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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review

JUNE 22, 2007 

AB 1223-Electrical Generation
SB 200,201,202-Food Safety
AB 771-Seedlees Citrus

AB 1223, by Assemblymember Juan Arambula (D-Fresno), provides incentives for investment in electrical generation on farm operations by allowing agricultural customers using solar or wind self-generation to aggregate electric accounts for purposes of net metering. The bill was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee on June 19, but the hearing was postponed until July 3rd due to opposition. Aggregated accounts must all be owned by the same customer and located on property adjacent to or contiguous to the generation facility. Opposition is coming from PG&E and San Diego Gas & Electric Company. Some committee members do not understand the unique character of agricultural operations, which often require why farmers have multiple accounts. Contact from Farm Bureau members with any members of the committee would help the bill at this stage. A phone call or email could make a difference. Committee members are: Christine Kehoe, Chair (San Diego); Bob Dutton, Vice Chair (Inland Empire); Jim Battin (Palm Desert); Ronald Calderon (Montebello); Dave Cox (Fair Oaks); Alex Padilla (Pacoima); Mark Ridley-Thomas (Los Angeles); Joe Simitian (Palo Alto); Patricia Wiggins (Santa Rosa). Much of the committee is urban based, but it would help those with rural connections to receive affirmation about the importance of this issue to agricultural customers.

The Assembly Rules Committee referred Senator Dean Florez’s (D-Shafter) food safety bills to both the Assembly Committee on Agriculture and the Assembly Health Committee this week. SB 200, SB 201, and SB 202 will be heard first by the Assembly Committee on Agriculture on June 27th. CFBF remains opposed to all three bills and instead supports the industry driven leafy green marketing agreement, which was created to reduce the risk of food borne illness by providing the necessary regulation of the leafy green industry.

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a lengthy hearing on AB 771 (Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles) on Tuesday. This bill allows growers of seedless mandarin varieties in Madera, Fresno, Kern, and Tulare counties to form two-mile buffer zones around their properties for the 2008 season. Honey bees would be banned from these buffer zones for the bloom period of the seedless citrus trees. The bill also requires the California Department of Food and Agriculture to develop regulations by 2009 to control honey bees in areas with seedless citrus plantings. Assembly Member De Leon ultimately
decided to make the hearing an informational one and did not ask for a vote. Instead the bill will be taken up for a vote at the committee’s next hearing, scheduled for July 3rd.

California Citrus Mutual testified in support of the bill and included rather inflammatory comments that suggested payments made by citrus growers to beekeepers as mitigation for lost honey revenue would equate to extortion payments made to a terrorist organization. Individual citrus growers, the California Grocer’s Association, Nisei Farmer’s League, and Paramount Farms also testified in support of the bill. Individual bee keepers, citrus growers, the California Seed Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, and the California State Beekeepers Association all testified in opposition. Senator Florez pressed the opposition witnesses on the reasons for our opposition and the actions we are taking to solve the problem. He spoke of a need to protect large farmers from negative impacts caused by smaller farmers. CFBF is working with California Citrus Mutual to develop amendments that would give CDFA the authority to create a working group to address the issue and create regulations if necessary

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