personal. And it's serious business too.

Capital Press has Many Advertiser Audiences to Offer

This week Capital Press provided materials to the largest assembly of Ranch and Farm real professionals to gather in one place at the RLI (Realtor's Land Institute) in Pendleton, Oregon.

Capital Press Rep Scott Brown offers up a smile with plenty of information about audiences offered by Capital Press to real estate advertisers.

Capital Press offers several marketing audiences for farm, recreation and ranch listings. This included web advertising, and print, free standing inserts, and venues for searchable listings." is heavily used by licensed real estate professionals because of its easy of use, clean interface, and is commodity searchable unlike most traditional home websites. Farm properties are holding their own these days over residential, largely in part because of their association with water rights, steady income, and tax benefits."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fun in Oakdale

You can't make this stuff up. A press release in my "in" basket, courtesy of the Oakdale (Calif.) Rotary Club and the Oakdale Cowboy Museum:


The Oakdale Rotary Club and the Oakdale Cowboy Museum proudly present the 28th Annual Oakdale Testicle Festival! You won’t want to miss this fun evening of celebrating genuine cowboy cuisine. Also known as rocky mountain oysters, calf fries or cowboy caviar, this is one tasty main dish! Mark your calendars for Monday, March 30, at the FES Hall in Oakdale from 6pm-10pm – where you’re guaranteed to “Have a Ball” at the Oakdale Testicle Festival! Tickets are $50 in advance and can be purchased at the Oakdale Cowboy Museum or $65 at the door. Souvenir merchandise and tickets are also available at The Oakdale Rotary and The Oakdale Cowboy Museum are non-profit organizations and all proceeds see their way back to the community.

Call me a city slicker all you want, but I don't think you could get me to try one of those, no matter how many times you tell me it tastes like chicken. I'd visit the Cowboy Museum, though.

'Save our water and our rights'

On the news website A News Cafe, rancher Nancy Cameron of Happy Valley, Calif., makes a plea to the Shasta County Farm Bureau for help with the zero-for-ag water situation.

She writes, in part:

While I understand the drought situation we are experiencing, I cannot comprehend the need to jeopardize health, safety, food supply, environment and the livelihoods of so many people. [ ... ] For over 14 years I have raised hogs, Boer (meat) goats and Columbia sheep at this location and market the meat at local farmers’ markets. With the cost of feed and alfalfa on the rise I have been more and more dependent on pasture-feeding my animals. With no water there will be no pasture. With no water I will have 10 acres of dry land waiting to fuel the next fire and no way to protect myself when the fires come. With no water there will be no cover for the wildlife currently dwelling on my acreage. This wildlife includes covey of quail, pheasants, mallard ducks, deer and Canada geese. Are they of less importance than the animals on preserves?

Speaking of A News Cafe, writer Kelly Brewer linked to four news organizations' stories on the Central Valley Project water cutback. They were the New York Times, the Sacramento Bee, Reuters and Capital Press. Not bad company.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Should city folks kill their lawns for farmers?

At the Bureau of Reclamation press conference on Central Valley Project water allocations on Friday in Redding, Calif., farmer Helen Stephenson asserted that city dwellers need to understand "the importance of letting some of those lawns go."

The idea has sparked some debate over at, where I used to blog. Marc Beauchamp asks:

I know water rights are complicated, but how in good conscience can city hall in Redding or any of us around town keep our lawns green this summer when there's supposedly not enough water in Lake Shasta for a woman to grow food in Happy Valley? Lawns before food?

But Bruce Ross, citing a study by the Public Policy Institute of California, says letting lawns die may not do any good. He posts:

Its figures (cribbed from the California Water Plan) show that in 2000, California farmers used 34.2 million acre-feet of water while all residential outdoor water use, plus water for parks, golf courses and the like, was about 3 million af.

So even if we cut all outdoor water use by half -- not a remotely attainable goal in the short term, but we're supposing just for sport -- you'd save 1.5 million acre-feet, or less than 5 percent of the state's farm demand. The scale of agricultural water use compared with what city folk use really just doesn't compare.

On a personal note, I'll add that I keep my lawn alive, barely, during the summer, but most of my own spike in water use goes to the vegetable garden. The commercial growers are certainly raising food far more efficiently, gallon-for-gallon, but the taste of home-grown tomatoes? Priceless.

Meanwhile, I'm hearing thunder and pounding rain outside, and Interstate 5 is flooded out in Lakehead, about a half-hour north of me.

Echo, Oregon is Home to Scott Brown & Family

Scott Brown gave me a friendly tour of Echo, Oregon today. With a population of 650, it is a tiny satellite farm town just outside of Hermiston, Oregon. Echo is one of those tiny Oregon towns that are too just cute to avoid from a photographer's point of view. Scott was raised on a farm in Echo, where for 20 years his father, Steven Brown farmed raised dryland wheat.

Scott is a native of Echo, and is famous to many display advertisers of the Capital Press Ag Weekly in Eastern Oregon, as well as advertisers in Southern Washington. He also handles advertising for several other websites including which is the largest Farm website for real estate professionals in the West. Scott will be attending the Realtor's Land Institute regional meeting at the Pendleton Red Lion this week to answer questions about real estate advertising to area real estate professionals.

Scott's oldest 7-year-old daughter Annelise shared with me "she knows every little girl in town" and that she likes mushrooms on her pizza . She rambled off their names quite quickly off the top of her head.

Farmers aren't the only ones who get sued by green groups

From the Campaign for a Sustainable Delta:

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta today filed a lawsuit against the City of Stockton and San Joaquin County for discharging toxic chemicals and other pollutants into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The legal action, under the federal Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, targets the city’s and county’s municipal storm sewer system which has repeatedly exceeded pollution and contaminant limitations.

“Today’s legal action is targeted at toxic urban run-off, a known, significant and growing threat to water quality and the overall health of the declining Bay-Delta ecosystem,” said Michael Boccadoro, a spokesperson for the Coalition. “Illegal storm water and other illicit toxic discharges from the City and County have significantly impacted the Delta and its ability to serve as a crucial source of drinking and irrigation water for 23 million Californians and tens of thousands of farms and businesses.”

Over the past century, human activities ranging from the introduction of invasive species to urbanization have increased and collectively pose a significant and ever-greater threat to the critically important estuary. The Delta region has expanded from about 1.3 million people in 1960 to more than 3.6 million residents today. This rapid growth is having a tremendous and unchecked impact on the Delta estuary, water quality and the native species it supports. Urban storm water and municipal wastewater discharges from many sources in the Bay-Delta are widely believed to add greatly to this threat and negatively impact a growing list of endangered and threatened native fish species such as the delta smelt and Chinook salmon.

“Urban storm water discharges often contain highly toxic heavy metals, oil and other petroleum products as well as pesticides, all of which are taking a huge toll on the estuary,” Boccadoro said. “It is clear that greater regulation and enforcement will be necessary to protect and sustain the Delta.”

Stockton and San Joaquin County are among the worst offenders, discharging highly toxic pollutants and other contaminants directly into the Bay-Delta. The two agencies annually discharge millions of gallons of untreated storm water and have a long and well-documented history of exceeding pollution requirements under the Clean Water Act and a failure to implement adequate controls. Exceedances of specific toxic contaminants discharged by the City and County storm system have included, but are not limited to: copper, mercury, DDT, iron, heptachlor, aldrin, diazinon, bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, E. coli and fecal coliform. The effects of these contaminants can be lethal to native fishes and other aquatic organisms critical to the food web. Other impacts on fish include decreased ability to avoid predation and impaired ability to reproduce. Growing scientific evidence also suggests that chronic exposure to toxic pollutants and synergistic effects of multiple contaminants along with other stressors, such as ammonia from wastewater discharges, are causing broad species impacts and ecosystem deterioration.

“The City and County are clearly bad actors, but their pollution problems are shared by municipal agencies throughout the Delta,” Boccadoro concluded. “More needs to be done to protect our environment and economy.”

Today’s lawsuit is part of a comprehensive effort by the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta to highlight and address a long list of stressors that are impacting the estuary. Other issues being pursued by the Coalition include predation by non-native striped bass, the impacts of major in-delta power plant operations and the growing threat posed by municipal wastewater discharges in the region.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

4-H Fundraiser Gathers Excitement in Polk County, Oregon

February 21st made for a big Saturday night at the Polk County Fairgrounds in
Rickreall, Oregon.

The 4-H Spaghetti Feed was hosted by area Polk County 4-H Clubs, including The 4-H Achievers, Spring Valley Riders and Small Animal Express. The colorful array of events included cake walk, games, 50 silent auctions items, and two bike raffles. Proceeds for the event went to the 2009 Polk County Relay for Life to support the American Cancer Society.

Polk Country members of the 4-H Achiever's Club: Lori Smith (parent), Zachary Odegard, Sierra McBeth and Debbie Macbeth (parent). Zachary and Sierra were instrumental in getting donations for the auction and dinner at tonight's event. Dinner was prepared by Tater's Cafe of Dallas.

California's permanent crops "amazing and troubling"

After announcing that he's been in California for less than a year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Don Glaser made some observations about his trips up and down the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

"One thing I find amazing and troubling is the number of permanent crops we have in the valley," Glaser said during one of Friday's press conferences on the Central Valley Project water cutbacks.

"It makes me proud . . . to see what we do," he said. "The troubling part is that our water supply is becoming less reliable."

A little ironic, perhaps? After all, maybe I'm a little rusty on my state's history, but wasn't the Central Valley Project created all those decades ago to provide a reliable water supply for permanent crops? I don't think it was for the cities, which hadn't developed much yet, or for the wildlife refuges, which weren't around yet.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's not like it hasn't happened before

From the Los Angeles Times:

It marks the first time in 17 years that the Federal Bureau of Reclamation has announced that it does not have enough water to fulfill its agricultural contracts to parts of the Central Valley, including about 3 million acres of farmland typically irrigated by the agency. In addition to 1992, the agency also announced a zero-percent supply for agriculture in 1977. In both 1992 and 1977, the water supply eventually increased to 25% of the contracts, agency spokesperson Lynnette Wirth said.

Central Valley rainfall: better, but still behind

In light of the Bureau of Reclamation's water cutbacks in California, these figures are interesting.

Here are the totals in selected valley towns for February rainfall, seasonal rainfall and comparisons to normal years, according to the National Weather Service. Totals are as of today.

Redding: month to date 7.57 inches (normal 3.78); season to date 15.96 inches (normal 21.91)
Sacramento: month to date 3.41 inches (normal 2.46); seasoon to date 9.55 inches (normal 12.30)
Modesto: month to date 1.82 inches (normal 1.66); season to date 3.09 inches (normal 4.22)
Fresno: month to date 2.2 inches (normal 1.4); season to date 5.92 inches (normal 6.93)
Bakersfield: month to date 1.52 inches (normal 0.76); season to date 3.59 (normal 3.82)

Zero for ag

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced today that Central Valley Project contractors in California will get no water for agriculture under the current drought conditions. It would take a lot of precipitation -- and in the right places -- for that to change.

The AP story is here. I can tell you that at an announcement this morning in Redding, local farmers were hot.

Check throughout the day for updates.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Story on bill to ban docking tails of dairy cows draws attention

The most-read — and most commented on — story on today is a story about a bill proposed by California state Sen. Dean Florez that would ban docking tails on dairy cattle. The story was actually posted online on Friday, but it's getting additional attention today due to a link from the Dairy Herd Management website.

So far today, that story has got more than 300 page views and five new comments. More than 200 of those visits are coming straight from the posting on

Dairy Herd Management is a monthly business magazine targeting commercial dairy producers. It is produced by Vance Publishing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Farmers increasingly connected via computer

Here at the Capital Press, we regularly include items in stories that tell people where they can get more information on topics we cover at various websites. Sometimes we hear from readers who say that doesn't help them because they don't have Internet access, or don't use the Internet. But the 2007 Census of Agriculture shows clearly that farmers without Internet access are a shrinking minority.

In fact, farmers in the West are among the best connected group in the country.

According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture:

“The 2007 Census found that 57 percent of all farmers have Internet access, up from 50 percent in 2002. For the first time in 2007, the census also looked at high-speed Internet access. Of those producers accessing the Internet, 58 percent reported having a high-speed connection.”

A look at the map on the demographics for the census shows that farmers in our the four states we cover — California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington — exceed that level of access. More than 50 percent of farmers have Internet access in every single county in our core states. In the 11 worst connected counties in our circulation area, farmers have from 50-59 percent Internet access. Eight of those counties are in Idaho, 2 in California and 1 in Washington. In 166 of 177 counties in our core states, farmers have Internet access rates of at least 60 percent and in dozens of counties, the rate of Internet access is 70 percent or higher.

Facts at a glance
Most connected state (in CP core area): Oregon, where 71.6 percent of farms have Internet access. Washington is a close 2nd at 69.4 percent.
Best broadband access (in CP core area): California, where 43.5 percent of farms have broadband access, Oregon is close 2nd, 43.1 percent

High-speed farmers
Farmers in Hood River County, Ore., rank 3rd nationally among highest percentage of broadband access in rural counties: 70.7 percent of farms in Hood River County (373 of 553 farms) have high speed Internet access. The two counties that have better percentages — Nantucket County, Mass. And Pitkin County, Colo. (where Aspen is located) — only 96 farms total between them.

San Juan County, Wash., ranks 10th nationally in percentage of broadband access: 62.9 percent (183 of 291 farms) have high speed access.

Idaho has the lowest percentage of our 4 states with Internet access and high speed access, but two of the top 50 rural counties in the nation with broad-band access for farmers are in Idaho. Valley County, Idaho, ranks 29th nationally in percentage of broadband access: 56.6 percent (82 of 145 farms) have high-speed access. Madison County, Idaho, ranks 40th nationally in percentage of broadband access: 54.9 percent (247 of 450 farms) have high speed access.

State-by-state breakdown

Statewide 53,729, or 66.3 percent, of farms have Internet access. That’s 17.4 percent above the national average. 35,271, or 43.5 percent, have broadband access, which is 32.1 percent about the national average.

In 20 counties designated rural, which only account for 11,498 of 81,020 farms in California, 7,907 farms had Internet access. That’s 68.8 percent of farms in rural counties with Internet access and 4,519, or 39.3 percent, that have broadband access, which is 19.3 percent above the national average.

Statewide 16,681, or 65.9 percent, of farms have Internet access. That’s 16.6 percent above the national average. 10,102, or 39.9 percent, have broadband access, which is 21.1 percent above the national average.

In 31 counties designated rural, which account for 15,009 of 25,310 farms in Idaho, 9,822 farms had Internet access. That’s 65.4 percent of farms in rural counties with Internet access and 5,759, or 39.3 percent, that have broadband access, which is 19.3 percent about the national average.

Statewide 27,623, or 71.6 percent, of farms have Internet access. That’s 26.7 percent above the national average. 16,634, or 43.1 percent, have broadband access, which is 30.9 percent about the national average.

In 25 counties designated rural, which account for 17,776 or 38,553 farms in Oregon, 12,322 farms had Internet access. That’s 69.3 percent of farms in rural counties with Internet access and 7,078, or 39.8 percent, that have broadband access, which is 20.8 percent about the national average.

Statewide 27,265, or 69.4 percent, of farms have Internet access. That’s 26.7 percent above the national average. 16,787, or 42.7 percent, have broadband access, which is 29.7 percent about the national average.

In 22 counties designated rural, which account for 16,332 of 39,284 farms in Washington, 11,225 had Internet access. That’s 68.7 percent of farms in rural counties with Internet access and 6,582, or 40.3 percent, that have broadband access, which 22.3 percent about the national average.

The website Daily Yonder: Keeping it Rural has some charts and regional breakdowns of the Census of Agriculture data.

What the census data does not tell us is how people connect to the Internet. How are people in rural areas in particular connecting to the World Wide Web? Do they use cellphone wireless cards, satellite Internet? That we don't know, because those questions weren't asked on the census forms.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Capital Press, California Ag Ads double volume of Distribution at World Ag Expo


This year we are ready with almost twice as many Capital Press newspapers and California Ag Ads this year. In addition to the Capital Press showcase booth in Pavilion C, we have racks placed at all information booths at the World Ag Expo in Tulare. Come by and say "hello" at booth 3404. Better yet, purchase a subscription and ask about our special deal we are offering only during the show to our new subscribers here in California!

Vendors quickly make way to their locations in order to ready displays for the first day at the World's largest farm show in Tulare.

Updated blog list

It was a project that was long overdue, but I went through our list of blog links today and cleared out the ones that had sat fallow for a long time or have been deleted entirely.

I have not added a lot of new blogs in a while, but I know there are more ag-related blogs popping up all the time. If you have any suggestions for blogs we should add to our blog list, or find any broken or outdated links, please let me know.

The new list is a little slimmer, and should give you an idea of how recently most of the blogs have been updated, as well as the most recent post headline, if it's available.

I hope that works a little better for everyone and makes the list a more valuable resource for Blogriculture visitors.

Monday, February 09, 2009

2009 World Ag Expo about to begin

The 2009 World Ag Expo kicks off tomorrow in Tulare, Calif. We have staffers en route to Tulare to cover the event, work in a Capital Press booth and talk to vendors and newsmakers over the course of the three-day show.

Reporter Cecilia Parsons, who is based nearby in Ducor, Calif., was on the grounds today for the traditional media day, in which the press get a sneak peek at the grounds before the gates open to the general public on Tuesday.

Look for coverage from Cissy in this week's California edition of the Capital Press and online at

So, if you are in Tulare for the World Ag Expo, stop by the Capital Press booth, No. 3404, in Pavilion C.

If you can't be there in person, check out the live webcams from the expo grounds in Tulare.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Horse adoption update

Early last week I wrote a post about all the wild horses the Bureau of Land Management recently put up for adoption that went unadopted. In it, I took a shot at the Humane Society of the United States for not using its large war chest to step up to care for those animals.

In the interest of fairness, I wanted to point out a piece that ran in the Feb. 6, 2009, Capital Press in which Oregon's senior director for the Humane Society of the United States, Scott Beckstead, talks about an Oregon horse shelter his group operates (and other issues). Here's the link.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A counting of American agriculture

In case you missed it, the National Agricultural Statistics Service released its massive Census of Agriculture report on Wednesday. You are more than welcome to pour through all the data yourself, but if you are interested in the highlights of what's happening in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, the Capital Press staff and our sources did some of the pouring for you.

You can find our main story here, with links to others. Or if you prefer to read that in print, we'll have those stories for you in the Friday, Feb. 6 edition.

Or if you just want the quickest of quick summaries, here it is: There are more farms in the U.S. and most of the four Western states, but they are smaller than they were in 2002. And the average age of farmers continues to climb.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Business Crackin’ for a Record Long Time at Colusa Farm Show

Clarence and Jan Davidson were the first people to sign up for the Colusa Farm Show 44 years ago. Their marriage is going strong after 53 years. Clarence and Jan are known for being the longest attending vendors since The Colusa Farm Show's opening.

Clarence told me a couple of years ago, his wife didn't attend, so he told her, "this year I’m giving away Gideons again" (meaning New Testament bibles) in addition to his regular selling nutcrackers. "I knew that would get her to come with me again."

Clarence, owner of his privately held Davebilt Company manufactures a rotary nutcracker of sorts,and nut gleaning tools.

His rotary nutcracker is a popular novelty for youth and old alike. All day at the show people can't help but want to crank his hand built machine. "I have thirty other vendors, two of which sell these online, but I am the only builder."

A father and visiting orchardist from Butte City told me his boys (Skyler and Caleb pictured) are influencing him to make a purchase. It was clear the machine works quickly, and makes a crunchy noise that makes the activity really seem fun.

- - - - - - -

Clarence and Jan are an easy find just across from the Capital Press Booth #39 at the Colusa Farm Show.


Colusa Farm Show is the longest running farm show in California.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Closure Wings on Olive & Grape Harvesters are Not the Same.

Today at the Colusa Farm Show I learned a lot about precision machining from Robby Dobler. Their booth sits next to the Capital Press booth in the Main Exhibition Hall.

Robby couldn’t speak more highly of his father who started Dobler Imagineering thirty five years ago. His father, Darrell Dobler, he explained, is something of a genius when it comes to producing a final product. “If I could remember what half of what my Dad forgot, I’d be happy.”

"When you need to have a part of any kind made quickly, and for less than the price of what you might buy it new, Dobler Imagineering is all about that."

Be it plastic, metal, remakes, prototypes, metal work, farming, restaurant, and custom machine parts, conveyor parts, or even “that thing” that isn’t made anymore; they can make it. And they can make it cheaper.

I was curious to know why Dobler Imagineering was at the Colusa Farm Show. “We do the best precision machining around.” Robby said, “but these closure wings are the real reason we are here.”

So I asked, "What makes these closure wings special Robby?"

“Our product has twice the thickness on the wear strip. Closure wings are typically replaced on harvesters with an inferior product. For olive and grape harvesters, that means alot of money spent. Our harvester closure wings have twice the wear strip compared to our competitor’s. Theirs will last maybe 60-80 acres. Our product will last an entire season without changing.”

Robby Dobler shared with me he is a resident of Lodi, California and will return from the Colusa Farm Show on Thursday to his wife Carolyn, and his really “great kids”….a skateboarding 11 year old and two 8 year old gymnasts.

# # #
Truly a high precision problem solving machining firm,
Dobler Imagineering is based out of Victor, California.

Capital Press goes to Colusa

The Colusa Farm Show is under way. If you are attending the show, look for Capital Press representatives on the grounds. Stop by our booth and say hello, get a free copy of the newspaper and see for yourself how the Capital Press covers agriculture in California and the West.

We previewed the event here. Look for more in this week's paper and online at

A new home for Blogriculture

Blogriculture has a new address.

The URL for the Blogriculture blog is now, Of course, if you have our old URL bookmarked, you can still find us at But now, after nearly four years, Blogriculture is home at

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Feed Store Owner is Proud Purveyor of Capital Press.

Marsha Bucke of Bucke's Feed and Grain stopped by the Capital Press showcase at the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale this week. She couldn't say enough about Capital Press Ag Weekly:

Both enthusiastic readers of the Capital Press.  Feed store owner Marsha Bucke (left) is joined by her daughter Trisha Nissen.
Both enthusiastic readers of the Capital Press. Feed store owner Marsha Bucke (left) is joined by her daughter Trisah Nissen.
"We don't mind if somebody leaves the store with only a copy of the Capital Press. It is the last true assessments of agricultural news. If they stay and buy other things that’s a bonus."
Bucke's Feed and Grain has been open in Orland, California at 1308 Railroad Avenue since 1915.

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