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Colusa Farm Show: Brown vows to protect water
Dressed down in a red flannel shirt and tennis shoes at Wednesday's Colusa Farm Show alumni breakfast, Gov. Jerry Brown joked with his constituents in the largely Republican county after he received a standing ovation upon his arrival at the podium.
"I know you Republicans don't like to stand up for me, you did that on your own," said Brown, a Democrat. "The last time a Brown won Colusa County was in 1962. My dad (Edmund G. "Pat" Brown) was running against Dick Nixon, so thanks for that vote."
The governor — who is envisioning peripheral tunnels to help provide water to central and southern California farmers — told the packed crowd at St. Bernadette's Hall he is committed to water reliability.
"We'll protect the water in this county and anybody else in this state," said Brown, who owns 2,700 acres west of Williams in Colusa County.
Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Loma Rica, was also in attendance and said he appreciates Brown and that his word is good, but he doesn't support the governor's tunnel idea. Logue is instead a proponent of the proposed Sites Reservoir project in western Colusa County as a way to store water.
Logue said his priority is to "make sure we protect water in the north state."
As for his foes on the tunnel idea, Brown said he would advise them to "take a look at it."
"There are deep divisions between north and south, between farmers and environmentalists, those living in the Delta and those living further down south," Brown said after his speech. "But I intend to meet with all the groups, conduct a very intensive, prolonged and complete effort of involvement, listening and taking into account what people suggest.
"And I'm coming here to Northern California, I'm coming here a lot to make sure any concerns or objections can be handled."
At the breakfast, Brown recalled a previous attempt to stabilize the state's water resources — the controversial peripheral canal plan that would have sent water from north to south if it had been built.
"It wasn't close in Colusa," he said, where he said only 3.6 percent of the county voted for that proposal, Proposition 9 in 1982, which would have authorized building the canal.
Along with the proposed water tunnel, Brown touched on levee safety, saying that if levees in the Delta collapse, it would be a disaster and cost more than $100 billion to repair.
Also in attendance were first lady Anne Gust Brown and Karen Ross, secretary of the state Department of Food and Agriculture.
Rice grower urges consistency in crop rules
Bryce Lundberg said Wednesday at the Colusa Farm Show that there shouldn't be overlapping regulations on air, water and soil that could overwhelm farmers. The goal is to find a balance to ensure safe food and that compliance with customers.
Lundberg, vice president of agriculture at rice producer Lundberg Family Farms, was appointed to the 15-member California State Board of Food and Agriculture.
He praised farmers who have been able to adapt to changes with natural resources, such as rice farmers protecting wetlands or growers working with environmental groups.
"Isn't that the best way to handle it, so we have a win-win to those challenges?" Lundberg said. "It's so important for us in agriculture to tell our story in the north state in terms of providing jobs, food and habitat."
On his way out, Gov. Jerry Brown asked the Richvale rice farmer how to cook rice to make it firm and less mushy. Lundberg suggested using a clay pot and adding less water to make it "al dente."
Brown, first lady tour exhibits
Yuba City resident and farmer Karm Bains said he has known Gov. Jerry Brown his entire life.
Bains said his father, Didar Bains, was a supporter of Brown's father, former Gov. Edmund "Pat" Brown.
"There's ties that go back a couple generations," said Karm Bains, who accompanied Brown on a tour of the fairgrounds.
Joining the group on a leash, was Brown's dog, Sutter Brown, who mugged for a family picture on a John Deere tractor with Brown and first lady Anne Gust Brown.
The governor sampled prunes on the walk and won a hat by making a hole-in-one at the Les Schwab Tire Centers booth.
"He made it on his first try," said booth operator Joe Lamson, who works at the Gridley store.
The California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, the California State University, Chico College of Agriculture and alumni of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity hosted Wednesday's breakfast.
Mike Phelan, a Alpha member in Chico, said the fraternity brothers make time in their school schedules for the breakfast each year to support the college of agriculture and to update alumni on the chapter.
Each year, they give out a $1,000 scholarship to an incoming freshman studying agriculture.
"I was born and raised right here on Colusa County soil," Phelan, the opening speaker, told the audience.
His family raises cattle and grows almonds, rice and tomatoes.