Report cites stewardship on farms in and around Stanislaus County

12/22/2013 7:42 PM

12/22/2013 11:17 PM

They have helped save endangered geese, and controlled manure and reduced water use, all the while producing food in and near Stanislaus County.

Six operations in the region are among 45 recognized statewide by the American Farmland Trust in a report called Profiles in Stewardship. The Washington, D.C.-based group highlighted efforts by farmers and ranchers to protect the environment and livestock.

Some were already well known, such as the Lyons family near Modesto and the Foster Farms poultry company in Livingston.

“These farm leaders clearly show agricultural producers in California care about the environment and are motivated to take positive steps to enhance it,” said Andrew McElwaine, president and chief executive officer of the trust, in a news release.

“They also demonstrate the potential benefits of conservation and serve as encouragement for other farmers to adopt the same practices.”

The report includes:

• Mapes Ranch, a diversified operation southwest of Modesto, where the Lyons family farms using practices that have helped with the recovery of the Aleutian goose, which winters in the area.
• The Burroughs family, which produces organic cheese, milk, almonds, eggs and olives in the low foothills east of Turlock.
• Bob Borba, a Hilmar-area dairy farmer whose improvements include injecting manure into the soil to sharply reduce air emissions.
• Foster Farms, based in Livingston, which had its chicken barns certified by the American Humane Association and sends its waste to be turned into energy by the East Bay Municipal Utilities District.
• Eduardo Ramos, a raisin grower in San Joaquin County, who cut water use by switching from furrow to drip irrigation.
• Vino Farms, a wine grape grower in San Joaquin County, which converted its trucks and tractors to biodiesel and installed a solar electricity system.

The trust used the occasion of the report to urge Congress to include funding for such efforts in the five-year farm bill being negotiated.

“The conservation practices highlighted in the Profiles conserve water, reduce greenhouse gases, improve air and water quality, restore wildlife habitat, generate renewable energy and achieve other environmental benefits,” said Edward Thompson Jr., state director for the group.

Funding for the report was provided by the Adams Legacy Foundation, based in Los Alamitos, Orange County. It can be read at www.farmland.org.

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