in the KNOW

February 17, 2012

Ag Council Hosts Successful Breakfast at World Ag Expo

Political columnist, Dan Walters, speaking at Ag Council’s breakfast

Ag Council hosted a successful breakfast on Wednesday this week in Tulare during the World Ag Expo that featured popular political columnist Dan Walters.

The breakfast had more than 60 attendees, including both members and friends of Ag Council, and focused on the issues most important to farmers in the Central Valley—land, air and water—and the impact that California’s political environment has on the ability to run an agricultural business in the Golden State.

Walters is a columnist with the Sacramento Bee and an expert on California politics. He has been a journalist for more than 40 years, working almost exclusively for California newspapers.

“California has the second-longest state constitution in the country, and the impact of excessive and burdensome regulation means that it is not a competitive place to do business,” Walters said. “An excessive tax rate, over-regulation, crippling state debt, water and environmental issues and a faltering infrastructure are symptoms of a state government that doesn’t work very well. There are too many people in positions of responsibility with no accountability. Agriculture is not immune from that situation.”

The breakfast was hosted by Ag Council to give World Ag Expo attendees an up-close look at the political scene and how it impacts their farm and ranch businesses.

“There are so many issues being debated in Sacramento, such as cap and trade, the high speed rail project and water bonds, that can have huge impacts on the future of agriculture in California and our members’ businesses,” Emily Rooney, president of Ag Council said. “Dan helps give us a firsthand perspective, as well as direction for Ag Council’s continual effort to reach out to elected officials and help them understand the importance of our industry to the state’s future.”

Walters is a frequent guest on national television news shows commenting on California politics. His column can be found by clicking here.


It’s a New Day at Ag Council

by Emily Rooney, Ag Council President

This week, Ag Council launches a new, fresh look for the In the Know newsletter, which is part of the updated changes you’ll notice that incorporate our new logo and branding into our communication with members and friends.

Staff and board members at Ag Council have been working hard to create a new vision and identity for the organization that both reflects our membership and inspires growth for Ag Council. Recognizing times have changed, and Ag Council must continue to evolve and be responsive to better serve current and new members, a rebranding effort was undertaken with the help of a Sacramento-based public relations agency. The outcome is a renewed vision to help define the organization’s path for the future.

The most noticeable difference for members and the agricultural community is a new logo that conveys the vision of a rising sun over a field. The logo conveys the very traditional values that have been Ag Council’s foundation for over 90 years, but also demonstrates Ag Council’s renewed proactive approach to build bridges for its diverse members ranging from farmer-owned business, to the world’s best known brands.

This new logo and messaging will be incorporated into our website and communications pieces, such as our weekly “In the Know,” and annual impact report known as “Working for You.”  We encourage you to visit our new website and sign-up for our newsletter at www.agcouncil.org.  You will find the same informative information, coupled with a renewed energy highlighting our membership in a way that appeals to legislators and regulatory officials.  Building bridges is most successful when you can make a personal connection.

Ag Council has a unique position among trade associations because of our diverse membership. Our organization is also distinctive because of some of the core philosophies our board and staff endorse.   We believe that pragmatism trumps dogmatism in political outreach efforts, and we have focused on a politically balanced approach that is in the farming community’s best interest. Because Ag Council is made up of co-ops and farmer-owned businesses, we are the only organization in the state that comprehensively represents every step of the food chain from “farm to fork,” in all nutritious forms, including fresh, dried, canned, frozen fruits and vegetables and tree nuts.  We are all-inclusive.

To reflect those values, during its September 2011 meeting, the Ag Council board of directors approved a new mission statement and corporate credo, which now reads:

To preserve and protect California’s farmer-owned businesses. We pledge to:

  • Work tirelessly to advocate on behalf of our members
  • Take a bipartisan and proactive approach
  • Be a builder of bridges
  • Minimize unnecessary regulations that affect agriculture
  • Create growth opportunities for our members

To enhance the mission statement, the board of directors also adopted a corporate credo that is a set of fundamental beliefs. For Ag Council, those beliefs revolve around the following principles:

  • As California’s number one industry, the health of agriculture is imperative to the success of the state;
  • Farmer-owned businesses should be free to earn their livelihoods without excessive regulatory barriers;
  • And, building bridges is the foundation of our success.

California’s political environment means that building bridges among diverse interests is integral to our members’ success. As a staff, we are working to ensure that farmers are free to earn their livelihoods without constant government interference. After all, agriculture is California’s number one industry, and it is our goal to work tirelessly to protect its future.


Do Californians Want a Part-time Legislature?

A state constitutional amendment to return California to a part-time Legislature is now in the signature-gathering phase.  The measure is supported by Assemblymember Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) and Ted Costa of People’s Advocate, among others.

The constitutional amendment would have the Legislature meet for three months out of the year rather than nine, annual salary to legislators would be $18,000 (down from the current $95,000), and the Legislature would be required to approve two-year state budgets, in addition to other changes in the present system.

Over 807,615 valid signatures must be collected from California voters by July 2, 2012 in order for the constitutional amendment to be placed on the November 2012 ballot.

Click here to view Assemblymember Grove’s online video advocating for the constitutional amendment.


Program Launched for Cooperative Leaders

The California Center for Cooperative Development, along with cosponsors CoBank, USDA-Rural Development and FCCServices, is offering a new educational program for cooperative directors and managers March 14-15, 2012 at the Visalia Convention Center.

The 2012 program features new speakers on advanced topics in governance and finance and a new track for senior management on Strategic Talent Management.  On March 15th, Ag Council members Sunkist and Sunsweet will be presented as case studies in the Advanced Strategic Thinking course.  For newly seated directors, the program offers Basic Cooperative Finance, as well.  For more information about the upcoming program, please click here.


Annual Meeting Registration

Ag Council members, allied members and friends are encouraged to register online for our 93rd Annual Meeting to be held March 5-7, 2012 in beautiful La Jolla, California at the Estancia Hotel and Spa. The Annual Meeting and Golf Tournament are held jointly with CoBank’s 2012 Pacific West Customer Meeting.

Ag Council’s annual dinner will feature Assemblymember Henry Perea (D-Fresno) as the keynote speaker.  We also have an exciting line-up for the General Session this year.  Highlights include:

  • Former Senator George Runner, Member of the Board of Equalization (BOE), who will discuss opportunities for agriculture to work with BOE.
  • Charlie Arnot, CEO at the Center for Food Integrity, who will speak about recent consumer research completed in California focusing on how consumers look at our food system.
  • Rafael Pastor, Chairman of the Board and CEO at Vistage, who will provide advice and best practices for CEOs and board members.

Click here to register online.  Call Estancia Hotel and Spa at ph. 858.550.1000 to book your hotel room and ask for the special Agricultural Council of California rate of $199 per night.

We look forward to seeing you in La Jolla.


Golf Tournament

This year, Ag Council’s golf tournament and PAC fundraiser is at the picturesque Torrey Pines, North Course overlooking the Pacific Ocean and is held during the Annual Meeting on March 5th.  Go to the Annual Meeting registration link here for further information and to sign up for the tournament.  For sponsorship opportunities, please call Rebecca Osumi at ph. 916.443.4887.