Legislators Connect with Ag Council Members
Majority Leader Atkins Tours Ag Council Member Farms
As Ag Council continues its outreach to key members of the Legislature, Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) recently joined our members from the Almond Hullers and Processors Association (AHPA) and the California Canning Peach Association for farm tours. Majority Leader Atkins is in her third year as a legislator and is a newly appointed member of the Assembly Ag Committee.Dave Phippen, an almond grower, packer, shipper and board member with AHPA, hosted the Majority Leader at his farm in Manteca. He talked about almond bloom and irrigation practices in the field, and he discussed sustainability relating to crop protection tools. In addition, Dave explained how solar power is being harnessed to power his processing facility.
Next, the Majority Leader met with Peter Martini who is a peach grower with the California Canning Peach Association. He discussed his family history and talked about the growing process. Peter also spoke of the challenges he faces as a cling peach grower such as labor, fuel costs and the impact of imports. The trees were in full bloom, so it was a beautiful time to visit. Majority Leader Atkins and her staff member had the opportunity to taste and enjoy canned peaches during the drive back to Sacramento.
Ag Council greatly appreciates the help of Kelly Covello with AHPA who assisted in the organization of the tour, as well as the assistance of Rich Hudgins with the California Canning Peach Association.
We are especially thankful to the Majority Leader for taking the time to learn more about our membership and for her interest in agriculture.
Mendoza Visits Ag Council Members
Ag Council member, Land O’Lakes, hosted Tony Mendoza for a two tours of family farms and a processing facility.
Mendoza started the day at Chandler Farms in Selma, which is a family farm growing for the following Ag Council members: Sun-Maid Growers, Blue Diamond Growers and Central California Almond Growers Association. John Chandler–who is a next generation farmer following in the footsteps of his parents Bill and Carol Chandler–introduced Mendoza to the farmworkers who were pruning vineyards on the farm. Mendoza spoke with the workers, learned many had longstanding jobs with the farm, and they talked about how their children are now in college. Mendoza also toured the farm’s almond and citrus crops and learned how they are grown.
Mendoza then visited Rib-Arrow Dairy in Tulare owned and operated by the Ribeiro family, which is a farmer-owner of Land O’Lakes. Dairymen Dave and Tyler Ribeiro graciously showed Mendoza the milking facilities, where the cows rest and eat, and discussed the various feed that is provided to the cows. Importantly, Mendoza learned about the current difficulties facing the dairy industry, including high feed, energy and regulatory costs, among others.
During a brief lunch stop at Superior Dairy in Hanford, Mendoza met local Land O’Lakes dairyman Dino Giacomazzi who discussed the reasoning for opposition against high speed rail among the ag community in Kings County.
Mendoza then finished his day of ag tours at Valley Fig Growers in Fresno where he learned how the farmer-owned cooperative processes locally-grown figs. In addition, Mendoza learned about the wastewater and anaerobic digester facility at Valley Fig Growers, which serves as an environmentally-friendly model in the food processing industry. The digester uses wastewater to produce renewable energy, reduces disposal costs for the plant and frees up energy needs for thousands of homes. Gary Jue and Jim Gargiulo of Valley Fig Growers also discussed food safety and other issues with Mendoza.
The day concluded with a dinner in Fresno with Ag Council’s local board members in the area who talked with Mendoza about labor, education and other key policy issues.
We greatly appreciate Tony Mendoza’s time and interest in our industry. Also, a special thanks to all of our members and farmer-owners involved with the coordination of the tours.
New Democrats Visit Ag Council Members
Ag Council members welcomed legislators from the New Democrats-a group of moderate Democrats in the Legislature-for site tours and a reception yesterday. We express our sincere gratitude to the following Assemblymembers for joining us to learn more about our members: Henry T. Perea, Susan Bonilla, Dr. Richard Pan, Jim Frazier, Susan Eggman and Ken Cooley.
The legislators first visited Blue Diamond Growers in the heart of downtown Sacramento where they were greeted by CEO Mark Jansen. The group toured the plant, as well as the new Almond Innovation Center on its opening day where they had the opportunity to taste some of the latest almond products. The Center will increase the speed of innovation and lower the cost of developing new products. As they wrapped-up their tour, the legislators learned about the significant health benefits of eating almonds from grower, Dr. George Goshgarian.
Next, the group traveled to Lodi where Pacific Coast Producers hosted the legislators at its nearly one million square-foot distribution center. Dan Vincent, CEO of Pacific Coast Producers, welcomed the legislators to the farmer-owned cooperative, which is a cannery that distributes California-grown products such as tomatoes, peaches, and apricots for private labels. The legislators discussed issues such as cap and trade and food safety. They also toured the distribution center and tasted various products.
The day concluded with a reception where the New Democrats had an opportunity to connect with additional Ag Council members and farmer-owners at the Cellar Door in Lodi.
We greatly appreciate the support of our members who were able to attend the reception and meet this key group of legislators. In addition, we thank the legislators for the significant amount of time they devoted to learning more about our members. And, a special thank you to Blue Diamond Growers and Pacific Coast Producers for their help in this outreach effort.
Assemblyman Perea Visits Valley Fig Growers
Ag Council member, Valley Fig Growers, hosted Assemblyman Perea (D-Fresno) for a tour of its processing facility located in the legislator’s district and met with him to discuss regulatory issues.
Perea toured the plant in downtown Fresno and viewed the wastewater and anaerobic digester facility, which serves as an environmentally-friendly model in the food processing industry. The digester uses wastewater to produce renewable energy, reduces disposal costs for the plant and frees up energy needs for thousands of homes.
In addition, Perea sat down with Mike Emigh, President of Valley Fig Growers, his staff, and others to talk about regulatory hurdles obstructing economic and job growth in the region and to discuss possible solutions.
Perea was elected in 2010 and is the Chair of the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee. He also sits on the Agriculture, Banking and Finance, and Governmental Organization Committees.
Given his interest in regulatory reform, Ag Council looks forward to working with Assemblyman Perea throughout his term to help eliminate regulatory hurdles facing our members and the ag community.
Assemblywoman Yamada Tours Pacific Coast Producers
Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) recently toured Pacific Coast Producers’ (PCP) food processing plant in Woodland. During district work periods, Yamada creates “farm to fork” tour days for her and her staff, so they have the opportunity to learn about agriculture from the field to the table.
Yamada and her staff saw the scales, where tomato trucks are brought in and weighed and the fruit is sorted and peeled. The tour included the entire cannery processing facility. Even though springtime is “off-season,” Yamada’s staff observed several workers prepping the plant for this year’s upcoming harvest. Several welders and mechanics were on-site working on the plant to implement the latest technologies and recent capital investments made by PCP. This gave PCP the opportunity to highlight their efforts in sustainability and create discussion surrounding labor and jobs provided in the local communities.
In the Assembly, Yamada is a member of the following Committees: Agriculture, Labor and Employment, Water, Parks & Wildlife, Veterans Affairs, and she is Chair of the Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care.
Ag Council has worked with Yamada and her staff on issues related to climate change and other issues, and we will continue to engage with her on issues in the future.
Assemblywoman Halderman Visits Sun-Maid
Assemblywoman Linda Halderman (R-Fresno) met with Sun-Maid board members and management recently to talk about issues at the state policy and political forefront and to tour the Sun-Maid facility in Kingsburg.
Halderman discussed the ongoing budget issues and the statewide ballot initiative.
In addition, Halderman, who worked as a surgeon in the San Joaquin Valley prior to serving in the Assembly, discussed how efforts in the Legislature to implement a state system to carry out the contentious federal health care law could impact the business community.
Halderman also toured the Sun-Maid processing plant, which operates year-round and provides over 700 jobs in an area with high unemployment.
Jon Marthedal, who is Sun-Maid’s board Chairman–as well as Ag Council’s board Chairman–attended the meeting with Halderman.