Released for National Ag Day, report details policy solutions to ensure industry’s recovery from COVID-19 & recent wildfires, future competitiveness & sustainability
SACRAMENTO – Today, in commemoration of “National Ag Day” being celebrated this week, Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) released the findings and policy proposals stemming from his two-month tour of the state’s agricultural sector as the newly appointed Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. During October and November 2020, Chair Rivas met with approximately 70 stakeholders across the state, including farmers and ranchers, agricultural workers, industry and union leaders, environmentalists, scientists and academics, and elected officials. He visited over 50 sites from the Central Coast, the Central Valley, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, San Diego and more.
“The magnitude and diversity of our state’s ag industry is truly staggering,” Chair Rivas said. “Everywhere you go in this state, people are growing things – in community gardens in Los Angeles and Oakland, in large farms and ranches in Salinas, the Central Valley, to the Oregon border, and in green houses in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. California agriculture is everywhere. And it is strong, and it is resilient. But it also faces serious – and urgent – challenges. We must ensure that our farmers and ranchers have the resources to remain competitive and to recover from last year’s crises and prepare for the next ones, which will surely come.”
The report, titled “Keeping California Our Nation’s Agriculture Leader” describes six hallmarks of the state’s $50 billion-a-year agriculture industry that – according to Chair Rivas – must be supported and incentivized by California’s policymakers:
- Competitiveness: mitigating regulatory burdens, business costs, and trade pressures
- Resiliency: recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020’s unprecedented wildfires
- Diversity: harnessing the state’s unrivaled spectrum of talent, topography, and crops
- Worker protections: keeping laborers healthy, safely housed, and fairly compensated
- Food security: investing in a robust food and farming system to ensure food for all
- Sustainability and innovation: promoting climate-smart and high-tech farming
“The theme of this year’s Ag Day is ‘Celebrating Resilience,’” Chair Rivas said, “and this report highlights how the state can better support our farmers and ranchers, promote innovation and sustainability, and ensure food security for all Californians. I am sincerely grateful to everyone who took the time to meet with me during my fall tour, and my door is always open for further input as I get to work with my colleagues in the Legislature to ensure this vital industry continues to thrive.”
The information learned on his statewide tour helped guide Chair Rivas’s agenda for the 2021-22 Legislative Session. Chair Rivas has already held informational committee hearings on:
- The Impact of Wildfires on California Agriculture (11/18/20)
- Environmental Farming and Innovation (2/10/21)
- The Farmer Equity Act (3/17/21)
Chair Rivas has also introduced several bills intended to support California agriculture and its workers, including Assembly Bill 73 (Farmworker Wildfire Smoke Protections), AB 125 (Food, Farm and Economic Recovery Bond), AB 252 (SGMA Land Fallowing Relief), AB 303 (Mariculture), AB 352 (Farmland Conservation for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers), and AB 434 (Managed Grazing to Mitigate Wildfires).
Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) represents California’s 30th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of the cities and towns of Aromas, Big Sur, Chualar, Gilroy, Greenfield, Gonzales, Hollister, King City, Morgan Hill, Salinas, San Martin, San Juan Bautista, Soledad, Spreckels, and Watsonville.