2023 Bills Sponsored & Supported by CalCAN
The 2023 CA legislative season has come to an end.
For a full review of our campaigns and next steps for 2024, read our 2023 Legislative Recap Blog.
AB 552 (Bennett) Equipment-Sharing: Vetoed but Work Continues
AB 552, authored by Assemblymember Bennett (D-Ventura), passed off of the Assembly Floor with a 71-0 bipartisan vote but was later vetoed by the Governor due to the state’s budget deficit and lack of funding allocated to implement the program in this year’s budget. AB 552 was CalCAN and CAFF’s co-sponsored bill that would have created a new program at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to fund equipment sharing programs. These programs would allow farmers to borrow or lease high-value equipment from regional agricultural centers that purchase and maintain equipment for healthy soils practices, on-farm conservation practices, storage, and processing. Furthermore, the program would have supported training for farmers on new and innovative small-farm equipment and safety and maintenance. To learn more about equipment sharing, see our previous blog post highlighting the work of the California Plowshares equipment sharing program in Southern California.
“As a state, we know that our small farms are critical for both the economy and ecological diversity. AB 552 would have relieved some of the heavy financial burden these farmers often face by helping them build cooperatives and pool resources. While AB 552 wasn’t within our reach this year, we look forward to working with the bill sponsors to find creative ways to meet this need for the thousands of small farmers across the state.” – Assemblymember Bennett
SB 675 (Limón) Prescribed Grazing: To Be Continued in 2024, But a Partial Win Achieved Through Another Bill
SB 675, authored by Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), passed out of all of its committees with unanimous bipartisan votes, but was made a two-year bill on the Assembly floor due to last-minute amendment requests from one of the agencies responsible for implementing a portion of the bill.
However, in a partial victory, another bill – AB 297 (Fong) – was passed and signed into law with three elements of SB 675 copied into it: 1) the definition of prescribed grazing, 2) the inclusion of training on prescribed grazing as an eligible “outreach and education” activity in the Wildfire Prevention Grants Program, and 3) the permanent extension of advance payments for equipment and supplies in the Wildfire Prevention Grants Program.
If passed and signed next year, SB 675 would further advance prescribed grazing by: 1) developing guidance and best management practices to support local and regional entities like cities, counties, fire safe councils, and parks in developing prescribed grazing plans; 2) allowing perimeter fencing and livestock watering facilities, such as tanks and troughs, to be an eligible expense in the Wildfire Prevention Grants Program to lower the cost of prescribed grazing for annual vegetation management; and 3) requiring the State’s Wildfire Task Force to develop a strategic action plan by 2025 to expand the use of prescribed grazing to support the state’s efforts to increase the pace and scale of wildfire resilience activities and strengthen the protection of fire-threatened communities.
AB 408 (Wilson) Food & Farm Resilience Bond: To Be Continued in 2024
AB 408, a food and farm bond measure authored by Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), was made a two-year bill by the Senate Appropriations Committee in September. All bond bills, except for the mental health bond (AB 531, Irwin) were held for negotiations next year. AB 408 proposes a $3.7 billion bond for the November 2024 ballot to invest in creating a more equitable and climate resilient food and farming system. CalCAN is one of the co-sponsors of the bond bill along with 17 other organizations in the Food and Farm Resilience Coalition, a diverse group of organizations working across a number of sectors including food access, environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, labor, and public health.
Bond investments would help create a more equitable and resilient food system with proposed funding across four pillars:
- Sustainable agriculture
- Farmworker well-being
- Healthy, sustainable food access
- Regional food infrastructure
Read our 2023 Legislative Recap Blog for more information including updates on bills supported by CalCAN and our next steps as we look forward to the 2024 legislative season.
The COWS Act would establish a new USDA manure management conservation program and fund it at $1.5 billion over 5 years. The voluntary program will provide resources to help the dairy and other livestock operations install manure handling systems that achieve these goals:
- Reduce methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas
- Improve air and water quality
- Boost profitability by modernizing technologies for manure management
The program is modeled on California’s successful and very popular AMMP program. Grants cover the costs of various types of equipment to scrape manure from barns and into compost piles instead of flushing it into lagoons, separate and dry out or compost manure solids, build compost pack barns or other infrastructure to aerate manure, and increase the amount of time cows spend on pasture—all of which reduce methane emissions.
To add your organization or farm name to a support letter and receive updates on the COWS Act, please sign on here.
Represents a comprehensive approach to addressing climate change in agriculture. The act addresses climate change throughout much of US Department of Agriculture (USDA) programming–not only that which affects farmers, but elements that shape the larger food system, as well. With its focus on incentives for best practices throughout agricultural programs, the ARA represents exactly what the public, researchers, and advocates have been calling for to move agriculture toward climate resilient systems. Learn more here.
Over the past year, CalCAN has been working in partnership with ten other California members of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to outline our collective 2023 Farm Bill Platform of the CA Caucus. The goal of this document is to elevate California’s unique agricultural context into the national conversation and to center climate resilience and racial equity as key pillars of the next farm bill. For an extremely comprehensive list of recommendations across farm bill programs and policies, see NSAC’s 2023 Farm Bill Platform.
The set of priorities outlined in the CA Caucus Platform call for:
- Improvements to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program;
- A national program modeled on California’s Alternative Manure Management Program,
- Increase investment in conservation-based research and extension;
- Increase organic certification cost share opportunities and streamline administration;
- Additional set-asides, loan forgiveness, and grants for underserved farmers and farmers of color;
- Increased funding for the Farming Opportunities, Training, and Outreach (FOTO) Program and the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production grant program;
- Support for regional food system infrastructure including food hubs and meat processing facilities;
- Implement civil rights reform at USDA;
- Disaster relief for farmers and farmworkers.