Nov. 6, 2017-By Andrea York, Almond Alliance of California – – First and foremost, I’d like to thank the Almond Alliance Board for offering me the opportunity to fill the newly created position of Manager, Government Relations. I am excited to advance the political interests of the association and to support the Alliance in realizing its goals to develop a fully robust advocacy program and to enhance and grow the Almond PAC.

For the last decade, I have served as an advocate for healthy and well educated communities across diverse policy arenas, including energy, environment, agriculture and workforce development. I am a lifelong admirer of the agricultural community, having spent my childhood in Ventura County, surrounded by orchards and farms. I understand the critical nature of how state policy interfaces with agricultural practices and California’s economy and I am honored to represent the Almond Alliance of California before the state’s legislative and regulatory bodies.

My advocacy career has provided me the opportunity to gain an intimate understanding of the Capitol, but has also immersed me in political activities outside of the legislature, including statewide and local initiative campaigns, PAC development, grassroots mobilization, and coalition building amongst competing stakeholders and disparate groups. I am excited to bring these skills to the Alliance and to raise the Capitol’s profile of the industry in 2018.

In Politics, there is an old adage that “If you aren’t at the table you are on the menu.” Jokes aside, this is an accurate illustration of the practical reality that the Almond industry faces in Sacramento. When the legislature returns to begin a new year in 2018 they will be tasked with acting on contentious policy issues from 2017, including how to fund clean drinking water programs, procurement mandates for biomass, advancing state goals to achieve 100% renewable energy, and if California should restructure the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), in order to exchange energy with other states.  Additionally, the Senate will elect a new Senate Pro Tem as the incumbent, Sen. De Leon (D-Los Angeles), is termed out of office and running against U.S Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco). The change in leadership will rearrange the dynamics in the Capitol and the Almond Alliance is well positioned to advocate on these critical issues to ensure that your interests are protected.

Aside from legislative advocacy, I will also be working to strengthen the Capitol’s understanding of agricultural communities.  In California, over 80% of the population lives in urban areas. Our cities are dynamic hubs struggling with how to tackle major societal issues- the continued shrinking of the middle and working classes, lack of affordable housing, costly infrastructure- while trying to maintain harmony amongst diverse communities. If you visit our major cities, you will see “Farm to Fork” advertisements abound at restaurants and markets, however, for many urbanites and the legislators who represent them, there is still a disconnect between the food they consume and understanding how it was grown and produced. This is where the Almond PAC become essential in getting a seat at the table. We must be able to support legislators from both parties that are interested in our issues, will seek us out as primary source of expertise for our industry and discuss with their colleagues the value our industry provides to the state. I urge you all to consider a donation to the Almond PAC so that we can continue to have a seat at the table.

Finally, I am eager to meet and visit with the membership. I will be on the road and available to travel to you. Please contact me to arrange a meeting so I can hear firsthand how I can be your best advocate at ayork@almondalliance.org