Garamendi Meets with his Agricultural, Veterans & Manufacturing Advisory Committees, Hosts Davis Open House
From left: Garamendi discusses water issues during his Agricultural Advisory Committee, Garamendi discussed homelessness at his Veterans Advisory Committee, Garamendi tours Marrone Bio Innovations during his Manufacturing Advisory Committee. (Click for larger images)
DAVIS, CA – Yesterday, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) met with three of his advisory committees that help him identify the needs of the 3rd District. He also held an open house at his Davis District Office for community members who wished to speak with the Congressman and his staff about a federal issue or to learn about services available to help them.
Agricultural Advisory Committee
Meeting at the Yolo County Farm Bureau in Woodland, Garamendi’s Agricultural Advisory Committee discussed a number of issues important to the 3rd District’s expansive farming community.
Perhaps not surprisingly given California’s historically severe drought, water was on the mind of just about everyone in the room. A number of specific concerns were raised, many of them concerning the need for better data from agencies and clearer direction on regulations and permitting. That so many different agencies have jurisdiction over water creates a complicated labyrinth that can be difficult for farmers to navigate.
“In many communities in this district, agriculture is practically the only economic engine. The drought is forcing fields fallow and causing a lot of lost profit and lost jobs,” Congressman Garamendi said. “While Congress is at an impasse on water policy, farmers in my district think it’s time to put partisanship aside for the good of every Californian. It’s time we focus on solutions that unite the state in common purpose, like water storage, conservation, and recycling. It’s time we put aside shameless water grabs that do nothing but make coming to a consensus more difficult.”
Other water issues discussed included concerns related to the Waters of the United States rule from the EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers, the next steps for the California water bond, the need for water storage, and pressures on water availability from the Central Valley and Southern California.
Several also expressed concern about the Export-Import Bank’s future. The Ex-Im Bank helps American businesses secure credit for exports and it’s a program widely used by California farmers trying to get their products to market overseas. Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans let the bank’s charter expire over the summer and have not taken up legislation to renew it, which is having a direct impact on American jobs.
Veterans Advisory Committee
Meeting at the Veterans’ Memorial Center in Davis, the Congressman’s Veterans Advisory Committee has expanded to include more service providers focused on the needs of the homeless, since veteran homelessness has been identified by the Committee as a key issue requiring more coordination and changes in policy.
It was a wide-ranging conversation that focused on a number of specific programs and obstacles. Toward the end of the conversation, Garamendi synthesized their concerns into five foundational issues:
- A lack of transitional and emergency facilities
- A lack of affordable housing for low and extremely low income families
- Federal homeless calculations that underestimate the need on the ground
- A lack of coordination and collaboration between agencies and providers
- A steady decline in federal support due to sequestration and the systematic rollback of the social safety net
In the 3rd District, there are approximately 3,000 counted homeless residents. The consensus among the service providers is that this figure is an undercount, since the Department of Housing and Urban Development counts the homeless population based on whether they have housing on a given day. Many in the homeless community can find temporary accommodations like couch surfing with friends and family. They are not considered homeless by federal standards, yet they lack a permanent home and could wind up on the street with little warning. This impacts calculations for distributions of federal grants.
“Competition does not breed collaboration” was a refrain echoed by many in attendance, both in terms of securing funding and in making sure that the needs of all homeless populations are met regardless of geography and original residence.
One concern brought up during the meeting was a national shift away from funding emergency and transitional shelter service providers. The lack of transitional and affordable housing throughout the region is putting undue pressure on shelters reserved for women and children facing abuse at home. Anecdotally, these service providers have seen families desperate for temporary shelter say what they need to say to secure beds reserved for victims of domestic abuse. This makes those beds in secure facilities less accessible for genuine victims of domestic abuse.
Rural shelters also report that they are seeing an influx of affordable and transitional housing taken up by residents from the Bay Area who can’t find housing in their own communities.
“I needed to hear this feedback, and I will take it back with me to Washington. I’m with you, but there are leaders nearby who don’t share the same concern for the homeless that I do,” Garamendi said. “My advice to you is this: organize; knock on office doors; demand action. We’re talking about veterans, domestic abuse victims, people whose homes were lost after a lost job or a horrific fire, people suffering from mental illness, and innocent kids thrown out on the street because of who they love. This should be an easy sell in Congress. I will do my part, but pressure breeds change.”
Manufacturing Advisory Committee
Following the Veterans Advisory Committee, Garamendi traveled to Marrone Bio Innovations in Davis to meet with his Manufacturing Advisory Committee.
Like at the Agricultural Advisory Committee, the recent expiration of the Import-Export Bank held heavy on the minds of the manufacturing leaders in attendance. The Bank enables American businesses to make their products more competitive in the international market by providing sufficient capital to market and export their goods. Its expiration is already leading to the loss of manufacturing and production jobs in America.
The conversation also touched extensively on the need for career technical education and “Make It In America policies” that ensure more of America’s taxpayer dollars are spent on goods and equipment made in America. Both are longtime priorities of the Congressman. Following the meeting, Garamendi and the Advisory Committee toured Marrone Bio Innovations, a company that produces more eco-friendly pesticides, including pesticides that don’t harm bees.
“I knew the Export-Import Bank would be discussed, but I’m not sure even I expected the reactions I heard today. Among the 3rd District’s business leaders, there is clearly a groundswell of concern,” Congressman Garamendi said. “While Congress seems eager to pass trade legislation that will lead to a rise in imports and a loss of American manufacturing jobs, I’d think we could at least get behind an effective program that helps export American products to foreign markets. The Ex-Im Bank’s expiration thanks to Congressional inaction was preventable, and there’s still time for action. I will take the concerns I heard from you to the Majority leadership and do everything I can to persuade them to have a change in heart.”
Davis Open House
Garamendi wrapped up the workday with an open house at his Davis District Office. Congressman Garamendi and his staff were on hand to hear constituents’ concerns about a variety of issues and to get the process started for constituents having issues with federal agencies. Every year, Congressman Garamendi’s office addresses hundreds of casework concerns, ranging from VA health benefits to visa issues to Social Security payments. Constituents who are having an issue with a federal agency should contact Garamendi’s office in Davis at (530) 753-5301, Fairfield at (707) 438-1822, or Yuba City at (530) 329-8865.