A week after the inauguration of Governor Gavin Newsom and a few days into the legislative session, the California Food and Farming Network (CFFN) and the California Food Policy Council (CAFPC) have released the 2018 Food & Farm Scorecard — a report revealing the policy votes of California’s 120 elected state legislators on food and farming issues. Pesticide Action Network is a member of CFFN.
While a super-majority of the bills that aligned with the groups’ priorities were advanced, only two legislators earned a 100% ranking for support of a number of transformative food- and farm-related policies.
For visibility and accountability
The 2018 legislative scorecard is the sixth iteration of the project, a collaborative effort amongst 38 organizations. The report is meant to bring greater visibility to food and farming issues, and represents the diversity of the challenges the state faces — from hunger and nutrition to farmer livelihood and food chain worker protections.
The 2018 Food & Farm Scorecard analyzed 21 bills, tracked 17 of them and 70% of the bills were either killed or adopted in accordance with the coalition’s position.
Of the bills tracked, only two members — Senator Ben Allen (SD 26) and Senator Bob Wieckowski (SD 10) — earned 100% scores, while last year nearly half of legislators earned 100% rankings. Beth Smoker, Policy Director at the California Food and Farming Network, shared:
Food and agriculture touch every Californian, yet few legislators distinguish themselves as champions. California legislators earned few top marks and lots of passing grades.
Six senators and eight assembly members scored 90% or better, the equivalent of an A grade. Twenty-four senators and 52 assembly members scored 70% or better, the equivalent of at least a C grade. One Republican — Brian Maienschein (AD 77) — scored a passing grade.
Of the twenty priority bills tracked in 2018, Governor Jerry Brown was in alignment 90% of the time, signing just one bill they opposed.
Food and farm champions
Two legislators were specifically acknowledged for their legislative leadership over the past year: Senator Ricardo Lara led efforts to secure rights for sidewalk vendors (SB 946) and Senator Bill Monning led efforts to ensure safe and affordable drinking water for underserved communities (SB 623).
CFFN and CAFPC also acknowledged California Department of Food & Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross for her leadership over the past eight years in advancing a range of policies including nutrition incentives, support for historically underserved farmers and healthy soils initiatives.
As Governor Newsom takes office and the new legislative year kicks off, the collaborative group behind the Food and Farm Scorecard will continue to track and promote policies that are rooted in communities, promote fairness and racial equity, secure financial prosperity and advance environmental sustainability.
PHOTOS: Tia Gemmell