Future of California’s ag agency up for debate
June 2, 2009
• Cost-cutting review of single-industry $100 million department promised
• 'There are certainly more changes in the pipeline to protect the state’s finances'
Following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pledge Tuesday in an address to the Legislature that every dollar of waste and inefficiency saved will be a dollar that supports critical services such as health care and education, Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, D-Shafter, has called a hearing into the future of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which his committee oversees.
On June 16, the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture will meet to consider whether or not it makes sense for agriculture to remain the only California industry with its own $100 million general fund-backed agency, “when most of its functions could be performed by other departments,” Mr. Florez’ office says.
The CDFA says its budget is actually $315 million, $96 million of which comes from the general fund. The rest comes from fee for service programs and federal funding.
“In agriculture, there are business considerations, and there are public health considerations, and we already have agencies that serve both of those functions,” says Mr. Florez. “Agriculture had its own set of rules on air quality and worker protections for a long time, but we have finally reversed those to protect both the environment and public health. There are certainly more changes in the pipeline to protect the state’s finances.”
The Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture will meet to discuss the future of CDFA at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 16, in Room 113 of the California State Capitol.
"We look forward to working with Senator Florez and answering his questions," says Steve Lyle, a spokesman for the department.