In turbulent economic times, assessing a government agency’s effectiveness can be a trying task. Our nation’s and indeed the world’s recent financial history did more than force government to cut budgets; it forced many great industries to reinvent themselves. Fortunately for CDFA, the foundation was strong. Before the Great Recession and the ensuing fiscal turmoil that tied the world’s financial system and government in knots, the Little Hoover Commission’s California Performance Review issued a glowing assessment of CDFA’s condition and effectiveness, declaring the organization “the model of vertically integrated, customer focused and mission driven department this organizational framework hopes to replicate throughout state government.” The challenge, then, when faced with hard decisions to make about the allocation of decreased resources, was to ensure that we maintain our core mission and customer focus to effectively support a thriving agricultural sector.
When I joined Governor Jerry Brown’s administration in January 2011, the Department worked with stakeholders to prioritize services, eliminate redundancies, scale back important programs and, to the extent possible, minimize impacts of general fundreductions that were required to help stabilize the state’s fiscal situation. The process forced us to focus on our core mission and the most vital programs to ensure agricultural products can move to markets across county lines, throughout the country and around the globe. The result of this budget-cutting underscores the critical nature of our partnership with the federal government, county Agricultural Commissioners and the agricultural community to deliver services in the most efficient and effective way.
With the Governor’s leadership, the State of California is recovering and its budget is balanced. This is a good time for CDFA to take stock of its capabilities and achievements. Despite challenging times, the dedication and creativity of our staff ensures CDFA is positioned to help capture the promise of a very bright future. Agriculture has been a star in the economy and it is seeing fast-growing demand for its bountiful offering of consistently high-quality, safe products by local, national and international consumers.
This report is by no means a full account of the department’s activities, but it does take stock of many of our achievements over the past two years and offers a look ahead at the projects and developments that will carry us forward.