This past month I had the opportunity to represent Sonoma County agriculture at the California Farm Bureau as a member of the Animal Welfare Issue Advisory Committee. Participating in committees at the state level gives members the opportunity to advocate for the policy that is most important to them. As a member-driven organization, our participation helps shape the policy that the California Farm Bureau will push in Sacramento as well as in Washington D.C. The policy changes committee members suggest have a long road ahead of them on the path to approval by the House of Delegates at the annual California Farm Bureau meeting.
It felt like a breath of fresh air to attend a committee meeting in person at the California Farm Bureau office. I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting back into the swing of things on my drive to Sacramento. Although I was excited to be back in person, it seemed that my feelings were in the minority. Most committee members opted to attend the committee meeting via Zoom. The convenience of being able to call into a meeting from my dairy is always tempting, but I know that I better represent Sonoma County agriculture in person.
During our meeting, we were able to recommend a dairy policy change that would ensure that the pricing structure will continue to support the farmer rather than the processor. This policy change is incredibly important because the current policy has not been amended since California dairy went into the federal marketing order.
Our committee also revisited the current policy regarding wildlife management in regard to the ongoing mountain lion issue many Sonoma County farmers and ranchers face. We were assured that the current policy allows the California farm Bureau to appropriately advocate for farmers and ranchers.
We were given federal policy updates about happenings in Washington D.C. relative to our needs and concerns in the agriculture industry. We voiced concern about the need for programs within the USDA that are managed by National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) to be streamlined and more nimble. Also, we advocated for drought-specific funding programs and additional dollars to support these programs.
Being a part of a California Farm Bureau committee is such a great experience and a great opportunity to become more involved in the shaping of policy that affects our local agriculture. I would like to encourage Sonoma County Farm Bureau members to consider becoming a member of a committee that sparks their interest. These opportunities to be involved in policy at a state level are made possible through membership at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. I have learned so much about lobbying efforts in Sacramento and Washington D.C. that has proven useful to understanding the efforts behind Sonoma County and California Farm Bureau’s mission.
Thank you California Farm Bureau staff, Jamie for appointing me as a committee member, and my fellow committee members for such a great experience. I can’t wait for the annual California Farm Bureau meeting to see what policies and changes come out of other issue advisory committees.