Wednesday, July 30, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Ag touted as part of new economy’s Farm-to-Fork movement

DSC_1983 ec

RUTHSTALLER BEER founder Jan-Erik Paino talks with Kristine Mazzei, left, chief operating officer and managing partner of Valley Vision, and middle, Meg Arnold, CEO of Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance. Democrat photos by Krysten Kellum

By
From page A13 | November 01, 2013 |

Marketing the Sacramento region as a future food exporting dynamo was one item on the agenda last Friday when members of the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce ended a two-day study mission with lunch at the Smith Flat House.

As they munched on artisan pizzas and salad made from locally grown ingredients while sipping wine from Madroña Vineyards, an audience made up of business, educational and government leaders listened as two different panels discussed the economic future of the region.

An important part of that vision derives not only from the Sacramento region’s reputation as a major food-producing area but as the Farm-to-Fork capital of America — a movement that encourages delivery of food directly from farmer to consumer.

Increasing agricultural exports are being touted as part of what’s called the “Next Economy” — initiatives that revitalize the region’s economy through regional branding, investing in infrastructure, workforce development, incubating entrepreneurs, and strengthening local agricultural enterprises of all kinds.

Panelist Kristine Mazzei, who is the COO and managing partner of Valley Vision, a nonprofit consultant group, said one of the strengths of the region is agriculture and food related businesses. “Forty percent of the land in the region is in agricultural use, generating $3.5 billion in economic output,” she said. We are also fortunate to have resources like UC Davis for agriculture related research, she added.

Panelist Tim Johnson, president and CEO of the California Rice Commission, noted that food is a $7.5 billion industry in the state. “Of the top 20 exported crops grown in California, seven come from the Sacramento Valley, including wine, rice, tomatoes, almonds, seeds and dried plums,” Johnson said. “Over half of many of these crops are exported every year.” He went on to note that in 2011, El Dorado County generated $36 million worth of agricultural products alone. But there is continuing pressure on farmers to sell their land to developers, cautioned Johnson. To keep the land in food production, he suggested implementing a program that allows farmers to sell their development rights as well as changing inheritance taxes so small family farms don’t have to be sold when the patriarch dies.

Meg Arnold, the CEO of the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance, talked about innovations happening in agriculture. As examples she cited 9-year-old Nicolas Come, of Nicolas’ Garden fame, who invented an app to encourage kids to eat healthier. Come started developing the app at the Hacker Lab, which was one of places the group toured. Henlight, another invention, is a solar-powered light for small-scale henhouses that promotes higher egg production. Then there is California Safe Soil, which turns food waste into commercial grade fertilizer in three hours. The plan is to work with supermarket chains to help them dispose of food waste by turning it into a useful product.

Talking about farming from a different perspective was local farmer Maryann Argyes, who is the chair of the EDC Community Economic Development Advisory Committee. She touted Apple Hill as an excellent example of a different way to market agricultural products. “We do not export commodities, we import tourists and it’s a model that’s very successful,” said Argyes.

She went on to say that rather than being large-scale commodity farmers like many in the Sacramento Region, those farming in this area are “boutique agriculturalists,” with 95 percent of Apple Hill’s members either working full-time at something else or retired. “We are different but complementary,” Argyes added, saying that Apple Hill’s members are working on growing different crops throughout the year to attract a continuing stream of tourists who visit as much for the experience as for the food.

David Parkes, president/CEO of ParkCon, went on to discuss the Next Economy, saying there needs to be more capital investment in new clusters of economic activity. “We’re the (state) capital and we should be leaders in these initiatives,” he said, adding that the Sacramento region is ranked 22 out of 250 foreign trade zones in the United States and is a model for the city of the future. However, he warned that the area is not business friendly and that needed to change if it’s to attract more companies.

Picking up on that theme was Laura Gill, city manager of Elk Grove, who discussed how government can help improve the economy. Saying that one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses is the lack of access to capital. She said her city invests its money in community banks in order to facilitate that access. “We put $6 million a year into three local banks,” she said, adding that the cities of Folsom and Galt do likewise. “This is putting our money where our mouth is.” Gill also suggested approaching pension organizations about investing more of their funds in California and lowering the cost of doing business in the state but doing it in such a way that preserves the quality of life in the area.

The panel discussion wrapped up with leaders discussing how they could implement what they had learned during the two-day tour.

Matt Sumida, who is director of the chamber foundation, said the purpose of the tour was a chance for people to see what the region is doing and to identify the best collaborative opportunities. “It’s appealing is to see what’s going on in the region and it broadens people’s perspective of what the region is doing well,” he added.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or dhodson@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

Comments

comments

.

News

 
District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

 
Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3

.

Opinion

My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

 
Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
.

Sports

Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

 
Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8

.

Prospecting

Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

 
Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

 
Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

 
Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

 
Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

 
Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5

.

Essentials

Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

.

Comics

.

Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17