Agricultural Council of California Legislative Conference 2023
Ag Council’s 2023 Legislative Conference brought together members with elected leaders and decision-makers in Sacramento. The outreach event features legislative and regulatory speakers providing briefings on vital issues at the forefront of state government accompanied by an afternoon of outreach with legislative offices and concluding with a reception.
The conference helps Ag Council members strengthen relationships with legislative and regulatory officials and provides a forum to communicate members’ views on crucial policy issues. The 2023 event focused primarily on water-related legislation, and Ag Council thanks all attendees for joining us.
Sate Senator Becker (D-Menlo Park)
Asm. Blanca Rubio - 2023 Most Influential Legislator
Ag Council was honored to recognize Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) as the 2023 Influential Legislator for her tireless work in support of California businesses and agriculture.
Annual Legislative Reception
Members, Staff, and Legislators gathered for an evening of conversation after a day full of legislative briefings and meetings at Prelude Kitchen & Bar.
Agricultural Council of California’s 104th Annual Meeting
Portola Hotel & Spa, Monterey, CA
Ag Council held it’s 104th Annual Meeting in Monterey, CA on March 29-31, 2023. Scroll down for highlights and don’t forget to participate in our attendee survey. Thank you to all who attended for contributing to another successful Annual Meeting.
2023 California cultivator award
Ag Council Recognizes Mark Jansen as the 2023 California Cultivator Award Recipient
Mark Jansen served as president and chief executive officer of Blue Diamond Growers since September 2012. With a leadership focus on innovation, safety, quality, and strategic growth, Jansen helped transform Blue Diamond into an industry leader driven by it’s mission to provide economic sustainability for its cooperative of 3,000 almond farmers.
Dan Cummings, chair of the Board of Directors for Blue Diamond Growers, said, “Mark has earned the respect and admiration of our grower owners with his personable style and engagement in the industry.” Dan added, “His contributions have poised us for future growth and success.”
The prestigious California Cultivator Award recognizes and honors a person who clearly has made significant contributions to agriculture or who has demonstrated leadership and personal commitment beyond the normal expectations of a person serving the farmer-owned business sector. Congratulations to Mark Jansen upon receiving this significant recogniton.
Annual Meeting Speakers
Ag Council prides itself on offering our members and guests top notch guest speakers each year at our Annual Meeting. This year we were joined by experts on issues like pest control, packaging, and water storage. Hearing from such experts at Annual Meeting gives our members the opportunity to ask questions and engage with policy leaders to gain insight on important issues facing California agriculture.
Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis
The meeting began with our Annual Dinner that featured a conversation between Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis and Jeannine Campos Grech, chair of Ag Council. “As much as we disagree or debate, our success belongs to all of us. But, if we don’t succeed that belongs to all of us too,” said Kounalakis during her remarks. “It isn’t well enough known how important the ag industry is. This is the food basket of the United States.”
Annual Address by Emily Rooney, President
In her annual address the following morning, Emily Rooney, president of Ag Council, touched on the success of a recent trade mission to Japan, as well as Ag Council’s advocacy work with legislators and regulatory agencies. “We have had some significant wins this past year, but many of those have come with some unique partnerships, including the California Chamber of Commerce and labor groups,” said Rooney. “Ag Council through its thoughtful leadership recognizes the need to reach across lines to continue to make sure agriculture’s voice is being heard.”
The Road to Sustainable Pest Management: A Panel
The first presentation during the General Session featured a unique panel discussion among members of the Sustainable Pest Management Work Group that was moderated by Christine Birdsong, Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Other members of the panel were Dr. Karen Morrison, Department of Pesticide Regulation Chief Deputy Director and Science Advisor; Dr. Cliff Ohmart, a pest control advisor with 30 years of experience in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Dr. Chris Geiger, who most recently managed the IPM program at the San Francisco Department of the Environment.
The focus of the panel discussion were the outcomes of the working group that developed the Accelerating Sustainable Pest Management: A Roadmap for California. “This document is aspirational, but grounded in specific steps,” said Morrison. “The goal is to accelerate the path we are already on and consider pesticide use’s impacts on human health, the environment, ag sustainability, and collectively recommend a North Star direction.”
Rachel Wagoner, CalReycle Director
Rachel Wagoner, Director of CalRecycle discussed some of her department’s initiatives, most notably implementation of SB 54, the comprehensive, statewide legislation to reduce single-use packaging waste through source reduction, recycling and composting. “By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish, but we can’t recycle ourselves out of this problem. We are tasked with finding ways to get away from single-use containers and plastics,” she said. “Waste is a cost to your businesses, but can we change the outcome through this partnership to reduce waste, and ultimately find a way to make what does exist a resource?”
Jerry Brown, Sites Reservoir Project Executive Director
The final speaker during the session, was Jerry Brown, Executive Director of the Sites Reservoir Project who gave Annual Meeting attendees an update on the status of the water storage project. After several iterations, the current version will have the potential to store 1.5 million acre feet of water. “Sites has broad statewide participation, but has been locally led, which has been an important component. If Sites had been completed now, we would have been able to capture 500,000 acre feet with our recent storms.” The project’s final environmental impact review is due to be released soon and the funding mechanisms for building the reservoir are in place. In responding to questions about the lengthy timeline to get the reservoir completed, Brown identified what he called the “critical pathways” to completing Sites Reservoir with the permitting aspect being one of the most cumbersome to work through.