(July 16) SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Despite proposed state funding cutbacks for its second year of operations, the Buy California program is on track to begin promoting the state’s agricultural bounty in mid-August.

The state had pledged $5 million a year for the first three years of the Buy California program, and it came through with the first installment for the fiscal year that just ended, said Ralph Watts, chief executive officer of Buy California.
But California, facing a deficit of $23 billion, has proposed to cut funding for the second year from $5 million to $1.5 million.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s not bleak,” Watts said. “We got the $5 million from the state this year, and we we got $20 million from the Feds, and then it looks like we’ll get nearly $2 million from the state again for the second year.”

Buy California is in the final planning stages for its mid-August launch at two events. One will be a kick-off function Aug. 20 in Los Angeles. The other will be at the California State Fair in Sacramento Aug. 22, where a building will be named Buy California.

The events will be accentuated by the launch of television and radio ads in the state promoting California’s agricultural products.

California authorized the Buy California program last fall to boost the state’s agriculture industry. It is designed to promote California products to California residents. In addition to the state’s pledge of $5 million per year, the program received $20 million in funding from a federal block grant, monies that currently are being used and will continue to be for several years.