2023 Policy Priorities
ROC advocates for bills & budget requests to build food system resilience and is once again focused on advancing our mission to make the food system in California climate-smart, healthy, and accessible for all eaters. Building on past successes and our fruitful collaborations with diverse coalition partners, we have placed most of our policy activity in 2023 on moving bond and budget requests.
Co-Sponsored Bills and Budget Requests
Co-sponsored with Food & Farm Resilience Coalition:
|AB 408 (Wilson)||Climate-resilient Farms, Sustainable Healthy Food Access, and Farmworker Protection Bond Act of 2024|
|Assemblymember Lori Wilson (Assembly District 11) is championing our 2023 Food & Farm Resilience bond bill, AB 408. This bill, if passed, will place the Climate Resilience Farms, Sustainable Healthy Food Access, and Farmworker Protection Bond Act before the voters in 2024. The bond’s investments seek to improve the State’s climate change readiness while also increasing healthy food access for all Californians and protecting our essential food and farm system workers.|
Co-sponsored with Ecology Center:
|CNIP Budget Request||Fund the California Nutrition Incentives Program (CNIP) at $35 million in the FY 2023-24 Agriculture budget|
|The California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP) launched in 2015, with legislation sponsored by Assemblymember Phil Ting, who continues to champion the program. Funding CNIP in FY23-24 is critical for the State to meet its required non-federal match to win substantial federal grant funds needed to continue CNIP’s operations. To date, CNIP has brought in more than $30 million in federal funds to California. CNIP’s food security programs:
Without additional State appropriations in the next fiscal year for CNIP, the Market Match program (CNIP’s largest program) will not be able to continue past 2024.
State Priority Bills
For current bill status, please refer to the California Legislative Information website.
|AB 311 (Santiago)||California Food Assistance Program: eligibility and benefits (“Food4All”)|
|This bill expands eligibility for the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to anyone who is ineligible for CalFresh benefits due solely to their immigration status by removing the 55 years or older age limit on eligibility.|
|AB 404 (Connolly)||Reporting Requirements for Organic Farmers|
|This bill requires the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to evaluate duplicative reporting requirements that affect small- and mid-scale farmers and farming operations, including reporting requirements related to the process of transitioning to organic farming and obtaining organic certification. The bill further requires CDFA, on or before January 1, 2025, to submit a report to the Legislature, including suggestions to amend or remove unnecessary reporting requirements to relieve regulatory burdens on small- and mid-scale farmers and farming operations.|
|AB 405 (Connolly)||Streamlining Requirements for Organic Businesses|
|This bill requires, on or before January 1, 2025, the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to create an online registration and payment option for specified organic food processing operations.|
|AB 406 (Connolly)||Healthy Soils & Farmland Conservancy Programs|
|This bill modifies the Healthy Soils Program (HSP) at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to support and incentivize organic production and the implementation of multiple healthy soils practices.|
|AB 552 (Bennett)||Regional Farmer Equipment & Cooperative Resources Assistance program|
|This bill establishes the Regional Farmer Equipment and Cooperative Resources Assistance Program (Program) at the Department of Conservation (DOC).|
|AB 652 (Lee)||Department of Pesticide Regulation: Environmental Justice Advisory Committee|
|This bill establishes a Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC) to integrate environmental justice considerations into DPR’s programs, policies, decision making, and activities.|
|AB 853 (Maienschein)||Californians Right to Access Essential Goods and Services|
|This bill requires parties engaging in the transfer or acquisition of retail grocery stores to provide notice to the Attorney General, authorizes the Attorney General to promulgate related regulations, and authorizes the Attorney General to take legal action to enforce a violation of the notice requirement.|
|AB 1644 (Bonta)||Medi-Cal: Medically supportive food and nutrition services|
|This bill requires the Medi-Cal program to cover medically supportive food and nutrition, for at least 12 weeks, when determined to be medically necessary by a healthcare provider or health plan, as specified. This bill also establishes a medically supportive food and nutrition benefit advisory workgroup (workgroup) to advise the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) in developing final guidance related to developing medically supportive food and nutrition interventions, as specified.|
|SB 227 (Durazo)||Unemployment: Excluded Workers Program|
|Would establish an “Excluded Workers Program” within the Employment Development Department (EDD) to provide income assistance to unemployed excluded workers who are not eligible for regular state or federal unemployment insurance benefits due to their immigration status.|
|SB 348 (Skinner)||Healthy Meals for Kids|
|This bill requires the California Department of Education (CDE), in collaboration with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to maximize participation in the federal Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer For Children (SEBTC) and requires CDSS, upon an appropriation by the Legislature, to provide to a pupil who qualifies for federal SEBTC an additional eighty dollars ($80) per month in the form of EBT benefits. The bill also requires charter schools to provide two meals, rather than one, beginning the 2024-25 school year, and requires county superintendent of schools, local educational agency (LEA), or charter school to serve breakfast meals on each four-hour school day.|
|SB 600 (Menjivar)||State-funded augmentation to the minimum CalFresh benefit|
|Require the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to create the CalFresh Minimum Nutrition Benefit Program to provide additional state-funded CalFresh nutrition benefits to all eligible households who receive a minimum CalFresh monthly benefit, as provided.|
Federal Priority Bills
|S 354 (Thune) /
HR 945 (Pingree)
|Strengthening Local Processing Act|
|Seeks to amend the Poultry Products Inspection Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act to support small and very small meat and poultry processing establishments.|
|S 1205 (Brown) / HR 2723 (Pingree)||The Local Farms and Food Act|
|The Local Farms and Food Act seeks to improve equitable access to and funding for Local Agriculture Market Programs (LAMP) and expand the reach of nutrition incentives through GusNIP and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.|
|S 1016 (Martin) / HR 1840 (Pingree)||Agriculture Resilience Act of 2023|
|The Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA) is designed as a roadmap to sequester more carbon in the soil and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by supporting farmers. The ARA goals include: increasing research; improving soil health; protecting existing farmland; supporting pasture-based livestock systems; boosting investments in on-farm energy initiatives; and, reducing food waste.|
2022 Policy Work
Based on our great successes with the budget process in 2021, we have placed most of our policy activity in 2022 on moving two budget requests into the final approved budget for 2022-23. The first is in collaboration with the Food and Farming Resilience Coalition. Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Robert Rivas is the champion of this request. The second is the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund which again is the product of a diverse coalition of public health and racial justice nonprofits. Beyond that we are supporting a number of bills related to healthy school meals, improved school access and farmworker safety, some of the goals of which are included in the budget requests. Details are found below, including ways for you to become involved.
1. Food & Farm Resilience Coalition (Formerly AB-125 Coalition)
ROC and its AB 125 coalition partners support state investments in a resilient and equitable food and farming system. Our coalition sponsors the bill introduced in February 2021 by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D – Hollister). The bond measure would provide key investments in disadvantaged communities, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, tribes, small- and medium-sized farms and small businesses. Given the state’s budget surpluses, the bond has been delayed and the coalition has supported Mr. Rivas in seeking budget requests. In the current budget our requests brought $1.3 billion to the goals we seek. Our coalition is currently working on the requests for the 2022-23 budget. Our sign-on letter is asking for $667.5 million in FY 2022-23 investments. The full text of the sign-on letter can be found here. We are calling on the legislature to invest in programs such as:
- Farmland conservation
- Farmworker housing and home weatherization
- Heat and smoke notifications for farmworkers
- Regional farmer training centers and land access grants for new farmers
- Agricultural workforce development and technical assistance grants
- Climate smart agriculture
- Climate-friendly healthy food access
UPDATE, OCTOBER 2022
We are very pleased by the progress made this year with our allies from the Food and Farm Resilience Coalition. We successfully advocated for over $700 million approved in the 2022-23 California budget. Add that to the $1.3 billion in the 2021-22 budget and we can comfortably claim that $2 billion will accelerate transformation of our food system.
CLICK HERE to see an overview of an array of programs that were part of our coalition’s advocacy goals.
2. Health Equity & Racial Justice Fund (HERJF)
The California Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund is a bold, innovative proposal to provide resources directly to community-based organizations, including clinics, and tribal organizations (CBOs) to identify the most pressing health and racial justice issues in their communities and develop solutions to address them. ROC is a co-sponsor supporting an ongoing commitment of at least $100 million to the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund to support CBOs as part of a comprehensive approach to improving the health and well-being of our communities.
Funded initiatives will:
1) reduce health and social inequities that impact communities of color and other historically marginalized communities, and
2) transform community conditions and institutional government systems to promote racial justice.
UPDATE, OCTOBER 2022
While the legislature included the fund in its final budget, a one time proposal at $75 millions, Governor Newsom who has line-item veto power did not include the fund in the final budget. We are hopeful, however, that with specific feedback we received from the Governor’s Office and a renewed advocacy strategy we will get the fund approved next year.
Budget Requests and Bills ROC is Tracking in 2022:
|Budget request||Warning system||We support $12 million to develop a cell phone-based notification system for farmworkers to warn them of high heat and smoke exposure days. Background: With increasing temperatures and catastrophic wildfires, the number of days with extreme heat and smoke from wildfires are also increasing, threatening the health and safety of farmworkers. A multi-lingual, text-based notification system is needed to inform essential frontline workers about conditions like heat and smoke that can impact their health.||Not included in budget|
|Budget request||Syndromic surveillance||$30 million, 10 positions at CDPH to develop and support a syndromic heat surveillance system||Pending final budget agreement|
|AB 941||Farmworker assistance: resource centers||Would require the Department of Community Services and Development within the California Health and Human Services Agency to establish a grant program for counties to establish farmworker resource centers that provide farmworkers and their families information and access to services related to, among other things, labor and employment rights, education, housing, immigration, and health and human services.||Stephen Bennett and Robert Rivas||PASSED – 09/22/21|
|AB 1643||State government: extreme heat: advisory committees.||This bill would require Cal/OSHA to establish an advisory committee to evaluate its current reporting practices relating to illness and death in the workplace caused by exposure to extreme heat or humidity and to recommend changes to the division’s regulations that would ensure accurate reporting of illness and death in the workplace caused by exposure to extreme heat or humidity.The bill would require the division to adopt the regulatory changes recommended by the committee.||Assembly Member Robert Rivas||PASS ASMB, now in Senate|
|AB 2076||Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program: Extreme Heat Hospitalization and Death Reporting System||Would establish the Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program in the office for the purpose of coordinating state efforts and supporting local and regional efforts to prevent or mitigate the impacts of, and reduce the public health risks of, heat.
Would require the State Department of Public Health to establish and maintain the Extreme Heat Hospitalization and Death Reporting System, to assist local interventions and to identify and protect heat-vulnerable or other at-risk populations.
|Assembly Member Luz Rivas||PASS ASMB, now in Senate|
|AB 2238||Extreme heat: statewide extreme heat ranking system||Dept of Insurance, in coordination with EPA and ICARP to develop an extreme heat ranking system.||Assembly Member Luz Rivas||PASS ASMB, now in Senate|
|AB 2243||Occupational safety and health standards: heat illness: wildfire smoke||Revise the heat illness standard to include an ultrahigh heat standard for employees in outdoor places of employment for heat in excess of 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Require a rulemaking proposal to revise the wildfire smoke standard to reduce the existing air quality index threshold for PM2.5 particulate matter at which control by respiratory protective equipment becomes mandatory
|Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia||PASS ASMB, now in Senate|
|AB 2499||Organic Products Sector: Organic Transition Pilot Program||This bill would require the department to establish develop and oversee, for a period of 5 years, the Organic Transition Pilot Program, to be administered through the department’s Office of Farm Equity, Program in order to support the economic viability of limited resource, as defined, and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers by providing incentives, including, but not limited to, grants, research, technical assistance, and educational materials and outreach, to certain of those farmers or ranchers who intend to transition land to organic certification pursuant to federal law, as specified. The bill would require the department to provide incentives to applicants who identify as socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers before providing incentives to other applicants.||Assembly Member Brian Mainenschein||PASS ASMB, now in Senate|
|SB 907||Electronic benefits transfer system: farmers’ markets.||SB 907, which would establish a non-competitive grant program to expand access to Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services at all certified farmers markets across California. Individuals and families that rely on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California, are issued an EBT card to access their food benefits electronically. The current EBT system presents many hurdles that often prevent farmers’ markets from accepting EBT cards (e.g. requiring the farmers’ market manager to become an authorized USDA SNAP retailer). Farmers’ markets that do offer EBT access typically find that additional administrative and technical assistance – a dedicated employee who can help with accounting and reporting – is needed to fully reap the benefits of EBT access.||Senator Richard Pan||PASS Senate, now in Assembly|
|Budget request FY 22-23 – May Revise||Investments in Farmworker Safety and Well-being, FY 22-23||
Ask: $100 million for the Joe Serna Jr Farmworker Housing Grant Program. Actual confirmed: $50 million
$25 million for Farmworker Housing Component of the Low-Income Home Weatherization Program
$12 million to develop a geographically-based cell phone-based emergency notification system in relevant languages to alert farmworkers about heat and smoke events and about protections for outdoor workers
|AB 2082||Farmworker Indigenous Language Outreach Pilot Program||Establishes a pilot program from July 1, 2023, until July 1, 2028, which would require Cal-OSHA to contract with community-based organizations in 3 counties to provide workplace health and safety and outreach services to farmworkers in indigenous languages, including, but not limited to, interpretation services, certain materials, and on-site, in-person training.||Assembly Member Robert Rivas||Died in appropriations|
|AB 2538||State Warning Center: wildfire smoke notification||Create a state notification system that sends text and voice messages, in multiple languages, to residents and farmworkers based on their ZIP Codes to alert them of public health dangers in their area, including, but not limited to, smoke from wildfires.||Assembly Member Robert Rivas||Died in Appropriations, may be funded via Budget|
|AB 585||Climate change: Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program.||This bill would establish the Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program for the purpose of coordinating state efforts and supporting local and regional efforts to mitigate the impacts of, and reduce the public health risks of, extreme heat and the urban heat island effect, and would require the Office of Planning and Research to administer the program through the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program.||Assembly Member Luz Rivas|
|SB 1044||Employers: state of emergency or emergency condition: retaliation.||Would prohibit an employer, in the event of a state of emergency or an emergency condition, as defined, from taking or threatening adverse action against any employee for refusing to report to, or leaving, a workplace within the affected area because the employee feels unsafe.||Introduced by Durazo, (Co-sponsor: Senators Gonzalez, Leyva, and Wiener) (Coauthor: Assembly Member Stone)|
2021 Policy Work
ROC has three priority budget requests of the Legislature and the Governor this year. We are working with the Ecology Center, the California Market Match community of farmers markets and CSAs and other nutrition access advocates on two items. We are seeking $35 million over three years for the groundbreaking programs that our great policy champion, Assemblymember Phil Ting, helped ROC create in the past: the California Nutrition Incentive Program and the Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program. The former provides matching dollars to families using SNAP to buy fruits and vegetables from farmers markets, CSA program and equipped retailers, thus allowing families to double the purchasing power for healthy food. The latter program provides corner stores and bodegas with grants to purchase refrigerated cases for effectively merchandising fresh fruits and vegetables. Both programs have proved highly successful and are administered by the Office of Farm to Fork within the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
In another groundbreaking budget request, ROC is joining with PHI partners to promote creation of a pilot California Healthy Equity Fund. It would provide $180 million over three years for investments that foster COVID relief and prevent disease. Its impacts would be studied to assess efficacy during the pilot period. Food system program are a major focus, including nutrition incentives and community food gardens. Assemblymembers Mike Gipson and Rob Bonta are champions of our request. Look for more information on how you can support our request next month.
Proposed new policies
Here is the list of ROC’s top 5 priority bills.
AB 125 Resilient food and agriculture & COVID recovery bond. Robert Rivas author.
AB 434 Public lands: grazing leases with support for regenerative ranching. Robert Rivas author.
AB 888 Mobile slaughter operation to allow sheep & goats to help small and midsize ranchers. Marc Levine author
AB 1009 Farm to School Food Hubs. Richard Bloom author.
AB 1163 Ending prohibition of local sugary beverage taxes. Adrin Nazarian author.
Status of ROC Supported Bills
AB 125 The Equitable Economic Recovery, Healthy Food Access, Climate Resilient Farms and Worker Protection Bond Act
With bipartisan support, our coalition of 17 sponsors, backed by 143 supporting organizations, has advanced this groundbreaking $3.3 billion bond proposal through the Assembly Ag Committee. We are now safely at rest in the Resources Committee until next year when final bonds on the 2022 ballot will be shaped. In the interim, our team is working with our author, Robert Rivas, to request $772 million in state investments for the 2021-22 budget. All four planks (farmworkers, food system infrastructure, healthy food access and regenerative agriculture) would receive funds. No coalition has ever so boldly asked to invest with such a holistic and equitable lens to heal our food system.
Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program
Working with California Assembly Budget Committee Chairman, Phil Ting, our strongest champion for many years, we are seeking $15 million to provide grants for refrigeration units that will be placed in corner stores across the state. The Governor is requesting $20 million. The refrigeration units will be used to make fresh produce, California meat and dairy products more accessible in places where healthy food is hard to access. We worked with Mr. Ting to launch the program in 2018-19. It was a smashing success, aiding 40 of California 58 counties. We want to hit all counties in the next round.
California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP)
Back in 2016, with Assemblymember Phil Ting, ROC spawned creation of the matching grant program managed by the Office of Farm to Fork at CDFA. CNIP provides the local match funds required by USDA grants for the same purpose. Nutrition incentives make fresh produce affordable at farmers markets, corners stores and grocers by allowing the market to match the amount a shopper spends on fresh produce. We join our primary allies in this work, Ecology Center, in supporting Mr. Ting’s request for another $20 million to continue this highly successful program. The Governor is offering only $15 million.
Health Equity Fund
AB 1038 We are part of a Public Health Institute led coalition to create a health equity fund pilot program that would invest $180 million in several communities to reveal how to prevent disease and lower health care expenditure for the state. Assemblymember Mike Gipson is the author of the bill and now a budget request. Nutrition incentives, school food and other nutrition access initiatives guided by communities are part of the ask. This is synergistic with Mr. Ting’s request described above and our AB 125 requests.
Status of other priority bills
AB 350 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Ombudsman. The bill would create a three-year program to fund technical advisors or “ombudsmen” to support farmer implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (2014) requirements meant to protect California’s precious aquifers from overdraft by agriculture. Passed to the Assembly Floor. We hope the next budget will include this policy for 2021. Carlos Vallapudua author.
AB 368 Food Prescriptions. The bill would create a pilot program to demonstrate value of Medi-Cal funded produce prescriptions in Alameda, Fresno, and San Bernardino counties. Killed in Assembly Appropriations. We hope it might get funded through the health equity fund described above. Rob Bonta author.
AB 434 Public lands: grazing leases This bill would provide ranchers with longer-term leases if they agreed to robust monitoring and practiced livestock grazing that delivers ecosystem benefits: sequester carbon, build soil, reduce wildfire fire fuels and provide habitat to threatened and endangered species. Pushed into 2022 to allow further amendments. Robert Rivas author.
AB 831 Amendments to section 114378.1 of the California Retail Code Introduced by Assembly Committee on Health, the bill would support California’s fisher folk operating via retail fish markets. It will enhance the ability of the public to purchase seafood in a more customer-friendly format, making local seafood even more readily available. Passed out of Assembly and now before Senate Committee on Health.
AB 888 Mobile slaughter operations sheep, goats and swine. The bill would help small and midsize producers process and market animals. Passed to the Assembly Floor. We are supporting its movement to the Assembly floor in June. Marc Levine author.
AB 1009 Farm to School Food Hubs. The bill would create three pilot food hubs to provide school food. Passed to the Assembly Floor. We are advocating that the food system investments outlined by the Governor will include this. Richard Bloom author.
AB 1163 Local government: taxation: prohibition: groceries. The bill would end the prohibition of local sugary beverage taxes that was forced by Big Soda back in 2018. If they chose, local communities could once again vote on sugary beverage taxes to fund investments in food and other systems that improve public health. Blocked by Chair of the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee. See this article to understand how the beverage industry controls the Legislature. Adrin Nazarian author.
SB 2 Peace officers: certification: civil rights. The bill would increase accountability for law enforcement officers that commit serious misconduct and violate a person’s civil rights. Passed to the Senate Floor. Although outside our wheelhouse, ROC supports SB 2 because the racial harms in this state must end. There can be no peace unless there is justice. Without the justice and peace that cultivate trust among the people of this state, we cannot fully achieve or food system goals. Steven Bradford and Toni Atkins authors.
SB 107 CalFresh. The bill would simplify the CalFresh application for many older adults and people with disabilities to applicants and participants can complete the application and recertification interview processes by phone. Now in the Senate Floor process. Scott Wiener author.
SB 240 Income tax: credits: food banks. The bill extends the sunset date of the Healthy Food Donation Bank Tax Credit for donations of food five more years to January 1, 2027, providing incentive for farmers to donate food that might otherwise go to waste. Passed to the Senate Floor. Susan Eggman author.
SB 364 Pupil meals: Free School Meals For All Act of 2021. The bill would establish a mechanism to provide free school meals for all California K-12 students while promoting access to healthy, freshly prepared food grown by California farmers. Placed in Suspense File in Senate Appropriations. We expect it to succeed because the Governor included funding for this bill in his budget proposal. Susan Skinner author.
SB 606 Workplace safety: violations of statutes: enterprise-wide violations: employer retaliation. The bill would address the need for stronger enforcement measures to keep California’s workers safe as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Passed to the Senate Floor. Lena Gonzales author.
2020 Policy Work
As for most of our allies, COVID-19 upended ROC’s planned legislative strategies in 2020. The pandemic reprioritized state legislators’ attention, truncated deliberation and led to massive culling of bills from the original list of submissions. We focused our attention on two goals that will pay off in 2021, when our policy agenda will bloom:
1) delivering documents to the Governor, Cabinet Members and legislative leaders that we authored with allies and that focused on post-COVID economic recovery and the need for dramatic food and agriculture policy change to meet the challenges of future pandemics and global warming;
2) advocacy on bills that we thought could make it through the disrupted process. We had to shift our focus several times during the session. In short, sustainable agriculture legislation made no headway, but some legislation to provide emergency services related to food and Black Lives Matter did move forward.
Below are the session’s results.
Bills that Died
AB 2466 California Community Health Fund (Richard Bloom)
AB 2887 Statewide emergencies: mitigation (Rod Bonta)
AB 1839 Economic, environmental and social recovery: Covid-19 Recovery Deal (Rod Bonta)
AB 2039 Mobile slaughter operations: sheep and goats (Marc Levine)
AN 2949 School meals: nutritional requirements (Monique Limon)
AB 2954 California Global Warming Solutions Act: climate goal: natural and working lands. (Robert Rivas)
Bills That Made it to the Governor
SB 1383 SIGNED Unlawful employment practice: California Family Rights Act (author: Senator Hannah Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara)
AB 826 VETOED Emergency food assistance: COVID-19 (author: Assemblymember Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles)
AB 2054 VETOED Emergency services: community response: grant program (author: Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager of Culver City)
AB 3121 SIGNED Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans (author: Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber of San Diego)
2019 Policy Work
Advocating for a Budget Request
ROC will advocate for the Healthy Soils Program to receive $50 million per year in order to achieve the California’s 2030 goal of 1 million acres of carbon capturing soil.
Advocating for Administrative Change
Policies can be changed by government agencies that alter their administrative procedures. This year we will work with California Department of Food and Agriculture to support small poultry producers seeking to legally sell to restaurants, retailers and farmers markets those rabbits or birds slaughtered on their farm.
Advocating for Legislation
We will be writing letters, asking you to write and call and using our social media channels to advocate for the following bills before the Legislature this year. Bills are categorized by the issue areas defined in collaboration with the California Food Policy Council and the California Food and Farming Network. Bolded segments identify where ROC will actively advocate in the Capitol building and in district offices.
Four Highest Priority Bills
AB 138 California Community Health Fund. Richard Bloom (Santa Monica)
Taxes sugary beverage distributors to create a California Community Health Fund to support prevention and treatment of disease. HELD IN ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON REVENUE & TAXATION. MAY MOVE NEXT YEAR.
SB 200 Safe & Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Bill Monning (Carmel)
Provides clean water in area where it does not exist with funds from a fee on fertilizer, dairies and water users. NOW ON SENATE FLOOR.
SB 499 CA-Grown for Healthy Kids Act. Mike McGuire (Healdsburg)
Provides 10 cents more to meal budgets for the purchase of fresh, CA-grown fruits and vegetables by school districts or charters that provide free breakfast and lunch in high-poverty schools. NOW ON SENATE FLOOR.
AB 409 Ag Adaptation Tools. Monique Limon (Santa Barbara)
Establishes a grant program to aid farmers and ranchers who work to increase resilience of their operations and prioritizes support for small-scale and farmers of color. NOW ON ASSEMBLY FLOOR.
Other Priority Bills
AB 5 Fair classification of workers. Author Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (South San Diego)
Stops companies from misclassifying their workers as independent contractors in order to lower employer obligations. NOW ON ASSEMBLY FLOOR.
SB 285 CalFresh Connect. Author Anthony Wiener (San Francisco)
Improves CalFresh improve enrollment, especially among those receiving Medi-Cal with special attention to seniors through simplified applications and retention systems. NOW ON SENATE FLOOR.
AB 534 Plan for a Hunger-Free California. Author Chad Mayes (Yucca Valley)
Requires a multiagency plan to end hunger in California and creation of grant program to develop rural food hubs. DIED IN ASSEMBLY APPROPRIATIONS.
AB 764 Sugary beverage marketing limits. Author Rob Bonta (Alameda)
Restricts beverage companies from offering and funding certain promotional and marketing activities for sugar-sweetened beverages. NOW ON ASSEMBLY FLOOR.
AB 765 Healthy Checkout Aisles for Healthy Families Act. Author Buffy Wicks (Oakland)
Requires a store to place only milk and natural fruit and vegetable juice in the checkout areas of the store. STOPPED BEFORE ITS FIRST COMMITTEE.
AB 1022 California Anti-Hunger Response & Employment Training Act. Author Buffy Wicks (Oakland)
Establishes a training program to fight hunger among individuals who have been determined ineligible for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by a cruel federal time limit. NOW ON ASSEMBLY FLOOR.
AB 842 Hunger-Free Preschool. Monique Lemon (Santa Barbara) and Susan Eggman (Stockton)
Ensures that all low-income, public preK students have access to a free- or reduced-price meals and all childcare providers utilizing the ChildCare Food Program receive supplemental state funding. NOW ON ASSEMBLY FLOOR.
AB 958 Organic-to-School Pilot Program. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (Winters)
Creates a pilot competitive grant program for public school districts to receive up to 15 cents extra per meal to support procurement of California-grown organic foods. DIED IN ASSEMBLY APPROPRIATIONS.
SB 45 Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020. Ben Allen (Los Angeles)
Funds alternative agriculture practices that promote healthy soils, climate resilience, sustainable groundwater management and carbon sequestration and more. HELD IN ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON REVENUE & TAXATION. MAY MOVE NEXT YEAR.
AB 293 Greenhouse Gases: Ag Lands Offsets. Eduardo Garcia (Coachella)
Requires adoption of additional greenhouse gas offsets to enhance management, conservation or restoration of natural, wetlands and agricultural lands. HELD IN COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY.
SB 458 Protect Children from Brain Damaging Chlorpyrifos. Maria Elena Durazo (Los Angeles)
Prohibits use of the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos in California. HELD IN SENATE APPROPRIATIONS, BUT GOVERNOR BANNED USE, BILL MAY NOT BE NEEDED.
AB 986 Agricultural Land. Robert Rivas (Hollister)
Creates a grant program that will aid in planning to support socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to access land. DIED IN ASSEMBLY APPROPRIATIONS.
2018 Policy Work
ROC has succeeded again by winning one of the two legislative campaigns we led this year. We expanded the California Nutrition Incentive Act and its grant program that makes fresh food affordable. We actually did it through the budget process rather than the bill AB 2335. The bill’s author, Assemblymember Phil Ting (San Francisco), Chair of the Budget Committee, used the language of AB 2335 to complete a budget bill that was passed and signed by the Governor. With tremendous public support from chefs, consumers, retailers and farmers, the Assembly Agriculture Committee passed with bipartisan support our Small Poultry Producer Protection Act AB 2909, authored by Assemblymember Jim Wood (Healdsburg). Sadly, the Assembly Appropriations Committee killed the bill which eliminated outdated and unnecessary regulations. We will reintroduce our proposal next year. Learn more details about the bills below.
AB 2909 The Small Poultry Producers Protection Act
(Dr. Jim Wood, Healdsburg)
Until now, the small poultry and rabbit farmers of the state have been unfairly restricted from growing their businesses by outdated regulations. The bill for the first time allows farmers of 20,000 or less birds and rabbits to hire non-family members to raise and process animals on the farm. It also for the first time allows the same producers to become an “approved source.” This permits them to sell to hotels, restaurants, retail grocers or food service companies if the farmer registers with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and abides by the department’s guidelines for animal welfare and food safety practices, including source traceability. It is a common sense approach aligned with the farm-to-fork values of the state and four CDFA strategic goals: Ease the Burden of Regulation on Agriculture While Maintaining Health, Safety and Environmental Standards; Assure a Strong Labor Force through Fairness to Agricultural Workers and Employers; Promote Robust Regional Markets for All California Producers; and Cultivate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers.
⇒ Link to AB 2909 Fact Sheet
⇒ Download Sample Support Letters for:
Please join our list of supporters be emailing [email protected]. In the email state your name, zip code and support for AB 2909 and we will add you to the list and share your support with the Legislature. Thank you!
Supporters of Record
- Agricultural Institute of Marin (Beth Schecter)
- Alvaro Garza
- Bacon and Butter (Amber Michel and Billy Zoellin)
- Bay Area Green Tours (Marissa LaManga)
- Big Night Restaurant Group (Emily Luchetti)
- BiteRite Market (Sam Mogannam)
- Boulettes Larder + Boulibar (Amaryll Schwertner)
- Border Grill (Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken)
- Boulevard (Dana Younkin)
- Brown Sugar Kitchen (Tanya Holland)
- California Institute for Rural Studies (Gail Wadsworth)
- Center for Land-based Learning (Mary Kimball)
- Community Alliance with Family Farmers (David Runsten)
- Chez Panisse (Alice Waters)
- Danielle Charney
- Davero Farms and Winery (Colleen McGlynn)
- Denis Paull
- Devils Gulch Ranch (Mark Pasternak)
- Dorothy Janke
- Elaine Benjamin
- Earth Fire Family Farm (Katrina Schultz)
- Fogline Farm (Caleb Barron)
- Foreign Cinema (Gayle Pirie and Andrew Dovel)
- Green Star Farm (Sarah Silver)
- Humboldt Food Policy Council (May Patiño)
- Karen Meyer
- Kitchen Table Consultants (Rebecca Frimmer)
- Jardinière (Traci de Jardins)
- Linda Jones
- Marissa La Brecque, Founder Butchers Guild & Author
- Marlowe (Jose Campos)
- Mulvaney’s B&L (Patrick Mulvaney)
- OZ Family Farm (Kelly Osman)
- Old Grove Orange (Bob Knight)
- Parade Farming Company (Chris Robb, new farmer)
- Parkside Tavern (Larry Doyle)
- Paula LeDuc Fine Catering (Daniel Capra)
- Paula Shatkin
- Peg Champion
- Petit Marlowe (Brenda Aguilar)
- Petra Martinez-Diaz
- Preserve Farm Kitchens (Merrilee Olson)
- Rancho Llano Seco & Olivia Tincany & Co. (Olivia Tincani)
- Rashid Patch
- Rebecca Thistlethwaite
- San Diego Food Systems Alliance (Elly Brown)
- Savory Café Restaurant (Juan Barajas)
- Seaglass Restaurant & Curiosity Catering (Lorreta Keller)
- SHED (Douglas & Cindy Lipton)
- Shelley Albar
- Sherrill Futrell
- Skye Lark Ranch (Alexis and Gillies Robertson)
- Slow Food Sonoma County North (Carol Diaz)
- Slow Food Russian River (Paula Downing)
- Sonia Flowers
- Susan Hagemeister
- Susan Israel
- Sustainable Economies Law Center (Christina Oatfield)
- Table Bluff Farm (Hannah Eisloeffel)
- Tara Kamath
- The Cavalier (Carlos Kuk)
- The Local Butcher Shop (Aaron Rocchino)
- The Rockin R (Bryce Rauterkus, new farmer)
- V. Miller Meats
- Zazu Kitchen + Farm (Duskie Estes)
This bill builds on ROC’s previous success in creating the CA Nutrition Incentives Program in 2015 and winning a $5 million General Fund appropriation in 2016, under the legislative leadership of Assemblyman Ting. This update of the CNIP creates a pilot grant program in several counties to extend the nutrition incentive program to corner stores in under-resourced communities. Typically corner stores, which may be the only store in a neighborhood, do not offer fresh produce. The bill creates a $5 million grant program to outfit corners stores with refrigerated display boxes and technical assistance in healthy retail procedures. At the same time, ROC is seeking through the budget process $10 million for the existing CNIP grant program that serves CalFresh families buying fresh produce at farmers markets, farm stands and from Community Supported Agriculture projects. We are thrilled that Oakland’s Rob Bonta has joined forces with San Francisco’s Phil Ting to move the legislation forward. Both are true champions of food justice!
Please join our list of supporters be emailing [email protected]. In the email state your name, zip code and support for AB 2335 and we will add you to the list and share your support with the Legislature. Thank you!
Supporters of Record
- American Cancer Society
- American Heart Association, Co-Sponsor
- Bay Area Green Tours
- California Institute for Rural Studies
- California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN)
- Center for Food Safety
- Craig McNamara, Sierra Orchards
- Danielle Charney
- Ecology Center
- Environmental Working Group
- Farm to Pantry
- Fitness Collaborative of the Central Coast
- Food Chain Workers Alliance
- GMO Free California
- Humboldt Food Policy Council
- Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Co-Sponsor
- Locally Delicious
- Los Angeles Food Policy Council
- Lucy Hicks
- Mulvaney’s B&L
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Occidental Arts & Ecology Center
- Orange County Food Access Coalitio
- Peg Champion
- Pesticide Action Network
- Prevention Institute
- Public Health Advocates
- Public Health Institute, Co-Sponsor
- Rashid Patch
- San Diego Food Systems Alliance
- Shelley Albar
- Sherrill Futrell
- Sierra Harvest
- Sonia Flores
- Social Justice Learning Institute
2017 Policy Work
ROC’s top priority remains passage of a statewide tax on sugary beverages. We do this because the effort to make healthy, local and sustainable food and agriculture the norm requires a revenue stream. Surprisingly, California under invests in its food and farms. Only about 15% of the Department of Food and Agriculture’s budget comes from state coffers. Those investments that are made from California’s General Fund are not always on the changes we’d prioritize. Therefore the tax, which would raise hundreds of millions annually for food system investment, is imperative. ROC co-leads a large coalition of public health, food justice and sustainable agriculture organizations fighting for the passage of a tax measure. Such measures are hard to win because legislators naturally fear raising taxes that might anger constituents.
This year, the Legislature is not considering our previous bill, AB 2782 The Healthy California Fund, because the leadership in the Assembly did not believe it could pass out of the Health Committee. Consequently, using a parliamentary procedure, the author of AB 2782, Assemblymember Richard Bloom (Santa Monica), placed a very generally written piece of similar legislation, AB 1003, in a hearing process. Over the late summer and fall, Bloom’s Select Committee on Prevention of Diabetes and Heart Disease will hold hearings on the bill and the tax concept in Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego. To help build participation in these hearings and to place pressure on legislators in the Health Committee, ROC is organizing with many partners community listening sessions in ten regions of the state. These hearings and our work this summer on updated and refined language, will prepare our coalition to resubmit a bill into the legislative process in 2018. If you’d like to learn more or to participate in a session near you, please email us [email protected].
ROC is advocating for many bills in the legislative process. Visit the California Legislation page to see the bills we are tracking.
2016 Policy Work
ROC successfully led the large coalition of food policy councils and allied nonprofits to convince the Legislature and Governor to fund the CA Nutrition Incentives Act (AB 1321, Phil Ting, San Francisco), which we sponsored and passed in 2015. Our action makes California the largest partner in the nation with USDA working to ensure that low income families receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) can afford to buy healthy, fresh organic produce at farmers markets, farm stands and through CSA programs that deliver weekly boxes of farm fresh fruits and vegetables. This Act and funding improves nutrition for families most in need and it helps small organic farmers who work hard to deliver the best produce in the nation.
The campaign prompted no less than 127 organizations or high profile leaders to write the Legislature’s leadership and Governor in support of our call for funding. It generated over 1 million Twitter impressions to the Governor and Legislature and a Sacramento Bee Opinion Editorial in support. We won because the food movement spoke up!
ROC also actively supported two successful bills: the passage of Senate Bill 3 (Mark Leno, San Francisco), the minimum wage increase to help close the income gap and help lift food chain workers out of poverty, and Assembly Bill 1826 (Mark Stone, Santa Cruz), an update to the organic certification act lowering the burdens and fees on organic farmers.
We also worked with the California Climate and Agriculture Network and Community Alliance with Family Farmers to improve Senate Bill 1350 (Lois Wolk, Davis) to assist farmers and ranchers to improve our soils in order to better conserve water and recapture climate-harming carbon in the soil. The bill did not actually pass, but its intent was inserted into the 2016-17 budget bill and the California Department of Agriculture will implement the program proposed by Senator Wolk, providing $7.5 million for pilot projects. We believe this will lead to substantial funding for carbon capture and other sustainable farming practices in the future.
2015 Policy Work
In addition to working with a coalition of organizations pursuing soil-building advocacy, Roots of Change is co-sponsoring:
AB 1321 (Ting) — Nutrition Incentive Matching Grant Program
ROC is co-sponsoring AB 1321 with Ecology Center and Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, with Assemblymember Phil Ting (San Francisco) as lead author. Here is a synopsis for the policy we are pursuing, which would scale up a successful pilot that doubles the value of nutrition assistance benefits at farmers’ markets and small business retailers when used to purchase California grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. This bill is a win-win for California’s small- and mid-sized farmers, low-income Californians, and our state economy. It is a local economic development, anti-poverty and anti-hunger policy all rolled up into one bill — and it’s evidence-based. We also advocated for a line item in the state budget this year which made it into the Legislature’s budget but was deleted in the final budget agreement between Governor Brown and the legislative leadership.
Our coalition can use your support — click here to support the bill in its final step with Governor Brown! Here are a few resources in support of AB 1321 and the associated budget proposal:
- Fact sheet (updated 5/22/15)
- Sacramento Bee Joint Op-Ed by Michael Dimock & Shawn Harrison
- Copies of budget support letters sent to CDFA Secretary Karen Ross and Assemblymember Shirley Weber
- Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet
- Nutrition incentive stories from Humboldt, LA, Oakland & San Diego
- AB 1321 on LegInfo
On December 18, 2014, we had a one hour meeting with officials from the state Department of Food & Agriculture, Department of Social Services and Department of Public Health to discuss this statewide nutrition incentives program. We are working with our state agencies to find common ground for this program and have had multiple meetings since then. Listen to or download the meeting recording, along with the handouts:
AB 359 (Gonzalez) — Protecting Middle Class Grocery Jobs Through Worker Retention
Signed into law by Governor Brown on 8/17; read his signing statement!
ROC signed on to co-sponsor AB 359 with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Community Food & Justice Coalition (CFJC), with Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez as lead author. In cases where a big grocery store (15,000 square feet or larger) undergoes a change of ownership, this bill provides extensive protections to eligible employees that have worked for the former grocery store owner for a minimum of six months. It is modeled after similar ordinances that have been enacted at the local level across the state.
Job security and stability among grocery store workers is an important priority given that almost a quarter of Californians are still under the poverty level and without a 90 day retention period, poverty rates would be further exacerbated. Also, here are some AB 359 resources:
- Fact Sheet (Updated 3/9/15)
- AB 359 on LegInfo
- Joint co-sponsor letter with Community Food & Justice Coalition
AB 1357 (Bloom) – Children and Family Health Promotion Program
ROC also signed on to co-sponsor this bill with the American Heart Association, Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment Advocacy & Leadership, CA Primary Care Association, CA Rural Indian Health Board, Council of Black Nurses LA, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Public Health Institute, Urban League and the 100 Black Men.
This bill would create the Children and Family Health Promotion Program, which will require a 2 cents per ounce fee on sugar drinks, with a portion of these funds going to the Department of Education for Farm-to-School and also to CDFA for supporting specialty crop sales and nutrition incentive programs. Unfortunately, the bill was killed in Assembly Health Committee with 10 No votes, 6 Ayes and the rest abstaining. It may be the
Here are some AB 1357 resources:
- AB1357 on LegInfo and put simply
- AB 1357 Rethink Your Drink infographic
- The evidence base for AB 1357
- Choose Health California fact sheets on obesity, diabetes and sugary drinks
- Potential job impacts?
- The Bigger Picture project
2014 Policy Work
AB 2385 (Ting) — Market Match Nutrition Incentive Program
In 2014, Assemblymember Phil Ting (San Francisco) authored AB 2385, sponsored by Roots of Change. This bill would have created the Market Match Nutrition Incentive Program within the California Department of Food and Agriculture. This program would have provided grants for farmers’ markets and potentially other direct producer-to-consumer venues (CSA, farm stands or corner stores) that help low-income Californians afford healthy fruits, nuts, and vegetables. AB 2385 would have maximized California’s ability to take advantage of $100 million in federal matching monies made available through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program in the 2014 Farm Bill. Unfortunately, AB 2385 was held in Assembly Appropriations, despite the support from over 60 organizations.
AB 2385 Resources and Press
- ROC AB 2385 Page
- ROC AB 2385 Update
- AB 2385 on LegInfo
- Fact Sheet
- Editorial: Pound-foolish Democrats deny healthy food to poor people (Sacramento Bee, 6.15.2014)