Eight bills emerge as Farm Bureau's legislative priorities
» August 10, 2006 «
A healthy business climate and efficient government services are as important to California family farmers and ranchers as good soil, favorable weather and farming know-how. To help farmers and ranchers continue to provide affordable, top-quality products to consumers, the state's largest farm organization has identified eight bills as priorities for action in the state Legislature.
The California Farm Bureau Federation outlined its position on the bills in letters delivered to state legislators, as they returned for the final month of the 2005-06 session.
"California consumers benefit every day from the affordable farm products and environmental stewardship generated on farms and ranches," California Farm Bureau President Doug Mosebar said. "To continue producing safe, reliable food, family farmers and ranchers need a regulatory environment that rewards stewardship and protects the farming way of life. Our members tell us they find it increasingly difficult to stay competitive."
Legislators' votes on each of the priority bills will be tabulated for the Farm Bureau legislative scorecard, which will help voters evaluate their individual representatives in the state Assembly and Senate.
Mosebar said Farm Bureau will encourage members to contact legislators in favor of the following bills:
* Assembly Bill 1128 (Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo): Improves government accountability by updating voting rules for members of regional water quality control boards;
* Senate Bill 775 (Cox, R-Fair Oaks): Enhances the business climate by developing a cost-effective local agency to oversee water-rights enforcement in Northern California;
* SB 1056 (Florez, D-Shafter; Matthews, D-Tracy; Maze, R-Visalia): Protects availability of production practices by clarifying and reinforcing the state's oversight role for seeds and nursery stock to be planted on California farms.
Farm Bureau members will urge legislators to oppose the following priority bills:
* AB 32 (Núñez, D-Los Angeles; Pavley, D-Agoura Hills): Undermines the business climate by capping greenhouse-gas emissions on electricity generation, oil production and other sources; will lead to higher costs for crucial farm supplies;
* AB 1835 (Lieber, D-Mountain View): Makes California farms and ranches less competitive by giving California the highest minimum wage in the nation;
* SB 646 (Kuehl, D-Santa Monica): Imposes mandatory, annual water-quality fees and increases the cost of monitoring and reporting without improving environmental protection;
* SB 1205 (Escutia, D-Whittier): Increases fines for air-quality violations and significantly expands the reasons for which penalties may be assessed. Increased fines for air quality violations help fund government but do nothing to improve air quality. Existing penalties have proven sufficient to assure compliance due to substantial increases in 2000.
* SB 1640 (Kuehl): Creates an unnecessary and costly regulatory program by requiring groundwater monitoring statewide; many basins do not need the levels of monitoring and management mandated by the bill because local programs already work, where and when needed.
The list of key legislation and Farm Bureau positions may be modified as bills are amended. Farm Bureau bases its positions on the policies outlined in its Protecting California Family Farms plan, which may be read online at www.cfbf.com/familyfarms
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 88,000 members.
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