Posts Tagged: Daniel Sumner
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources experts were able to provide accurate information about the water use on commodities that have been criticized for water consumption during the drought.
The director of UC ANR's Agricultural Issues Center, Daniel Sumner, was one of three guests on the one-hour talk radio program Your Call, which was broadcast on KALW, Local Public Radio in San Francisco. The topic - How would reducing our intake of meat and dairy affect the drought? - was prompted by off-the-cuff comments made by Gov. Jerry Brown in June. Answering the question, "Is part of the drought strategy to reduce meat consumption?" Brown replied, "If you ask me, I think you should be eating veggie burgers."
On the Your Call show, Sumner explained that beef consumption has little impact on the California drought.
"I do want to make clear, when it comes to water embedded in any product, it depends where the water is from," Sumner said. "We feed cattle in California with grain from the Midwest."
Dairy production is another issue. "Dairy cows are fed lots of grain, soybeans and canola coming from Canada and the Midwest, but also silage and alfalfa, much of which is from California. California dairy is a drought water issue. Beef really isn't."
UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist Dan Putnam appeared on the KTVU Evening News to discuss alfalfa water use with reporter Ken Wayne. Putnam said the drought has hurt the state's alfalfa industry.
"Statewide, it's been fairly devastating," Putnam said. "We're at the lowest acreage we've seen probably since the 1930s."
He also noted the importance of the crop, a key part of dairy cattle's diets.
"An average field of alfalfa produces approximately 2,400 gallons of milk per acre," Putnam said.
American dairy operators are asking the Obama Administration to protect them from an increase in New Zealand dairy exports to the U.S., according to an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. But Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, believes the American farmers' worries are overblown.
"They're making wild claims," Sumner was quoted in the story.
Obama's trade negotiators begin talks next week in Australia on a regional trade agreement that may make it easier for New Zealand dairy operators to ship products to the U.S.
American dairy farmers are concerned because they are still recovering from nearly two years of severe losses, wrote WSJ reporter Lauren Etter. Last year, milk prices fell to 30-year lows.
New Zealand's open space and mild climate have helped it become one of the world's lowest-cost dairy producers. Its inhabitants can consume only a fraction of the milk and related products made there.
Sumner told the reporter that New Zealand dairy products entering the U.S. would put some downward pressure on U.S. dairy prices. But he said the U.S. economy would benefit from trade in other industries that will likely outweigh the hardships for dairy farmers.