in the KNOW

May 2, 2014

GMO Food Fight Continues

The California measure mandating the labeling of genetically engineered food, SB 1381 by Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), was removed from consideration in the Senate Agriculture Committee this week. SB 1381 was scheduled for a hearing. However, the Senate Rules Committee pulled SB 1381 from Agriculture Committee consideration, and the bill is now pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Ag Council opposes SB 1381 because it increases foods costs, expands liability and is not grounded in science. Ag Council continues to work with a large coalition of opponents to stop the bill in the Legislature.

Though SB 1381 bypassed the Ag Committee, we appreciate our members who weighed-in to urge legislators to oppose SB 1381. Your outreach is important as we now work against the bill in the Appropriations Committee.

Click HERE to read the latest coalition letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) opposing SB 1381.

Pesticide Bill Stopped in Committee

A measure opposed by Ag Council to require impractical notification requirements prior to the application of certain pesticides and soil fumigants failed in the Senate Ag Committee on April 24.

SB 1411 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) would have mandated a one week detailed notice before application near schools, residences and hospitals located within 660 feet of the perimeter of an aerial or air blast application for cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides or any soil fumigation.

Ag Council opposed the measure because California already has the strictest regulatory controls in the world relating to pesticides. In addition, in 2012, the federal government finalized a review of soil fumigants resulting in new pesticide application and notification requirements that were recently implemented. The state ag commissioners and numerous other ag groups also opposed SB 1411.

After an amendment offered by Agriculture Committee Chair Cathleen Galgiani was rejected by Senator Jackson (the author), SB 1411 failed with Senator Galgiani (D-Stockton), Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), and Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) voting in opposition, and Senate Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach) voting in favor of the measure.

Bill Addressing Antibiotics in Farm Animals is Tabled

A bill opposed by Ag Council and others to create a costly and burdensome regulatory scheme for antimicrobials used by California farmers and ranchers producing meat, milk and eggs was not considered this week in the Assembly Agriculture Committee. The measure, AB 1437 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), did not have enough votes for approval. Assemblyman Mullin tabled the measure prior to the committee hearing due to opposition.

Ag Council opposed AB 1437 because it would hinder the ability of farmers and ranchers to respond to health needs by requiring a prescription for all medically important antibiotics. In addition, under AB 1437, the use of antibiotics would have to be reported to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the information would be posted on a public website.

Farmers and ranchers work very hard to maintain the health of their animals, and this bill would have severely limited their ability to treat animals to prevent the spread of disease. AB 1437 is not expected to return this legislative session.

Click HERE for a Sacramento Bee article regarding AB 1437, which mentions Ag Council’s opposition.

SB 835
Another bill relating to antibiotics, SB 835 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), reflects work already being conducted at the federal level by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a voluntary process allowing drug manufacturers to change their labels to remove growth production and efficiency from approved label uses for antimicrobials that are medically important to humans. SB 835 gives the CDFA Secretary authority to deny registration of antibiotics that do not meet the FDA guidance now in place. The bill passed the Senate and is now pending in the Assembly.

Snow Survey Reveals Bleak Results

This week, after conducting the final snow survey of the year, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced the water content in statewide snowpack is at 18 percent of average for this time of year.

In response to the dismal snow survey findings, DWR Director Mark Cowin said, “Anyone who doesn’t think conservation is important should drive up the hill and take a look. Coupled with half our normal rainfall and low reservoir storage, our practically nonexistent snowpack reinforces the message that we need to save every drop we can just to meet basic needs.”

DWR also said in a press release this week, “With most of the wet season behind us, it is highly unlikely late-season storms will significantly dampen the effects of the three-year drought on parched farms or communities struggling to provide drinking water.”

The State Water Project’s (SWP) main reservoir, Lake Oroville, is at 53 percent of capacity. Shasta Lake, the largest reservoir in the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), is also at 53 percent of its capacity. The San Luis Reservoir, utilized by both SWP and CVP water users, is at 47 percent of capacity.

To read more results from the snow survey, click HERE.