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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review JUNE 29, 2007

Bills: SB 634-Williamson Act, SB 200,201,202-Food Safety, B 771-Seedless Citrus/Honey Bees, AB 1634-Pets Spaying and Neutering, AB 1100, SB 63-Cloning/Meat and Milk, SB 178-Groundwater Monitoring, AB 1338-Nonpoint Dischage Regulations, SB 719-Air Board Membership

A Farm Bureau-supported measure intended to reduce the spread of residential subdivisions on Williamson Act land did not have the votes to win approval in the Assembly Agriculture Committee, so the sponsors decided not to hear the bill. As a result, if SB 634 (Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa) should win passage next year, it will not be eligible to take effect until at least January 2009. Several county Farm Bureau leaders were planning to testify when it was determined that we did not have key Democrat support. Assembly Member Nicole Parra, chair of the Ag Committee, told the sponsors that the votes weren’t there for passage and they should consider making it a “two year bill.” Only Assembly Member Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) had indicated that he was aware of the abuses in the program and could support the modest clean-up measure. The other members of the committee were non-committal so the sponsors pulled the plug on the bill for this year.

County Farm Bureaus are strongly encouraged to document the continued applications by developers to subdivide contracted land into residential homesites so we can show the subdivision maps to Agriculture Committee members when the bill is heard again in January. We have plenty of examples to date, but it would be worthwhile to show the committee the consequences of its action. Needless to say, we are extremely disappointed that the state will have to endure thousands of more acres of Williamson Act land being cut up into rural ranchettes. Farm Bureau policy is extremely clear on this issue: loopholes in the Williamson Act cannot be tolerated and land uses that cause the cessation of commercial agricultural production on contracted land should not be allowed in agricultural preserves.

The Assembly Committee on Agriculture heard all three of Senator Florez’s (D-Shafter) food safety bills this week, none of his bills garnered the necessary votes to pass out of the committee. The Senator presented SB 202 first and a representative from Consumers Union testified in support of the bill. CFBF and Western Growers presented substantive testimony outlining our concerns with the trace back requirements included in the bill. Ultimately the members of the committee voted 4-2 against the bill. Assembly Member Jones and Assembly Member Mendoza were the only members who voted for the bill. Assembly Member Jones pointed out that he would vote for SB 202 because it was the least onerous of the three bills that Senator Florez was bringing before the committee.

Senator Florez presented SB 201 and expected to have witnesses to support this bill. However, the Consumers Union representative had already left the hearing room and no one was there to testify in support. Again CFBF and Western Growers presented testimony explaining the problems with putting growing standards in statute. CFBF explained that if the bill passed, and future scientific research

recommended changes in growing practices, growers could be required to pay a fee to comply with the current and best growing practices because government would not be able to make changes to the requirements at the speed necessary. Senator Florez wanted to take the bill up for a vote to make sure that all the committee members went on record with their votes, however the bill did not even receive a motion, therefore a vote was not taken and the bill remains held in committee.

SB 200 received the same treatment as SB 201, still no witnesses presented testimony in support and the bill was held in the committee because it did not receive a motion. The California Cattlemen’s Association and the California Chamber of Commerce also voiced their opposition to all three bills. Senator Florez chastised the committee for failing to act by saying that it sends a message that committee members are "willing to wait for another death, another injury, another sickness." Assembly Member Parra shot back that if the Senator wanted to blame someone he should not blame the committee, he should only blame her. After the hearing, at the Senator’s obligatory impromptu press conference he called the committee members cowards for failing to act on his bills.

CFBF was pleased to see the committee send a clear message that it supported the Marketing Agreement. In fact Assembly Member Galgiani stated that she wanted to give the Marketing Agreement a chance to work before trying a different approach. SB 200, SB 201, and SB 202 now become two-year bills and CFBF will continue to watch for any movement both at the end of session and next year.

AB 771 (Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles) was amended today, June 29th. The bill now gives the Secretary of CDFA the authority to appoint members to a working group to address the coexistence issues between seedless citrus and honey bees. If the working group is unsuccessful at developing a solution by February 15, 2008, then the Secretary is required to create emergency regulations for the 2008 bloom season to protect seedless citrus from cross pollination. The bill also allows the Secretary (but does not require) to create permanent regulations to address the issue of cross pollination and to adopt fees to pay for the cost of the program. These fees are to be paid by the beneficiaries of the program. CFBF is unable to remove its opposition to AB 771 because there is no clear right to farm protection included in the legislation and the mandarin growers are not clarified as the initial fee payers to fund the cost of the program. The amended bill will be up for vote in the Senate Agriculture Committee on July 3rd.

AB 1634 (Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys) has been set for a hearing before the Senate Local Government Committee on July 11th. The bill was originally double referred to the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee and the Local Government Committee, but yesterday the bill was removed from the Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee. CFBF remains opposed to AB 1634, which would require the spaying and neutering of all dogs and cats over the age of six months.

Both of the bills requiring labeling of meat and milk products from cloned animals or their offspring passed out of the respective Health Committees this week on party line votes. CFBF has significant concerns with requiring labeling of a product that is no different from its conventional counterpart. Mandatory labeling of cloned product will ultimately act to ban the technology due to increased identification and tracking costs. CFBF testified in opposition to both bills explaining the problems with state level labeling requirements and the negative impacts this bill would have on the development of beneficial technology. CFBF is opposed to both AB 1100 (Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City) and SB 63 (Carole Migden, D-San Francisco).

SB 178 (Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento) will be heard Tuesday, July 3rd in the Assembly Water Parks and Wildlife Committee. This bill would enact a statewide groundwater monitoring and reporting mandate. An identical measure was vetoed by the Governor last year. Farm Bureau is opposed.

AB 1338 (Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael) is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on Monday, July 2nd. This bill would create a duplicative regulatory program in California’s Coastal Zone, under which local governments and the Coastal Commission would regulate nonpoint discharges which are already regulated by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Farm Bureau is opposed to the bill.

SB 719 (Mike Machado, D-Linden) expands the current San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control Governing Board from 11 to 15 members. While two of the members would be elected representative from valley city councils, SB 719 requires the Governor to appoint two public members, subject to Senate confirmation with medical expertise. It would be nice if it was this simple. Adding two medical representatives on the SJV air board’s governing board will NOT clean the air. It only allows two individuals to make important decisions without any accountability to the voters of the eight SJV counties.

SB 719 passed out of the Assembly Local Government Committee on a partisan 5-2 vote. The SJVUAPCD is opposed to SB 719, as are many of the SJV counties. It is clear that the debacle over the SJV air plan and the firing of the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board will add fuel to this debate. CFBF opposes.
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