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CDFA casts framework for state 'agricultural vision'

'California agricultural vision' seeks to communicate importance of farming in the state

Call it a step in the right direction, but as in any journey with lofty goals there’s likely to be hardship, arguments of whether we should be here in the first place and perhaps even downright opposition to the plan.

That’s where leadership is vital. This cannot simply be another excuse to rent convention center space, hold seminars and talk at the microphone. This needs to be about action and results.

Seven years ago the California Board of Food and Agriculture developed the first iteration of its vision for agriculture. Follow-up iterations were developed by the American Farmland Trust. The latest update is released with guidance from Nuffer, Smith, Tucker Public Relations in San Diego.

I’ll address this report in a few separate articles, breaking down its various pieces.

Perhaps the purpose of the eight-page report is to tickle some ideas and thought, but one would think after several attempts at this over nearly a decade some more concrete goals and vision statements would be forthcoming.

For instance, new to this vision is a purpose statement designed to articulate agriculture’s contributions to society. That should be easy: The domestic production of a safe, healthy and plentiful food supply ensures we do not rely on foreign food supplies that in some cases are produced using chemical products banned in this country.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has caught some of these products through its produce inspections that test for chemical tolerances on an assortment of products.

Laced in the report is the thought that agriculture “must tell our story.” Farmers are doing this, but to what end? I realize for some farmers their social media efforts have paid off with new customers, and that’s good; but, how have these efforts affected public policy and regulatory regimes? At the end of the day, these have more impacts on the profitability of farmers and the ability to produce food than any marketing effort.

Again, this report sounds like a good step in the right direction, but without specific goals and measurable results these efforts may not get us any closer to the kinds of public policy necessary to ensure the sustainability of California agriculture, because right now public policy does not appear friendly towards the state’s farmers.

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