Purpose and History
In 2008, the State Board of Food and Agriculture inaugurated California Agricultural Vision (CAV) as a process intended to result in a strategic plan for the future of the state's agriculture and food system. Its motivation was the rapidly growing list of challenges facing agriculture, from regulations and water supplies to urbanization and climate change. After holding public listening sessions, the State Board adopted a Vision to serve as the framework for the plan. The Vision focuses on three basic goals:
- Better Health and Well-being - Meeting the Nutrition Needs of California's Diverse Population
- A Healthier Planet - Agricultural Stewardship of the Natural Resource Base upon which California and Food Production Depend
- Thriving Communities - Food Production as a Driver of Sustainable California Economic Growth
In March 2009, the State Board commissioned American Farmland Trust (AFT), a private nonprofit organization, to manage a process to transform its Vision into a strategic plan. AFT assembled a coordinating committee to assist in the process and retained Ag Innovations as a professional facilitator. It commissioned the Agricultural Issues Center of the University of California to produce a series of white papers on key issues relevant to the State Board's Vision. And it recruited 90 leaders from agriculture and other stakeholder groups representing the environment, farm labor and the food system to work on the plan.
This leadership group participated in three all-day work sessions in August, September and December 2009. Participants were divided into three groups corresponding to the State Board's goals, based on their interests and expertise. At the first session they were asked to propose bold actions that could be taken to achieve those goals, producing 20 options. At the second session, they were asked to elaborate on and focus those proposed options, after which the entire group was asked to rank the options in order of importance and immediacy. At the third session, participants were asked to further refine seven proposed options that emerged as the highest priorities for short-term action. At the conclusion of the final session, participants had the opportunity to indicate the extent to which they supported the final proposed options.
The seven proposed draft action options (short-term) for the Ag Vision, currently available for public comment, were broadly supported (though not in all particulars) by a substantial majority of those who participated in the December work session as requiring short-term action by the State Board of Food & Agriculture
There were many other proposals addressing a variety of equally critical issues - among them, climate change, renewable energy and local food systems - that the leadership group believes should be acted upon, but on a longer timetable.
The Ag Vision continues to be process by which diverse stakeholders in a vibrant agricultural food system work in collaboration to address the many opportunities and challenges facing the agricultural sector.
The California Agricultural Vision project is made possible in part by grants administered by:
- Columbia Foundation
- Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation
- S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
- California Agricultural Technology Institute
- California State University Agricultural Research Initiative