FAIRFIELD — Solano and Yolo counties will team up to start a farming ombudsman program that they hope will result in more local agricultural jobs.
The program is to initially last until 2015. Measures of success are increasing agricultural project approvals by 20 percent in each county, adding 500 agriculture-related jobs in each county and adding five agriculture processors in each county, a Solano County report said.
What is called the “farmbudsman” program grew out of a November 2011 summit between Yolo and Solano counties that looked at agriculture from a regional perspective. The “farmbudsman” will be a consultant who helps farmers, ranchers and agricultural-related businesses navigate various permitting requirements.
This is the item that kept coming to the top at the agricultural summit, Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez said. Not only did the county want it, but also the farmers and ranchers, he said.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously agreed to spend up to $27,000 annually on the program, with Yolo County doing the same. They will work through the Solano Community College Small Business Development Center, which will contract with the consultant and provide office space.
Each year, the Solano Community College Small Business Development Center will provide a report that includes such items as a list of clients served by the program and the licenses and the permits that the program helped clients obtain.
Solano County had a farm adviser similar to the ombudsman position from 2008 to 2009. The position got cut because of county budget problems.
The 2008 Solano County General Plan update calls for the county to have an agricultural ombudsman or planner.
“The planner would possess knowledge of the special needs of agriculture in the county and experience navigating the planning, conservation and development processes,” the 2008 General Plan said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.