Family farmers urge action on key bills
» August 22, 2005 «
An aggressive public affairs and political program by California family farmers and ranchers has identified 11 bills as top priorities, as the Legislature returned for the final stretch of the 2005 session. The California Farm Bureau Federation outlined the bills in letters presented to state legislators.
"When Farm Bureau issued its Protecting California Family Farms plan this spring, we made it clear to legislators that voters expect them to maintain our state's unique agricultural resource," Farm Bureau President Bill Pauli said. "Now, our members will mobilize to tell legislators how specific votes on specific bills will help or harm family farms.
"Protecting family farms and ranches benefits California consumers," he said. "Voters understand that. In a statewide public opinion survey we commissioned in May, California voters overwhelmingly supported family farmers and said they want farmers to stay in business."
Individual legislators' votes on each of the key bills will be included in the Farm Bureau legislative scorecard, which will describe which legislators have-and have not-voted to protect California family farms and will be used as a tool for California voters to evaluate their political representation. The scorecard will be released in October.
Pauli said the Farm Bureau would urge its members to contact legislators in support of the following three bills:
- Assembly Bill 1059 (Matthews, D-Tracy): Improves availability of agricultural production practices by streamlining registration of new crop-protection tools;
- AB 1061 (Agriculture Committee): Improves the business climate for family farmers by simplifying resolution of payment disputes between farmers and crop buyers;
- Senate Bill 453 (Poochigian, R-Fresno): Enhances rural communities by extending the successful Central Valley Rural Crime Prevention Program.
Farm Bureau members will urge legislators to oppose the other bills on the organization's list:
- AB 48 (Lieber, D-Mountain View): Erodes the competitive position of California family farms by giving California the highest minimum wage in the nation;
- AB 805 (Chu, D-Monterey Park): Imposes arbitrary standards for heat-illness prevention; Gov. Schwarzenegger has implemented emergency regulations to address this issue;
- AB 1058 (Koretz, D-Hollywood): Erodes consumer confidence in food safety by creating a California-only beef-labeling program, in an unnecessary reaction to recent U.S. cases of the cattle disease BSE;
- Senate Bill 109 (Ortiz, D-Sacramento): Doubles the already large potential civil penalties for air-quality violations and allows imposition of criminal penalties on top of civil penalties;
- SB 646 (Kuehl, D-Santa Monica): Imposes mandatory, annual fees for water-quality discharge waivers; changes monitoring and reporting standards without improving environmental protection;
- SB 820 (Kuehl, D-Santa Monica): Institutes new groundwater-reporting requirements-accompanied by new fees and penalties-without benefiting state water planning;
- SB 905 and SJR 16 (Machado, D-Linden): Creates unjustified uncertainties in food safety by allowing "BSE-tested" labels for beef tested by private companies that are not licensed or approved by the proper government agency;
- SB 999 (Machado, D-Linden): Undermines government accountability by adding four members to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District board, two that would not be accountable to district residents.
This list of key legislation and Farm Bureau's positions may be revised as bills are amended.
The California Farm Bureau Federation, the state's largest farm organization, works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of its 87,000 members statewide. The "Protecting California Family Farms" plan and public opinion survey can be found at www.cfbf.com/familyfarms.
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