Another show is in the books as the third and final day of the Colusa Farm Show came to a close on Thursday.
“It was a great show,” Laura Ford, CEO of Colusa County Fairgrounds, said Thursday afternoon.
Considered “the granddaddy of agricultural shows”, it grew from what was intended to be a one-time event in 1966 to the longest consecutive show of its kind on the West Coast.
Year after year, the show attracts over 20,000 people from all over for the unique, convenient and individual experience offered at the show.
Ford said there were 276 salespeople in attendance this year, with some traveling from as far away as Alaska and Pennsylvania to attend.
Last year, the farm show was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. Ford said she began planning for this year’s event in September, but was concerned that state COVID-19 guidelines would change and prevent the show from happening again this year.
“It was great to have the opportunity to host the show this year,” Ford said. “The guidelines canceled the fair last year the day before the event, so we were very concerned that this too would be canceled at the last minute.”
Despite those concerns, Ford said she and fairground staff planned the show as they would any other year, with the addition of implementing COVID-19 guidelines, including the ‘providing face masks and hand sanitizer, posting signs to encourage social distancing and monitoring the interior facility to ensure they do not exceed current gathering requirements at the interior.
“I also notified sellers of any new information as soon as I received it,” Ford said. “It takes time and money for them to prepare to be here, so I wanted to keep them updated as much as possible.”
Terry Bressler, a member of the board of directors for the 44th District Agricultural Association and the agricultural show committee, said that while the number of attendees seemed to have dropped slightly this year, those who came were there with a goal.
“People who came were there to spend money and the vendors love it,” Bressler said.
With so many concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, Bressler said he appreciates the many vendors who were in attendance this year.
While hundreds of people got to see the latest in the agricultural industry up close, Ford and his small staff, along with several members of the 44th District Agricultural Association Board of Directors and members of the show committee of Agriculture were working hard to make sure this year’s show ran smoothly.
“It takes a village to host this show,” Ford said.
According to Ford, fairground staff also received assistance from this year’s 44th District Agricultural Association Junior Fair Board.
Ford said the 44th District Agricultural Association’s Junior Fair Board is made up of juniors and seniors from each of the county’s five public high schools, including Arbuckle, Colusa, Maxwell, Princeton and Williams.
“They help me with anything I need,” Ford said. “They distribute programs, make announcements and make sure suppliers have everything they need.”
Ford said there has been a lot of interest in joining the junior board this year and she is trying to push them a bit out of their comfort zone to improve their various skills.
This year’s Junior Council members include Justin Lee, Karina Gonzalez, Jack Ehrke, Abby Myers, Shane Danley, Paige Vierra, Holley Hickel, Madison Pearson, Sydnee Wilson, Karsyn Gwinnup, Audree Wills, Janet Gonzalez, Kallie Stassi, Jordyn Stephens and Katie Washburn.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to get out there and talk to people in the industry,” Ford said. “These are the people who could potentially be their bosses one day and they get the chance to talk to them and bond.”
Ford said the Junior Board’s help at the Farm Show also shows them how important the farming industry is to the area.
“Agriculture, ranching and ranching is huge in the state and I don’t think people realize how important that is,” Ford said. “Events like this allow them to see another side of agriculture.”
In addition to the Farm Show, the Junior Board also participates in other events hosted by the fairgrounds, including the annual Livestock Auction, Future Farmers of America and 4-H Awards Ceremonies, and Pumpkin Village. They also oversee the annual Mr. Cinderella Pageant at the Colusa County Fair, overseen by members of the 44th District Agricultural Association Board of Directors.
Breakfast show at the farm
Farm industry leaders and contributors from the past, present and future gathered at Saint Bernadette’s Hall in Colusa for the 20th Annual Colusa Farm Show Rabo AgriFinance Breakfast on the morning of February 2nd.
The event, which is hosted by alumni of California State University, Chico College of Agriculture, California Agricultural Leadership Foundation and Alpha Gamma Rho, raised more than $500,000 for scholarships and leadership programs for local agricultural students since its humble beginnings in a pop-up tent set up on the grounds of the Colusa Farm Show two decades ago.
With a cup of coffee in hand and a hearty meal featuring all the breakfast staples served by Colusa’s Market Street Grill restaurant, this year’s presentation tackled some of the biggest challenges facing the industry today. confronted: water, maritime transport and the agricultural economy. .
David Magana, researcher for Rabo AgriFinance, gave an overview of the current state of the economy in the agricultural industry and said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a much deeper economic impact than the Spanish flu pandemic. decades ago.
“The 2020 recession was unique in many ways,” Magana said. “This was the only recession in recent history where median household income increased due to government stimulus checks. This extra money has also made the demand for property extremely high.
According to Magana, imports are up 20% from pre-pandemic levels and inflation rates have also risen more recently than they have in more than 40 years.
Currently, Magana said the agricultural economy faces three major challenges: labor, inflation and the supply chain, all of which are interconnected.
“There was a labor shortage in agriculture for years, but now it’s more widespread and across all sectors,” Magana said. “…We won’t have the labor availability that we saw in the 90s in our lifetime.”
With a series of pandemic-related stimulus checks and benefits available during the pandemic, Magana said workers have stopped coming to work and many have yet to return. People have also used the funds to resign from their positions in search of other jobs with better pay, better hours and more flexibility, Magana said.
With this extra money pumped into the economy and with many people still working from home, Magana said the country has also started spending at record highs during the pandemic, sending demand soaring since most of these goods are imported from Asia.
Roger Isom, president and CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association, said one of the biggest supply chain issues right now is that many container ships are returning to Asia empty, without exports, as these foreign companies are eager to continue shipping products to the United States because they get up to $25,000 per container for imports.
Isom said shipping lines have dropped agricultural imports at this time, in addition to shipments to the Port of Oakland.
“It’s a business issue and nobody treats it like that,” Isom said.
Other active ports in California, including the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, are not automated and do not operate 24 hours a day, further slowing the shipping process, Isom said.
According to Isom, a legislature is in preparation to tackle these problems in the ports, but only some of the problems are solved. A program has been launched to expedite agricultural exports at this time and the Port of Oakland has worked with the United States Department of Agriculture to make it easier for agricultural businesses to fill empty shipping containers with produce. .
David Guy, President of the Northern California Water Association, provided insight into the topic on the minds of everyone working in agriculture – water supply.
According to Guy, reservoirs in the eastern part of the state, including Folsom, are full, but Shasta and others that feed the Sacramento River are not.
“The northern part of the state just didn’t get that many storms,” Guy said.
At that time, Guy said Shasta held about 1.6 million acre-feet of water, but the demand for the reservoir was 2.1 million acre-feet.
“There just isn’t enough water in Shasta to meet demand, but there is time,” Guy said. “Let’s hope for another storm.”
According to Guy, groundwater levels in the Sacramento Valley are in good shape right now, something many farmers and ranchers turn to when water supplies are tight.
Guy said the Northern California Water Association is working to reactivate floodplains and use bypasses and agricultural fields to benefit fish and wildlife in harmony with the region’s agriculture as an alternative to rerouting water. water from rivers and coping with the scarcity of water supply.
According to Guy, plans for the site reservoir are also getting closer to fruition and would provide another source of water supply to the western part of the valley when completed. The next step is to license the reservoir, Guy said, but this is a multi-year process and work on the project may not begin for another decade.