in the KNOW

January 25, 2013

Governor Delivers State of the State Speech

Governor Jerry Brown



Governor Jerry Brown opened his annual State of the State speech this week saying that, after billions in state cuts, California has “confounded our critics” with a “solid and enduring budget.”

The governor covered many topics in his speech including the budget, health care, water, education, jobs, and climate change.

On water, the governor said it is “central to the life of our state.” He also spoke of a natural disaster scenario in California comparing the potential outcome in our state to the recent devastation resulting from Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.  If an earthquake occurs, the Delta fails, or another disaster takes place, he said losses in our state would amount to “at least $100 billion and 40,000 jobs” would be affected.

To prepare, Governor Brown touted his water proposal.  He said, “my proposed plan is two tunnels 30 miles long and 40 feet wide, designed to improve the ecology of the Delta, with almost 100 square miles of habitat restoration. Yes, that is big but so is the problem.”

Of interest to many Ag Council members, the governor highlighted international trade with China in his speech. Saying he wants to “strengthen the ties between the world’s second and ninth largest economies,” the governor is leading a trade and investment mission to China this April where he will open California’s new trade office in Shanghai.

In concluding his speech, the governor said, “California is back, its budget is balanced, and we are on the move. Let’s go out and get it done.”

To read Governor Brown’s full speech, click HERE.


Are CEQA Modifications on the Horizon?

Governor Brown has on several occasions mentioned his desire to make changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Last August, he said, “I’ve never seen a CEQA exemption I didn’t like.” He also said recently, “CEQA reform is the Lord’s work” due to the political challenges faced in attempting to modify the law.

Continuing his interest in CEQA, Governor Brown mentioned it in his State of the State speech.  He said, “We also need to rethink and streamline our regulatory procedures, particularly the California Environmental Quality Act. Our approach needs to be based more on consistent standards that provide greater certainty and cut needless delays.”

Along with the governor, the new chairman of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter), is also making CEQA a front-burner issue in the Legislature.

Last year, Rubio created a draft proposal to limit CEQA, but it did not move forward. However, now that Rubio is chairman of a key committee with jurisdiction over CEQA, he has the platform to move forward on the issue, as well as support from the governor and others in the Legislature. As a result, he has been meeting with interested parties to discuss potential changes to CEQA.

Given these dynamics, possible CEQA modifications appear to be on the table in 2013, and legislation in some form could be developed and considered this year. Ag Council will keep its members apprised of any legislation on this important issue.

What is CEQA?
As background, CEQA requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if possible. Typically, CEQA comes into play when an activity by a public agency or a private entity requires approval from a government agency (via a permit, for example), and the activity may cause either a direct physical change in the environment or a reasonably foreseeable indirect change in the environment.


Join Us for Breakfast at the World Ag Expo

Assemblyman Tony Mendoza



You’re invited to join Ag Council for breakfast at the:

2013 World Ag Expo in Tulare 
February 12, 2013
9:00 a.m.          

Featuring Keynote Speaker
Assemblyman Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia)

The former Chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus will discuss how the farming community can best reach out to Latino legislators and voters on ag issues.

The address for the Expo is 4500 S. Laspina Street in Tulare, CA. Once you’ve parked, the breakfast will be held in the VIP Event Tent (located on Expo Lane, between “S” and “T” Streets on the Expo showgrounds).

There is no cost to attend. However, RSVPs are required as space is limited. Please email rebecca@agcouncil.org or call Rebecca Osumi at (916)443-4887 to RSVP.

We hope to see you at this exciting event as Ag Council kicks off 2013.


CDFA Accepting Fertilizer Research and Education Grant Proposals

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is accepting grant proposals for the Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP), which is a competitive grant program funding research and education projects that help farmers and others in the ag community improve the efficient use of fertilizers and minimize environmental impacts. Over 160 projects have been funded under FREP since 1990.

CDFA Secretary, Karen Ross said, “California’s agricultural community has invested in fertilizer research through FREP for more than 20 years, and our farmers know how valuable this work not just to their yields but also to the important ecological balance on their farms. We look forward to reviewing a fresh crop of concepts that take stock of our most recent advancements and discoveries about fertilizer use and demonstrate how they can produce real-world results in our fields.”

Click HERE for further information about FREP and how to apply for a grant. Concept proposals are due by February 15, 2013 and a limited number will be chosen to submit full project proposals.

Questions about FREP can be emailed to: FREP@cdfa.ca.gov.