Sen. Anna Caballero

Image via Anna Caballero campaign

published on September 12, 2022 - 1:03 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced) is pushing for a signature from Gov. Gavin Newsom on her SB 490 Buy American Food Act.

SB 490 “would improve the quality and safety of state-provided nutrition programs, protect California workers, and reward California’s agricultural industry by strengthening federal Buy American policy at the state level,” according to a news release.

The bill requires that all public institutions receiving federal reimbursement to provide prepared meals only purchase agricultural products grown, packed or processed in the U.S. An exception would be if the imported product costs 25% or more cheaper than the domestic product.

The language would have to be included in the institution’s bids and contracts.

“Buy American reflects our values and how we spend our tax dollars. It supports local farmers, jobs, and the economy and ensures that our residents consume food of the highest quality and safety. SB 490 strengthens federal policy at the state level and ensures that our students receive quality, California-grown products in their school meals. Our children, our farmers and our workers are worth the investment,” Caballero said in a statement.

The Agricultural Council of California, an advocacy group representing more than 15,000 farmers across the Golden State, said SB 490 would ensure growers are supported for meeting the state’s stringent standards when it comes to food safety and labor practices.

Ag Council President Emily Rooney said, “Ag Council thanks Senator Caballero for authoring SB 490 and for her commitment and tenacity to ensure the Legislature approved this important measure, which will benefit California’s agricultural community.”

“Ag Council also appreciates the following labor organizations for their steadfast efforts to help pass SB 490 alongside our organization: California Cannery Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Committee, Teamsters Food Processing Division, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, UFCW and others.”

Wawona Frozen Foods and Sun-Maid Growers are also local supporters.

Caballlero is hosting a news conference Wednesday in Fresno to promote the bill, which awaits action from Newsom.

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