CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU’S LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
September 17, 2013
Agriculture Legislation Goes To Governor
Both the CA Assembly and Senate had their final sessions of the 2013 legislative session ending late Thursday night, September 12th, sending the following approved bills, among others, on to enrollment (the final copy of a bill that has passed both Houses in identical form) and then to the Governor for his action. The Governor will have until October 13th to sign or veto bills passed by the legislature and in his possession.
AB 1165 changes current law so that reduction of a serious, willful, or repeated violation of a Cal/OSHA standard cannot be delayed by an appeal by the employer. Farm Bureau and other employer groups are opposed.
AB 199 encourages state institutions to purchase California grown agricultural products. Originally, the bill would have required state institutions to purchase California grown agricultural products as long as the price was within five percent of out of state agricultural products. However, the bill was narrowed to only require the purchase, to the extent possible. Farm Bureau supports.
SB 726 was a last minute gut and amend that would have allowed the California Air Resources Board unfettered authority to require reductions of black carbon (soot) on all major business sectors, including agriculture. The governor's office responded to Farm Bureau’s strong opposition and worked to remove the language that contained the new regulatory authority that would have severely impacted California growers.
Black carbon is a component of particulate matter, that is already being reduced from the extensive regulations such as the Truck Rule and the upcoming "tractor rule" that will eventually be implemented in the San Joaquin Valley. Further regulations beyond what is already in place, could go as far as banning the use of fossil fuel in certain instances. With the onerous amendments removed, Farm Bureau and the majority of state's business community removed their opposition.
The Governor has indicated he will sign AB 10 to substantially hike the California minimum wage. September 11 amendments to AB 10 changed the bill from gradually increasing minimum wages in four increments to $10 per hour by January 1, 2018, to instead increase the minimum wage to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014 and to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016. CFBF and others representing employers oppose AB 10.
SB 749 will extend the sunset for the provision that allows accidental take for ongoing and routine farming and ranching activities under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). It makes three key clarifications that include 1) when the administrative record is closed for purposes of listing species under CESA; 2) when lease revenues generated from agricultural leases on lands owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife are deposited, it will ensure that these revenues can be used to support the maintenance and operations of the Department's lands; and 3) farmers transferring water can maintain non-irrigated cover crops so long as the water used by those crops does not diminish the amount being transferred. SB 749 was recently amended to also extend the sunset of the Department's Coho recovery planning process. This bill is co-sponsoredby Farm Bureau, the California Cattlemen's Association, and the California Waterfowl Association.
AB 1038 did not qualify for enrollment and will not go to the Governor. AB 1038 would have established a California Dairy Future Task Force at the California Department of Food and Agriculture to review and recommend changes to the State's milk pricing system as well as the challenges the dairy industry is facing. This bill was introduced in response to both the fiscal situation dairies are facing and the value of whey under the State's milk pricing system. AB 1038 is a vehicle that could have been used to implement any compromise agreements between dairy producers and processors about milk pricing going forward. However, ultimately no proposal was developed that both sides could embrace. Farm Bureau supportedthe legislation.