IRVINE (October 20, 2010) - The Board of Directors of Western Growers has voted to formally support Proposition 23, which would enact a temporary one-time suspension of California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction law, known as AB 32. That law, which requires reductions of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, will increase the cost of electricity, gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas and other inputs farmers depend on while having virtually no impact on global carbon emissions.
The state legislative analyst, the respected nonpartisan policy and fiscal advisor to the Legislature, noted in May that AB 32 will harm the economy, stating, “California’s economy at large will likely be adversely affected in the near term by implementing climate-related policies that are not adopted elsewhere. This is in large part because such policies will tend to raise the state’s relative prices for energy, such as electricity.” While some industries such as regulated utilities can pass along higher regulatory costs of production, farmers cannot since major food buyers (grocery and restaurant chains) can source from other states or countries where the same fruits, vegetables and tree nuts can be grown.
No other state or nation has environmental regulations that are stricter and more costly for farmers to comply with than California. In considering Proposition 23, it was the unanimous opinion of the Western Growers Board of Directors that while California farmers are blessed with the best climate and soil conditions in the world, those advantages will eventually be overwhelmed by the unique restraints and costs that California’s regulatory policies place on farmers. California farmers are recognized around the world for meeting the highest air quality, water quality and workplace safety standards while also supplying about half of the nation’s nutritious fresh produce. However, other states and nations with fewer regulatory burdens are competing for the same fresh produce buyers by supplying high quality produce at lower cost. Acknowledging this fact requires us to seek a timeout on California’s AB 32 while our economy regains its footing and other states decide whether to follow California’s mandates for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction law (AB 32) will cause electricity and natural gas costs to increase by 50 percent or more and increase gasoline and diesel costs by $3.7 billion, according to estimates.
If passed by voters, Proposition 23 would suspend implementation of AB 32 until the state’s unemployment rate registers 5.5 percent or lower for four consecutive quarters. The author of Proposition 23 and the state Legislative Analyst testified in a recent legislative committee hearing that this would be one-time suspension of AB 32.
Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship ninety percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and seventy five percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half of the nation’s fresh produce.