Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2010 5:00 PM
By WES SANDER
SACRAMENTO -- State agriculture officials on Thursday published a plan for guiding policy in ways that benefit agriculture for the next two decades.
California Agricultural Vision is a document intended to guide lawmakers, agencies and industry toward an agreed-upon vision of how the state's food production will look in 2030.
That vision involves easing the regulatory load on farmers while maintaining environmental and other standards, ensuring water supplies and increasing access to healthy food.
Al Montna, president of the State Board of Food and Agriculture, said the document could help sort out the conflicting regulations that have long stymied the best intentions of producers and conservationists on farmland projects.
"We need smarter regulations," Montna said at an unveiling event on the Capitol steps. "It won't happen overnight. We still have a lot of work to do."
The document was hashed out over two years by the ag board, Department of Food and Agriculture, nonprofit collaborators and a large stakeholder group. Assembled by the American Farmland Trust, it recommends a number of actions and strategies to address farm challenges involving water, labor, urbanization and other concerns.
"Exciting innovations out there give us the tools to deal with these challenges," said state Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura. "But we need some kind of a roadmap to get us to the future."
Officials said shaping state policy to fit the recommendations will likely be a long, hard process. But the document is not set in stone, Montna said.
"It is a living document, it is on the table for discussion," he said.