CALIFORNIA HAS hit the headlines of late with news of wildfires causing devastation in the region. However, this hasn’t deterred the recent international tour of young farmers’ delegates who have now embarked on a two-week trip to the Western US state, between November 24 and December 8.

The state is commonly known as the home of Hollywood and all the associated glamour which comes with show business – but as a state with millions of acres of farmland, California is in fact one of the most productive places in the world in terms of food production, and therefore a good choice of destination for a group of enthusiastic young farmers, keen to experience first-hand a new agricultural climate.

The state is a major source of food for the US. The 15 young farmers will be in for a treat during their visit, experiencing first-hand what the unique Mediterranean climate allows California to grow, such as; almonds, olives, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, and prunes, to mention only a handful.

Anna Sloan, a member of Bankfoot JAC, shared her thoughts on the trip: “So far the trip has exceeded expectations and has been very eye opening. The farmers are facing many challenges such as water shortages as well as some very relevant to home such as labour shortages,” she reported.

“We have already visited an visit olive farm, followed by a vineyard in Napa Valley. The group really enjoyed seeing produce native to the state that is very different to what we produce at home,” she continued.

“Today (Tuesday 27) we attended the Californian Dairy Sustainability Summit which touched upon the importance of engaging with your consumers and selling our story as farmers to market our produce, much of which is relevant at home.”

The group have an action-packed schedule, which will see them meet a range of local farmers, learning first-hand how farming systems have been improved through embracing new technology. The hope is that the delegates return to Scotland prepared to adapt, farm smarter and improve efficiency in their own businesses.

Alistair Brunton, a member of East Fife JAC explained: “For me, the main aim is to learn about what technology is available to farmers over here and how they use it.

“To find out what they have that isn’t available back home and if it could be utilised to improve Scottish agriculture. I’ve come here with an open mind, to gain new ideas that I can take home with the hope of progressing the business.

“These trips are vital for SAYFC, as they give the future leaders of the Scottish agricultural industry the opportunity to travel to destinations you normally wouldn’t go to and gives us access to visits that you wouldn’t see on your average holiday,” he concluded.

Fellow traveller David Black, a member of Mearns JAC, dispelled any concerns over the recent wildfires gripping the state: “I wasn’t concerned about the fires,” he explained. “I didn’t think it would go ahead if there was any real concern.”