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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday Review


AB 186 (Maze, R-Visalia and Galgiani, D-Tracy) passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 5–0 vote this week. This bill extends the Central Valley Rural Crime Prevention Program to 2012. The program is currently set to expire in 2009. CFBF supports programs to reduce the incidence of rural crime and improve recovery rates of stolen goods. The Central Valley Program has allowed the County Sheriffs in the eight Central Valley Counties to hire deputies focused on rural crime investigation. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Assemblymember Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) has decided to drop his bill that would allow Native American tribes and “tribal groups” to immediately cancel Williamson Act contracts on their newly acquired land. AB 2860 had been amended significantly since its first hearing in the Assembly Agriculture Committee. Originally, the measure would have made contracts null and void if the Williamson Act was taken into federal trust status. As amended, the bill would have allowed housing, infrastructure and people serving event centers in the heart of exclusive agricultural zones by automatically presuming that such uses would outweigh the purposes of the Williamson Act.

Farm Bureau opposed both versions of the bill. We reminded the committee, that with all due respect to the tribal sponsors, we would oppose any measure that seeks to expedite the cancellation procedure for a Williamson Act contract, regardless of its beneficiaries. This is due to the fact that the enforceability of the land use restrictions contained in the contract is critical to the constitutionality of the preferential property tax treatment provided by the program. The California Supreme Court ruled that for the Williamson Act to be constitutionally valid under Article XIII, Section 8, immediate cancellation of a contract should be limited to extraordinary circumstance only. (Sierra Club v. Hayward)

SB 1404 (Lowenthal, D-Long Beach) was amended again April 22. The new amendments will require any wholesale establishment or distributor that sells plants in containers of 5 gallons or less to provide a label indicating the approximate water use of each plant for six climate zones. There is an exception for stock that is sold directly to growers. The bill passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee on a 3-1 vote and will be heard next in Senate Appropriations. CFBF is opposed.

Having received no opposition, AB 2714 (Keene, R-Chico) continues to move through the legislative process on consent. This bill addresses the “loss of load” issue presented by the incidental loss of hay or straw chaff from trucks hauling hay on the highway. The bill has been amended to reflect CFBF’s work with Keene, his staff and the California Highway Patrol to draft appropriate language to amend the California Vehicle Code to alleviate this problem. CFBF sponsored the bill.

SB 1663 (Denham R-Merced) has been significantly amended. The language that would have created an exemption for farmers and ranchers from the waste and used tire hauler registration requirements was stripped from the bill. The new language will make grant money available (from existing funds) to provide financial assistance to farmers and ranchers for the transportation and disposal of used and waste tires and for the cost of removal and disposal of illegally dumped tires. The grant program will become inoperative 2012. CFBF is in support.

AB 2402 (La Malfa, R-Chico) passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 17-0 vote. This California Trucking Association sponsored measure will extend the amount of time that a commercial motor carrier can be stopped, parked, or left standing within a roadside rest area or viewpoint. Federal regulation requires a 10-hour rest period for commercial truckers, current California law only allows for parking in a rest area or similar location for 8 hours before towing or citation. CFBF is in support.

Legislation that will require manufacturers that sell pesticide products in California to establish or participate in a container-recycling program is moving easily through the legislative process. Not only did the Senate Environmental Quality Committee approve SB 1723 (Maldonado, R- Santa Maria) unanimously on a 7-0 vote, but the Chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee, Joe Simitian (D- Palo Alto), also became a co-author.

Currently, growers must triple wash empty pesticide containers and contact their county agricultural commissioner to conduct an inspection to insure they have been cleaned properly. The recyclers that are available and certified to take the clean, empty containers are extremely limited throughout the state. Thus the ability for growers to take their containers to a recycler in a timely or efficient manner does not exist for the majority of California growers. By requiring manufacturers to participate in the recycling programs, SB 1723 would help insure that more recycling programs would be available and accessible to growers. CFBF supports.

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