Network showcases innovation

Issue Date: May 10, 2017
By Dave Kranz
California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger, second from left, speaks at a ceremony at Dixon Ridge Farms in Winters forming the California Farm Demonstration Network. CFBF joined five other organizations and agencies in signing an agreement that aims to open additional opportunities for farmers to share, evaluate and adopt innovative agricultural practices.
Photo/Dave Kranz

Sitting at a table in a walnut orchard near Winters, six representatives of private and public organizations and agencies signed an agreement to create a new innovation network for California farmers and ranchers.

Known as the California Farm Demonstration Network, the initiative aims to showcase innovative work by farmers, evaluate and demonstrate that work, and share information through the efforts of network partners.

Organizations and agencies signing the memorandum of understanding to create the network included the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts; California Department of Food and Agriculture; California Farm Bureau Federation; U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service; University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The statewide network intends to build on and connect localized efforts across California, including one created in Glenn County last year.

Betsy Karle, Glenn County director for UC Cooperative Extension, said the statewide network will both highlight successes and analyze failures, to help farmers find successful conservation-agriculture practices.

"What we are striving to accomplish is to create a means for farmers to learn, to discover, to innovate," Karle said. "It's this core emphasis on the learning process, carried out in a completely voluntary way, that's really what we're trying to achieve."

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said the network represents a partnership intended to advance "the kinds of practices that not only will continue to make our environment the one that is the (envy) of the world but will also make sure that our farmers are not just surviving, our farmers are thriving."

"Knowledge isn't any good unless it can be shared," CFBF President Paul Wenger said, noting that farmers and ranchers are "constantly changing and adapting" to weather, water availability, customer demands and other forces.

"The Farm Demonstration Network will allow us to be able to adapt and change to the challenges we have," Wenger said.

The signing ceremony took place at Dixon Ridge Farms. Its co-owner, Russ Lester, said he appreciates the network concept because it will allow farmers to "help other farmers do some things better."

(Dave Kranz is editor of Ag Alert. He may be contacted at

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.