The Farmbudsman program was officially launched in April 2013 to serve Solano and Yolo counties by assisting farmers, ranchers and agriculture-related businesses with various permitting processes, including assistance with agricultural permitting and standards as required by regulatory agencies. Both counties entered into an operating agreement with Solano Community College Small Business Development (SBDC) to administer the program. However, on July 1, 2016, Yolo County notified Solano County that they would be withdrawing from the joint county program; and on June 30, 2016, the SBDC was no longer hosted by Solano Community College. Today, the Farmbudsman program continues here in Solano County with Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation’s Northern California Small Business Development Center (Norcal SBDC) administering the program. Solano County anticipates the Farmbudsman program will help improve the viability of agriculture as an economic generator for the region.
The roots of an agricultural ombudsman concept can be traced back several years, including the incorporation of the position into the General Plans adopted by Solano County in 2008 and Yolo County in 2009. The Solano and Yolo Counties Joint Economic Summit in November 2011 was the impetus to bring the Farmbudsman program to fruition. Summit attendees identified the establishment of an agricultural ombudsman, aka Farmbudsman, as a key opportunity to enhance the value of agriculture within the two counties and decrease actual and perceived regulatory obstacles on agriculture-related businesses seeking to expand, enhance and/or maintain their operations.
On January 24, 2012, presentations were made to the respective meetings of the Solano County Board of Supervisors and Yolo County Board of Supervisors on the outcome of the Joint Economic Summit. Both Boards concurred with the concept of developing a public-private partnership to facilitate the establishment of an agricultural ombudsman program to serve existing and future agriculture-related businesses in both counties.
Between July 26, 2010, and June 21, 2012, the Yolo Agriculture and Food Alliance hosted a series of study sessions with interested stakeholders from the agriculture communities in Solano and Yolo counties, including representatives from the Farm Bureaus of the respective counties, to facilitate the development of the desired attributes of a Farmbudsman program and the public-private partnership to support the Farmbudsman program. Ultimately, it was determined that partnering with a SBDC could leverage federal, state and local resources for the Farmbudsman program. In addition to providing Farmbudsman-related services, the SBDC can provide resources that will enhance the agriculture entrepreneur’s business skills and to expand, enhance and/or maintain business operations.
The Boards of Supervisors in Solano and Yolo counties and the Solano Community College Board of Trustees adopted in January 2013 a joint operating agreement to fund and manage a Farmbudsman program that served Solano and Yolo counties. In October 2016, Solano County and the Solano Community College Board of Trustees adopted a joint operating agreement. Today, Solano County and the Norcal SBDC have an operating agreement to fund and manage a Farmbudsman program that serves Solano County.