By Patty Poire, President, Kern County Farm Bureau
November is the month of Thanksgiving; however, it is unclear if the legislative session that ended in September provided us with anything to be thankful for. I am referring to the legislative bills that Governor Newsom signed into law, including some “climate change” bills that didn’t even go through the committee process. It never seems to shock me anymore on what the governors of California think are important and vital to the state’s future.
One legislative bill that received the most attention was AB 2183 – known as the “card check bill.” Again, nothing shocks me anymore but the process on this legislation came very close. Governor Newsom held closed-door meetings with the Labor Unions (United Farm Workers and the California Labor Federation) to discuss the legislation-seeking extensive amendments that are “scheduled” to be made this next legislative session. Adding to the craziness is that those extensive amendments were made public during the press release of the Governor’s signing. Typically, when a governor has substantial concerns about any legislation, which he apparently had as evidenced by the extensive amendments, the governor vetoes the legislation with an explanation of said concerns as he has done in previous years when this type of legislation has come to his desk.
Why the process change? Was it because of President Biden and Nancy Pelosi’s comments? Was it because of the governor’s aspirations of higher political office? What happens if those extensive amendments don’t make it to the governor’s desk exactly the way that he wants? Or even worse, what if they do? What does that tell the citizens of California? Only time will tell but, in the meantime, the legislation goes into effect January 1, 2023. And let’s not forget about the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Cedar Point where the decision was property rights prevail. This legislation was to “give” the farmer the right to waive their constitutional right that was just fortified by the recent Supreme Court decision. If you need information on this legislation, please contact the Kern County Farm Bureau office.
Moving on, there are two “climate change” bills that I would like to bring to your attention. The first, AB 1757, is a climate change bill for natural and working agricultural lands. It gives the California Air Resources Board the authority to develop standard methods for state agencies to consistently track greenhouse gas emissions and reductions (carbon sequestration) and then establish specified carbon dioxide removal targets for 2030 and beyond. The legislation goes on to establish an “Expert Advisory Committee” that will be composed of university researchers, technical assistance providers, practitioners, Indigenous and environmental justice representatives, as well as other experts in the field of climate change and natural and working lands science and management. I find it interesting that the word agricultural was not included in the committee formation so let’s hope that “practitioners” means agricultural.
The second, Senate Bill 905, is like the legislation mentioned above in that it deals with carbon sequestration (carbon capture, removal, utilization, and storage). This legislation is a “playbook” of how carbon sequestration projects will be handled to comply with the requirement to establish specified carbon dioxide removal targets for 2030 and beyond. If history repeats itself, as I believe it often does, while also considering the fact that removal targets haven’t yet been set, this type of legislation leads me to believe that it will become a mandatory process in some form or fashion on how agriculture is farmed.
One good legislation signed by the Governor was AB 2836 which extended the current authorization for the Carl Moyer Program to fund a broader range of projects that reduce emissions from covered sources until January 1, 2033. This new extended program goes into effect on January 1, 2023. Kern County farmers tend not to seek this program, but you have all contributed to the funds, so please consider doing so. If you need information on the program, please contact the Kern County Farm Bureau.
Kern County Farm Bureau is here to assist you in any of these or other legislative or regulatory issues.
In closing, this is a month that should be for Thanksgiving, therefore, I am very thankful for the opportunity to represent Kern County agriculture, the best in the state, the nation, and the world!