Turning his attention specifically to his constituents, Laird notes that he represents a wide swath of ag producers from some of the largest growers in the state in the Salinas Valley to mom-and-pop farms in Santa Cruz. He believes agriculture is vital to his district and to the state’s economy and believes urban and agricultural California can coexist. “Agriculture is always going to criticize over-regulation and to some extent they are right,” he said. “My goal is to support agriculture. One way I can try to do that is with water. Agriculture needs an adequate water supply in the state.” Laird said money from the state budget and the water bond passed several years ago have allocated resources toward that goal, but the construction of those major projects is ongoing and water storage capacity has yet to be increased. He did point out that a water recycling project on the Pajaro River Watershed has resulted in increased water storage for local farmers. On another ag front, the state senator pointed with pride to his role
in securing more funds in the most recent state budget for agricultural research by the University of California. Laird said that over the years the agricultural research budget has shrunk, and it is his goal to return it to prior levels where research can help solve some of the issues California agriculture faces. One such issue is an ongoing and worsening labor shortage that sees growers struggling to get their crops harvested. While immigration reform is a federal issue, Laird believes the state should lobby Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which would address that issue. He did note that the advent of the Biden Administration has made it a bit easier for California to be heard, but noted that Congress is still gridlocked with progress on a host of issues difficult at best. Interviewed on the day that the U.S. Senate passed a bi-partisan infrastructure bill (August 10), Sen. Laird expressed hope that California would see some of those dollars allocated for the state’s most pressing transportation issues.
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