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in the KNOW

December 9, 2015

Joint Hearing Held to Consider Impacts of the Drought on Ag

Oroville_JustinSullivan-GettyImages

Photo of Lake Oroville, which is the State Water Project’s principal reservoir. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Joey Airoso, a dairyman with Ag Council member Land O’Lakes, spoke at a December 3 joint informational hearing entitled Impacts of the Drought on Agriculture held by the Senate Committee on Agriculture chaired by Senator Galgiani (D-Stockton) and the Assembly Committee on Agriculture chaired by Assemblyman Perea (D-Fresno). Dr. Pan (D-Sacramento), Assemblywoman Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), Assemblyman Gallagher (R-Nicolaus), and Assemblyman Mathis (D-Visalia) also attended the hearing.

Airoso was one of two farmers who spoke during the hearing, discussing his farming operation, the challenges he and others continue to face amidst the drought, and the need for unity in the agriculture community.

For more about how farmers are adjusting to the drought, click HERE for a McClatchy news article entitled, California farmers now see drought as the rule, not the exception.

Ag Council Calls for Enforcement of Buy American Provision

Ag Council worked with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and others to send a letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack supporting the Buy American provision and its enforcement in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. The Buy American provision requires the purchase of domestically grown and processed foods to the maximum extent feasible. The provision helps ensure American agriculture, and the jobs it creates, is supported though the purchase of U.S. products.

At the state level, Ag Council thanks Senator Galgiani (D-Stockton), who is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, for sending a letter requesting that the California Department of Education identify California school districts sourcing agricultural products from outside of the United States.

The California Canning Peach Association, an Ag Council member, brought this issue to light when it recently raised concerns about the Sacramento City Unified School District sourcing canned peaches and other fruit from China while California farmers grow nearly 100 percent of the peaches that are canned or sold in plastic cups. Ag Council appreciates that Sacramento City Unified recently ceased future fruit purchases from China.  However, we are concerned about whether other districts have purchased imported products, despite the Buy American provision. As a result, efforts to urge enforcement are being undertaken at both the federal and state levels.

To read both letters, click HERE.

SWEEP Grant Funding Applications Available

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources, recently announced that State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) grant applications are being accepted through January 8, 2016.

An estimated $16 million in competitive grant funding is available to provide financial assistance to implement irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water at California agricultural operations.

CDFA is holding a webinar on December 10 from 1-4 p.m. to provide information about the program requirements. If you’d like to participate, please email your name and contact information to grants@cdfa.ca.gov and the details will be emailed to you.

Applications must be submitted electronically using the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST) by January 8, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. A link to the application website is available HERE.

An in-depth list of frequently asked questions and responses about SWEEP is available HERE.

Ag Council Comments on Safeguarding California Draft Plan

Ag Council submitted a comment letter on the California Natural Resources Agency’s draft report regarding climate change, called Safeguarding California: Implementing Actions Plan. The purpose of the report is to identify the impacts of climate change by sector, including agriculture.

Ag Council’s letter discusses the importance of incentivizing groundwater recharge and expresses support for the implementation of Proposition 1 as it relates to surface water projects, which have multiple benefits and provide flexibility to our water management system.

Click HERE to read the letter.

CDFA to Hold FSMA Informational Sessions in January

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is holding informational sessions in January pertaining to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rules for Produce Safety, as well as Preventative Controls for Animal Food.

A meeting in Tulare on January 13 will cover the Produce Safety Rule and a meeting will also be held on January 14 in Seaside to address both the Animal Food Rule and the Produce Safety Rule.  Click HERE for the time and location details.