Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2009 10:00 AM
Final document will guide lawmakers toward food production in 2030
By WES SANDER
California's Agricultural Vision process has entered the home stretch on creating a two-decade strategic plan for food production.
The goal of Ag Vision, an effort sparked by agriculture secretary A.G. Kawamura, is to create an advisory document that would guide development of public policy and industry practice with an eye to environmental sustainability and public health.
"The goal of this is a living document," said Karen Ross, who helps direct the process as a member of the State Board of Food and Agriculture.
In preparation, the board has taken public input since last year. In May, the state contracted American Farmland Trust to manage the effort.
The organization says most of its costs are paid through its own fund-raising.
The nonprofit has since been busy organizing several invitational events for stakeholders to hash out ideas. The first one took place Aug. 4-5 in Sacramento. Once stakeholders have fine-tuned the details, a finished draft should appear by late fall or early winter, Grossi said.
Following that, the ag board will conduct public-input events. A final draft is intended for completion by California's Ag Day in the spring of 2010.
The intended result is a document to guide lawmakers, regulatory agencies and industries toward an agreed-upon vision of how food production will look in 2030.
"We expect that most of the goals will require some legislative (action), but certainly not all of them," said Ralph Grossi, senior advisor with American Farmland Trust. "Some will actually be targeted at the private sector."
Discussion at the recent event -- which excluded media to allow for a relaxed atmosphere, Grossi said -- covered a diverse range of topics, from shipping infrastructure and environmental issues to direct-marketing avenues and federal aid for specialty crops.
Most of the participants were industry or interest-group representatives. They ran the gamut from farmers and ranchers to environmentalists and public-health interests.
"It was a very diverse set of stakeholders," Ross said. "One of the most common themes that I heard throughout the day is this desire to strengthen linkage between farmers and consumers."
As home to a wide range of interests, California has both huge challenges and huge opportunities for leading the world in its vision of food production, Ross said.
"California is unique, because we're the most diverse and unique agricultural producer," she said. "Everyone has the power to stop things from happening, but how do we make things happen together?
"If everyone says we're going to have a thriving agriculture industry in 2030, what will it take to do that?" Ross said. "I think people felt positive and hopeful that this could be accomplished."
Staff writer Wes Sander is based in Sacramento. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted By: charlene orszag On: 8/24/2009
Title: Action---Ag Policy Effort
Thought yo'd be interested...Best Char