Ag. Outreach Day

Written By: Giuliana Marchini

Where were you on March 3rd between the hours of 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.? If you were on Cal Poly’s campus promoting the agriculture industry at Ag. Outreach Day, then we were in the same place! Students at Cal Poly get to experience agriculture in action on any given day, but they were all given a special opportunity to learn more about the industry last Monday on Dexter lawn.

With more than 25 booths set up for passerby’s to stop and learn at, the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) had a booth that was hard to pass up. Students were encouraged to stop and ask questions they had about agriculture, and the ACT members present answered them to the best of their abilities. They were also offered a sheet full of QR codes that would take them to websites focused on news in agriculture, as well as an issue of the latest AgAlert.

You can see some of the questions students asked at Ag. Outreach Day (and our answers to them!) below. Check them out so that, you too, can become more informed about the most important industry in the world.

Is the drought real?
As much as I wish it wasn’t, the answer to this question is yes. The drought in California is very real, and very serious. This marks the third consecutive dry-year for California, and the farmers are feeling it. Many almond farmers in the Central Valley are having to rip out their trees because there is not enough water to produce a crop, and the trees won’t survive the season with such little water. According to AgAlert, some almond farmers are having to use deficit irrigation. This means they give the trees just enough water to survive to pull through the season, but not enough to produce a crop. Many of these farmers have opted not to grow other crops in order to save their almonds. Cattle ranchers are also feeling the effects of the drought. Many of them have had to reduce their herds because there is no water for their pastures to grow and feeding hay can be costly. So, how is the drought affecting you? Well, besides the fact that you’ll be asked to reduce your water usage (take shorter showers and turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth), you should also expect a significant jolt in food prices. The fact is, we are all in this together, so make sure you’re doing your rain dance!

Does organic mean pesticide free?
Despite popular belief, organic does not necessarily mean pesticide free. As reported by the USDA, produce can be considered organic if it’s been grown on soil that has had no contact with synthetic fertilizers or prohibited pesticides (with a few exceptions) for at least 3 years prior to harvest. That’s not to say that organic farmers don’t use pesticides on their crops, it just means that if they choose to, the pesticides must also be considered organic. For more information on which types of pesticides are prohibited and which are safe to use to be considered certified organic, visit the USDA’s website.

What crops are grown in California?
The better question would be, which crops aren’t grown in California? With over 400 different commodities, California produces almost half of the United States grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. According to the CDFA, California’s top-ten valued commodities include: milk, grapes, almonds, nursery plants, cattle and calves, strawberries, lettuce, walnuts, hay, and tomatoes. Accounting for 11.3 percent of the U.S. cash farm receipts in 2012, The Golden State is truly valuable in crop and food production.

Is raw milk healthier for you?
Drinking raw milk is a choice that more people are making these days. Some see it as a healthier option, and believe that doing so can prevent serious health problems. However, drinking raw milk can actually have the opposite effect on a person, and harbor serious consequences to your health. When milk is raw, it hasn’t been put through the pasteurization process that kills harmful bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli. This process is done by heating the milk up to certain temperature for a certain amount of time. The point is, drinking raw milk is a choice, and if you choose to do so, just be sure to educate yourself on it thoroughly.

Ag. Outreach Day was a huge success for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and for the rest of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Do any of these questions look familiar? Maybe you were one of the students who stopped by our booth and asked it! Questions are an important part of learning, and that’s what we’re all here for, right? If you have any other burning questions about the agriculture industry, don’t be afraid to check out websites like AgAlert, California Farm Bureau, Farm Time Network, or the Animal Agriculture Alliance to keep yourself updated on the latest in agriculture news.

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