Secretary named to NASDA leadership team
SACRAMENTO-During a recent trip to Washington D.C. for a meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. was elected President of the organization’s Western Region, a consortium of U.S. states and territories and Canadian provinces known as WASDA.
Lyons has been an active member of NASDA since he was appointed secretary of agriculture in 1999 by California Governor Gray Davis. Using contacts made through NASDA, Secretary Lyons helped to establish the highly effective coalition known as NFACT, featuring the border states of New Mexico, Florida, Arizona, California and Texas. NFACT works to educate congress on the need for additional consideration for specialty crop states in federal funding packages. In 2001, the work of NFACT assisted in securing $64 million in block grant funding for California, money that helped create The Buy California Initiative.
“Our campaign to steer more funding to specialty crops has great momentum,” said Secretary Lyons. “I look forward to including it in my agenda for WASDA, and I am honored to have been afforded this opportunity.”
As President of WASDA, Secretary Lyons will represent the western region of NASDA on its board of directors, which is headed by national President Patrick Takasugi, Director of Agriculture for the state of Idaho. “Bill brings with him to the national level his expertise in the broad diversity of California agriculture,” said Takasugi. “His participation will be especially useful in the trade and specialty crop areas.”
California agriculture industry leaders are pointing to Lyons’ election as further evidence that the specialty crop cause continues to gain influence. “Secretary Lyons is a forceful advocate for change,” said Thomas Nassif, President of Western Growers’ Association. “That’s good news for the western region, which, before long, should begin to enjoy some of the same benefits as California under the secretary’s leadership.”
The WASDA members are: Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The Canadian provinces of Alberta, and British Columbia are affiliated, non-voting members.
In addition, Secretary Lyons is throwing his support behind a recent letter by NASDA to key members of Congress, calling for a $100 million specialty crop block grant in the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The letter, signed by NASDA President Takasugi, states: “A similar appropriation that was received by state agencies two years ago has been a resounding success. States, working in cooperation with their agricultural communities, were able to direct funding to areas that would provide the greatest overall benefits to their state’s citizens and producers.”
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