Career Technical Education Moves to Education Forefront

March 2, 2018 – -After decades of attrition and disrespect, Career Technical Education (CTE) has become a leading topic of conversation in the State Capitol.  The lack of qualified skilled employees for California’s increasing technical industries has led to a call by employer groups, especially agricultural industries, for attention to workforce development programs, beginning with CTE in high school and progressing through to community college.  With only 30% of California’s students graduating from Universities with a bachelor degree, 70% of our high school students need other training including 2-year technical degrees, certifications and ongoing professional development.  Additionally, several recent studies have shown that students with a 2-year technical degree make as much over a lifetime as graduates with 4 year degrees and they accumulate much less debt and enter the workforce more directly.  California legislators are finally taking notice.

Last week there was a Joint Informational Hearing of four committees including Assembly Education Committee, Assembly Budget Sub Committee on Education Finance, Assembly Select Committee on Career Technical Education and Building a 21st Century Workforce, and Assembly Committee on Jobs and Economic Development.  The hearing included an update on the state of CTE in high school and community colleges and the identification of best practices and how they can be replicated across systems. The committee also reviewed the current financial structure for CTE as well as proposals being advanced by both houses of the legislature to increase state monies for programs.

The Almond Alliance is working closely with both the legislature and the Governor’s office to secure funding for CTE programs.

Doud Approved by Senate as Ag Trade Negotiator

March 2, 2018 – -After months of waiting Gregg Doud has gained approval from the U.S. Senate to serve as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Doud was nominated to the post by President Trump on June 16, 2017, and a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee was Oct. 5. Following that meeting a hold was placed on Doud’s nomination by Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “Great news that Gregg Doud has been confirmed by the Senate to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the office of the United States Trade Representative. Farmers, ranchers, foresters & producers need strong representation at the negotiating table and he understands what trade means to ag.”

Doud is a native of Kansas and grew up on a farm. Since 2013, he has served as president for the Commodity Markets Council. Prior to this he worked on Senator Roberts’ staff for two years on the Senate Agriculture Committee. He worked for NCBA for eight years as the chief economist, and also had stints with U.S. Wheat Associates and the agricultural commodity consulting firm World Perspectives.

Lawsuit Alleges Secret Meetings Over Delta Tunnels

March 2, 2018 – -The ongoing controversy over the Delta tunnels project took a new twist this week as over a dozen California cities, water agencies and environmentalists sued the state late Tuesday, alleging that state regulators have been secretly plotting and discussing a contentious $16 billion water project.

The petitioners, led by Sacramento and San Joaquin counties, have uncovered public records that they claim prove that State Water Resources Board staffers discussed technical reviews and other documents regarding the California WaterFix with the project’s lead agencies.

“Evidence revealed in response to a recent request under the Public Records Act demonstrates deliberate obstruction, and possible collusion by the Department of Water Resources, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and [water board staff],” the complaint filed in Sacramento Superior Court states.

The lawsuit attempts to halt the water board’s months-long hearing on whether to allow DWR and Reclamation to divert water from the Sacramento River at the north end of the Delta – a critical element of the tunnels project.

The water board must assess and sign off on the project’s environmental review before construction can finally begin on the decades-old project. It finished the first phase of the permit review and is currently holding hearings on the project’s impact on fish and wildlife.

More than 50 cities, counties, water suppliers and environmental groups have officially opposed the state’s permit application and the WaterFix as a whole.

The project calls for two 35-mile tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The tunnels would funnel water around the delta to the state’s southernmost farmers and cities, including Los Angeles. Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has signed off on the project and hopes to begin construction by the end of 2018.