Honored for raising grand champion steer

A Cardinal Newman High School junior has raised the grand champion steer at this year’s California State Fair.

Julia Dayton, 16, president of the Healdsburg 4H group, captured the top honor July 11 with a white-faced steer named Panda, which she called a “black cross” because “he’s kind of a mixture of everything.”

Panda, who originally came from a ranch near Fresno, went to the junior livestock auction the next day and was purchased for $16,000, said a state fair spokeswoman.

Tim Tesconi, executive director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, said, he couldn’t remember a state grand champion from the county in 20 years. “This is a real huge win for this young woman,” he said.

Dayton has been showing cattle for about four years, but this was her first trip to the state fair. She plans to also show a steer at the upcoming Sonoma County Fair.

She said she wants to pursue a college degree in agriculture business.


Award for leadership in dairy goat industry

Jennifer Lynn Bice, owner of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery in Sebastopol, will receive the Leadership in Agriculture award July 29 at the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce’s 42nd Annual Agri-Business BBQ.

Bice, who assumed ownership of Redwood Hill in 1978, is being honored for her leadership in the dairy goat industry. Her company makes artisan cheeses, goat milk yogurt and kefir, and Bice has won national recognition for her dairy goat breeding program.

The event will be held from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm, 7450 Steve Olson Lane, near Forestville.

Tickets are $60 each and the reservation deadline is Tuesday. For more information, call the chamber, 545-1414.


Fresno County no longer leader in ag production

Fresno County was dethroned as California’s leading agricultural producer in 2013 despite the rise of almonds as the county’s second billion-dollar crop.

The ongoing drought contributed to declines in crop values.

Last year, Fresno County’s overall gross value fell 2.2 percent to $6.4 billion.

The county slips to No. 2 behind dairy rich Tulare County, whose agriculture value jumped to a record $7.8 billion on robust dairy prices.

Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner Les Wright said the drought — one of the worst in state history — has pinched the production of several field crops, including cotton, corn silage and barley. The field crop category fell by 42 percent.

Bad weather, low prices and the drought contributed to sizable declines in apricots, pomegranates and asparagus, according to the 2013 annual Crop and Livestock Production Report.

Press Democrat staff and wire report. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com