Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 4:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 2, 2012 at 12:48 p.m.
Program aids beginning farmers
The Sonoma County Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program will issue certificates Nov. 16 to its first cohort of students.
The program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, allows participants to learn from “master” farmers and ranchers and to receive guidance in developing sound business plans for agriculture.
Those who complete the program may be eligible to lease county land deemed suitable for food production, organizers said.
The certificates will be presented during a daylong gathering of participants and master farmers and ranchers at Santa Rosa Junior College's Shone Farm near Forestville.
The program is sponsored by the junior college, the UC Cooperative Extension and the community group Latino Service Providers.
Water supply to help bees at border
Almond and apiary groups are working with the California Department of Agriculture to make sure truckers hauling bees into the Golden State have adequate access to water at border inspection stations.
More than 1.6 million honeybee colonies are expected to enter the state in time for next year's almond bloom, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Concerned about inspection delays at some border stations, the California State Beekeeper's Association, Project Apis m. and the Almond Board of California each contributed $5,000 to upgrade water availability at those locations.
The water keeps the colonies cool and encourages the bees to stay within the hives.
About 2,700 truckloads of bee colonies enter the state annually between October and January, the federation reported.
Competitiveness proposals sought
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is accepting grant proposals to enhance the competitiveness of the state's specialty crops.
The 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will issue awards ranging from $50,000 to $400,000 per project related to fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.
Funding is contingent on passage of the 2012 Farm Bill and the availability of financing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The process begins with submission of concept proposals. Successful applicants will be invited to participate in phase two of the process, submission of a grant proposal.
Applicants can see detailed instructions at cdfa.ca.gov/grants. All concept proposals must be submitted electronically by 5 p.m. Dec. 7.
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