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California Fresh Produce Industry Responds to Assembly Action on Senate Bill 559; Dave Puglia, Ian LeMay, and Casey Creamer Discuss

California Fresh Produce Industry Responds to Assembly Action on Senate Bill 559; Dave Puglia, Ian LeMay, and Casey Creamer Discuss

IRVINE, CA - Over the past few months, the state of California has been hit hard with wildfires and drought. As these issues continued, the California fresh produce industry wanted to shed a light on recent movements in the government, specifically California State Senator Melissa Hurtado pulling Senate Bill (SB) 559.

According to the statement, Senator Hurtado was forced to pull SB 559 after the California State Assembly Appropriations Committee removed all funding provisions. In response, a coalition of leading California fresh produce organizations issued statements.

Ian LeMay, President, California Fresh Fruit Association“With nearly 90 percent of the state in extreme or exceptional drought, including virtually all the 3.25 million acres of farmland dependent on irrigation from the State Water Project and Central Valley Project, the move to strip SB 559 of its funding demonstrates the clear intent of the Assembly to drive food production out of California,” said California Fresh Fruit Association President Ian LeMay. “In light of the staggering state budget surplus, the decision to defund the repair of our critical conveyance systems is not financial, but ideological, and will harm thousands of multi-generational family farms and countless disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley.”

SB 559 was originally implemented to establish the Water Conveyance Restoration Fund in the State Treasury to be administered by the Department of Water Resources in consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

California State Senator Melissa Hurtado has pulled Senate Bill 559 following the California State Assembly Appropriations Committee’s decision to remove all funding provisions

In August, we reported on the $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill that identified $8 billion was for western water infrastructure. Before the SB 559 was amended, around $785 million was dedicated to various water-related projects.

Dave Puglia, President and Chief Executive Officer, Western Growers“Farms that cannot irrigate crops to grow food will inevitably reduce operations or cease farming altogether. When enough of them do, farmworkers lose the most,” said Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Puglia. “In once again eviscerating Senator Hurtado’s legislation to repair critical water infrastructure, the Assembly’s leaders leave no uncertainty as to the future they want for the farms, farmers, farmworkers, and communities of the San Joaquin Valley. They will do whatever it takes to keep taxpayer money flowing to a high-speed rail project we can do without and do whatever it takes to deny funds to help repair water infrastructure we cannot do without. We are enormously grateful to Senator Hurtado for her tenacity and to those who stood with her even as their leaders gave them, and all of us, the middle finger.”

California Citrus Mutual President and Chief Executive Officer Casey Creamer also offered his response.

Casey Creamer, President and Chief Executive Officer, California Citrus Mutual“Water supply reliability is central to the production of food in California and vital to the rural communities and statewide economy that is supported by the agriculture industry,” said Creamer. “SB 559 would have funded long-overdue repairs to canals and other conveyance infrastructure that have been damaged by subsidence. California cannot afford to waste even a single drop of its limited water resources in the face of changing hydrological conditions and recurring drought. In addition to the need to build more above and below ground storage, our state must also invest in fixing our broken water delivery systems.”

AndNowUKnow will continue to report on the challenges and updates in our industry.

California Fresh Fruit Association Western GrowersCalifornia Citrus Mutual

Companies in this Story

California Citrus Mutual

California Citrus Mutual is a citrus producer's trade association whose 2,200 grower members comprise 60% of California's...

California Fresh Fruit Association

The California Grape & Tree Fruit League (CGTFL) is a voluntary, nonprofit agricultural trade association that represents...

Western Growers Association

Since 1926, we have represented local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona and California. Our...