March 24, 2023

On the Contribution of Extension: In memory of Tim Wallace

One of the specialists, George Goldman, introduced me to my dissertation subject, Animal Waste in Southern California, and linked me to a farm advisor (the late Shirl Bishop) who supplied me with information and introduced me to the appropriate actors. I understood Tim as a fascinating extension expert with a lot of charm and a capability to ask tough concerns, however we never ever had a long discussion. Tim was the Agricultural Policy professional in the department, and I am not sure he was really delighted with the brand-new hire. Losing them was a real blow as having extension professionals was important to be involved in Californias agriculture and natural resource issue. We have a fantastic brand-new extension professional, Ellen Bruno, who is currently serving as a linkage between our brand-new professors and California agriculture.

When I showed up in Berkeley for my Ph.D. about 50 years ago (1973, prior to the Yom Kippur War), I discovered that the department of Agricultural Economics, which I joined, had numerous professors members who were extension professionals. Their job has actually been to do real applied research study and to supply information and education to grownups (regular faculty teach striving adults), specifically farm advisors, federal government authorities, farmers, NGO activists, and business owners. One of the professionals, George Goldman, presented me to my dissertation topic, Animal Waste in Southern California, and linked me to a farm advisor (the late Shirl Bishop) who offered me with data and introduced me to the pertinent actors. Another specialist was Tim Wallace, who passed away a year back and whose life was celebrated this September. Tim was an engaging character. He served on the Presidents council of financial advisors and was Californias Secretary of Agriculture. He was an outdoorsman (canoed down the Mississippi) who felt comfy as an insider in centers of power. He often held strong opinions and could be argumentative, however he always listened and in some cases altered his mind.
I understood Tim as an interesting extension expert with a lot of charisma and a capability to ask tough concerns, but we never ever had a long discussion. Tim was the Agricultural Policy expert in the department, and I am not sure he was very pleased with the brand-new hire.
I stated, “Yes,” and he asked, “what do you know about Ag-Policy?” I responded, “Not quite– I was working on a farm in Israel, and my argumentation was on animal waste, but prior to I came here, I was a system expert and understood that if you want, you can discover any new subject by reading the literature and mostly by talking with individuals.” I also stated, “I understand that Gordon (Rausser) wants me to teach a class in Ag-Policy and will offer me all the rewards (both carrots and sticks) to stay in the field.” He asked, “What is your research plan?” I told him that in our department, “We have Rausser, Just, and Schmidt who are really widely known in ag-policy, so I will attempt to establish a somewhat various focus, studying innovation adoption, farmers behavior under threat, and specifically the link between ag and the environment.”
This is specifically crucial considering that you were not born in California (which I found real– if you dont look like a cowboy, you need to work harder to be accepted). It would be great if you go and go to various farm regions, fulfill with extension specialists, get to understand some farmers, ask questions that show that you care, and attempt to comprehend whats occurring. I realized that being brand-new in the United States, I needed to try and attempt to learn about California agriculture, and certainly during my first five years on the faculty, I took a trip all over the state, taking any chance I had.
Tim was the Secretary of Agriculture of California and, undoubtedly, relied on and well-connected. He was able to act as an extraordinary mediator and handle conflicting goals effectively. He stressed one thing– agricultural development and environmental quality and sustainability can go together. The minute you think it is either one or the other, you lose your effectiveness; individuals need to consume, and individuals like to have a healthy environment. Farmers are businessmen, however many like to fish and take pleasure in the environment. In the early 1990s, there was a proposition called Big Green that recommended we remove using pesticides in California. We did some research studies that revealed this would be extremely expensive. Naturally, there are abuses of pesticides, but removing them would be a big mistake. So, we attempted to arrange a conference, and Tim was the mediator. There were people with various perspectives, and he might keep them calm and manage a number of conversations.
In the end, the late Tom Graff– an environmental leader in the state, informed us that “Gosh, you men have a point.” In the 1990s, several people (David Sunding, Dick Howitt, Doug Parker, and Michael Hanemann) created a proposal to develop an electronic water trading market in the main valley. We required to consult with the water districts and environmental groups to concur on how to execute it. Tim was vital in making certain that the conversation was civil and that we were able to offer the idea. In the early 1990s, there was a proposal to divert water rights from farmers to the environment in California. Of course, farmers didnt like it, and they approached Tim to assist. He recommended that they approach me and others at the university, even though we do a comparable analysis for the EPA and some ecological groups. We wrote several reports that were essential in presenting trading as part of a water reform legislation called the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
Over time, our department lost its extension experts; they got older and were not changed. So, for a while, we had almost no one (I am a 20% extension professional). Losing them was a real blow as having extension specialists was crucial to be included in Californias farming and natural deposit problem. I particularly owed them a lot. As I discussed, I was introduced to my dissertation research study on animal waste by George Goldman. Jerry Siebert was essential in constructing our linkages with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and starting a large research study program on pesticides in the department that resulted in numerous dissertations. Kirby Moulton started a research job on the rates of the qualities of peaches and their implications for peach production. This research study led to Doug Parkers dissertation, and Doug later on became an extension expert. He and David Sunding were vital in obtaining resources to study water and drain problems in California. I am still dealing with a research study on the value of California irrigation management systems started by Parker. Losing the extension prevents specifically young faculty members from getting the knowledge and motivation to resolve relevant issues and the capacity to acquire resources for it. Fortunately for us, there is hope. We have a terrific brand-new extension expert, Ellen Bruno, who is currently working as a linkage between our new faculty and California farming. Tim is gone, however I will treasure his memory and his contributions. Outstanding professors of extension are essential for integrating rigor and significance, the two measurements of academic excellence. I believe and hope that our extension program will grow and will lead our department to make greater contributions to California and global agriculture and natural deposits.

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