in the KNOW

August 2, 2017

Rich Hudgins with the California Canning Peach Association speaking to KCRA news. See the links below to view the video clips and media coverage.

Rich Hudgins with the California Canning Peach Association speaking to KCRA news. See the links below to view the video clips and media coverage.

State Audit Initiated by Ag Council Finds California is not Ensuring Compliance with the Buy American Requirement for School Lunches

The California Department of Education (CDE) has not ensured that schools comply with the Buy American requirement for school food purchases, according to a report by the California State Auditor released on July 27.

The audit, initiated by Ag Council and championed by Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Sacramento) through the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, reveals CDE is collecting insufficient evidence to support compliance. Also, CDE is not publishing the results of any of its 146 reviews online, as required.

In a review of six California school districts, the audit shows that not one of the six districts has adequate policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement. The audit further discloses that all six districts had purchased foreign-sourced food and such purchases were not sufficiently documented.

The audit demonstrates the need for SB 730—legislation sponsored by Ag Council and authored by Dr. Pan (D-Sacramento)—to establish steps for CDE to monitor compliance with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs. SB 730 will improve local farm to fork food options for school children. The bill passed the Senate and is currently awaiting consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

As background, the Buy American provision requires schools under the jurisdiction of the CDE that participate in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program to purchase domestically grown and processed foods to the maximum extent practicable.

Buy American audit report garners media coverage throughout the state

  • For a KCRA news video clip about the audit – featuring Ag Council board member Rich Hudgins with the California Canning Peach Association – click HERE
  • Associated Press news article – click HERE
  • Los Angeles KABC video – click HERE
To read a summary of the audit report, click HERE.

Proposed Changes to Peak Electricity Periods Affecting Agriculture

California’s three major utilities – San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and Southern California Edison – are overhauling the way consumers pay for electricity. The approach, called time-of-use (TOU) electricity pricing, makes electricity more expensive during anticipated periods of high demand when the electric grid is stressed and electricity is more expensive.

Ag Council will be weighing-in with concerns regarding the TOU changes during an upcoming public participation process since agricultural operations are sensitive to TOU peak periods. For example, electric pumping units used in the irrigation of crops have been designed and engineered around the current off-peak hours and any changes to the peak periods would require affected farmers to make changes to their pumping units.

Currently, the highest-cost peak periods have generally been from noon to 6 p.m. on weekdays with lower rates during weekends and holidays. With the onset of large solar facilities generating considerable amounts of electricity during the afternoon, utilities have proposed shifting TOU periods.

Under PG&E’s proposal, the peak use period would be pushed back to begin at 5 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. each day, both summer and winter. “Partial peak” rates would be charged between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and again between 10 p.m. and midnight during the summer. All remaining hours would be considered off-peak. The utility’s summer rates would be charged from June through September. Currently, the rates run from May through October.

The utilities are finalizing rate options and outreach plans before switching customers to TOU rates beginning in 2019. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and PG&E scheduled two public participation hearings on the proposal in mid-August. We encourage impacted Ag Council members to attend one of the hearings to express concerns about rising rates and convey any implications a new peak period would have on operations. Hearings will be held in the following locations and please click on the links for further details:

• Aug. 14 in Bakersfield – click HERE for information about the location and time
• Aug. 15 in Stockton – click HERE for details regarding the location and time

Ag Council staff will attend the Stockton hearing and will also provide written comments to the CPUC on behalf of our members. For more information about this issue, click HERE.