4th Annual Report Underscores Legislator Positions on Equity in the Food System
Sacramento, CA – Today, a diverse range of nutrition, worker, farmer and environmental advocates — representing communities up and down the state — released a report detailing critical food and farming issues taken up in the California legislature this year. The report also includes a detailed record of legislators’ votes on those issues.
"Amidst the turmoil of the recent federal elections, California is a beacon of hope, advancing socially just and environmentally sound food and farming policy," said Chef Brenda Ruiz, one of the report authors, president of the Sacramento Food Policy Council and a board member of the California Food Policy Council. “The dinner table is political, and food has the opportunity to unite Californians around a shared purpose.”
The report — released by the California Food Policy Council, its 27 member food policy councils and Roots of Change — underscores the increasingly important role California is playing in advancing fair and sustainable food and farming policy nationally, and the increasing attention being paid to these issues in the legislature.
In particular, the report lifts up four areas of major progress in California, painstakingly evaluated by hundreds of people and organizations working on food and farming policy: ecological farming, healthy food access, economic viability for local food and small producers, and food chain worker advancement.
Advocates say success on these issues is tempered by the significant role pesticide manufacturers, corporate farming and food production interests play in elections and policymaking.
"Legislators still have much work to do, and many critical issues aren't even introduced for fear of the lobbying muscle and political clout of Big Ag and Big Food," said Paul Towers, also a report author and secretary of the Sacramento Food Policy Council, as well as policy advocate with Pesticide Action Network. “California legislators must stand up to these powerful corporate interests in order to advance policies that protect and promote the long-term prosperity of the state’s food and farming system.”
Fifty-three legislators received scores of 100%, meaning they voted in support of each critical food and farming policy. Four legislators were also recognized for championing food and farming issues, including two outgoing members: Senators Mark Leno (San Francisco) and Lois Wolk (Davis), along with returning members Phil Ting (San Francisco) and Susan Eggman (Stockton).
The report release also falls in the middle of International Food Workers Week, fitting for one of the most controversial bills of the session: farmworker overtime pay (AB 1066). Support for immigrant food workers has taken on added focus given the results of recent federal elections.
"As an immigrant and chef, I know firsthand the challenges we face. It behooves us all to recognize the underappreciated role immigrants play up and down the food chain, from farmworkers and small-scale farmers to food service and distribution," added Ruiz.
Paul Towers, 916-216-1082, firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to Legislation Scorecard: http://bit.ly/CaFoodPolicy2016
A summary of votes from locally-relevant legislators is below (100% means a legislator voted in in alignment with every priority food & farming bill that they could have):
Sacramento County Assemblymembers
Ken Cooley – 90%
Jim Cooper – 90%
Jim Frazier – 90%
Beth Gaines – 71%
Kevin McCarty –100%
Sacramento County Senators
Tom Berryhill – 63%
Ted Gaines –56%
Jim Nielsen - 56%
Richard Pan – 88%
Lois Wolk – 100%