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http://www.capitalpress.info/main.asp?SectionID=94&SubSectionID=801&ArticleID=34613&TM=40153.91

Farm Bureau challenges seven bills

Elizabeth Larson, Capital Press 8/21/07

The California Farm Bureau said it and its members plan to fight a number of bills moving through the state Legislature that will harm family farmers and ranchers.

A statement issued by the California Farm Bureau said the organization already has delivered letters to legislators about seven bills that it says will make it more difficult for farmers to provide "safe, affordable food and farm products in a sustainable manner."

"Consumers depend on California farmers and ranchers for the products they need every day, and farmers depend on state government to establish policies that allow us to thrive," California Farm Bureau President Doug Mosebar said in a written statement. "Family farmers and ranchers will make sure our policymakers understand how these proposals would harm us."

The Farm Bureau statement urged legislators to vote down the following seven bills:

- Senate Bill 180 (Migden, D-San Francisco): Strips farm employees of their right to a secure, secret-ballot election by substituting an unprotected process known as "majority sign-up election."

- SB 719 (Machado, D-Linden): Undermines government accountability by expanding the San Joaquin Unified Air Pollution Control Board to include appointed members who would be neither accountable to district residents nor elected by constituents.

- SB 974 (Lowenthal, D-Long Beach): Threatens the business climate by imposing new taxes on all containerized cargo moving through California ports, with the resulting increase in shipping costs putting the state's farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage.

- Assembly Bill 8 (Nez, D-Los Angeles): Imposes a tax on farmers, ranchers and other small employers to fund health-care coverage for those who do not purchase it themselves.

- AB 377 (Arambula, D-Fresno): Holds farmers responsible for illegal activities of farm labor contractors, over which farmers have no control, by requiring contractors to disclose on employees' pay stubs the name and address of the farm that secured the contractor's services;

- AB 1100 (Ruskin, D-Redwood City) and SB 63 (Migden, D-San Francisco): Threatens the availability of production practices by requiring meat or milk from cloned animals or their progeny to be labeled, essentially banning new technology with benefits to farmers, ranchers and consumers.

Sandy Elles, executive director of the Napa County Farm Bureau, said protecting agriculture-friendly business is always a consideration for the organization.

In Napa County, she said they're concerned about the progress of SB 180, which limits farmworker voting rights in the process of voting for labor union representation.

She said she hopes the bill doesn't pass the legislature because the democratic and fundamental right of elections needs to be protected.

The Farm Bureau reported that it will tabulate legislators' votes on each of the priority bills and will keep track of those votes on its legislative scorecard, which is meant to help constituents evaluate their individual representatives.

Elizabeth Larson is based in Lucerne. E-mail: elarson@capitalpress.com.
 

 
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