Building bridges with California policymakers

Land O’Lakes leaders highlight farmer-led innovation in a key ag state

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California is a leading agricultural state and Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s largest milk producing state by volume. With approximately 200 member-owners in the state, Land O’Lakes is well-positioned to provide local insights on agriculture to state leaders and policymakers.
On Monday, August 12, Land O’Lakes dairy member-owner Dave Ribeiro and Land O’Lakes Board Director Joey Fernandes joined president and CEO Beth Ford, along with senior vice president Pete Kappelman and members of the government relations team to meet with several key California officials. The full day of meetings included discussions with Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, California EPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld and Deputy Secretary Val Dolcini, and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins.
Throughout the day, the Land O’Lakes leaders highlighted how dairy farmers in California are delivering innovative new solutions to safeguard the environment and combat climate change, often with collaboration from the State of California.
For example, Land O’Lakes and several California dairy member-owners of our cooperative are working together with California Bioenergy (CalBio) to install and operate on-farm digesters, creating a clean renewable vehicle fuel. It’s a proactive way for California farmers to help meet California state regulations calling for a 40% reduction in manure-related methane emissions from 2013 levels by 2030.
Late last year, the State of California dedicated more than $90 to support pipeline improvements that are critical to this effort -- and this spring, Chevron built even more momentum, announcing it will help bring the fuel to market in California.
In addition to thanking California officials for their engagement on this effort, Land O’Lakes leaders discussed how dairy farmers in the state are working to meet a wide range of other challenges facing the state’s agriculture sector and rural communities.
The meetings included in-depth conversation on how farmers are working to optimize water use and maintain access for agriculture. They highlighted the challenge of maintaining a skilled agricultural workforce. And at a time when too many rural communities are falling behind on key quality of life services, Land O’Lakes discussed our focus on the lack of broadband access in rural areas, and the continuing decline in rural health care delivery.
The visit was one more way Land O’Lakes can leverage the power of our cooperative to reach out, build bridges and connect farmers with decision-makers -- including those in both rural and urban areas -- to work with us now, and in the future.

Top Photo: (Left to right) Lenny Mendonca, Governor Newsom’s Director of Business; Land O’Lakes dairy member-owner David Ribeiro; Land O'Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford; California Governor Gavin Newsom; Land O’Lakes Board Director Joey Fernandes; Matthew Wohlman, Land O’Lakes Sr. Director of State and Industry Affairs; Ann O'Leary, Governor Newsom's Chief of Staff.
Bottom Photo: (Left to Right) David Ribeiro; Chairwoman Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board; Land O'Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford.