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News Release

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Media Contacts: Steve Lyle, CDFA Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462,,

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Release #10-047
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SACRAMENTO, September 1, 2010 CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura today announced the formation of a five-member scientific advisory panel on environmental farming to advise state agencies on sustainable agriculture.

"This panel will bring together diverse expertise to educate and consult with state agencies on environmental issues paramount to sustainable agricultural production," said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. "While feeding the nation,  California agriculture strives to build consensus to address multiple complex issues confronting the state's 80,000 farmers - like resource management, invasive species, water, local and organic food production  and environmental stewardship."

Authorized by California Food and Agricultural Code Section 568, the Scientific Panel on Environmental Farming will review and recommend data on the impact that agriculture has on the environment and make recommendations to appropriate state agencies. In addition, the panel will publically document agricultural activities that produce net benefits for the environment and ecosystems.

CDFA, working with the American Farmland Trust, Board of Agriculture and hundreds of stakeholders, recently completed a two-year process of public meetings to complete Ag Vision 2030, a report that highlights the many sustainable agriculture issues.  The panel will focus on these issues.

Members of the panel are appointed by the Secretaries of Food and Agriculture, Environmental Protection and Natural Resources to three year terms and serve without compensation. Three members are appointed by the Secretary of Food and Agriculture representing production agriculture. One member is appointed by the Secretary of Environmental Protection Agency representing human health and environmental science. One member is appointed by the Secretary of Natural Resources Agency representing resource management.

Appointments to the advisory panel include:

Alfred G. Montna, representing agricultural production, is a rice farmer in Sutter County and is current President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, where he has served as a member since 2005.
Montna has owned the American Commodity Company since 2001, Dingville Duck and Social Club since 1970 and Montna Farms and Montna Farms Dryer since 1967.

Adan Ortega, Jr., representing agricultural production, is co-founder of Water Conservation Partners Inc., and is a current board member of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Ortega has served as the Vice President for External Affairs of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and was Chief Deputy Secretary of State under California Secretary of State Bill Jones.

Dr. Thomas F. Smith, representing resource management, is currently a Forest Pest Management Specialist with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Smith has a Doctorate in Plant Pathology from the University of California, Davis, and a Masters in Forestry from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Cindy Tuck, representing human health and environmental science, currently serves as Undersecretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA). Tuck has over two decades of experience in the development and implementation of California's environmental laws, regulations and programs. She is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of California and has a Master of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois.

Nita Vail, representing agricultural production, is the Executive Director of the California Rangeland Trust. She is a founding board member of the organization and an environmental and agricultural consultant in Sacramento. Vail, a fourth generation rancher is a partner in a family owned business operating a commercial game operation on Santa Rosa Island.

The panel will convene its first public meeting in September.




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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814