Legislative spending can be one of the most effective ways to bring about positive change, particularly when it comes to specific sectors of the economy. President and CEO of California Citrus Mutual Casey Creamer described a need for the agriculture industry to become more politically active. At the recent California Citrus Conference, Creamer pointed out that other industries are outperforming agriculture in political engagement.
“Agriculture and forestry on a 2020 level in legislative spending, altogether we were 14th in California of all the major industries,” Creamer noted. “If you’re frustrated about what’s happening, and it’s tough to get the attention of the Legislature and the regulators, well this is one measure of where we fit in the chain in the eyes of the Legislature even though California agriculture is still one of the dominant industries here. Our political activity doesn’t match our economic activity.”
Other sectors of the economy have been ramping up legislative spending to help create a less burdensome regulatory environment for their industries. Creamer noted that while teachers, realtors, and prison guards have been increasing political spending, “agriculture has stayed pretty stagnate.” Making strategic investments in political opportunities will be a critical consideration moving forward.
While increasing legislative spending may be a challenge for producers already struggling with rising costs, the alternative could create even bigger issues. Creamer explained that increasing regulatory burdens and continually rising costs of production can be somewhat tied to a lack of engagement on behalf of agriculture. As producers look for ways to improve their individual operations, collectively engaging regulators and legislators could ultimately prove to be more beneficial.
“The disconnect between the Legislature and regulators from what’s happening on the ground, people are feeling defeated and a little bit disenchanted with how things are going in California,” said Creamer. “[We need to] be more politically involved, not less politically involved if we want to turn the tide and continue to be successful in California moving forward.”