City of Winters
Ag Economy & Food System
Don is committed to support for agriculture. A centerpiece of his service as a County Supervisor is a vibrant agricultural economy and a food system that supports both a healthy export economy and food security for our region. Don Saylor has engaged locally, regionally and nationally to build a stronger ag economy and food system and help farmers. He is a member of the Yolo Ag Food Alliance, the Sacramento Metro Chamber Food and Ag Team, and the National Association of Counties (NACo) Ag and Rural Affairs Steering Committee.
As a Yolo County Supervisor, Don Saylor works to make Agriculture the number one priority. Don championed land use policies to preserve and enhance long-term sustainability of agriculture including stringent agriculture mitigation requirements, minimum parcel sizes for subdivision, and other strategies. Yolo County has invested millions of General Fund dollars to maintain Williamson Act contracts even after the state withdrawal from the program.
Following are some of the highlights of our work to support the ag economy and build a robust food system in Yolo County and the Sacramento Region.
Yolo Food Connect - In early 2012, Don launched a coalition from across the spectrum of the food system to focus on improving the Yolo food system and agricultural economy and assuring healthy food for all Yolo residents. The group conducted a major Food Connect Summit in October 2012. Yolo Food Connect continues to conduct forums to address emerging hunger and food system issues and is now integrated with the Ag Food Alliance to build a strong and sustainable Food Policy group.
Yolo Ag and Food Alliance - Don serves as a member of the Yolo Ag & Food Alliance (Yolo AFA) that is committed to building a healthy ‘farm to every fork’ food system for Yolo County. Its membership is comprised of a balanced representation of interests focused on agriculture, food access, food security and food policy. This balanced membership is the result of the successful merger of two existing organizations, the Yolo Ag Futures Alliance and Yolo Food Connect.
Food Security at UC Davis - Don has actively supported Yolo County’s collaboration with UC Davis to increase CalFresh participation on campus. By strategically placing a county staff member on campus at key locations and times, we have been able to dramatically increase the number of students receiving benefits. An intern in Don’s office was integral in connecting UC Davis to the new FreshText service connects hungry residents with local food distribution. Through 211 Yolo’s countywide text platform a user opts-in and receives reminders of local free food distributions.
Rural Urban Connection Strategy in Action - Under Don’s leadership as Chair of SACOG in 2015, SACOG staff applied the Rural-Urban Connection Strategy (RUCS) toolkit at a local level in Yuba County and West Yolo County. The Rural-Urban Connection Strategy is a nationally recognized land-use and economic planning tool to support the regional agriculture economy. The case studies in Yuba and West Yolo Counties look at possible outcomes due to shifts in cropping patterns and associated water demand, crop production costs, financial return and local market demand. They have provided a tool for community members to use in future planning of economic development activities in rural communities. Don presented RUCS findings and methodologies to Congressional Agriculture Committee staff and to White House staff.
Food System Action Plan - SACOG served as a key partner to the Sacramento Region Community Foundation and Valley Vision in developing the Food System Action Plan to transform our regional food system, reduce hunger, and strengthen the regional ag economy. SACOG provided data analysis and prepared food access maps for this in-depth report with recommended actions to better connect locally-grown food with hungry community members.
Yolo/Solano Ag Economy Summit - Along with his colleagues, Yolo County Supervisor Chamberlain and Solano County Supervisors Mike Reagan and John Vasquez, Don co-chaired an economic summit on the agriculture and food industry. Subsequent to the summit, Don was a champion of the establishment of the Farmbudsman program dedicated to assisting farmers and ag-related businesses navigate the often confusing morass of regulations and requirements. The Farmbudsman program has been instrumental in several startup businesses and in assisting existing growers to expand their operations.