925.443-7692 ksweet@cattlemen.net

2020 Summit

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Rangeland Health – Sustaining Ranchers, Communities, and Ecosystems

Co-sponsor, University of California Cooperative Extension

CRCC thanks these Sponsors. 

Contest Photos

Congratulations to winner, Maxine Harper, Public’s Favorite

(Other winners below)

Presentations (all) and commentary below

Dr. Frank Mitloehner, UC Davis, Communicating global rangeland status, a foundation for understanding the role of livestock on rangeland and on the table. also How Much Land Us Used For Livestock? YouTube. also paper folding illustration.

“People say we should get rid of livestock,” Mitloehner said. Mitloehner believes Americans cannot eat their way out of the climate change crisis. Switching from omnivore to vegan for a year reduces an individual’s carbon footprint by .8 tons. A single transatlantic flight adds 1.6 tons of carbon per passenger to the atmosphere. If all residents of the United States became vegan overnight, the greenhouse gas reduction is a mere 2.6%, Mitloehner said. And if all Americans adopted Meatless Monday, greenhouse gas emissions would drop by just one-half of one percent. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the largest sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 were electricity production (28 percent), transportation (28 percent) and industry (22 percent). All of agriculture accounted for a total of 9 percent.

Mitloehner, whose Twitter handle – @ghgguru – stands for “greenhouse gas guru,” said the environmental footprint of America’s diet can best be addressed by reducing food waste. Food production, processing and distribution is a contributor to emissions, and discarded food and plant matter in an anaerobic environment, such as a landfill, initiates a chemical reaction that releases methane, a greenhouse gas.

“Forty percent of all food never makes it to the human digestive tract,” he said. “More than half of fruit and vegetables are wasted, and farms are not where it happens. The majority of food waste is at the consumer level.” Mithoehner called out oversized portions at restaurants and highly perishable fresh fruits and vegetables as sources of food waste. He said 28% of fruits and vegetables are wasted by consumers; 12% of meat and 17% of milk.”   Jeannette Warnert, UCANR

Keali’i Bright, Department of Conservation, Status and Trend of California rangelands. Between 2014-16, 130,000 acres of grazing lands were converted to orchards or vineyards!   The Division of Land Resource Protection within the Department of Conservation, serves as the state’s leader in conserving California’s irreplaceable agricultural lands. With numerous programs, it provides information, and technical and financial assistance to partners to protect California’s agricultural land and promote sustainable growth​.

Dr. Sasha Gennet, The Nature Conservancy, US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef,  What is sustainability for US / CA working rangelands? The beef production/food chain values healthy rangelands and is working to support it.  US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef , is a multi-stakeholder initiative developed to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability of the U.S. beef value chain. The USRSB achieves this through leadership, innovation, multi-stakeholder engagement, and collaboration. It aims to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement of sustainability across the U.S. beef value chain. Members define SUSTAINABLE BEEF as socially responsible, environmentally sound, and economically viable product that prioritizes planet, people, animals, and progress. More info: @USRSBeef   usrsb.org 

Environmental Stewardship – Ranchers Address Wildfire Issues

Update from Ranchers’ Wildfire Task Forces, Tony Toso, CA Cattlemen’s Association Vice President. Dan Macon, CA Wool Grower’s Association President. Tony described the successful efforts of CCA to develop positive relationship with various state agencies and to move forward with new resources for rancher before, during and after wildfire.  Dan helped clarify ‘targeted grazing’ to address vegetation management challenges, like controlling invasive exotic weeds, reducing fire risk in the wildland-urban interface, increasing soil fertility, improving vegetation, and finding chemical-free ways to control weeds in organic agriculture. Information on targeted grazing is available from CA Wool Growers Association,  including a directory of service providers. An important issue that affects the economics for targeted grazing business is the unintended consequences of ag labor overtime rules.

Supporting Grazing for Fuels Management in Rural and WUI Areas presented by Marc Horney, Chair, Range Management Advisory Council. RMAC was statutorily created to advise the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture on rangeland resources. Progress is being made between these and other state and local agencies to collaborate across the state to reduce wildfire. (no slides)

The role of grazing in fire frequency UCCE research team. This research answered these questions: 1. Do grazed areas burn less frequently than non-grazed federal land? 2. Does grazing impact the probability that grasslands will transition to other vegetation types? Conclusions: 1. Grazing reduces wildfire probability in some vegetation types 2. Grazing can keep grasslands from transitioning to shrubland or forest 3. Because fires in shrublands and forests tend to be more severe, maintaining grasslands may reduce the risk of intense wildfires.  More research is needed to see if these patterns are also true for grazing on private lands.

Economics for Healthy Ranches and Healthy Ranchers – Business in the 21st century

Ranchers own and/or manage approximately 38 million acres of privately and publicly owned rangelands. Most California ranches have been in the same family for four or more generations. The long-term success of ranching operations requires the careful stewardship of animals and the environment. 

Beef Cattle Movements & Markets Sheila Barry, University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources farm advisor in the San Francisco Bay Area shared interesting findings based on CA Brand Inspection Data in 2017.  “There are 16,000 beef producers in the state, but most are very small,” said Sheila Barry, “The average size is a herd of 40, but the median is eight. The median size among the direct marketers is just two.”  The most common production pattern is for the animals to be moved from state to state as available grass demands, and eventually processed and sold far away from the California pastures that were once home. We have a production system that is very tied to national markets,” Barry said. “When the animals go out of state, many are going to Oregon, but they are also going to Nevada, Wyoming and Texas. Less than 2% of our cattle are direct-marketed to consumers. It is a complicated system that makes it hard for consumers to connect to food production, because very few ranchers actually take their animals through to slaughter.”  Bob Johnson, California Farm Bureau, February 12 Ag Alert.

Global Demand and Market Trend, Darrel Sweet.  “Cattle production efficiency has made it possible for U.S. and California ranchers to build a substantial global market.  “In 2018, we exported $8.3 billion in beef,” said Darrel, a fifth-generation rancher, past president of the California Cattleman’s Association and current alternate board member of the California Beef Council. “In the 1980s, we didn’t export any. We have developed all of this demand since the 1980s. Exports are up to a little over 14% of production, and we expect that to go up in 2020. A significant share of the exports provides sources of “extra” revenue because it is parts of the animal U.S. consumers eat in only small amounts, like tongues and livers. Japan, Korea, Mexico, China, Canada and Taiwan are the leading export destinations, but other areas figure to become markets as they develop. When incomes increase, the demand for beef, poultry and eggs increases significantly, Sweet said.” Bob Johnson, California Farm Bureau

Conservation grazing services,  Dan Macon’s Flying Mule Farm slides present an overview of his flock’s grazing for forage, fire fuel management, and life cycle and nutrition of the sheep.  He produces sheep for food and wool while providing conservation grazing.

Diversification for multiple generationsRick and Weston Roberti, Roberti Ranch shared their family’s ranching heritage, business structure and future in Sierra Valley.   Watch the video, View from the Barn on the ranch website.  “A  hurdle to long-term rangeland sustainability is managing succession. Rick, Carolyn and their son Weston Roberti, representing the fourth and fifth generations of the family who manage the Roberti Ranch in Sierra Valley, spoke about how their family is managing a ranch passed down through generations. Sierra Valley is a high mountain valley near Truckee that was settled by Swiss immigrants who came to California during the Gold Rush. “They went through hard times,” Roberti said. “Of hundreds of immigrant families who tried to make it as cattle ranchers in Sierra Valley, there are now just six. Over time, new generations of the family decide to leave the ranch or stay on to continue a traditional ranching career. Weston went to college at Chico State, but returned to work on the ranch with his father, brother, uncles and cousins. A sister took a job in Sacramento. Keeping a ranch in a growing family requires communication, cooperation, planning, and, to  overcome the inevitable disagreements, a shared faith, said Weston Roberti.  Jeannette Warnert, UCANR

Social Responsibility and Healthy Rural Communities – Ranching is a foundation of the rural community

Sierra Valley Ag & Art Trail, Carolyn Roberti, Roberti Ranch describes economic issues of Sierra Valley over time as the forestry industry left, along with its working families.  However, the community comes together to share the Valley’s heritage, natural resources, arts and agriculture at this popular, one-day event.  Carolyn also described how ranching families provide a foundation to their communities.  Each of the Roberti family members has served or is serving on at least one agricultural or civic board, such as the school board, the water district. as part of their community commitment.  

Community collaboration, in Modoc County is a major effort.  Heather Hadwick, Modoc County Office of Emergency Services & Tex Dowdy, Modoc County Sheriff. They have facilitated the Modoc Resource Sustainability Group that brings the community together to protect and enhance public health, economic viability and environmental quality: • Keeping our way of life • Crime & changes to laws made by people in the cities that lack understanding • Finances • Challenge of Change. Their keys to sustainability:  • Be Proactive • Think outside the box • Don’t be afraid to fail • Work Together • Hunt for funding • Marketing Everything!

Putting it all Together – Sustainable grazing lease systems – a Conversation by Lynn Huntsinger, Ph.D., UC Berkeley; Denise Defreese, retired East Bay Regional Park; Carissa Koopmann-Rivers, Rivers Red Angus. Their conversation included various topics related to sustainability and developing dependable land stewardship relationships to achieve mutual benefit of the landowner and rancher-tenant. (no slides)

Contest Photos

Congratulations to winner Carissa Rivers

Contest Photos

Congratulations to winner, Maxine Harper, 1st Place

Contest Photos

Congratulations to winner, Bruce Rominger, 3rd Place

Karen Sweet 
karensweet@carangeland.org