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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 #16-033
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SACRAMENTO, August 30, 2016 - The California State Board of Food and Agriculture will be addressing issues impacting rural areas at its upcoming meeting on September 6th in Sacramento.  The meeting will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the California Department of Food and Agriculture – Main Auditorium, 1220 N Sacramento, CA 95814.

“Rural communities are the foundation of California’s agricultural sector,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “While California’s farm and ranch lands do not reside in statistically rural areas, a majority are ‘rural in character’, struggling with issues related to unemployment and housing. How we celebrate these communities and provide greater access to needed services will be part of our discussion.”

California’s rural population ranges between 2-12 percent of the population depending on the definition of rural being used. Federal agencies from the U.S. Census Bureau to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calculate the rural definition differently, based on population density or other factors such as metro or non-metro areas.  This has a direct impact on federal program eligibility (housing, community development, and telecommunication programs) for rural areas in the state, often making California communities ineligible.  The board will be discussing this item along with other key issues impacting rural communities.

Invited speakers include: Lorin Kusmin USDA Economic Research Service (via teleconference); Janice Waddell, USDA Rural Development; Stanley Keasling, Rural Community Assistance Corporation; Shelby Gonzales, San Joaquin Valley Regional Broadband Initiative; Eric Brown, California Telehealth Network; Rob Wiener, California Coalition for Rural Housing; Angela Avery, Sierra Nevada Conservancy; Mike Dozier, California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley; Shermain Hardesty and Penny Leff, University of California Small Farm Program. 

“In rural communities, a larger percentage of employment is in farming, forestry and other natural resources,” said Craig McNamara, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. “Better understanding the local challenges and opportunities in these communities is essential as we continue to work on statewide issues related to water, agricultural labor and the regulatory environment.”

All meetings are open to the public and attendance is welcome.

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture advises the governor and the CDFA secretary on agricultural issues and consumer needs. The state board conducts forums that bring together local, state and federal government officials, agricultural representatives and citizens to discuss current issues of concern to California agriculture.

This meeting will be streamed online at:

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