in the KNOW

March 23, 2012

Rail Funding Scheme is a Dead End Track for Ag

By: Emily Rooney, Ag Council President

 During an interview with ABC7 in Los Angeles, Governor Jerry Brown recently said revenues from the statewide cap and trade program will be a source of funding for California’s high speed rail project. Brown said fees from carbon producers, raised through cap and trade, would be utilized to pay for the project.

Unfortunately, on this issue, the governor has a misguided “train of thought” on how to solve the state’s budget issues.

California’s cap and trade law requires reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The legislature approved cap and trade legislation and former Governor Schwarzenegger signed it into law in 2006. Enforcement of the law begins in 2013.

What do Governor Brown’s comments mean for agriculture?

Approximately 35 food processors, a key component of our agricultural community in California, are “over the cap” with respect to carbon emissions, which means participation in cap and trade is required. Costs for these employers will skyrocket, potentially into the millions of dollars per facility. The California Air Resources Board is projecting billions in revenues for the cap and trade program annually, which is an attractive source of revenue for a financially broke state. It is yet to be determined how those revenues will be spent.

At the ground level, dozens of farms and ranches are at risk due to high speed rail. The proposed route plan splits some farms in half or significantly impacts operations in one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the country. Several county Farm Bureaus are extremely concerned about the project, while some have stated outright opposition, as have numerous Ag Council members.

Click here to finish reading this article.


Water Bond

Senate President Pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), spoke this week about the likelihood of delaying the water bond, which is currently on the November 2012 ballot.

Steinberg told the SacBee, “In all likelihood the water bond will be put off ’til 2014, that what I think.” Negotiations to this end are ongoing.

The Governor and state leaders are concerned about moving forward with the $11 billion water bond this year while California continues to face budget deficits. In addition, the Governor is putting all of his efforts into a bond measure on the November 2012 ballot to hike taxes to pay for education spending and other state programs.

Click here for the SacBee article.


Central Valley Flood Plan

The Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the Department of Water Resources are holding public meetings on the Board’s Draft Program Environmental Impact Report for the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan. The draft report outlines potential environmental effects and mitigation measures related to the flood plan.

Meetings were held this week on the technical elements of the plan. In addition, public outreach meetings will be held in April in Marysville, Stockton, Woodland and Sacramento. Click here for the schedule of meetings to be conducted from April 5-11.

The draft environmental report for the flood plan is currently under a 45-day comment period through April 20, 2012. Click here for further information about the comment period. More details about the plan are available here.


Trade Mission to China

A trade mission to China begins today led by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Acting Under Secretary, Michael Scuse, and close to 40 U.S. agricultural businesses, including Ag Council member, Sun-Maid Growers.

Acting Under Secretary Scuse said, “This is the largest USDA trade mission to date. China and the United States share a special relationship, and we embrace this opportunity to demonstrate that our U.S. farmers, ranchers, and producers are reliable suppliers of the highest-quality food and agricultural products. At the same time, USDA and our federal partners will continue to aggressively work to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade.”

The purpose of the mission is to support American businesses in new trade endeavors, expand markets, bolster business ties and sustain and grow U.S. jobs. During stops in Chengdu and Shanghai, participants will meet with dozens of Chinese producers, importers, buyers, distributors and investors.

U.S. agricultural exports to China have grown more than 80 percent in the past three years. USDA’s largest presence abroad is in China with seven offices in five cities supporting American agriculture.

Click here to read more on the USDA website.


Ag Net Recaps Annual Meeting

An article about Ag Council’s successful annual meeting was recently published on the California Ag Network website. Click here to read the story.


Annual Meeting Survey

If you attended Ag Council’s 93rd Annual Meeting in La Jolla, please help us plan future meetings by filling out a brief survey here.