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 APRIL 28, 2006  California Farm Bureau Friday Review

AB 1924 (Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood) failed passage out of the Assembly Water, Parks,
and Wildlife Committee this week on a 7 to 8 vote. Democratic Assembly Members Joe Baca,
Barbara Matthews, and Nicole Parra joined all committee Republicans to defeat the bill.
Originally this bill would have banned the taking of bird nests even after they had been
abandoned unless the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) certified that the nest had been
permanently abandoned.

Realizing that there was significant opposition, the author proposed amendments to the bill in the
Committee. These amendments created a list of 18 birds that would have had permanent
protection of their nests, unless DFG certified that they had been permanently abandoned. Mr.
Koretz would really like to see this bill get out of committee and even after the final vote was
cast he was still proposing amendments to remove the opposition. CFBF remains staunchly
opposed to this measure due to concerns over private lands management and common bird nests.
The bill was granted reconsideration and CFBF will remain vigilant to ensure that this language
is not amended into another bill later in the legislative session.

Farm Bureau and a broad coalition of other agricultural organizations defeated a bill that would
have increased the fertilizer mill assessment 1,300 percent. AB 2443 (Johan Klehs, D-San
Leandro) was recently amended to drop the proposed repeal of the sales tax exemption on
agricultural fertilizers and instead increase the mill assessment. The increase from $0.003 to
$0.042 per dollar of all fertilizer sales would raise $30M in order to fund additional research and
education regarding the use of fertilizers and fund a new grant program in the Department of
Health Services (DHS). The DHS grants would have gone to communities with nitrate
contaminated groundwater for purposes of assessing safe drinking water supplies.

We testified as to the efficacy of already existing Fertilizer Research and Education Program
(FREP) that is industry funded through a mill assessment paid by fertilizer manufacturers and
distributors. The California Department of Food and Agriculture has administered the FREP for
over 16 years with nearly $7M funding over 100 research projects, a third of which have dealt
specifically with irrigation and nitrate issues. The current program has also provided an
educational outreach program through the creation and implementation of best management
practices on plant production techniques throughout California on scores of food and ornamental
crops. AB 2443 would have singled out agriculture for a problem that is known to be result of
numerous contributing factors, including septic systems and municipal waste water disposal. It
would have constituted a punitive tax on farmers. The bill was defeated in the Assembly
Committee on Agriculture on a vote of 3 to 5.
 
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