July 27, 2018
Urging the state water board to reject a proposal to redirect flows in three Central California rivers, a coalition of more than 50 agricultural, water and business organizations encouraged the board today to renew efforts for voluntary agreements with affected water users.
“This unified response from groups representing farmers, ranchers, and urban and rural residents alike demonstrates the impact the water board’s proposal would have, and the need for the board to explore alternative methods that would help fish without the severe human cost of its current approach,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said.
The State Water Resources Control Board is scheduled to vote on the proposal next month. It would commit much more water in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers to “unimpaired flows” intended to benefit salmon and other fish.
The agricultural-water-business coalition said the proposal would have “large and unprecedented” impacts on the affected region and that “alternative pathways exist for the achievement of fish and wildlife goals.”
Well beyond the impacts to farms and water districts, the coalition said, shockwaves from the board’s proposal “are sure to ripple outward to adversely affect businesses, local governments and disadvantaged communities throughout the northern San Joaquin Valley.”
The coalition also warned that the proposal violates the state Constitution’s requirement that water be used reasonably, “by proposing the extraction of huge volumes of ‘unimpaired flows’ from otherwise legal and beneficial water users, at enormous human cost and without any reasonable and commensurate assurance of benefit to the environment.”
Describing the flow proposal as “an expedition in scientific uncertainty,” the coalition encouraged the board to support “voluntary and creative solution-finding” such as the use of functional flows—releasing just the right amount of water into rivers at the appropriate time to benefit fish—and non-flow alternatives including measures to create additional habitat or address species that prey on protected fish.
“Until every opportunity has been exhausted for creative conservation and collaboration,” the letter concluded, “a difficult and damaging regulatory path which is premised upon uncertain future fisheries successes should be avoided at all costs.”
The letter, drafted by CFBF, was signed by 54 organizations, including the Association of California Water Agencies; California Bankers Association; California Chamber of Commerce; Southern California Water Coalition; the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts; agricultural and water organizations representing a wide range of crops, commodities and regions; and 26 county Farm Bureaus. The full text of the letter and full list of signatories may be found online.
July 24, 2018
Expressing the desire for a quick resolution of trade disputes that have disrupted exports of California farm products, the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation said he appreciates administration efforts to address the impact on farmers and ranchers.
CFBF President Jamie Johansson responded to today’s announcement of a tariff-assistance package by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Because our state leads the nation in agricultural exports, California has a lot at stake in assuring fair trade of farm products,” Johansson said. “We appreciate how USDA has worked to assemble this package quickly at a time of market uncertainty for farmers and ranchers.”
According to USDA officials, the aid will include bonus purchases of fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats and other food products, to benefit food banks and other food-aid programs.
“We hope these food purchases will provide some immediate relief to farmers and ranchers affected by trade disputes,” Johansson said. “Investing these purchases back into communities through food banks will be helpful in more ways than one.”
He said the package promises short-term relief, but that long-term resolution to the trade disputes remains urgent.
“Ultimately, farmers and ranchers want what we have always wanted: to trade on a fair basis with customers around the world who want to buy our products,” Johansson said. “We will continue to urge the administration and our congressional delegation to resolve the trade disputes as quickly as possible.”
June 28, 2018
New federal farm legislation passed today by the U.S. Senate includes many of the top priorities identified by the California Farm Bureau Federation.
The bill establishes federal policy on agricultural programs encompassing conservation, nutrition, commodities, trade, research, rural development and other topics. The Senate bill will be reconciled in conference committee with a farm bill passed by the House last week.
“The farm bill represents a five-year agreement between farmers and the American people,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “We will encourage our representatives to meld the best elements of the House and Senate bills to create a modern farm bill that serves farmers, ranchers, rural Americans and everyone who depends on the nation’s agricultural production.”
Johansson noted that the bill preserves conservation programs important to California farmers and ranchers and maintains investments in trade development, organic agriculture and programs to aid production of specialty crops such as vegetables, nuts and fruits. He said the measure also encourages research into mechanization, which offers a partial remedy for ongoing employee shortages on farms and ranches.
“This commitment to research acknowledges the need for long-term solutions for agricultural labor needs, and at the same time creates resources to develop innovative ways to harvest and care for crops,” Johansson said.
“On the other hand, the bill isn’t perfect,” he added. “We would like to see an improved risk-management program for dairy farms and changes to eligibility requirements for conservation programs that would allow more California farmers and ranchers to participate. The federal government also needs to adjust its definition of the term ‘rural,’ so more California communities could qualify for programs to improve facilities in rural regions.”
Current federal farm legislation is due to expire in September.
June 21, 2018
The California Farm Bureau Federation said it hopes today’s failure of an immigration measure in the U.S. House of Representatives will ultimately set the stage for Congress to resolve longstanding inadequacies in agricultural immigration programs that have contributed to chronic employee shortages on farms and ranches.
“Congress must move forward to forge a solution that would work well for farmers, ranchers and their employees throughout the nation,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said.
“The California Farm Bureau will advocate for an agricultural visa program that would accommodate people who want to enter the United States legally to do farm work, and in large-enough numbers to ease the shortages farmers have experienced,” Johansson said. “The new program must also recognize our current, highly skilled immigrant employees and help them gain proper documentation.”
During discussions on immigration issues, he said, CFBF has taken a lead in seeking solutions that keep families together.
“Farm Bureau is a family-based organization,” Johansson said. “We support policies that protect families throughout the immigration process.”
He noted that congressional leaders may consider new legislation on agricultural visas later this summer.
“Rural California, and rural America, rely on skilled immigrant agricultural employees to produce food and farm products on which we all depend,” Johansson said. “It’s time for Congress to fix the agricultural immigration system. Farm Bureau stands ready to help.”
April 12, 2018
Noting that programs in new federal farm legislation have the potential to benefit everyone in California, the leader of the California Farm Bureau Federation welcomed today’s release of draft legislation by the House Agriculture Committee. The release marks a key milestone in updating the multi-year farm bill that expires Sept. 30.
“Although it’s known as the farm bill, the legislation truly touches on everyone—first of all, because everyone eats, but also because of the conservation, research, trade and other programs it contains,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “Representing farmers and ranchers in the nation’s No. 1 farm state, Farm Bureau will advocate for programs of particular importance to California’s diverse agricultural landscape.”
For example, he said, as farmers throughout the state struggle to hire enough people to harvest crops, CFBF will seek increased research into technology to mechanize farming tasks.
“Agricultural innovation benefits not only farmers and their employees, but also people who work at California technology companies and universities seeking to make mechanization more practical,” Johansson said. “The farm bill also encourages development of new food and agricultural products that create new opportunities throughout the economy.”
Johansson said Farm Bureau will seek continued and enhanced commitment to farm bill programs that promote environmental stewardship.
“Current farm bill programs have helped farmers, ranchers and foresters promote air, water and soil health, and those programs should remain a priority,” he said. “The new farm bill should also enhance programs to expand access to developing foreign markets. Those programs lead to jobs in rural California but also in urban settings such as ports, marketing firms and export companies.”
Discussions of farm-bill issues will likely continue for the next several months, Johansson said, adding that Farm Bureau “will remain active in advocating for farm and nutrition programs that will serve Californians for years to come.”
March 13, 2018
Intensive training on agricultural issues and leadership methods has begun for the nine members of the Leadership Farm Bureau Class of 2018. The class was formally introduced during the annual California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento last week.
Participants in the Leadership Farm Bureau program receive personal-development, teambuilding and communications training, and advocate on behalf of Farm Bureau in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Participants will learn about agricultural issues and make field-studies trips to both Northern and Southern California. Sponsored by CFBF, the program includes seven sessions that involve more than 250 hours of training.
The LFB Class of 2018 includes:
The program of activities for the 2018 Leadership Farm Bureau class will culminate in December with graduation during the 100th CFBF Annual Meeting in San Diego. For further information about the program, see www.cfbf.com/leadership-farm-bureau.
Feb. 27, 2018
Service to community and Farm Bureau earned awards for participants in the California Young Farmers and Ranchers program, and a student from Fresno State University won the national Collegiate Discussion Meet, during the annual American Farm Bureau Federation YF&R conference in Reno.
California Young Farmers and Ranchers earned three national awards related to food donations through the Harvest for All program—a partnership with Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
California earned first place in the number of volunteer hours donated, at more than 10,000 hours; placed second in the number of pounds of food donated, at 15 million pounds; and was among three national winners of the Most Innovative Award. That honor was awarded to California for a food donation partnership between the Kern County YF&R Committee and the Kern County Fair, which led to the collection of 100,000 pounds of meat and 54,120 pounds of other food. Each award included a monetary prize from sponsor Nationwide®.
Tim Truax of Turlock, who majors in agricultural education at Fresno State, emerged as the winner of the national Collegiate Discussion Meet, which simulates a committee meeting with active participation and discussion. As national winner, Truax earned a $2,200 prize sponsored by the CSH Foundation.
The California YF&R Committee also distributed statewide awards during the Reno conference.
San Joaquin Farm Bureau member Katie Veenstra of Escalon received the Star YF&R Award, which recognizes an outstanding young farmer or rancher in California who goes above and beyond in service to agriculture.
The Kern County YF&R Committee earned the YF&R Committee of the Year Award for its activities during 2017. Composed of 50 members, the committee volunteered at many Farm Bureau and agricultural events. It raised money for people in need, such as for local food banks and the homeless, spent volunteer hours gleaning and developed the partnership with the Kern County Fair for food donations.
The Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers program works with active agriculturists between the ages of 18 and 35 who are involved in production, business and many other areas of agriculture. For more information, see www.cfbf.com/young-farmers-ranchers.
Feb. 22, 2018
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has created a vital trading relationship for both Canadian and Californian agricultural and food businesses. Today, at a trade panel discussion hosted by the Canadian consulate, both the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) reiterated their support for NAFTA and emphasized the importance of integrated supply chains across the continent.
“The fresh produce industry is committed to achieving a win-win-win agreement for all three NAFTA countries,” said Jane Proctor, CPMA Vice President of Policy and Issue Management. “NAFTA has enabled the free flow of goods across our borders with over $2.5 billion USD worth of fresh produce exported from California to Canada in 2016 and ensures that Canadians have a year-round supply of fresh and affordable produce. We appreciate the strong support shown by Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Canadian negotiators for our industry and all of Canadian agriculture during these negotiations.”
“California agricultural exports support 1 million jobs on farms and in cities, and that number will only increase with higher demand for California-grown products,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “Trade with Canada and Mexico under NAFTA has generally been positive for California farms, ranches and agricultural businesses. We support ongoing efforts to modernize the agreement for the benefit of farmers, food businesses and consumers in all three nations.”
The trading relationship between California and Canada remains strong with $6.3 billion USD in agricultural trade in 2016, including $4.1 billion worth of California agricultural exports to Canada.
The CFBF and CPMA will continue to work with negotiators and legislators on both sides of the border to ensure a successful and reciprocal agreement for industry.
Feb. 20, 2018
As the U.S. House of Representatives continues discussion on proposed immigration legislation, the California Farm Bureau Federation says it cannot support a part of the bill that addresses agricultural employees.
Now before Congress, H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act, would fund a border wall and address internal immigration enforcement and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It also includes an Agricultural Guestworker Act, or AG Act, which would create a new agricultural visa program.
CFBF President Jamie Johansson said the AG Act, in its current form, contains a number of features that would harm the current immigrant employees on whom California farms and ranches depend. In addition, it would mandate use of the E-Verify electronic workplace-eligibility system, which could affect a large proportion of current agricultural employees.
“As now written, the AG Act just wouldn’t work for California farms and ranches,” Johansson said. “There’s a longstanding need to create a workable temporary-visa program for agriculture that provides greater stability and opportunities for agricultural employees and their families. The AG Act would cause too much disruption for our employees and our communities.”
Johansson said CFBF and other organizations have offered a number of recommendations for creating a more practical and flexible program to allow people from other countries to enter the U.S. to work on farms and ranches.
“We know the American Farm Bureau and other national agricultural organizations have decided to support the AG Act, and they have every right to do so,” Johansson said. “But as the largest agricultural organization in the largest agricultural state, we must advocate for a solution that works for our members and their employees. For California farmers and ranchers, the combination of the AG Act and E-Verify would actually worsen chronic agricultural employee shortages. We will press for a better solution.”
Jan. 3, 2018
Capturing the drama of an early-morning cattle roundup near Yosemite, an amateur photographer from San Joaquin County took home the top prize in the 36th annual California Farm Bureau Federation Photo Contest. Emela Brown McLaren of Manteca earned the $1,000 Grand Prize, and said it’s “a real honor” to live in proximity to so many farms and ranches.
The 2017 CFBF Photo Contest attracted hundreds of images from amateur photographers who are members of county Farm Bureaus or supporters of the California Bountiful Foundation.
Andrew Lincoln of Napa garnered First Place and $500 for his photo of employees at a hillside vineyard, while Second Place and $250 went to Solvang resident Henry Schulte, who submitted a photo of a Madera County barn painted with the American flag. Kellie Neufeld of Exeter won Third Place and $100 for capturing a humorous moment between her 9-year-old son and his muddy 4-H hog.
Six photos earned Honorable Mentions and $50 each, submitted by Amy Blagg of Lodi, Holly Schaad of Dunnigan, Andrea Traphagan of Ravendale and Thomas Gannon of Atwater, plus an additional image each from Lincoln and Neufeld.
In the Budding Artists category for photographers aged 13 and younger, Nathan Blagg of Lodi, the 8-year-old son of Honorable Mention winner Amy Blagg, claimed First Place and $250 for his portrait of a pig peeking over a fence. A view of a calf peering from underneath its mother earned the Second Place prize of $100 for 11-year-old Holyn Sylvester of San Luis Obispo. Both prizes were presented by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.
All 12 prize-winning photos were published this week in the weekly California Farm Bureau newspaper, Ag Alert®, as well as the organization’s bimonthly magazine, California Bountiful®, and will appear on the organization’s websites—www.cfbf.com, www.agalert.com and www.californiabountiful.com—and social media pages.
Dec. 6, 2017
An olive and citrus fruit grower from Oroville, Jamie Johansson, has been elected the new president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. The election of Johansson and of vice presidents Shannon Douglass of Orland and Shaun Crook of Sonora highlighted the final day of the 99th CFBF Annual Meeting in Garden Grove.
Johansson becomes the 16th CFBF president after succeeding Paul Wenger of Modesto, who had served the maximum eight years in office. Johansson has served as a statewide CFBF officer for eight years. He was elected second vice president in 2009 and first vice president in 2015. He is a former state chairman of the CFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers State Committee and former vice president of the Butte County Farm Bureau. A first-generation farmer, he also operates an olive oil company, Lodestar Farms. He co-founded the Sierra Oro Farm Trail Association and is a former member of the Oroville City Council.
“Californians want diverse and affordable food, and Farm Bureau needs to show how that diversity also comes with great complexity, in terms of the tools and resources needed to grow food in this state,” Johansson said. “Ultimately, what Farm Bureau does is to protect the creativity California farmers and ranchers need to provide the diversity our customers demand.”
Douglass was elected to succeed Johansson as CFBF first vice president. She is a director of the Glenn County Farm Bureau and a former chair of the Young Farmers and Ranchers State Committee. Douglass is an owner of Douglass Ranch, which raises beef cattle, sunflowers, corn and forage crops, and founded CalAgJobs, an online listing of employment opportunities in California agriculture. She serves on the Glenn County Fair Board of Directors and is a former director of the Glenn County Resource Conservation District.
Crook was elected as second vice president. He has served as president of the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau since 2015 and is a graduate of the Leadership Farm Bureau program. He chaired both the CFBF Economy and Farm Policy Issue Advisory Committee and the Commodity Policy Review Committee. A licensed timber operator, Crook is a vice president of a family timber business and a real estate agent specializing in ranch, commercial and residential properties.
In addition to the election of statewide officers, seven members were newly elected to the CFBF Board of Directors: Al Stehly of Valley Center will represent Imperial and San Diego counties; John Moore of Bakersfield will represent Kern and Kings counties; Donny Rollin of Riverdale will represent Fresno County; Ron Peterson of Turlock will represent Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties; David Barhydt of Grass Valley will represent Butte, Nevada and Yuba-Sutter counties; Tom Stewart of Tulelake will represent Lassen, Modoc and Plumas-Sierra counties; and Jenny Holtermann of Wasco will chair the Young Farmers and Ranchers State Committee. Ronnie Leimgruber of Holtville was appointed an advisory member of the board as the new chair of the CFBF Rural Health Department.
Dec. 5, 2017
Outstanding programs of work in service to members earned awards for three county Farm Bureaus in California, while a fourth was honored for creating an innovative activity. The awards were presented during the 99th California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Garden Grove.
Three county Farm Bureaus won awards for programs of excellence across five categories: membership, policy implementation, leadership activities, agricultural promotion and education, and public relations.
Among county Farm Bureaus with up to 499 members, the Monterey County Farm Bureau earned County of the Year honors for a second consecutive year. In 2017, the county Farm Bureau hosted two listening sessions on federal farm policy, assisted in developing a maintenance program for the Salinas River channel, led formation of a Salinas Basin Agricultural Water Association on groundwater issues, provided guest lecturers at local colleges, collaborated with startup companies providing innovative agricultural products or services, and organized a successful centennial celebration.
The Tehama County Farm Bureau earned the County of the Year award for county Farm Bureaus with 500 to 799 members. The county Farm Bureau organized educational workshops and training sessions for its members, arranged a bus tour of local agriculture for elected officials, cooperated in creation of a new groundwater committee, helped organize a Farm Day program for all Tehama County fourth graders, provided grants to teachers who incorporate agricultural topics in classroom instruction, and also celebrated its centennial.
Among county Farm Bureaus with more than 800 members, the San Diego County Farm Bureau was recognized as County of the Year. It managed a local water-quality coalition, provided members with its San Diego Grown 365 brand to use on local agricultural products, organized an annual Farm & Nursery Expo, provided grants to benefit school gardens, conducted farm tours for the public, operated two weekly farmers markets and maintained its reputation as a source of timely information for local media outlets.
In addition, the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation earned the Innovator Award, which recognizes a creative, forward-thinking project or program. The county Farm Bureau created a Gun Calendar as a raffle fundraiser, selling 520 calendars and giving away a gun each week. The activity provided the county Farm Bureau with a successful fundraising idea plus an opportunity to contact prospective members.
Also during the awards ceremony, 11 county Farm Bureaus earned recognition for outstanding membership recruitment and retention.
Dec. 4, 2017
Securing the future of California agriculture will require consistent, long-term and unified efforts, California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said today. Wenger spoke during his annual address at the 99th CFBF Annual Meeting in Garden Grove.
Instant communication as represented by smartphone technology, Wenger said, can lure people into thinking that public policies affecting farms and ranches could be resolved quickly through social media, for example.
But the most effective way to sway public policy, he said, “is long-term, consistent, working with individuals, taking them on tours on farms, supporting them politically, getting them out and educating them about agriculture. It’s not fast, it’s not easy, but those who work the hardest the longest and invest the most are probably going to be successful.”
To influence the debate in a largely urbanized state such as California, Wenger said, means working with government officials, political candidates and elected leaders who may have little if any background in agriculture.
“We have to get out of our comfort zone and start dealing with some people we normally don’t deal with,” he said, adding that he is proud of Farm Bureau’s work in that regard.
After eight years as president, Wenger has served his maximum term in office, and urged Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations to work together for the greater good of farmers and ranchers.
“I appreciate the opportunity to work with all of you here. I do love this organization and everybody that’s out here,” Wenger said. “We have got to continue to work together.”
Dec. 4, 2017
Honoring decades of service to the horticulture business, community and Farm Bureau, the California Farm Bureau Federation has presented its Distinguished Service Award to Orange County nursery operator Gary Hayakawa. Hayakawa received the award today at the 99th CFBF Annual Meeting in Garden Grove.
A longtime vice president of the Orange County Farm Bureau and an active volunteer in other agricultural and community organizations, Hayakawa founded Three Star Nursery in Fountain Valley in the early 1970s and remained as its president until its closure in 2007. He now owns a nursery consulting business.
“Gary Hayakawa learned the nursery business from the ground up, literally, having started at age 10 picking weeds in the nursery his father owned,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said. “After launching his own nursery in his late 20s, he knows the challenges people must overcome to operate a successful agricultural enterprise—and how active involvement in organizations such as Farm Bureau contributes to the success of local agriculture.”
In addition to his Farm Bureau service, Hayakawa has served as president of the Nursery Growers Association, Centennial Farm Foundation, Orange County Friends of UC Cooperative Extension, and the Orange County chapter of the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers. His community service includes four terms on the Orange County Fair and Exposition Center Board of Directors, president of Japanese-American Republicans and membership in the Great Park Conservancy, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans.
The Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau volunteers from California. In addition to the award to Hayakawa, CFBF presented the Distinguished Service Award to walnut growers and Alameda County Farm Bureau members Jim and Joan Lopes.
Dec. 4, 2017
A couple who have devoted years of dedicated service to agriculture and Farm Bureau, Jim and Joan Lopes of Vernalis, received the Distinguished Service Award from the California Farm Bureau Federation today during the 99th CFBF Annual Meeting in Garden Grove.
Each has served on the Alameda County Farm Bureau Board of Directors for decades—Jim Lopes since 1956 and Joan since 1995; Joan Lopes also serves as county Farm Bureau treasurer. The couple grow walnuts in the Vernalis area and have been particularly active on water issues. Jim Lopes has served on the boards of directors of both the Blewett Mutual Water Co. and the El Solyo Water District.
“Anyone who has attended a CFBF Water Advisory Committee meeting in recent years would recognize Jim and Joan for their active participation in those meetings and for Jim’s insightful comments about agricultural water use,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said. “Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations in Alameda, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties have benefited from their generous donations of their time and wisdom.”
In addition to Farm Bureau, Jim Lopes has served on the Alameda County Agricultural Advisory Committee, the Diamond Walnut Growers District Advisory Committee, as a board member and president of the Westside Hulling Association and with several community organizations. Joan Lopes has been an active volunteer in organizations including with the Boy Scouts of America, and each has volunteered with Clear Creek Services, a Fremont-based nonprofit serving adults with developmental disabilities.
The Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau volunteers from California. In addition to the award to Jim and Joan Lopes, CFBF presented the Distinguished Service Award to Orange County nursery operator Gary Hayakawa.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.