From Solano Economic Development Corp.:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to hear what Yolo and Solano county residents have to say on the types of programs and policies needed to support the counties’ rural areas.

The meeting, which is being called “a town hall listening session” on jobs, economic development, sustainability and rural development, will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Veterans Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th Street in Davis.

“I encourage people to come out and provide the administration the information they need so future policies will better reflect our interests,” said Supervisor John Vasquez, chairman of the Solano County Board of Supervisors.

The administration has asked for input on how to increase economic activity in the rural areas, including ideas on balancing efforts to increase the habitat value of current production agriculture and expanding the viability of local agricultural.

Attendees’ opinions will be collected and summarized in a policy report for President Obama to help the federal government develop strategies for policies and programs to help rural California.

Town hall participants and members of California’s state Legislature, congressional delegation and other interested parties will receive a copy of the final report.

This town hall meeting will serve as a prelude to a Yolo-Solano Agricultural Summit being planned for Spring 2010 to explore opportunities to grow the ag-related industry cluster.

“As there is increased pressure on local production agriculture from increased government regulation and foreign competition, I am pleased to see the Administration asking the experts in the field (literally) what they will require to continue to produce the abundant, high quality and affordable food that this nation needs,” said Supervisor Reagan.

“Also, we have both fertile ground and the secure water supply to grow a tremendous variety of crops, and we need to keep churning that value locally with more processing facilities and other value-added production,” Supervisor Reagan said.

Solano County completed in December 2007 a comprehensive study of its farms and ranch sector, which guided the development of the agriculture element of the 2008 General Plan and is being used in developing subsequent specific plans for the 10 distinct agricultural regions. Yolo County has completed a similar study of its agricultural industry.

“Solano EDC welcomes another opportunity to work cooperative with Solano and Yolo Counties to grow agriculture businesses and increase annual farm gate revenues creating new job opportunities,” said Mike Ammann, Solano EDC president.

The town hall meeting is sponsored by Yolo and Solano counties, the Solano Economic Development Corporation, UC Cooperative Extension of Yolo and Solano counties, the cities of Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland, the California Association of Local Economic Developers, and the U.S.D.A. California Rural Development.

More information is available by e-mailing Wes Ervin, Yolo County economic development manager, at Wes.ervin@yolocounty.org (use ‘Town Hall’ as the subject line) or calling (530) 666-8066. See also 2007 Solano County Agriculture Futures Study Recommendations.