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May 7, 2010 Calif Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review

This year’s version of the card-check legislation, SB 1474 (Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento), was heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 3. The bill would amend the Agricultural Labor Relations Act to allow unionization of agricultural workers without an Agricultural Labor Relations Board-supervised vote, thus stripping agricultural workers of their present right to a secret-ballot vote and subjecting them to threats and intimidation in union election campaigns. There was no testimony in support, and the Committee referred the bill to the suspense calendar.

The Assembly passed AB 2612 (Committee on Agriculture) 71-0 on its consent calendar on Thursday, May 6th. This bill includes CFBF sponsored provisions to amend the California Organic Products Act to streamline the registration process and make a few technical changes to the Act. The proposed changes, once implemented by CDFA, will make organic registration easier for California certified organic farmers. By streamlining the registration process, CDFA will be able to focus its attention on enforcement to ensure products sold as organic are meeting the certification requirements. The bill now moves to the Senate.

AB 2240 (Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco), CFBF’s sponsored bill to provide additional funding for CDFA’s Market Enforcement Branch, also passed off the Assembly floor on Thursday with bipartisan support. The Branch is charged with ensuring stability in the agricultural marketplace and protecting against unfair business practices between producers, handlers, and processors of California farm products. The Branch’s primary activity is investigating complaints filed by farmers who are not properly paid for their California farm products. Rising costs to the Branch requires increased fees to ensure that it can continue operating. AB 2240 would increase the fees for: agents licensed under California’s dealers and processor laws from $35 to $55, the lowest category of licensees (purchasing volumes of less than $20,000) from $100 to $150, and filing informal complaints from $60 to $100. The bill now moves to the Senate.

AB 2304 (Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael) was heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee this week. The measure would identify "prime" groundwater recharge areas and provide protections for those areas. The author agreed to amendments that go a long way to addressing Farm Bureau concerns, but we remain opposed to the bill unless amended further. Farm Bureau and other agricultural interests have met with the author numerous times to address concerns. The bill passed out of the Assembly Local Government Committee.

AB 2336 (Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield), would require the Delta Stewardship Council to assess the adverse impacts of invasive species on native species in the Delta. In the course of developing and adopting the Delta Plan, the council would be required under this measure to evaluate predator


suppression options in the Delta and recommend changes in law and actions by state agencies. The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week. Farm Bureau is in support of the measure.

AJR 38 (Anna Caballero, D-Salinas; Jean, Fuller, R-Bakersfield; and Juan Arambula, I-Fresno), would request the U.S. Department of Interior to reconsider its decision to abandon implementation of the Two-Gates Fish Protection Demonstration Project. The Assembly Joint Resolution would also request Interior to restart the environmental review process and review the engineering design to construct the project in 2010. A special hearing on the Two-Gates resolution is set for Tuesday, May 11, in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. Farm Bureau has not yet taken a position.

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