Class XXXI of the California Agricultural Leadership Program is spearheading an effort to establish a special interest California license plate supporting California agriculture.

Central San Joaquin Valley state senators Jim Costa and Charles Poochigian are carrying legislation to establish the “Ag Tag,” according to Ag Leadership Class 31 member Tim Vaux of Fresno.

Fresno artist Jim Armstrong designed the tag, said another Class 31 member Jerry DiBuduo.

“We need a broad base of support from agriculture for the Ag Tag,” said DiBuduo. “The Senate has a policy that no new ‘special interest plates’ will be approved because of the failure of several plates to meet the current standard. Currently, you must sell 7,500 plates before even one plate will be distributed.”

Already several organizations, including the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, The California Table Grape Commission, California Citrus Mutual, The California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, California Women for Agriculture, Western Growers Association and others are supporting it.”

“We also need the support of individuals in agriculture. We need to show the state senate that we can sell more than 7,500 plates,” said DiBuduo.

“Agriculture has a great story to tell and a great product to sell. This special interest license plate program can do nothing but to help remind Californians of its special story,” said Richard Matoian, president of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League. “Furthermore, benefits from the sale of the license plate will assist two extremely worthwhile organizations — Ag in the Classroom and the Ag Leadership Program.”

Procedures for purchasing the Ag Tag license plates would be similar to the procedure used for “vanity” plates. The initial Ag Tag plate order will cost $50. Each year, the vehicle's registration would include an additional $40 charge to maintain the plate.

“This $40 would be sent to the designated groups, Ag in the Classroom and the Ag Leadership Program,” said DiBuduo.

The goal, said DiBuduo is to sell 10,000 plates, and if that goal is met $400,000 would be available to these groups. “There are 89,000 commercial farms in California and we need fewer than 10 percent to purchase the plate to exceed the state requirement,” he pointed out.

“We believe we have a rare opportunity to show pride in California agriculture and to benefit some great programs in California,” said DiBuduo.