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in the KNOW

August 26, 2015

We’ve Heard You

Capitol_LStreet_2015When I took over as President of Agricultural Council of California (Ag Council) in 2010, I made a commitment to our members to grow the association.  To that end, we have experienced membership growth each year for the last four years.

As part of this process, we have secured a contract with a third-party firm to conduct membership satisfaction surveys every other year.  Surveys have been conducted in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Our most recent survey focused on the newer members who joined Ag Council in the past three years.  We are pleased with the results.  Ag Council has an overall membership satisfaction of 90 percent.  Eighty percent cited legislative expertise and/or clout as reasons for joining.  The other 20 percent cited relationship-building opportunities.

On the other hand, when probed about areas of improvement, our members suggested enhancing our communications efforts.  Given the type of work we do, and the expertise of people we have on staff, this is not surprising.  Our team is entirely dedicated to policy work, outreach to legislators and regulatory officials and event planning.  And, with the amount of work Sacramento creates for us – with new developments in water, air, labor, Prop. 65 and numerous other issues on a daily basis – we need our staff committed to sorting out these critical issues and achieving the best possible outcomes for you.  That said, we look forward to finding enhanced ways to best share information and policy insight with our membership on a go-forward basis.

The funny part is – Ag Council comprises a team full of women.  And yet, our members suggest improving our communications efforts…Oh, the irony.

Lucky for us, this is a simple issue to resolve.  Using our member feedback, we are immediately improving our weekly newsletter, “In the Know.”

You can expect more timely legislative and regulatory updates, delivered mid-week.  We will commit a portion of the newsletter to bills moving through the Legislature that impact agriculture.  Additionally, regulatory developments will also be covered in a shorter format and for those of you interested in taking a deeper dive on a specific issue, a link will guide you to a website or information will be available to give appropriate staff a call.  The newsletter will also outline expectations for what’s up next on the legislative docket.  On occasion, we will also highlight influential legislators, as well as more editorial content and other items of interest to our membership.

We are hopeful that the changes will be of value to you.  If you have additional feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to Ag Council.

Sincerely,
Emily Rooney
President

CDFA Develops the Office of Environmental Farming & Innovation

With budget funds moving more and more toward the nexus of farming and the environment, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is creating the Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation. CDFA Science Adviser Dr. Amrith Gunasekara is leading the office to provide incentives to farmers and ranchers whose practices improve ecosystems, air quality, and wildlife and its habitat.

Examples of programs under the office’s purview include CDFA’s State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) and its Dairy Digester Research and Development Program. Both are recipients of funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund via the state cap and trade program. In addition, CDFA’s critical pesticide and Prop 65 advisory role to other agencies and departments falls under the new office’s jurisdiction.

In a recent statement, Steve Lyle with CDFA’s Office of Public Affairs said, “The Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation will build on the foundation of collaboration CDFA has already established with the scientific community–in the public and private sectors—to identify net environmental impacts of farming and ranching on the environment, including ecosystem services, or benefits provided by agriculture.”

Fiscal Committee Deadline This Week

August 28 is the last day for both the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees to meet and report bills to the floor of their respective chambers.  Ag Council has taken positions on the following policy bills, among others, under consideration in the fiscal committees this week.

Antibiotics
SB 27 by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo) – Antibiotics use in livestock & poultry
Position: Neutral /Working with the author

Climate Change
SB 32 by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) – Mandates further reductions of greenhouse gas emissions
Position: Opposed

Energy
SB 350 by Senator de Leon (D-LA) – Mandates a 50 percent reduction of petroleum based fuels & a 50 percent increase in power generation from renewable fuels, among other provisions
Position: Opposed

Excavation 
SB 119 by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo) – Excavation/811-Call before you dig
Position: Neutral/Working with the author on ag-related issues

Fish & Wildlife
AB 1201 by Assemblyman Salas (D-Bakersfield) – Directs the Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop a science-based approach to address the predation of protected species by predators in the Delta
Position: Support

Labor
SB 3 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) – Minimum wage increase to $13 by 2017
Position: Opposed

AB 561 by Assemblywoman Campos (D-San Jose) – Limits due process at the Agricultural Labor Relations Board
Position: Opposed

Water
AB 1390 by Assemblyman Alejo (D-Watsonville) – Improves the efficiency of groundwater adjudications
Position: Support

SB 226 by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) – Makes changes to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
Position: Opposed