California: Ag will work with Brown
Farm groups disappointed at Prop. 23 failure
By TIM HEARDEN
California farm groups vow to seek common ground with Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, though many backed his opponent.
Groups such as the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Citrus Mutual, Nisei Farmers League and Western Growers supported Republican and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman's failed campaign.
Some agricultural groups such as the Farm Bureau also backed Republican Carly Fiorina, whose bid to unseat third-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer was unsuccessful.
The Golden State's election results bucked a national trend toward conservatives, which farm groups had hoped would soften the state's firm regulatory grasp.
"I think it's inescapable that California stands apart from the rest of the country once again," said Dave Puglia, senior vice president of Western Growers. "From a farm industry point of view, it's something we're going to have to deal with. It's no secret that California farm industries by and large endorsed Meg Whitman, but the voters chose Jerry Brown. We want to extend a hand and work with the governor-elect."
Puglia said he was encouraged by references Brown made during the campaign to a need to ease regulatory burdens on business, and said he hopes farm groups can work with Brown to resolve water issues.
Kevin Kester, president-elect of the California Cattlemen's Association, also struck a conciliatory note.
"We look forward to working with Gov. Brown and his appointees and seeing where his administration leads us," Kester said. "At the same time with Barbara Boxer, we look forward to continue working to the best of our ability with her also."
Farm groups were also disappointed at the failure of Proposition 23, which would have suspended Assembly Bill 32's greenhouse gas regulations until the state's unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent or below for a year. Puglia suspects many voters mistakenly thought the initiative would permanently bar the regulations.
Brown's relations with farm groups will depend on the makeup of his staff, Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, said. Unions seem "to be running the state" and leading a zeal in Sacramento for ever more taxes and regulations, he said.
However, "we're willing to sit down and talk with this governor," Cunha said. "If he is really going to get the state to be fiscally responsible ... he's going to have to look at the regulations that are causing damage to business."