in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

November 30, 2012

Creating our Niche in the Next Legislative Session

By Emily Rooney, Ag Council President

As we approach the holiday season, we can all be thankful for the post-election peace, free of political advertising and posturing. As we reflect on the recent election, there are some lessons the staff and members of Ag Council must keep in mind.

The results of the most expensive election on record helped validate the approach Ag Council has taken in reaching out to California lawmakers. Party affiliation is a line we have to continue to bridge and cross in order to make sure all of California’s lawmakers know the value of agriculture to the state’s success.

In the Legislature, Democrats now hold a two-thirds supermajority in the state Senate, which was anticipated. Democrats also have a two-thirds veto-proof supermajority in the Assembly. A supermajority gives one political party the ability to override vetoes, avoid deadlines and more easily place constitutional changes on the ballot. This underscores the need to reach out to moderate legislators to ensure that California’s position as the number-one ag economy is secure.

We are hopeful that through continued advocacy, we will be able to influence the more reasonable lawmakers to vote with us on our key issues pertaining to labor, water, environmental and fiscal matters. This will not be an easy task, but through consistent outreach, perhaps the most-savvy legislators will be encouraged to employ more moderate behavior.

Ag Council thanks our membership for continued support of our advocacy efforts. With a single political party having a supermajority in the state Legislature, our advocacy efforts are more important now than ever.

Ag Council staff recently held a webinar to provide post-election analysis for our members. If you are an Ag Council member, and you would like information from the webinar, please contact our office at ph. 916.443.4887 or email us at: protectag@agcouncil.org .

Sun-Maid Honored with Ag Business Award

Ag Council congratulates its member, Sun-Maid Growers, for being honored with the 2012 Ag Business Award at a recent ceremony in Fresno. The annual award, sponsored by the accounting and consulting firm Baker, Peterson and Franklin, acknowledges an ag organization that has provided substantial contributions to agriculture and the Fresno community.

Upon receiving the award at the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Awards Luncheon, Sun-Maid president Barry Kriebel said, “Fresno County is the number one agricultural region in the state and the nation and there are so many deserving businesses in the area. We are honored, especially in light of this being our 100th anniversary.”

Sun-Maid is a farmer-owned business, with over 750 family farmers, and employs over 800 members of the local community. Sun-Maid production averages 100,000 tons of raisins per year generating net annual revenue of $360 million.

Sun-Maid is one of Ag Council’s founding members.  In addition, Sun-Maid’s Chairman, Jon Marthedal, is also Ag Council’s Chairman.

Debbie Jacobsen was also honored at the Fresno Chamber event as the 2012 Agriculturalist of the Year. The annual award is given to a person who demonstrates leadership and integrity in the agricultural business community. Among her many activities, Debbie is a grower with Ag Council member, Allied Grape Growers.  Ag Council extends our congratulations to her.

To watch a video recognizing Sun-Maid for the Ag Business Award, click HERE.  For a video of Debbie Jacobsen, click HERE.

Let it Snow

The National Weather Service is predicting heavy rains and gusty winds through the weekend in Northern California due to a string of storms. Rainfall of 10-20 inches is possible as well as several feet of snow in the Sierra Nevadas.

Amidst the Northern California storms, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced an initial allocation of 30 percent for State Water Project contractors in 2013. This initial allocation will likely be increased as storms continue.

DWR Director Mark Cowin said, “This week’s storms are giving us an early water supply boost, while at the same time putting our flood center on alert.”

The State Water Project’s main storage reservoir, Lake Oroville, is currently at 50 percent of capacity and 81 percent of normal for the date. The principal Central Valley Project storage reservoir for federal contractors, Shasta Lake, is at 54 percent of capacity and 88 percent of normal for the date, according to DWR.

Read more in the DWR announcement HERE.

November 2, 2012

Clock Ticking toward Election Day

With the November 6 election just days away, the final push to the finish line is underway for candidates and ballot measures.

Prop 30—Increases State Taxes for Education 
Governor Jerry Brown continues to fiercely defend his tax-hike measure, Prop 30, while traveling throughout the state to gain voter support for the measure.

Prop 30 would raise state personal income taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and increase the state sales tax by ¼ cent for four years in order to help fund public schools.
Importantly, the current state budget relies upon passage of Prop 30. If Prop 30 is not approved, the state budget mandates about $6 billion in automatic trigger cuts to state education.

The Governor said this week, “The cuts are in the budget, the law of California. They cannot be changed unless the Legislature wants to change it and the governor signs the bill, and I won’t sign the bill. You can take that to the bank.”

Click HERE for further details on the Mercury News website.

Ballot Recommendations

Yes on Prop 32
Prevents Payroll Deductions for Political Purposes

Prop 32 would ban corporations and public and private sector unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes and prohibit unions and corporations from directly contributing to political candidates. Voluntary contributions are allowed under Prop 32 for political purposes through mechanisms such as a political action committee.

Ag Council supports Prop 32 because there is a compelling need to improve California’s political process, and Prop 32 is a step in the right direction.

To read more about why Ag Council supports Proposition 32, click HERE, and scroll down to “Yes on Prop 32.”

No on Prop 37
Genetically Engineered Food Labeling

Prop 37 mandates labeling of raw or processed food as genetically engineered if the food is for sale to consumers and produced from plants or animals with genetic material changed in certain ways.

Ag Council opposes Prop 37 because it creates a private right of action against family farmers and food processors, increases the cost of food, and prohibits marketing as “natural” any products that are processed in any way, even if a crop is not genetically modified. Prop 37 exempts alcohol, food sold for immediate consumption, meat, dairy products, certified organic food and other products.

Click HERE and scroll down to “No on Prop 37” to read further details about the impact of Prop 37 on Ag Council members.

Winter Water Outlook

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released its 2012 winter outlook for this December-February saying a “wavering El Nino” in the U.S. makes this winter less predictable.

During El Niño, warmer ocean water in the equatorial Pacific alters the patterns of tropical rainfall, which then influences the strength and position of the jetstream and storms over the Pacific Ocean and U.S.

NOAA’s winter outlook forecasts drier-than-average conditions in Northern California, the Pacific Northwest, as well as Idaho, western Montana, and portions of Wyoming, Utah and most of Nevada.

Read more in NOAA’s news release by clicking HERE.


Specialty Crop Block Grants

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is accepting proposals for the 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The program funds projects enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops, which are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

For specific instructions on how to apply, click HERE. The deadline to register and submit a concept proposal is December 7, 2012. Full proposals are due March 22, 2013. For a schedule of CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant workshops being held throughout the state beginning on November 5, click HERE.

If you are seeking professional grant writing assistance, Ag Council’s Allied Member, Morrison & Company, provides grant writing services and has an over 83 percent success rate on full grant proposals since 2002. Please contact Brent Morrison at as soon as possible if you are interested. He can be reached at ph. (530) 893-4764 ext. 202 or bmorrison@morrisonco.net.

2013 Ag Council Annual Meeting

Please save March 18-20 2013 on your calendar for Ag Council’s Annual Meeting at Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa.  We hope you will join us.

Registration information and further details will be available beginning in December at: www.agcouncil.org.  Ag Council will also provide future annual meeting updates via this newsletter.