What Do Farmers Think of the Choose California Act?

Ardenwood Farm, Fremont California | Photo: kevincollins/Flickr/Creative Commons License

In late January, assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) introduced bill AB 199 (or the "Choose California Act") into the California state legislature. The bill, if passed, would force state-run institutions (schools, prisons, hospitals, etc.) to purchase their agricultural products from California farmers before buying from out-of-state farms. Of course there are a few catches that come with this bill -- for example, for a farm in the state to be eligible for the program, their sticker price must not exceed the cost of identical out-of-state items by more than 5% -- but the main thrust of the act is simple: Californians helping Californians.

Or, is that all a bit too short-sighted? What's the catch? To help me find out, I sent the bill to a handful of local farmers and market managers to gauge their opinions on it.

Diana Rodgers, Manager of Mar Vista Farmers Market:

Cliff Kane, Kane's Family Farm:

Lefty Ayers, ReRide Ranch:

Noel Stehly, Stehly Farms:

Noel's quote pretty much sums up the feelings of the farmers I spoke to: As a local farmer, of course they're not going to be against anything that attempts to help California keep the money in-state. But at the same time, looking at how the state's been spending its money -- Lefty Ayers's example of the recent scandal in L.A.'s lunch program, for instance -- and there is certainly cause for skepticism.

In other words, there's got to be another shoe dropping on this. And until it does, farmers are saving their excitement.

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