Last Thursday, the Assembly Agriculture Committee passed Assembly Bill 125, the Equitable Economic Recovery, Healthy Food Access, Climate Resilient Farms and Worker Protection Bond Act with a bipartisan 10-0 vote.
AB 125 is a groundbreaking proposal to give voters the chance to approve a $3.302 billion effort to accelerate California’s economic recovery and build a healthier, more equitable and resilient food and farm system. The bill is co-sponsored by 15 organizations and has the support of more than 160 others, a wide range of Californians representing farmworkers, labor, nurses, conventional and organic agriculture, food banks, environmental justice advocates and more.
“COVID-19 has exposed many vulnerabilities and inequalities in our state’s food supply chain and infrastructure, and AB 125 will get at the heart of these issues,” said Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), the author of AB 125. “It is time for a better food system in our state—one that is more resilient, more sustainable, and more just. AB 125 will make major investments in both rural and urban areas of the state to increase worker safety, decrease hunger, and promote sustainable agriculture practices that will help us remain resilient in a changing climate.”
Bond investments would improve the state’s wildfire and climate resilience, protect essential farmworkers, make sure all Californians have access to healthy food, invest in regional food processing and market infrastructure, and promote sustainable agricultural practices that reduce pollution and climate-proof our food supply.
Testifying in support of AB 125 at the hearing was Cesar Lara of Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, representing agricultural workers in the Salinas area and a co-sponsor of the bill, who said in the hearing, “Farmworkers risked their health during the pandemic working in the fields to keep us fed. AB 125 takes a comprehensive approach to the economic recovery of our food system, and importantly would provide critical housing for farmworkers, provide a stockpile of protective equipment, and improve indoor air quality in farmworker housing.” Kirk Wilbur of the California Cattlemen’s Association also spoke in favor of the bill.
“This bill will provide the resources that farmers and ranchers need to cut climate pollution and maintain a viable and sustainable agriculture in California,” said Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director with CalCAN, one of the bill’s sponsors. “It’s time to invest in our food and farming infrastructure of the future.”
AB 125 Coauthors:
Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry (D-Davis), Bloom (D-Santa Monica), E. Garcia (D-Coachella), Kalra (D-San Jose), Levine (D-San Rafael), Stone (D-Monterey Bay), and Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Villapudua (D-Stockton)
AB 125 sponsors:
Agricultural Institute of Marin, American Farmland Trust (AFT), California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), California Climate & Agriculture Network (CalCAN), Californians for Pesticide Reform, Carbon Cycle Institute, Center for Food Safety, Central California Environmental Justice Network, Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Pesticide Action Network, Roots of Change, Sustainable Agriculture Education.