in the KNOW

February 17, 2016

Fifth Annual World Ag Expo Breakfast a Success

David Gutierrez - Department of Water Resources

David Gutierrez – Department of Water Resources

Nearly 70 members and friends joined Ag Council at the Fifth Annual World Ag Expo Breakfast in Tulare on February 10. Attendees heard from keynote speakers David Gutierrez, program manager for the sustainable groundwater program at the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres).

Gutierrez spoke about the strategic plan that DWR developed to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which was approved by the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown in 2014. Gutierrez said we must “replenish the groundwater just like surface water. If we don’t, then bad things start to happen. The ground is settling a foot a year and this impacts infrastructure.”

Local control remains the focus. Gutierrez said, “Groundwater is best managed at the local level.” The locals “should be in the driver’s seat and will make the new law successful.”

Ag Council participates in the ag stakeholder advisory group advising DWR as it develops regulations, and we will continue to keep our members apprised as the process moves forward.

Senator Cannella, who is the Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and the Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing, talked about how transportation infrastructure in the state has been neglected for many years and there is now a $60 billion problem within the highway system alone. He said existing fees must go toward transportation purposes and not to pay for state debt, as is currently the case with weight fees.

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)

On water storage, Cannella discussed the $2.7 billion in funding for storage projects in the water bond. He said that projects awarded funding must be comprehensive and have public benefits. Cannella was active in the effort to secure storage funding during the development of the water bond in the Legislature, and we thank him for his work. The regulatory process for the water bond is underway at the California Water Commission (CWC), and the CWC has developed proposed regulations providing a framework for storage project requirements that are now under public review.

Regarding water allocations, Cannella said the State Water Project allocations, presently at 15 percent, are too low. Environmental laws and regulations have proven to be challenging and impact the allocations. Cannella said he is committed to pursuing more commonsense policies at the state level.

A special thank you to Senator Cannella and David Gutierrez from DWR for speaking with our members at the World Ag Expo breakfast. We also appreciate the members and friends who attended the event to help make it successful.

This week…

Bill Deadline
The bill introduction deadline in the California State Legislature is February 19, and we expect numerous measures to be submitted by legislators to meet the deadline this Friday. Hearings on the newly introduced bills begin in March.

Health Care Funding
The Legislature is holding hearings this week regarding access to health care for Medi-Cal recipients, in addition to the restoration of funding for the developmentally disabled community. Governor Brown has pressed these issues as priorities, and he called the Legislature into a special session – which is still ongoing – to address health care spending and overall financing for Medi-Cal, among other issues.

Governor Brown Signs Clean Energy Accord
Governor Brown signed the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future along with 17 bipartisan governors on February 16. The accord is a commitment by the governors to pursue clean energy and transportation solutions, as well as modern electric grids.

Governor Brown said, “With the agreement, governors from both parties have joined together and committed themselves to a clean energy future.” He continued, “Our goal is to clean up the air and protect our natural resources.”

Click HERE to read more about the bipartisan clean energy accord.

97th Annual Meeting Speakers

We are excited to have a great line-up of speakers at Ag Council’s upcoming 97th Annual Meeting in Napa March 7-9, 2016. If you have not yet registered, or for more information, click HERE.

Annual Dinner Speakers
Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), the new co-chairs of the moderate Democrats (Mod Dems) caucus in the Legislature, will headline as speakers during our annual dinner on March 7. Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa), a member of the Mod Dems who represents the area where the annual meeting is being held, also plans to attend the dinner.

General Session Speakers
– Secretary Karen Ross – California Department of Food and Agriculture
– David Orth – member of the California Water Commission
– Doug Heye – leading Republican communications specialist
– Tracy Sefl – nationally recognized Democrat communications specialist