California: Governor Brown proposes US$488M budget for food and ag in 2018-19

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California: Governor Brown proposes US$488M budget for food and ag in 2018-19

Intensified citrus greening suppression efforts, bee protection and developing pesticide alternatives are some areas slated to receive funding as part of California Governor Jerry Brown's proposed budget for 2018-19.

The proposal includes US$488 million in funding for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), of which close to half would go to agricultural plant and animal health, pest prevention and food safety services.

In a release, CDFA Secretary Karen Ross described the proposed budget as demonstrating a steady course for the agency and California.

The CDFA has noted the following key proposals:

  1. Use of Antimicrobial Drugs on Livestock – The budget proposes $2.668 million to address the full implementation of SB-27, which introduces limits on antibiotic use in livestock and stewardship practices to reduce antimicrobial resistance; and it provides antimicrobial availability through licensed retail stores and/or new regulations.
  2. Citrus Pest Disease and Prevention – The budget would provide $5 million ($2.5 million General Fund and $2.5 million Ag Fund) to enhance Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing suppression activities.
  3. Bee Safe Program – $1.853 million is proposed to develop a program to promote and protect a safe and healthy food supply through the protection of bees, providing funds for local enforcement of existing laws that promote and protect California’s beekeeping industry.
  4. Safe and Affordable Drinking Water – CDFA would establish and collect a dairy and livestock safe drinking water fee and a fertilizer safe drinking water fee and transfer the funds collected to the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. The proposed amount for those activities at CDFA is $1.41 million, which would be advanced from the Fund to support the initial startup costs.
  5. Development of Pesticide Alternatives – The budget proposes $529,000 for CDFA’s Office of Pesticide Consultation and Analysis to support the scientific development and testing of alternatives for pesticides being considered for restriction in California. This includes biocontrol efforts.
  6. Pet Lover’s Specialized License Plates – This proposal would provide $440,000 (special fund) to implement the provisions of SB 673, to utilize funding from specialized license plates to award grants to qualifying spay and neuter facilities that offer low-cost or no-cost animal sterilization services.
  7. State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) and Healthy Soils Program – Bond funding (SB 5) would provide $27.4 million for two of CDFA’s climate smart agriculture programs – $17.8 million for ongoing SWEEP grants and $8.6 million in grants from the Healthy Soils Program.

In a release, California Citrus Mutual (CCM) applauded Governor Brown's inclusion of funding for safe and clean drinking water in the proposed budget.

The Administration is proposing statutory language consistent with the policy framework of the California Safe Drinking Water Act (SB 623, Monning), introduced in the 2017-18 legislative session and widely supported by a broad coalition of agricultural, health, and environmental groups.

The Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund will establish a special fund within the State Water Board to provide grants, loans, and administrator contracts or services to assist eligible communities and households in securing access to safe and affordable drinking water.

"We commend the Governor for his commitment to creating a long-term solution that ensures all Californians have access to safe and clean drinking water," said CCM president Joel Nelsen.

"For decades, farmers have worked side-by-side with the University of California to improve farming practices and eliminate the potential for nitrates to reach the groundwater.

"Unfortunately, due to the wide array of naturally occurring contaminants present in the groundwater, up to one million Californians throughout the State are without clean drinking water.

"Together with our partners in the health, environmental, and agricultural industries we applaud Governor Brown for his leadership and urge the legislature to join together in solving this issue once and for all."

Photo: Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), courtesy of David Hall via Wikimedia Commons.

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