Every March, the Department of Food and Agriculture hosts Ag Day on the steps of the State Capitol. It is a widely attended event by legislators and their staff and celebrates the bounty and diversity of California commodities. Citrus was well represented at this year’s event by both CCM and the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program.
CCM staff members Alyssa Houtby, Lori Apodaca, and Lauren Peltzer attended Ag Day on behalf of the association to promote Citrus Stride, our one-mile walk around the Capitol benefitting California food banks which will be held on Wednesday, May 15th.
“Ag Day is a great opportunity to bridge the gap between agriculture and our urban legislators,” says CCM Director of Government Affairs Alyssa Houtby. “More often than not we are on defense in the Capitol – working to kill a bad bill or correct a misperception about agriculture and farming practices. Events like Ag Day, Citrus Stride, and farm tours are critical for building relationships with legislators and to highlight the many ways our industry gives back to our communities, people, and economy. Some call these events ‘soft touches’ but in reality, they are probably the most important part of our advocacy work. CDFA does a fantastic job organizing this event. We are happy to participate as a sponsor this year along with a number of other Ag associations and companies.”
In commemoration of Ag Day, Assembly Member Jim Patterson (R – Clovis) on Monday introduced Resolution 20 “Designation of March 20, 2019 as California Agriculture Day”. In his address, he urged his colleagues “to recognize and remember that much of what this legislature produces in the way of regulations and in taxes and in water policy has significant impact on agriculture in California.”
The Assembly Member’s full remarks on the Assembly Floor are transcribed below.
“We want to express our sincere appreciation to Assembly Member Jim Patterson for his comments on the floor to raise awareness about the impending consequences of the overregulation of agriculture,” says Houtby.
Assembly Member Jim Patterson
Comments on Assembly Floor March 18, 2019
Regarding House Resolution 20
“Designation of March 20, 2019 as California Agriculture Day”
I rise to support this resolution but I also rise with a word of caution.
California agriculture today is under substantial and significant stress and I think that we need to recognize and remember that much of what this legislature produces in the way of regulations and in taxes and in water policy has significant impact on agriculture in California.
I would ask that we pay attention the next time we look at a bill or a constriction of water to agriculture and are warned by agriculture that there are substantial unintended consequences happening here in this building.
I represent Fresno California and was the mayor there for eight years. Fresno is the fifth largest city in the state of California. It is the city that agriculture has built. Repeatedly I go back to my hometown and talk to people in agriculture. I can tell you that we are facing in central California the possibility of a half a million acres of prime agriculture fallowed because of the insecurity of water. There are other considerations that are making many of our agricultural producers think about actually leaving the state of California.
I have several friends who recently have given up on California and have taken their agriculture to other places, believe it or not. Some of it has to do with the high cost of electricity; some of it has to do with the high cost of other inputs; some of it has to do with the security of water.
So, although this is a time to celebrate with joy the bounties of agriculture, members please keep in mind that agriculture presently is under significant stress in California. Let’s not miss the news that we need to pay attention in order to turn the tide on this insecurity. Also, we must pay specific attention to the manner in which we can honestly and effectively support legislation affecting agriculture that is in this current condition.
I rise to support but with a cautionary warning that things are not as rosy as you might think in agriculture. We need to listen to agriculture when they say these challenges and more keep us awake at night.
We are challenged by these real possibilities so let’s celebrate today, but let’s be careful tomorrow.