in the KNOW

January 24, 2014

Atkins to become Assembly Speaker

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) visited Peter Martini's peach farm during a tour last year with Ag Council members.  He is a farmer with the California Canning Peach Association.

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) visited Peter Martini’s peach farm during a tour last year with Ag Council members. He is a farmer with the California Canning Peach Association.

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is on track to become the next Speaker of the California State Assembly after being unanimously selected to the post this week by the Assembly Democratic caucus.

A formal vote among all Assembly members is expected to occur in the spring. Afterward, the Assembly will set a transition date where Assemblywoman Atkins will take over from current Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles).

Upon being chosen by her Democratic colleagues, Atkins said, “I am humbled, grateful, and ready to get to work. From the drought we are experiencing to ensuring a healthy business climate and a world class educational system, California is facing important issues in the near future.”

The Assemblywoman is interested in learning more about agriculture and took time to meet with our members last year by visiting a peach farm and connecting with an almond grower, packer and shipper to learn more about the challenges they face. You can read more about those visits HERE (scroll down to “Majority Leader Atkins Tours Ag Council Member Farms”).

Presently, Atkins is the Majority Leader of the Democratic caucus in the Assembly, and with 55 of the 80 Assembly seats, Democrats control a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly.

Gov. Brown Delivers State of the State Speech

Gov. Brown delivers his State of the State speech on Jan. 22, 2014 (photo courtesy of www.gov.ca.gov)

Gov. Brown delivers his State of the State speech on Jan. 22, 2014 (photo courtesy of www.gov.ca.gov)

Governor Jerry Brown touted successes and discussed ongoing challenges in his annual State of the State address this week before the Legislature.

The governor cited optimistic numbers such as a million new jobs in the state since 2010 and a budget surplus. However, he also discussed the growing long term pension liabilities in the state, with over $100 billion owed to state workers, and the uncertain costs of the Affordable Care Act.

Given the fluctuations in state revenues, the governor issued caution stating, “We can’t go back to business as usual. Boom and bust is our lot and we must follow the ancient advice, recounted in the Book of Genesis, that Joseph gave to the Pharaoh: Put away your surplus during the years of great plenty so you will be ready for the lean years which are sure to follow.”

Important to agriculture, Governor Brown spoke about the continuing drought. He said, “I have convened an Interagency Drought Task Force and declared a State of Emergency. We need everyone in every part of the state to conserve water. We need regulators to rebalance water rules and enable voluntary transfers of water and we must prepare for forest fires. As the State Water Action Plan lays out, water recycling, expanded storage and serious groundwater management must all be part of the mix. So too must be investments in safe drinking water, particularly in disadvantaged communities. We also need wetlands and watershed restoration and further progress on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.”

The governor also discussed other policy issues including the budget, climate change, education, health care and innovation during his remarks.

To read the entire State of the State speech, click HERE.

Join Us for Breakfast at the World Ag Expo

Ag Council members and friends are invited to attend our annual breakfast at the World Ag Expo in Tulare on February 12, 2014 at 9 a.m. This year, the event features keynote speaker, Dan Richard, Chair of the High Speed Rail Authority. The breakfast will be held in the Heritage Complex conference room on the Expo showgrounds.

Given that the complex issues surrounding the high speed rail project are of strong interest to many of Ag Council’s members, we are holding this event to provide a forum for dialogue with Dan Richard.

Beginning back in 2012, Ag Council opposed funding going to high speed rail from cap and trade funds, which continues to be an aspect of Governor Brown’s budget. Ag Council remains concerned about the cost, loss of farmland and other issues relating to the project.  Click HERE to read an op-ed written in 2012 by Ag Council President Emily Rooney further detailing these concerns that remain relevant today.

There is no cost to attend the February 12 breakfast. However, RSVPs are required to Rebecca Osumi at ph. 916.443.4887 or rebecca@agcouncil.org. Please contact Rebecca with any questions.

In Case You Missed It

Prop 65

Last week’s newsletter covered the signing of an agreement between state agencies on Proposition 65, which is an issue of critical importance that Ag Council is engaged in on behalf of our members. Specifically, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) “on cooperation and communication in the implementation of Proposition 65 with respect to exposure to Proposition 65 listed chemicals in food or food additives.” Click HERE to read more about the agreement and scroll down to “MOU on Prop 65 Signed.”


Upon Governor Brown issuing a Drought State of Emergency last week, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, created a website to assist farmers impacted by drought.  It provides up-to-date information about state and federal drought programs. The website is available HERE.

Governor’s Budget Plan

In case you missed it, a brief overview of the key ag-related elements in Governor Brown’s proposed 2014-2015 budget are detailed in last week’s newsletter. Click HERE for the overview and scroll down to “Gov. Brown Announces Budget.”