Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ranchers tout ag at Capitol

From the California Cattlemen's Association:

Despite a full week of rain in the forecast, cattlemen and women from nearly every area of the state made their way to Sacramento on March 23, for Agriculture Day at the State Capitol, where they promoted their product on the lawn of the capitol, visited the offices of their local lawmakers and mingled with legislators and agency representatives at the California Cattlemen’s Association’s 33rd Annual Steak and Eggs Legislative Breakfast.

In a standing-room-only event at the Sutter Club in downtown Sacramento, ranchers enjoyed a hearty steak and eggs breakfast alongside elected officials to help them better understand the issues threatening agriculture and open space in the Golden State.

According to CCA President Kevin Kester, the breakfast boasted its largest attendance ever, which is exactly the type turnout he said is necessary if ranchers hope to get their message out to the state’s decision makers.

“We are very excited to see so many of our state’s cattlemen and women take the opportunity to tell their story. In a time when more and more people are becoming further removed from agriculture, it is vital to share the importance of what we do with the people who can help us fight to stay in business,” Kester said. “What we do matters to everyone and only by speaking out and sharing our way of life with the public and elected officials can we expect to see their support.”

The event was attended by many legislators, several who addressed breakfast attendees about their support of the ranching way of life and shared reasons they intend to help ranchers stay in business. Among the elected officials who spoke were Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Assemblymember Connie Conway (R-Tulare), Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), and Assemblymember Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco)

Also in attendance during the breakfast were Gov. Jerry Brown and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. This year marked the first time in many years that the Governor made an appearance at the breakfast. Both Brown and Ross shared a few words about the importance ranchers have in the state despite a tough economic situation for California.

“Having been raised in the cattle industry, I fully appreciate what you, as ranchers, do for our state, especially by maintaining open space and keeping land in food production.” Ross said. “In what has been a difficult time for California’s economy, I am proud to see that agriculture has proven just how valuable it is to our state.”

Brown, who owns a ranch in Colusa County, also echoed Ross’s comments saying farmers and ranchers are an important part of California’s economy. He also said despite the budgetary challenges in California, running the state as a business – with careful checks and balances – is the only way to get California’s budget back in good condition.

Following the breakfast, more than 50 cattlemen and women made their way to offices throughout the capitol building, sharing with legislators the current initiatives they hope to see support on in the upcoming legislative session.

“We had a terrific turnout with a great deal of positive feedback from legislators and legislative staff,” Kester said. “It is my hope that our members were able to see first-hand the positive impacts of getting involved and sharing their view on the issues that are not just important to them, but also to our state’s economy and the future of agriculture in California.”

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