Between now and Sept. 13, the state Legislature must take final action on hundreds of bills. As the Assembly returns to Sacramento this week, with the Senate to follow next week, our policy specialists at the California Farm Bureau Federation will be working hard to advance legislation that helps family farms and ranches—while working equally hard to fend off bills that harm California agriculture.
We're tracking dozens and dozens of bills at any given time, but here are several that we consider key.
Farm Bureau supports this legislation that would help family farms:
Assembly Bill 8 and Senate Bill 11 extend funding for air quality improvement programs until 2024. One program popular with farmers and ranchers, known as the Carl Moyer Program, provides incentives to purchase cleaner engines, equipment and emission-reduction technology. Authorization of the program's funding will expire in 2015 unless extended. AB 8, by Assembly members Henry Perea of Fresno and Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, passed the Assembly and awaits committee action in the Senate. SB 11, by Senators Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills and Anthony Cannella of Ceres, passed the Senate and will be heard next by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.
AB 909, a CFBF-sponsored bill, expands the ability of law enforcement agencies to focus on fighting an epidemic of metal theft and ensures that existing laws for reducing the problem are enforced by creating a Metal Theft Task Force. This is follow-up legislation to a Farm Bureau-sponsored bill passed in 2008 that improved recordkeeping requirements for junk dealers and recyclers, and changed the way most payments are made for scrap metal. But more needs to be done to slow the rash of metal theft. AB 909, by Adam Gray of Merced, awaits action in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
SB 749 extends a critical component of the California Endangered Species Act. Known as the "accidental take" provision, it protects farmers and ranchers who unknowingly affect endangered species through routine and ongoing agricultural activities. The accidental-take provision complements an "incidental take" provision, under which farmers and ranchers develop specific habitat enhancement programs and receive an allowance for the potential incidental take of a species. SB 749, by Lois Wolk of Davis, would extend the accidental-take provision to 2020. It awaits action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Farm Bureau opposes this legislation that would harm family farms: