Assemblymember Marie Waldron
As the nation’s leading agricultural state, California remains the nation’s breadbasket. By declaring March 19 Ag Day in the Capitol, the Legislature recognized the need to support this vital industry, especially during this period of prolonged drought.
Agriculture’s impact on the state’s economy cannot be overemphasized. California is the number one producer of a list of crops that is too long to reproduce here. The list includes locally grown crops such as avocados, lemons, strawberries and grapes, products that help place San Diego and Riverside in the top tier of California’s agricultural counties.
Given the vital importance of the state’s ag industry, educating our future farmers must be encouraged and supported. Unfortunately, Governor Brown seems to be going in the opposite direction with a proposal that would curtail or eliminate the Agriculture Education Incentive Grant Program (AEIGP). This program supports 315 agricultural programs that currently enroll over 75,000 high school students statewide.
I believe that ag education must remain an integral part of California’s school curriculum. Consequently, I recently joined 22 of my colleagues on the Legislative Rural Caucus to send a letter to Governor Brown asking for continued funding for the AEIGP. The Governor’s proposed cuts will be subjected to intense scrutiny; indeed, legislation has already been introduced to restore the funding.
Educating future generations of California’s farmers must remain a top priority. After all, the products grown by those farmers will feed the nation and much of the world.