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Agriculture briefs

North Bay Dairy Women is one of 20 community groups around the state that have been honored by the California Milk Processor Board as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of its “GOT MILK?” advertising campaign.

The Petaluma-based group was established in 1965 to educate the public and serve as an advocate for the dairy industry. The organization is known for producing the annual District 3 Dairy Princess contest.

Along with the award, the group received a $1,000 cash prize.

Begun in 1993, “Got Milk?” has become one of the country’s most highly recalled ad campaigns, according to the milk processors board.

UC Davis researchers seek better genes for chickens

Researchers at UC Davis and other universities are seeking to identify the genes needed to breed chickens that can better tolerate hot climates and resist infectious diseases.

The research effort seeks to dramatically increase small-scale chicken production and to alleviate malnutrition and poverty in Africa. Infectious diseases, including Newcastle disease, cause about 750 million poultry deaths there each year.

The research was established with a $6 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

“Developing a chicken that can survive Newcastle disease outbreaks is critical to increase poultry, meat and egg production in Africa and in other regions of the world,” said David Bunn, director of the effort. “Increasing the production of chickens and eggs can have a dramatic impact on the livelihoods of poor rural communities.”

State ag officials review groundwater issues

Groundwater, which provides up to half of all water used by California’s farms and cities, will be the subject of a meeting this week by state agriculture officials.

The state Board of Food and Agriculture will meet Tuesday in Sacramento to consider such groundwater issues as overdraft, impaired water quality and salinity accumulation.

Karen Ross, secretary for the state agriculture department, said the issues “must be addressed to ensure sustainable groundwater management and the long-term vitality of agriculture.”

In 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that from 1962 to 2003, the Central Valley aquifer was depleted by almost 60 million acre-feet — enough water to meet the needs of every Californian for eight years. The aquifer is second in the U.S. for the amount of pumping that takes place, and it accounts for about 20 percent of the nation’s groundwater demand.

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