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in the KNOW

August 15, 2014

Governor Brown Signs New Water Bond

Photo of Governor Brown with legislators upon signing the water bond. Photo Credit: Kelly Huston, Office of the Governor.

Legislators join Governor Brown as he signs the water bond this week. Photo by Kelly Huston, Office of the Governor.

On Wednesday this week, the California State Legislature approved, and Governor Brown signed, a $7.5 billion water bond to replace the existing $11.1 billion bond on the November ballot. Demonstrating a significant bipartisan achievement, the Senate unanimously approved the new bond and the Assembly voted to support it by a vote of 77-2.

As negotiated by Governor Brown and legislative leaders, the final water bond package includes $2.7 billion in funding for water storage that is continuously allocated. The $2.7 billion storage component comprises about 36 percent of the entire funding allocation for the bond, which Ag Council believes is a strong investment. It is also a significant improvement from the governor’s originally proposed storage level of $2 billion. Prior to the vote, Ag Council expressed support to legislators in favor of the $7.5 billion bond package, including the $2.7 billion for storage.

Given the severe drought and the crucial need to make long-term storage investments, Ag Council appreciates the governor’s work on this critical issue and the commitment of many legislators whose efforts helped make this bond the best package possible, particularly given the vast array of water priorities and interests across the state.

With California decades behind in making desperately needed water storage investments, this bond measure provides the opportunity to boost both surface and groundwater storage, which are critical to provide a more stable and secure water supply for agriculture and other water users. Investments in water storage in the coming years will help keep us from repeating the dire circumstances California currently faces with the ongoing drought.

Passage of the water bond in the Legislature and its signing by the governor are just the initial steps. We must now urge voters to support the bond measure in November, which will be Proposition 1 on the ballot. We look forward to working, with Governor Brown’s support, to pass Proposition 1 in November, and we encourage Ag Council members to join us in supporting the water bond.

Click HERE to read Governor Brown’s statement on the bond and to view the Floor Alert message to the Legislature coordinated by the governor’s office and signed by Ag Council.

For a brief outline of the $7.5 billion water bond, click HERE.

Ag Council Opposes Groundwater Bills

Ag Council and other ag organizations, including many of our members, signed onto a letter opposing the recently amended groundwater bills in the Legislature, AB 1739 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) and SB 1168 by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). Chief concerns with the legislation include higher costs, increased litigation, devaluation of land and impacts on existing water rights.

With the end of the legislative session looming and the drought crisis front and center, a strong push is being made in the Capitol to pass legislation to regulate groundwater from a groundwater basin management perspective.

Given the desire to move legislation on a highly complex issue that could change the future of agriculture, it is critical that legislators understand our concerns with the current groundwater bills. The opposition letter communicates those concerns and is being provided to legislators during our advocacy efforts.

Ag Council and other ag groups remain in frequent discussions with Governor Brown’s Administration about groundwater issues and the legislation. Click HERE to read the letter opposing AB 1739 and SB 1168 (scroll down to “Ag Council and Others Oppose Recently Amended Groundwater Management Bills”).

Assemblymember Garcia Tours CDI Plant in Artesia

From L-R: Rico Hinojosa with CDI, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and Darrin Monteiro with CDI.

From L-R: Rico Hinojosa with CDI, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and Darrin Monteiro with CDI.

Ag Council member California Dairies Inc. (CDI), hosted Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) for a tour of CDI’s Artesia processing plant in early August. The plant is located in Assemblymember Garcia’s district, which includes Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Commerce and Downey, all in Los Angeles County.

Darrin Monteiro, Director of Member Relations at CDI, and Rico Hinojosa, CDI’s Artesia plant manager, had lunch with the Assemblymember and discussed key issues affecting CDI. They also talked about the plant’s operations before taking a tour of the facility.

The Artesia plant converts milk into milk powders and custom blended fluid products. Garcia posted details about her visit on her Twitter account explaining, in particular, that the plant processes over 4.2 million pounds of milk a day.

Ag Council thanks Assemblymember Garcia for touring CDI’s Artesia plant. We also appreciate CDI for their help in coordinating the tour and for their efforts to reach out to Assemblymember Garcia and other legislators to help elected leaders better understand the California dairy industry and other ag issues.