Harry Cline honored by Western Weed Society

Harry Cline, editor of Western Farm Press, has been awarded a prestigious honorary membership by the Western Society of Weed Science for his reporting on California and Arizona agriculture.

The 72-year old scientific society, whose members are weed scientists from 20 Western states and two Canadian provinces, honored Cline at its annual meeting in Hawaii.

Jesse Richardson, immediate WSWS past president, says he nominated Cline “because he is such a strong proponent of Western agriculture.

“Harry’s courage in standing up to groups who try to suppress important, proven technology is critical to the scientific advancement of agriculture. “His journalistic integrity and determination to ensure that credible science wins out over politics and activism is very much appreciated, because scientists often do a poor job of defending themselves against their critics. Having Harry in our corner means a lot.”

The honorary member award, which was established 34 years ago, has only been presented 23 times. Last year’s recipient was Tom Brokaw, veteran NBC News anchor. Among previous winners are Dr. Bruce Ames, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, University of California, Berkeley, and a senior scientist at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, and Robert S. Zemetra, professor, plant breeding and genetics at the University of Idaho, Moscow.

Ames, whose career research has focused on cancer and aging, has authored over 500 scientific publications, and is among the few hundred most-cited scientists in all fields. His research on the causes of cancer refute many of the cancer-causing theories in Rachel Carson’s controversial book, Silent Spring.

The plant sciences department at California State University, Fresno also recently honored Cline for his contributions to California agriculture as editor of Western Farm Press.

Cline, whose career as a journalist covering Western agriculture spans 35 years, was also recently honored at the California Future Farmers of America cotton judging contest finals for “significant service to all producers in California and Arizona.”

Bruce Roberts, J.G. Boswell Chair of Agronomy at CSUF and for many years UCCE cotton farm advisor in Kings County, Calif., presented the award, noting that he and Cline worked together on many articles and projects over the years.

Western Farm Press is known for its accuracy and informative reporting, and Harry is a major reason for the publication’s notable reputation,” Roberts said.

“He has accomplished this through timely delivery of balanced information to Western producers, and reporting new discoveries, techniques and practices to the general audience of agriculture producers. His style and format are the most ‘user friendly’ and widely-read form of information available.

“Harry has been an important agent of change for Western agriculture,” said Roberts, who cited his efforts in initiating yearly Pima cotton conferences.

“The idea of planting Pima cotton in the one-variety San Joaquin Valley was initially controversial, and most farm and commodity groups wanted to avoid taking an official stand on the subject.

“Early-on, through Harry’s efforts to organize the first Pima cotton conference in the Valley, all parties to the debate were brought together to discuss the pros-and-cons of Extra Long Staple cotton being sanctioned in the Valley.

“Harry single-handedly kept the program going until available information was delivered to cotton growers and everyone in California’s cotton industry. His efforts were instrumental in helping promote and establish Pima production in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Cotton acreage in the San Joaquin Valley has dropped dramatically over the past decade; many believe it would have disappeared altogether without Pima. Today two-thirds of the Valley acreage is Pima, and California produces more than 90 percent of American Pima cotton.

Roberts also cited Cline’s efforts to organize symposiums on upland cotton in the Sacramento Valley and helping to establish that area’s production through the meetings.

Roberts also cited the annual High Cotton Award, co-sponsored by Farm Press and the Cotton Foundation. “This award recognizes individuals who make significant contributions to the cotton industry through their outstanding production and environmental stewardship. The award is recognized as a major acknowledgement of the environmental efforts of many of the industry’s most progressive producers,” Roberts said.

“Harry’s ‘beat’ covers the entire waterfront of agriculture production of Western-grown commodities. From research results to grower experiences with new, innovative approaches to marketing opportunities, he provides useful information to a wide audience of Western producers.”

Cline, who is based at Fresno, Calif., is a graduate of the University of Texas, Austin, and prior to moving to California, was a reporter for newspapers in Texas and Arizona for 10 years.

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