California Gov. Gray Davis has announced creation of a campaign designed to increased consumption of California agricultural products among the state's consumers.

Called Buy California, the program was developed by the Governor's Task Force on Central Valley Agriculture in conjunction with the California Agricultural Issues Forum. The Forum is composed of fruit and vegetable commodity organizations.

Kathleen Nave of the California Table Grape Commission headed the effort on behalf of both groups.

Nave said that the goal of Buy California is to create a multi-commodity generic marketing campaign that will create a point of differentiation for retailers and consumers during competitive periods when there is a choice between local California product and product from competing sources.

“The increased competition that California growers face from imports — both foreign and from other states — is well documented,” Nave said, “as is the negative impact that competition has had on the agricultural economy of the state. This campaign will be designed to increase consumer demand and motivate retailers in the state to carry and promote California agricultural products more often.”

According to Nave, the program will be implemented through a voluntary marketing agreement operated under the direction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “Nonprofit organizations that represent growers and shippers will be able to sign up on behalf of those growers to help create - and fund - the program. And the retail industry has agreed to serve in an advisory capacity to help create the program.”

Nave said that while promotion of individual commodities will continue to be needed on a national and international level, California merits an extra, multi-commodity, effort.

“California is the most populous state in the union and, by some estimates, the fourth largest economy in the world,” she said. “We have a huge consuming public here. It is time to create a voluntary, multi-commodity consumer education marketing campaign; a campaign that reminds Californians that by buying local product they are building the state's economic base, supporting the farm community, and getting the best product available.”

“With the Governor's support and the retail industry's willingness to work with grower groups, we have an extraordinary opportunity to increase demand for California farm products in a multi-commodity fashion,” said Nave.