Industry Campaign Succeeds in Defeating Ag Foes
2012 November 29.
With late vote counting almost complete, it is now clear that two state Assembly members who targeted California farmers will not be returning when the new Legislature is sworn in next week, thanks to an industry campaign that targeted them in the November election.
Yesterday, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom declared victory over incumbent Assembly member Betsy Butler, who sought to return for a second term, representing the 50th Assembly District that includes Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Bloom now leads by 1,246 votes. While a small number of ballots are still being counted, Butler will not be able to close the gap. Butler authored AB 2346, a bill that would have exposed farmers to abusive private lawsuits for heat illness violations alleged by private lawyers and created joint liability between farmers and farm labor contractors.
As previously reported, Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Morain noted the race was, in part, the result of a “well-aimed” political campaign by an independent expenditure committee created by WG and several partner organizations.
The other target of the industry’s campaign, Assembly member Michael Allen, lost to challenger and fellow Democrat Marc Levine. As with Butler, the small number of ballots to be counted will not change the outcome as Allen currently trails by more than 3,000 votes. Levine will represent the 10th Assembly District (Marin and part of Sonoma County). Allen authored AB 1313, a bill that would have repealed the existing overtime rule for ag workers by requiring overtime after eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. Levine declared victory earlier this month.
The agriculture independent expenditure committee, Family Farmers Working for a Better California, received strong support and funding from Western Growers, California Citrus Mutual, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Nisei Farmers League, the California Rice industry, Western Plant Health Association, Pacific Egg and Poultry Association, California Seed Association and many individual farmers across California and Arizona. More than $500,000 was raised for this effort.
State Agency Reps See Benefit of WG School Gardens Program
2012 November 29.
Northern California may be in the middle of a “river” of storms, but that didn’t stop two state agency representatives from getting out and seeing first-hand what state funds can accomplish. Western Growers Foundation visited school garden grant recipient, Oak Park Preschool in Sacramento, Calif. Wednesday. The school received $1,000 as part of a grant funded by California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
USDA Committee Says Farmers Have Right to Choose What to Grow and How to Grow It
2012 November 27.
In a November 19 61-page report to Secretary Tom Vilsack from the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture, also called AC21, members “acknowledge the premise that American agriculture production practices are diverse in nature and the need for enhancing coexistence between all sectors of agriculture is important. American farmers have the right to make the best choices for their own farms, including the choice to grow GE crops, the choice to grow IP, non-GE, or organic crops, the choice to practice different agricultural management systems, and the choice to grow crops with new functional traits.
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