By: Assemblyman Devon J. Mathis
California’s agriculture community produces nearly half of the country’s fruit, nuts, and vegetables, and is responsible for feeding millions of families at home and around the globe. With nearly 70,000 farming operations across 24.3 million acres of land, California remains the largest agricultural producer and exporter in the nation, generating at least $100 billion in related economic activity a year.
Our agriculture industry is comprised of family farms and commercial animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which are enterprises that sell for commercial gain of animal food products, including meat, dairy, eggs, organs, and other byproducts. Unfortunately, Assembly Bill 2764 was introduced and would ultimately put these types of operations at risk if passed and signed into law.
AB 2764 would prohibit CAFOs from beginning or expanding operations if the operation produces an annual revenue of $100,000 or more. Any person in violation of this bill’s provisions will be found civilly liable for a penalty in an amount up to $10,000 per day.
I am fundamentally opposed to AB 2764. CAFOs greatly help further the state’s economy and domestic capacity. The advocates who want to greatly limit and ultimately eliminate CAFOs in California would rather us seek out products from our neighboring states or import globally from places that do not always have the same labor or safety standards and environmental regulations as we do.
Because of efficient feeding and housing of animals, increased facility sizes, and animal specialization, CAFOs offer a low-cost source of meat, milk, and eggs when operations are properly managed, located, and monitored. Additionally, while traditional farms are usually only able to harvest crops a few times a year, commercial operations are free of constraints like seasonal and weather changes, harmful pests and natural disasters, giving them the ability to produce food all year long.
In 2019, California alone made up 16% of U.S. agricultural exports and accounted for 68% of the export value. This is significant benefit to our economy. CAFOs allow California to continue to be the top agricultural provider in the U.S.
Further, as California seeks to find ways to support the U.S. in its global effort to assist other countries in need, it is entirely counterproductive to limit our production of resources and food. This would thereby increase our dependency on others. Instead, by cutting red tape and streamlining the production of resources at home, we can continue to lead the nation in agriculture production.
The agriculture sector is an essential part of our state, our economy, and the global market. Unfortunately, this bill is just another attempt to kill the agriculture industry in our state as well as the economic benefit it provides to our local communities. I will continue working to protect California's farming and agricultural industries. I am honored to fight for our values in the State Assembly.