Holden’s Bill To Put California’s Farms First Passes Final Hurdle

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sacramento – Lawmakers today gave final approval to Assemblymember Chris Holden’s (D-Pasadena) bill to help California farmers and improve the state’s agricultural economy. The Assembly unanimously in favor on final amendments.

Under Holden’s AB 199, state agencies – such as public hospitals, prisons and public schools – would be required to purchase agricultural products from California companies if the price is equal to or less than the lowest out-of-state company. AB 199 also encourages all public schools, school districts, and public colleges to purchase agricultural products grown within the state whenever possible.

“This legislation doesn’t just benefit farmers; it provides safe, healthy foods for our public schools and hospitals. It just makes sense for California’s public institutions to choose locally-grown products,” explained Assemblymember Holden.  “We’re helping create opportunities for our farmers and a new appreciation for local food helps stimulate the economy.”

California is the nation’s leading agricultural state with farm revenues of nearly $43 billion and its farms and ranches produce more than 400 crops on 81,500 farms that employ 800,000 laborers.  California farms produce a variety of year-round crops including, broccoli, carrots, lemons and oranges, avocadoes, strawberries, potatoes, celery, cabbage and lettuce.

Barry J. Bedwell, President of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League: "This bill will assist in introducing to more of the state's residents a wide variety of affordable and nutritious products grown in California.  We thank Assemblymember Holden for his leadership on this bill which we believe will not have long-lasting benefits for California farmers but for all Californians as well."

This bill is supported by the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Apple Commission, CA Association of Wheat Growers, CA Bean Shippers, CA Dairies, Citrus Mutual, Pacific Egg and Poultry Association, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, CA Grain & Feed Association, Pear growers, and the California Black Chamber of Commerce.

AB 199 now goes to Governor Brown for signature.  He has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto.