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CA Governor Elect Jerry Brown Speaks at Ag Vision Event
Governor-elect Brown with Secretary Kawamura, Ag Vision co-chair Luawanna Hallstrom and State Board president Al Montna - photo courtesy C. Souza

Just eighteen days before his January inauguration, Governor-elect Jerry Brown put in an appearance at an event marking the release of an American Farmland Trust report to the State Board of Food & Agriculture. The report, entitled California Agricultural Vision: Strategies for Sustainability, outlines a plan to assure the continued viability of the state’s $36 billion-a-year agriculture industry. Taking time from working on the state budget, Brown spoke to a gathering of leaders representing agriculture, environment, farm labor, hunger and nutrition and local food systems, acknowledging that farmers and ranchers “face challenges with water, soil, workers, pesticides, air… and politicians.” The Governor-elect observed, “California is in for some good times after a certain period of difficult times,” a statement about the overall state economy that could just as easily apply to agriculture in the nation’s leading farm state.

CA Gov-elect Jerry Brown and State Board president Al Montna
State Board president Al Montna presents Ag Vision report to Governor-elect Brown - photo courtesy C. Souza

California Agricultural Vision (or simply Ag Vision) was launched by the State Board two years ago to address the many challenges that could jeopardize the ability of farmers and ranchers to produce sufficient food, care for the environment and remain profitable. Asked to orchestrate the process, AFT invited more than a hundred leaders to participate in a series of workshops; then we assembled a blue ribbon advisory committee to transform their ideas into a set of carefully-focused strategies. Our final report, endorsed by the State Board, recommends twelve strategies and 24 specific actions to implement them. Several of them address AFT’s own policy priorities of conserving farmland, improving environmental stewardship and promoting regional food systems.

Ag Vision was spearheaded by former AFT president Ralph Grossi, a California rancher, who co-chaired its advisory committee, and Ed Thompson, AFT’s California director, who helped persuade the state to launch the process, served as its overall liaison and wrote the report. The two have been asked to continue playing a key role in implementing the recommendations through subcommittees that will be appointed for this purpose. “We are honored to be part of Ag Vision,” said Thompson. “It is gratifying to see agricultural leaders reaching out to other constituencies for help in achieving the kind of changes that will be critical to sustaining food production in the 21st century.” That kind of cooperation, added Grossi, “is the real breakthrough that Ag Vision represents and we hope to help it continue.”

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