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2017 Legislative Conference

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A portion of Legislative Conference attendees in front of the State Capitol.

A portioLegislative Conference attendees in front of the State Capitol.

Ag Council members convened in Sacramento on May 16 for the association’s 2017 Legislative Conference. The outreach effort helps foster stronger relationships with legislators, as well as regulatory officials and other decision makers, and provides a platform to discuss critical policy issues.

This year, the conference attracted the largest delegation of participants since the event was created in 2011. Ag Council thanks all attendees for helping to make the event a success.

Legislative Conference – Morning Session

 

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ARB Assistant Division Chief for the Industrial Strategies Division, Rajinder Sahota and Chief Economist, Emily Wimberger.

California Air Resources Board, Assistant Division Chief for the Industrial Strategies Division, Rajinder Sahota and Chief Economist, Emily Wimberger

The morning agenda began with a presentation by Rajinder Sahota, who is Assistant Division Chief for the Industrial Strategies at the California Air Resources Board (ARB). Rajiner discussed ARB’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in the state. She stressed that the existing programs, such as cap and trade, are delivering the emission reductions needed to achieve the state’s goals, while providing the most flexibility so that the California economy continues to grow.

Emily Wimberger, ARB’s Chief Economist, discussed the adoption of the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Strategy and the next steps the agency is taking to reduce dairy methane emissions. She stressed that ARB is currently focused on identifying barriers for the industry and helping dairies voluntarily reduce methane from manure management with incentive-based approaches.

Senator Isadore Hall, Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) Member

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Senator Isadore Hall, Agricultural Labor Relations Board Member

Senator Hall was recently appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and confirmed by the State Senate to serve as a member of the ALRB. By connecting with him during Ag Council’s Legislative Conference, our members were given the opportunity to hear about his background and political philosophy, as well as ask him questions.

As a former member of the State Senate and the Assembly, Senator Hall said he was a member of the Moderate Democrat Caucus. He spoke about his balanced perspective on business issues. He said that he has a pragmatic approach and an open-mind with regard to policy issues.

Senator Hall further remarked that with the ALRB appointment, he is meeting with farmers and listening to what members of the agricultural community are saying, in addition to taking tours to learn more about agriculture.

Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced)

Assemblyman Gray, who is the new convener of the Moderate Democrats, spoke during the Legislative Conference. He highlighted the need for the Legislature to conduct more oversight over state laws already on the books, which Ag Council wholeheartedly agrees with as a policy to ensure there is increased accountability over regulatory agencies.

Assmeblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced)

Assmeblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced)

He also talked about how it is critical that agriculture stays united on issues to make a difference and urged the group to remember that we are all stronger together.

2017 Influential Legislator of the Year Award Presented to Assemblywoman Eggman

Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) was presented with Ag Council’s 2017 Influential Legislator Award during the Legislative Conference. We thank Assemblywoman Eggman for her leadership on agricultural issues in the Legislature. Please see the detailed article below about Assemblywoman Eggman and the award.

Keynote Speaker at Lunch – California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Deputy Secretary, Jenny Lester Moffitt

Jenny Lester Moffitt opened her remarks by laying out CDFA’s vision for continuing to protect and promote agriculture. She identified agriculture’s contributions to the economy, the diversity of farming operations and the industry’s role in leading on innovation. She recognized the regulatory and environmental challenges placed on agriculture and spoke about CDFA’s work to build resiliency and keep agriculture productive and profitable.

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Jenny Lester Moffitt, California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Deputy Secretary

She also highlighted the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) and Dairy Digester programs, where CDFA receives cap and trade dollars to invest in on-farm water efficiencies and reduce manure methane emissions.

We thank all of our speakers for addressing many high profile issues facing agriculture and for interacting with our members in a meaningful way during the Legislative Conference.

Capitol Meetings – Afternoon Session

During outreach with legislators in the State Capitol, Ag Council members encouraged support for Ag Council’s bill, SB 730 by Dr. Pan (D-Sacramento), to ensure that California is monitoring and enforcing the Buy American provision in school food purchases. In addition, participants advocated against a bill, SB 602 by Senator Allen (D-Santa Monica), that would label neonicotinoid pesticides, given the bill is not based in science.

A group of Blue Diamond Growers and Young Leaders posing with Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda)

A group of Blue Diamond Growers and Young Leaders posing with Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda).

On labor issues, Ag Council members advocated against AB 450 by Assemblyman Chiu (D-San Francisco), which prevents employers from exercising discretion on their own property when dealing with federal immigration enforcement actions.  With severe fines for violations of the bill’s provisions, AB 450 is extremely punitive towards employers.  It also assumes noncompliance and needlessly puts employers who have not violated worker rights at legal risk.

With regard to water, Ag Council members expressed continued opposition to SB 252 by Senator Dodd (D-Napa) as the bill undermines the locally driven, collaborative Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) process already underway. Attendees expressed support for AB 313 by Assemblyman Gray (D-Merced) because it restructures the administration and enforcement of water rights at the State Water Resources Control Board in order to bring more accountability and transparency to California’s water management structure.

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(From L-R) Scott Woodard, Horizon Nut Co., Christine Ivory, Blue Diamond Growers, Asm. Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), and Kirk Squire, Horizon Nut Co., meet during Legislative Day.

During meetings in the Capitol, our members also communicated agriculture’s cap and trade priorities, developed in conjunction with other agricultural associations. Given Governor Brown is urging a June deadline for legislators to approve a cap and trade program extension through 2030, legislators are in the midst of considering various bills. In this process, it is critical that agriculture communicate our objectives with legislators. The objectives include: maintaining allowances for food processors at 90 percent, grant funding for farmers and food processors to lower emissions and maintaining offsets at 8 percent.

Legislative Reception

Ag Council concluded a strong advocacy day with a Legislative Reception, attended by many guests, including 15 bipartisan legislators. Our members enjoyed the opportunity to interact with legislators and other state officials.

Assemblywoman Eggman Honored with the 2017 Influential Legislator Award

Asm. Susan Eggman (D-Stockton)

Asm. Susan Eggman (D-Stockton)

Ag Council honored Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) with the 2017 Influential Legislator of the Year Award on May 16 during the organization’s annual Legislative Conference in Sacramento.  This award is given on an annual basis to legislators who embody a collaborative approach to finding positive outcomes for agriculture and all of California.

Ag Council President Emily Rooney said, “Assemblywoman Eggman works strategically with others in the Legislature to achieve critical results for our members and does not seek out the limelight.  She has forged strong relationships with her colleagues and is a voice for agriculture among her peers.  She is also active behind the scenes to help amend bills or prevent legislation that negatively impacts agriculture from becoming law.”

Assemblywoman Eggman has proven to be a staunch ally of agriculture on a wide variety of policy issues.  As an example, she managed SB 1383 during debate on the Assembly floor last year and helped secure its passage.  The bill gave more certainty to dairy farming families in the state as it established parameters around the regulation of manure methane emissions from dairies and livestock.  Her efforts, along with bill author Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), helped SB 1383 cross the finish line and the bill was signed into law.

Currently, she is chair of the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee and serves as a member of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, among others.  She is also the former chair of Assembly Agriculture Committee.

Assemblywoman Eggman is a veteran of the U.S. Army, built a career in social work, earned a Ph.D, and was an associate professor of social work at California State University, Sacramento prior to her election to the Assembly.  She grew up on an almond farm and apiary in Turlock, and her family continues to farm almonds and manage beehives today.

Her leadership is unmistakable, and Ag Council thanks her for being a steadfast advocate for our members. Congratulations to Assemblywoman Eggman for being named Ag Council’s Influential Legislator of the Year.