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Buy California farm products bill clears committee unanimously

April 17, 2013|By Ricardo Lopez
  • A bill that would require California public institutions, such as prisons and schools, to give preference to local farm products easily cleared an Assembly committee Wednesday. The bill, AB 199, was passed unanimously by the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
A bill that would require California public institutions, such as prisons… (Joe Klamar/ AFP/Getty Images )

A bill that would require prisons, schools and other public institutions to give preference to California farm products handily cleared a committee Wednesday.

The Choose California Act, sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), cleared the Assembly Agriculture Committee on a 7-0 vote.

The proposed law, AB 199, would mandate public institutions to buy California agriculture products if the price is within 5% of the lowest out-of-state competitor.

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Schools would be exempt from that rule and would be required to buy California-grown products only if they are cheaper.

Existing law gives California products preference only if the cost and value are equal to out-of-state competitors.

California, which leads the country in agriculture production, had sales of $43.5 billion in 2011, according to state agriculture statistics. Almost 82,000 farms in the state produced more than 400 agriculture products. Dairy is the state's biggest agriculture commodity.

“This bill is a win-win for everyone," Holden said in a statement. "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.”

Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), who sits on the agriculture committee, said the bill was a "no-brainer" because it would support the state's economy and agriculture.

The bill now moves to the Assembly's Appropriations Committee for fiscal review, said Wendy Gordon, a spokeswoman for Holden.

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ricardo.lopez@latimes.com

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