More great news from our state organization, California Guild!
On September 27th Governor Brown signed legislation (Assembly Bill 465) authored by San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting (D), extending by 10 years a 2013 State law authorizing local governments to enter into agricultural land use contracts with landowners who agree to restrict development and permit use of their land for small scale agricultural purposes.
Members plant urban garden at Guild Headquarters, Sacramento
Under AB 465, sponsored by the California Guild and its partners, eligible local governments may enact a local ordinance authorizing the creation of Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZs) in urban areas defined as those with populations of 250,000 or more in exchange for lower assessed property taxes.
A year following enactment of the 2013 law, the City of San Francisco became among the first to create a local Urban Agricultural Incentive Zone. Among the City’s findings, the ordinance noted: “…it connects City residents to the broader food system, provides green space and recreation, provides ecological benefits and green infrastructure, offers food access…” and other benefits.
Many cities now provide property tax breaks for urban agriculture, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and the counties of Sacramento, Santa Clara and Los Angeles.
WHY IS URBAN AGRICULTURE NEEDED?
According to a May 2011 report by the United States Department of Agriculture, nearly one million Californians live in food deserts where there is no nearby market or grocery store offering fresh food options.
Nearly 45% of the 976,467 Californians with low access to retail fresh food are low income. Food deserts can be found in 371 California census tracts and the vast majority (85%) are in urban areas.
California Guild President Bob McFarland noted, “Children are growing up in California’s inner cities on a daily diet of french fries and sodas. This bill will not only provide nutritional, healthy, fresh food for these kids, but it may just teach them how to grow it.”
A priority of the California Guild is to ensure that all Californians enjoy access to food that is healthy, affordable and culturally satisfying.
BROAD COMMUNITY BENEFITS
Urban agriculture provides numerous benefits not only to those growing food, but also to the cities and counties where urban farms exist. City gardening and farming offers benefits such as vibrant green spaces, education about fresh food, and the skills and resources required to produce it.
A recent study finds that 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66% by 2050.
In addition to several other supporting groups, Moms Across America, the Biosafety Alliance, Valley Vision, the Sacramento Community Guild and Organic Sacramento were among organizations joining the California Guild in support of Assembly Bill 465.
Guild Legislative Advocate Diane Rude notes, “The California Guild is dedicated to bringing urban agriculture to more cities and counties across California.”
Urban agriculture is becoming a practical solution to give communities more choice – while having a positive effect on greenhouse gas emissions through increasing the availability of local food and reducing the need to rely solely on food that originates from long distances.
“The average meal has traveled 4,200 miles just to get to the table”, Diana added.
The California Guild is a grassroots organization with nearly 4,000 members proudly serving 80+ communities, state wide. The Guild provides assistance to farmers and protection for consumers. Membership is open to all. For more information phone (916) 4-GUILDS or email us at info@CaGuild.org.
On September 7, 2017, the Secretary of State officially recorded California Guild-sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 8 (Senator Ben Allen – D- Santa Monica) as Resolution Chapter 146 of 2017.
SJR 8, Chapter 146 calls on the Governor to designate the California Department of Parks and Recreation and CalTrans, in partnership with other relevant agencies and interested parties, to develop a California Master Plan for Non-motorized Recreational Trails for urban and rural regions across the State.
On August 31st, on a final vote of 53-14 in the California State Assembly (with 44 Assembly members signing on as Coauthors), the California Guild-sponsored Legislative resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 8 was adopted. SJR 8 is designed to accelerate completion of existing non-motorized trails and expand opportunities for Californians to benefit from new recreational, tourist, and economic development options in their daily lives.
A corresponding benefit of planning, development and completion time lines accompanying the State Master Plan for Non-Motorized Recreational Trails in California is reducing the overall usage of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, and creating a safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists who use non-motorized trails networks. SJR 8 cites the 2006 California Global Warming Solutions Act requiring the State to reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and further GHG emission reductions for 2050 through the Governor’s Executive Order S-3-05.
SJR 8 also calls on the Governor to request the President, Members of Congress and the Federal Highway Administration, through its Recreational Trails Program, to dedicate increased funding to California in order to accelerate and support the planning and development of the California Non-Motorized Trails Master Plan as an expanded network encompassing rural and urban regions of the State, and accelerating completion of existing trails, including the California Coastal Trail.
Although there are currently thousands of miles of developed non-motorized trails in cities and outlying suburbs, there are very few non-motorized trails connecting urban areas to parks and greenways. This makes it necessary for most trails enthusiasts to use a motor vehicle to get to and from the trailhead.
Guild President Bob McFarland noted there are economic benefits of non-motorized trails as well. The National Association of Homebuilders stated in 2008: “Trails consistently remain the number one community amenity sought by prospective home buyers.”
Guild member Ken Donnell notes: “A significant component of the California Trails Master Plan called for in SJR 8 is to begin creating connections between existing urban trails and nearby recreational trails.”
The author of SJR 8, Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), is himself an avid hiking and biking enthusiast. Senator Allen noted, “I look forward to the day when we have a comprehensive network of trails for biking, hiking, cross-country skiing and more. An inter-connected system will help to get people out of their cars and into the great outdoors, which is good for their health and good for the environment.” He added: “I hope the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 8 will be a catalyst for state and federal officials to make this goal a priority.”
The California Guild is sponsoring a series of regional conferences across the State to support development of a California Master Plan for Non-motorized Recreational Trails. Chico Community Guild hosted a conference on May 20th on the California Master Plan for Non-motorized Recreational Trails. The second California Trails Master Plan Regional Conference will be held on Friday, September 29th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Castro Valley Community Center located at 18988 Lake Chabot Road, Castro Valley, CA, 94546.
For Conference Registration and information contact Ken Donnell via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or or via phone at 530-566-2561.
A quick update on this week's National Heirloom Expo doings at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds:
California Guild was stand-out participant, with President Bob McFarland serving as speaker, moderator and featured panelist alongside the internationally acclaimed Dr. Vandana Shiva, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, and Mom's Across America's President Zen Honeycutt. Thousands of attendees walked by the California Guild booth, located across from the entrance to the exposition hall, and many wandered inside to learn more about us. Our volunteers did a good job of educating, and it seems we've added many new members in process -- maybe even some new chapters!
The big losers this week: GMO's, Monsanto and Syngenta et al, Round-Up and specifically glyphosate.
The big winners: heirloom varietal vegetables and fruits, organic farmers, and their advocates.
The biggest winner: whoever it was who grew the 1401 lb pumpkin that won first place among the giant pumpkins. Wow!
We can be proud to belong to an organization that figures so prominently in a national exposition based on our local values -- to "Be the community we want to live in." Thank you Bob and the volunteers of California Guild for representing our members admirably!
To borrow a blessing taught us by Vandana Shiva:
"May your seed be exhaustless."
Sacramento - September 1. 2017.
Governor Brown today signed into law the California Guild's bill (Assembly Bill 376, Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside) designed to support access by California’s military veterans to Veteran Farmer benefits available for those desiring to enter careers as farmers and ranchers.
AB 376 creates a landmark State/Federal partnership ensuring that significant federal programs and resources provided by the 2014 United States Farm Bill will be made available to military veterans seeking careers as farm operators or ranchers. Federal resources will be strengthened by identifying compatible State programs and resources.
AB 376 addresses the looming crisis in our nation’s demand for more farmers. A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2012 report estimated the average age of existing farm operators is 58 years and one third are over 65. Farmers over the age of 55 control more than half of the country’s farmland, and one in two is likely to retire in the next decade.
Karis Gutter, the USDA’s first military veterans’ agriculture liaison notes: “When you look at the population growth, we’re naturally going to need more and more producers to keep pace with the growing demand. The veterans’ cadre looks very promising for us.”
To address this pressing need, the USDA is calling for at least 100,000 new farmers and ranchers in the coming years. In 2014, Congress included military veterans as a distinct classification of farmers for the first time in the history of United States Farm bills and, as a result, the 2014 United States Farm Bill recognized our military veterans as a promising population to enter careers as farm operators and ranchers by offering an impressive array of federal resources. Federal resources available to military veterans include, but are not limited to: 1) farm and home loans; 2) micro-loans; 3) education and training; 4) business management; 5) skills acquisition in natural resource conservation practices through the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and others.
Bob McFarland, California Guild President notes: “This State and Federal partnership created by the Guild's AB 376 forges a unique collaboration. Federal resources and money will flow into California, assisting our military veterans finding peace and new careers as farmer and ranchers."
McFarland added how proud he was of the Guild members' thriving grassroots legislative program, and the remarkable acheivements of Diana Rude, the Guild's Legislative Advocate.
The measure’s author, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside) -- himself a retired Marine Colonel having served 28 years, notes: “Supporting our veterans’ ability to draw down federal money and transition into a field of such high demand will create security and stability for our State’s agriculture industry and for our veterans shifting to civilian life.”
Specifically, AB 376 authorizes the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, in partnership with the California Department of Veterans Affairs (Cal Vet) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to identify and disseminate relevant state and federal programs for purposes of collaboration and veteran outreach. Some examples include: 1) CDFA’s Healthy Soils Initiative and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service; 2) The Cal Vet Home and Farm Loans and USDA’s direct farm loans and micro-loans; and 3) The America’s Job Center of California[i], offering no-cost employment and training services to job seekers and employers, and the compatible employment and training resources offered through the Federal Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program.
Michael O’Gorman of the Davis Farmer Veterans Coalition, whose central purpose is assisting veterans to enter farming and ranching careers, has supported the measure stating: “This bill will greatly expand awareness of existing state programs and avenues to leverage compatible federal resources offered through the 2014 United States Farm bill.”
Guild President McFarland further noted: “An important mission of the California Guild is to build sustainable communities and support small farming. Creating new opportunities for our returning military veterans to work with the land is a wonderful bridge builder between generations and philosophies. This program brings all of us together."
Friends, I'm very proud to share that both California Guild and Paradise Community Guilds will be represented at next week's National Heirloom Expo (http://theheirloomexpo.com) at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Sept. 5-7.
Not only will CA Guild have a booth (which I'll staff for a few hours), but our own CA Guild President Bob McFarland is a featured speaker, in the same line-up with PCG member Pamm Larry (promoting the Good Food Brigade), Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Vandana Shiva!
If you have opportunity to attend, I highly encourage it. At the very least peruse the website. A guidebook for the three-day event can be found at this link, with a schedule for all events on pages 13-15.
Let's continue to Be the community we want to live in!