Spotlight: Glenda Humiston

The University of California's vice president of agriculture and natural resources discusses barriers and recommendations for innovative financing and a collaborative future.

On Sept. 4, 2018, Fran Spivy-Weber—former Vice Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)—joined Glenda Humiston, Ph.D., at University of California Davis to discuss technology and financing mechanisms. Humiston is the UC System’s Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources and has over 25 years of experience in agriculture, economic development and sustainability. In 2009, prior to joining the UC System, Humiston was appointed by Obama as the California state director of rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she managed a budget of over one billion dollars. Humiston was also just awarded the 2018 California Steward Leader Award at the California Economic Summit on November 16 in Santa Rosa, California.

Honing in on Humiston's years of experience, Spivy-Weber asks her the question of the hour: How do people actually get the money to move projects forward?

Humiston recognizes that there isn't a "one-size-fits-all" solution and shares the resources and strategies that can help, which include the California Financial Opportunities Roundtable's (CalFOR) Access to Capital Guidebook and the idea of regional investing. These strategies are discussed in more detail in the interview to the right and are also described below.

Strategies for Innovative Financing

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Access to Capital Guidebook

In December 2011, Humiston convened the California Financial Opportunities Roundtable comprised of eighty leaders from finance, economic development, small businesses, corporations and government sectors. These leaders got together to look at the roadblocks and challenges to obtaining capital. The result was a published guidebook to capital that includes a review of the key issues, the capital currently available and operational, the capital available with substantial work, business mentoring/technical assistance and lists of resources and references.

Download the guidebook here. 

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Regional Investing

There needs to be a mechanism that would allow citizens to put some of their retirement into regional investments. As Humiston states, "That to me is literally the holy grail. How do we...bring some of our own money back home to invest in California?"

In 2011, based on the Federal Reserve Bank's statistical release, Californians had approximately $859 billion in retirement accounts. If 5% of these funds were invested locally instead of in Wall Street then there would be $43 billion brought back to California.

The Future Vision

The following are Humiston's recommendations on what can, and should, be done for the future.

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    Build Regional Urban-Rural Collaborations: It is vital to build upon the synergies that exist naturally between urban and rural communities to spur innovation, share resources and fill gaps so that more funds can be invested at a local level. These urban-rural regional funds will need diverse portfolios that are financially stable. Watch Humiston discuss it here.

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    Engage General Public & Policy Leaders: It is important to make sure that these groups understand the challenges of climate change and the future of agriculture and collaboration. Let the public know where their food comes from and let them engage with farms and ranches to encourage farm-to-fork relationships. Work with the Governor's office and help facilitate a "wood first" building policy to help sequester carbon. Learn more about engagement and biomass here.

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    Increase Food & Ag Research Nationally: The U.S. needs to continue to increase the amount of research being done to help move ag into the 21st and 22nd centuries. Research includes developing new crop varietals that can withstand higher temperatures, growing the same quality of crops with less water and studying different feeding regimes to manage dairy methane emissions. Learn more by watching the interview here.

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    Encourage STEM Subjects: Science, technology, engineering and math subjects give youth and citizens the opportunity to "get their hands into science." The last decade has seen less faith in science, facts and data so it is important to increase opportunities for STEM so that people can understand what science is and how it works. Watch the interview snippet here.

A special thanks to UCANR and Ray Lucas for filming this interview! 

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