From the Field

Keeping Track of California Food and Farm Policy

Here are ten pieces of legislation that we’re keeping an eye on in 2024.

April 22, 2024

By Jeanne Merrill

Agroecological Farming

AB 2113 (E. Garcia) – Pesticide Mill Fee
Increases the pesticide mill fee, which provides majority funding to the Department of Pesticide Regulation. CFFN members seek amendments outlined in this factsheet that would fund a Sustainable Pest Management grant program, enforceable targets for completing reevaluations of hazardous pesticides, and an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee at DPR, with a higher mill fee increase. CFFN members also oppose a provision that would restrict eligibility to request review of permits for restricted material pesticides.

AB 2734 (Connolly) – Improvements to the Healthy Soil Program
Amends the program to ensure all farmers can access it, including on-farm demonstration projects lasting up to 5 years, consultation with the CA Organic Products Advisory Committee, advance payment rates of up to 50 percent, regional variations in input costs for incentive rates, a common application process, and equipment sharing as an allowable cost in Climate Smart Agriculture Technical Assistance Grants program.

Healthy Food Access

SB 1254 (Becker) – Thriving Transitions: Food for Re-Entry and Ensuring Stable Homes (FRESH) Act
Allows and assists incarcerated people in applying for CalFresh benefits up to 90 days before their release to better prepare them for reentry and creates a workgroup within the Department of Social Services to begin recommendations for a statewide reentry process.

AB 1975 (Bonta) – Medically Supportive Food and Nutrition
Transitions food-based interventions from pilot to permanent Medi-Cal benefits and launches an advisory workgroup to support the writing of related regulations.

AB 660 (Irwin) & AB 2577 (Irwin) – Food Expiration Date Reform
Confusing and misleading expiration date labels are a leading cause of food waste up and down the supply chain. AB 660 would implement the industry’s suggested best practices to require food manufacturers to use uniform terminology when labeling their products, and AB 2577 is a companion bill that would establish a regulatory process for evaluating these types of requirements.

Farmworker and Food Chain Worker Advancement

SB 1089 (Smallwood-Cuevas) – Grocery and Pharmacy Closure Notice
Requires 90-day notice to workers and community for proposed grocery or pharmacy store closure. Notice will also be sent to CDSS to maintain a list of up-to-date grocery stores that accept food benefits. Bill is part of CA Legislative Black Caucus’s Reparations Package.

SB 1105 (Padilla) – Leave for Farmworkers During Climate Emergencies
Requires that paid sick leave granted to agricultural employees can also be utilized to avoid smoke, heat, or flooding conditions created by a local or state emergency, allowing workers to avoid personal financial ruin when they need to stay home from work for their safety.

Regional Food Ecosystems

AB 1961 (Wicks) – Strategic Masterplan to End Hunger in CA
Creates a taskforce of state and community representatives to develop a strategic master plan aimed at ending hunger in CA through intersectional lenses.

AB 408 (Wilson) – Food & Agriculture Climate Resilience Bond
Puts a $3.6 billion bond measure in front of California voters to invest in programs and infrastructure to strengthen our food and farming system across agriculture, farmworkers, healthy and culturally relevant food access, and regional food economies.

AB 2313 (Bennett) – Regional Farmer Equipment & Cooperative Resources Assistance Pilot Program
Establishes a program at the California Department of Food and Agriculture to fund resource conservation districts, County agricultural commissioners, University of California Cooperative Extensions, tribal entities, and nonprofits serving small, socially-disadvantaged and/or limited resource farmers to run equipment sharing programs to make it easier for farmers to access the equipment needed to implement agroecological practices.

Additional bills

AB 1864 (Connolly) – Pesticide Use Near Schools
AB 2150 (Arambula) – Public Social Services in Higher Education
AB 2595 (L. Rivas) – Summer Caregiver Meals
AB 2786 (Bonta) – Mobile Farmers’ Markets
SB 675 (Limón) – Prescribed Grazing for Wildfire Mitigation
SB 1448 (Hurtado) – Increasing small farm access to land and markets