Farm Beat: Turkey and football – Must be the holidays

Foster Farms has donated 4,000 turkeys to help low-income families celebrate Christmas. It also has pinned down the college football teams that will play in the Foster Farms Bowl, another anti-hunger effort.

UCLA (8-4) will face Nebraska (5-7) in the Dec. 26 game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, which features teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten. The Livingston-based poultry company is in its second year of sponsorship of the game, part of a series that started in 2002 as the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl.

For every ticket purchased, Foster Farms will provide a meal to a person in need. Ticket information is at ESPN will carry the game live to a national audience, with kickoff at 6:15 p.m.

The donation of turkeys, which the company processes in Turlock, went to six food banks in California, Oregon and Washington. They include the Second Harvest Food Bank, which serves Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

“Our intent is to provide West Coast families with a hearty meal while addressing the need for food donations – and much-needed protein – especially during the holiday season,” said Ira Brill, director of communications at Foster Farms, in a news release. “We hope other companies and individuals will join Foster Farms in donating.”

Elsewhere on the Farm Beat:

Crystal Creamery, owned by the same Modesto-area family that owns Foster Farms, received an award for its waste-reduction efforts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the dairy company the 2015 Food Recovery Challenge Award for Innovation. Crystal was recognized for diverting byproducts in wastewater to a digester that turns them into electricity. The digester is at Fiscalini Cheese Co., northwest of Modesto, where it also takes in cattle manure.

“Crystal Creamery has created a foundation of innovation and achievement that can serve as a model for other food manufacturers as they pursue their own sustainable management food goals,” said a letter from Kathleen Salyer, deputy director of the EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery.

A few people in and near Stanislaus County were honored at the California Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in Reno this week:

▪ Daniel Bays of Patterson received the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award. He grows a variety of crops with his father and grandfather, serves as a volunteer firefighter and chairs the Patterson High School Agricultural Advisory Committee.

▪ The Distinguished Service Award went to Kenny Watkins of Linden, who is ending six years of service as the group’s first vice president. He raises beef cattle, walnuts and hay, and has been involved in Ag in the Classroom, 4-H and other efforts.

▪ Breanne Ramos of Turlock was among the 10 graduates of the annual Leadership Farm Bureau program. She has recently been named executive director of the Merced County Farm Bureau, succeeding Amanda Priest.

▪ Nick Ferrari, who grows walnuts in the Linden area, also graduated from the leadership program.