California Update

Western Agricultural And Conservation Groups Form A New Coalition

Representatives from agricultural and conservation groups have formed a coalition to advocate for balanced management of resources in the Western United States. Known as the Western Agriculture and Conservation Coalition, the new group will focus initially on advocating for measures in the federal Farm Bill conservation title.

Steering committee members include the California Farm Bureau Federation, Trout Unlimited, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona Public Lands Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Family Farm Alliance, Public Lands Council and the Irrigation Association.

The goals of the coalition are to support the common interests of agriculture and conservation through education, advocacy and outreach, and to engage decision makers and resource managers in the spirit of collaboration to further a shared vision for a rural West that is economically and environmentally sustainable.

In Farm Bill discussions, the coalition will advocate to maintain funding for priority programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Agricultural Water Enhancement Program and Grasslands Reserve Program, among others.

Although the current Farm Bill debate is the priority of the coalition, members of the Western Agriculture and Conservation Coalition said they look forward to potentially expanding its focus to include other areas of importance to Western agricultural production and conservation efforts.

“Successful conservation depends on collaboration,” says Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “In the West, many of our conservation projects wouldn’t happen without two things: Agricultural producer partners and Farm Bill support,” he says. “We urge Congress to act quickly to ensure a Farm Bill that continues to provide vital tools for private land stewardship.”

Bill Berryhill Wins Sushi Contest

In a competitive, yet friendly, culinary competition, Assembly Member Bill Berryhill rolled his way to victory as Capitol Roller, signifying California’s top legislative sushi maker.

Assembly Member Berryhill defeated California Resources Secretary John Laird, Assembly Member Richard Pan and James Gore, Assistant Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service during the 11th annual California Rice Commission (CRC) Circle of Life Reception, held March 6 at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento.

In winning the 2012 Capitol Roller award, Assembly Member Berryhill receives a framed Samurai sword until next year’s competition. He was presented the award by Assembly Member Fiona Ma, who had won the two previous competitions.

The three competitors received expert coaching in making a California roll from Billy Ngo, Executive Chef of Kru Restaurant in Sacramento. More than 100 people attended the reception.

The California rice industry includes 2,500 family farmers and handlers who grow and process virtually all of the nation’s sushi rice.

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