Mar 23, 2021
Californian organic growers excited about $3B ag bill in state legislature

In California’s state legislature last week, a $3 billion ag bill debuted with support from California Certified Organic growers and a variety of ag reform groups.

Assembly Bill 125, the Equitable Economic Recovery, Healthy Food Access, Climate Resilient Farms and Worker Protection Bond Act, was rolled out by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), who is chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

The bond would invest $3.122 billion over five years to accelerate California’s economic recovery from COVID-19, earmarking investments in four key areas:

  • Regional and local food processing, distribution, and market. infrastructure, especially for the state’s most vulnerable communities.
  • Safety and well-being for farm and food system workers.
  • Combatting hunger and improving healthy food access.
  • Promoting sustainable agriculture and climate resilience.
Kelly Damewood

“This bond represents the largest investment in sustainable and organic agriculture in the state’s history,” Kelly Damewood, CEO of California Certified Organic Farmers, said in the news release. “By strengthening supply chains, investing in technical assistance, and supporting the transition to organic, this bond equips current and future organic farmers with the tools they need to provide Californians with healthy, climate-friendly food.”

Leaders from a variety of other sustainable ag groups were quoted in the news release about their support for the bill:

“This bill will provide the resources that farmers and ranchers need to cut climate pollution and maintain a viable and sustainable agriculture in California.” – Jeanne Merrill, policy director of California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), a sponsor of AB 125.

“Upgrading and replacing food and agriculture distribution and processing infrastructure – much of it over 60 years old – will create new economic development opportunities, especially for small, diverse businesses, as well as opportunities for increasing energy efficiency and local food system resilience. Interestingly, our underutilized state Fairgrounds are one place to begin.” – Sibella Kraus, President, Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE)

“Californians are increasingly calling for food that’s grown sustainably, without hazardous synthetic pesticides that can pollute air, water and soil and harm farmworking communities. This bond will provide the critical support farmers need as they make the shift to more ecological farming practices.” – Sarah Aird, Co-Director, Californians for Pesticide Reform

“A safe food supply requires an agricultural system where farmers use practices that reduce chemical use, promote soil health, and clean air and water. This bond will ensure much-needed funds to help farmers transition to these practices while also increasing access to safe and healthy food for all Californians.” – Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director, Center for Food Safety

“A sustainable food and farm system is one in which agricultural workers live in community and work in safe, healthy environments—where farm work is treated as both essential and professional and compensated as such. The bond will provide for family housing for farmworkers and provide professional training opportunities for these hardworking folks who keep food on our tables.” – Margaret Reeves, Senior Scientist, Pesticide Action Network

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