Water shortages. Urbanization. Food Access. Cumbersome regulations. The list of challenges we face in ensuring a healthy future for farmers, their farms, and our food system in California goes on and on. That is why the California State Board of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) embarked on the California Agricultural Vision (Ag Vision) — “a process to result in a strategic plan for the future of the state’s agriculture and food system.”
During the past year, the committee I co-chaired with CDFA Board Member, Luawanna Hallstrom, and managed by AFT’s California Director, Ed Thompson, convened a series of workshops for almost 100 agricultural leaders, environmentalists, farm labor representatives and hunger/nutrition advocates to start the process of charting a more sustainable course for the state’s agriculture industry and others who have a stake in it. A set of draft policy options and discussions on long term challenges emerged from these workshops.
The following five recommendations for immediate action were recently completed by our 20-member blue ribbon advisory committee and accepted by the State Board of Food & Agriculture to help generate momentum toward a strategic plan:
- Smarter regulation of agriculture to improve environmental quality
- Better food access for California families in need
- Resource stewardship and conservation for long-term sustainability
- Fairness to agricultural workers and employers
- Regional food marketing opportunities
As a California rancher, to me the urgent need to address our farm and food issues in a comprehensive manner is clear – and I look forward to the work ahead as the advisory committee develops short-term steps that can be taken this fall to start dealing with the highest priority issues.
All Californians are being called upon to submit comments through August 20th on the full list of policy options.
About the Author: Ralph Grossi, a third-generation Marin County, California farmer, is the former president of American Farmland Trust.