January 13, 2009
The California State Senate is poised today to announce a change in name of the Senate Agriculture Committee to a newly-organized Committee on Food and Agriculture. The new committee, formed by State Senate President Darrell Steinberg and Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, is charged with creating policy and conducting oversight with a focus on food safety, sustainable farming, animal welfare, and food security.
A Senate document announcing the name change and reorganization, notes the “California State Senate is shifting the public policy paradigm as it relates to food and agriculture. As the nation’s leading agricultural state and the fifth largest supplier of food to the world, California as an obligation to ensure that food produced in the Golden State is nutritious, safe, and accessible. For too long consumers have not had a voice at the table in Sacramento.”
According to Sen. Florez, over the next year the new committee will hold a series of public hearings to hear testimony on issues, including: assuring the integrity of organic food and the use of organic fertilizers; addressing the public health impacts resulting from the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in the food supply; and implementing sustainable farming practices across California farming operations.
Center for a Livable Future Director Bob Lawrence applauded the formation of the new committee in a letter to Sen. Florez. “We believe that this name change is more than symbolic, as it reflects an intention to refine the focus of the committee’s work and indicates a much needed adjustment in addressing important public health issues surrounding how and what food is produced in California. We also believe that taking this step in California will resonate in other parts of the country and will potentially stimulate similar change in other states.”
More information about the new committee can be found on their web site.