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Holden introduces bill to put California's farmers first

February 04, 2013

Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) introduced a bill Monday to make sure state-owned and state-run institutions are buying their food from in-state farmers and ranchers.

Holden’s AB 199, or the Choose California Act, would require public institutions, such as schools, prisons or hospitals, to buy agricultural products grown in California before buying from out-of-state suppliers, Holden said.

In order to qualify for the program, the in-state produce must not cost more than 5% higher than comparable out-of-state items.

“It just makes sense to put California-grown crops first,”  Holden said in a statement. “It’s a win-win for everyone. The public institutions get a locally-grown product, we’re helping create opportunities for our farmers and a new appreciation for local food helps stimulate the economy.”

Holden said that the bill is similar to the federal Buy America Act which requires government entities to buy American-made products.

California has the greatest agricultural output of any state, with farms and ranches earning a record $43 billion in 2012, according to information from Department of Food and Agriculture and cited by Holden.

Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau, said California farmers strongly support the bill.

“This bill would introduce more Californians to the amazing variety of agricultural products grown in the state … which will have long-term benefits to farmers and the agricultural economy,” Wenger said.

Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.

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