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AB-778 Institutional purchasers: purchase of California-grown agricultural food products.(2021-2022)



Current Version: 05/03/21 - Amended Assembly Compare Versions information image


AB778:v95#DOCUMENT

Revised  May 20, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 03, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 22, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 05, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 16, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 778


Introduced by Assembly Members Eduardo Garcia, Mathis, and Robert Rivas
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Cooper, Aguiar-Curry, Bloom, Cooper, Cunningham, Mayes, Medina, and Salas Salas, Wood, and Lorena Gonzalez)
(Coauthors: Senators Caballero and Hurtado)

February 16, 2021


An act to amend Section 58595 of the Food and Agricultural Code, relating to agricultural food products.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 778, as amended, Eduardo Garcia. Institutional purchasers: purchase of California-grown agricultural food products.
Existing law requires all California state-owned or state-run institutions, except public universities and colleges and school districts, to purchase an agricultural product grown in California when the bid or price of the California-grown agricultural product does not exceed by more than 5% the lowest bid or price for an agricultural product produced outside the state and the quality of the California-grown agricultural product is comparable. Existing law also requires the institutions, when they solicit or intend to accept a bid or price for agricultural products grown outside the state, to accept the bid or price from a vendor that packs or processes these agricultural products in the state before accepting a bid or price from a vendor that packs or processes these agricultural products outside of the state when specified conditions are met, including that the bid or price of the agricultural product grown outside the state and packed or processed in the state does not exceed by more than 5% the lowest bid or price for the agricultural product packed or processed outside the state. Existing law requires a school district that solicits bids for the purchase of an agricultural product to accept a bid or price for that agricultural product when it is grown in California before accepting a bid or price for an agricultural product that is grown outside the state when the bid or price of the California-grown agricultural product does not exceed the lowest bid or price for an agricultural product produced outside the state and the quality of the California-grown agricultural product is comparable. Under existing law, these provisions only apply to a contract to purchase agricultural products for a value that is less than the value of the threshold for supplies and services for which California has obligated itself under the Agreement on Government Procurement of the World Trade Organization.
This bill would instead require all California state-owned or state-run institutions, all segments of public postsecondary education, and all local educational agencies that purchase agricultural food products to only purchase an agricultural food product grown or produced in California unless the agricultural food product is not currently in season in California and available from an in-state grower, grower or producer, is not grown or produced in the state, or is sold as a canned, dried, or frozen frozen, or juice product. In the instance when one of these institutions purchases an agricultural food product grown or produced outside of the state, the bill would require the institution to provide a specified preference to agricultural food products grown or produced in the country over agricultural food products grown or produced outside of the country. The bill would eliminate the above-described preference for in-state vendors. The bill would provide that the bill’s provisions neither limit nor expand California’s obligations under the Agreement on Government Procurement of the World Trade Organization. The bill would exempt agricultural food products provided to a California state-owned or state-run institution, a segment of public postsecondary education, or a local educational agency by the United States Department of Agriculture through the Foods in Schools program from these preferences. The bill would define “agricultural food product” for purposes of these provisions. The bill would require the California State Auditor to investigate violations of these provisions. By creating new duties for school districts and community college districts, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Over one-third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities. California is the leading state in the nation for cash farm receipts, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s total agricultural value.
(b) California is the sole producer (99 percent or more) in the nation of the following crops: almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, garlic, grapes, raisins, kiwi, melons, olives, clingstone peaches, pistachios, rice, and walnuts, and a lead producer in many more agricultural products.
(c) Farmers in this state produce fruits, vegetables, nuts, and meat from animal livestock in accordance with the state’s pesticide, labor, environmental, and minimum wage laws.
(d) Complying with these state laws increases costs but provides real benefits to the health of consumers, to the environment, and to the workers who produce these goods.
(e) On January 25, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order on “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers” that stated that “It is the policy of my Administration that the United States Government should, consistent with applicable law, use terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements to maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in, and services offered in, the United States. The United States Government should, whenever possible, procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America’s workers thrive.”
(f) The Buy American Provision requiring the purchase of domestic commodities by participants in the National School Lunch Program has been in place for 30 years. However, the law allows waivers where the domestic product is priced significantly higher than a nondomestic product. This loophole has resulted in widespread noncompliance with Buy America requirements.
(g) According to figures from the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, 81 percent of the apple juice served in the school lunch program is imported, and 50 to 60 percent of the fish served in schools is “caught by Russian ships and processed in China.”
(h) Competition from nondomestic producers hurts California agriculture and threatens to eliminate the jobs that workers depend on to feed their own families.
(i) Those who rely on publicly purchased nutrition programs, including school nutrition programs, are often among the most vulnerable children and families. They should have access to high-quality, healthy meals, such as those grown, packed, and produced in California.
(j) Purchasing domestic products reduces the carbon footprint and results in lower greenhouse gas emissions. California companies are subject to more rigorous environmental standards, resulting in enhanced food safety and public safety.

SEC. 2.

 Section 58595 of the Food and Agricultural Code is amended to read:

58595.
 (a) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), all California state-owned or state-run institutions, all segments of public postsecondary education, and all local educational agencies that purchase agricultural food products shall only purchase an agricultural food product that is grown or produced in the state.
(2) (A) A California state-owned or state-run institution, a segment of public postsecondary education, or a local educational agency may purchase an agricultural food product when it is grown or produced outside of the state if the agricultural food product is not currently in season in California and available from an in-state grower, grower or producer, is not grown or produced in the state, or is sold as a canned, dried, or frozen frozen, or juice product.
(B) An institution that solicits bids for the purchase of an agricultural food product pursuant to this paragraph shall accept a bid or price for that agricultural food product when it is grown or produced in this country before accepting a bid or price for an agricultural food product that is grown or produced outside the country when the bid or price of the domestically grown or produced agricultural food product does not exceed by more than 25 percent the lowest bid or price for an agricultural food product grown or produced outside the country.
(b) This section shall neither limit nor expand California’s obligations under the Agreement on Government Procurement of the World Trade Organization.
(c) This section does not apply to agricultural food products provided to a California state-owned or state-run institution, a segment of public postsecondary education, or a local educational agency by the United States Department of Agriculture through the Foods in Schools program.
(d) The California State Auditor shall investigate violations of this section.
(e) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Agricultural food product” means a fresh or processed product, including fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, dairy, shell eggs, honey, grains, livestock meats, poultry meats, and fish, including shellfish.
(2) “Local educational agency” has the same meaning as defined in Section 49557.5 of the Education Code.
(3) “Segment of public postsecondary education” means a segment of public higher education described in Section 66010 of the Education Code.

SEC. 3.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
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REVISIONS:
Heading—Line 4.
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