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Councilman trip concerned local topics

New bill won’t affect small growers
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A recent meeting in Washington, D.C. included talks of Auburn issues. Councilman Mike Holmes said Wednesday he had several reasons for making the trip. “There were two reasons,” Holmes said. “One, we have a request in for some funding for an Electric Street Stormwater Diversion Project, which is currently at Sen. (Barbara) Boxer’s office. (The funding request) is still in the mix for possible inclusion in some legislation. It looks less likely there will be any bill produced this year. The other reason I went was to try to get some movement on saving the Auburn State Recreation Area.” Holmes said the city hopes the stormwater diversion project would stop flooding in Old Town during significant storms. “The idea is to capture some of that stormwater runoff and divert it into the canyon,” Holmes said. “We have requested $2 million (in federal funding). If it does get authorized, there may be initial funding for a study.” Holmes said he spoke with staff members in the offices of Congressman Tom McClintock, Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The three will be meeting after Labor Day to discuss the Auburn State Recreation Area. “I got positive indication that they are going to work together to try to get … the (U.S.) Bureau of Reclamation to provide some more stable funding to keep the Auburn State Recreation Area open to the public,” Holmes said. The funding would allow the bureau to contract with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to keep rangers in the area to enforce laws. Holmes said he also encouraged the politicians to provide the Bureau of Reclamation with enough funding to contract with Cal Fire for insurance so that if a fire should break out in the American River Canyon, the federal government would be protected. Although Cal Fire would always respond to a fire in the canyon, the insurance policy would offer Auburn residents more reassurance that everything was being done to protect the local land and community, Holmes said. Holmes said he also analyzed Senate Bill 510 during his time in Washington. The bill is connected to several recent national food recalls. “This bill would allow or permit the (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration to work hand in hand with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to place additional requirements on the food industry,” Holmes said. Holmes said he was given assurance that small Placer County food growers who sell their crops directly to consumers at farmers markets would be exempt from this particular bill, because it is directed more toward the national food companies. Placer County Agricultural Commissioner Christine Turner said food produced by large companies goes through a long chain of control before it gets to the consumer, which results in a higher risk that there could be problems with that food. However, consumers who buy directly from Placer County small growers know where their food is coming from, so risk is very small, Turner said. Joanne Neft, who started the Foothill Farmers Market 20 years ago and has been an advocate of farmers and ranchers since then, said after researching how large commercial companies raise their animals, she will only eat locally grown food. “I know the face of every producer that I buy all my fruit, and vegetables and meat from,” Neft said. “I know they are feeding their families and their customers food that is healthy. They are eating it themselves. They are not going to feed their family and neighbors unhealthy food.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com