Speaker pro Tempore Fiona Ma’s Bills to Assist the Agriculture Community Signed by Governor Brown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            

September 26, 2012

SACRAMENTO, CA-Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fiona Ma’s (D-San Francisco and San Mateo Counties) legislative bills to help the Agriculture Community in California were signed by Governor Edmund Brown Jr.

“Four years ago when I was first assigned to sit on the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, I had so little knowledge of the Agriculture industry, that I took for granted that all my food just came from the local grocery stores. I never appreciated what it takes to grow and harvest the food we eat every day. Now, After going on over seventy tours, I discovered a new found passion and respect for agriculture and its importance to the California economy.” said Assemblywoman Ma. “That is why today, I celebrate the signature of three bills that will help the agriculture community continue to thrive.”

AB 1966 protects surface owners’(a.k.a. farmers) property rights by requiring that mineral rights owners provide a minimum of five days’ notice when entering a property when there are intentions of extracting minerals. AB 1966 also requires that mineral rights owners provide a minimum of 30 days’ notice when entering a property for the purpose of excavation or other surface-disrupting activities such as drilling new wells, bringing articulated vehicles or excavation equipment on the real property, or reclamation of the real property after the surface has been disturbed.

Currently, the mineral rights owner is required to provide notice upon first entry. However, the notice that is given to the surface owner does not include any specifics. Without this information, farmers cannot plan accordingly to protect the safety their workers. In some scenarios this has also resulted in losses and damage to surface resources such as crops and groundwater.

AB 1877 exempts specified agricultural, lawn and garden care equipment dealers that sell products financed by the manufacturer from the state’s repossession licensing requirements. Specifically, AB 1877 will give dealers who have established relationships with their customers, the option of negotiating with the customer or the farmer directly in order to avoid the potentially embarrassing act of repossession.

Under current law, even when both the dealer and customer have agreed to repossession, a licensed agent must be hired to recover the property. This requirement: 1) adds significant costs to the consumer, often times in the range of $3,000, which will be added to the balance already owed on the equipment; 2) creates an embarrassing situation for a farmer when a stranger shows up on their property to seize the equipment and local law enforcement must be notified; and 3) it forecloses any opportunity for the dealer and customer to reach an amiable last-minute agreement before the equipment is taken away.

AB 907 will ensure that a wine grape grower receives payment even if a winery defaults on the payment

Typically and overwhelmingly, winery’s pay growers/farmers for delivered grapes in a timely manner. However, each year a few wineries neglect to pay growers, causing economic consequences on those farming operations. This bill will improve the Processors Law by codifying the definition of “irrevocable guarantee” to include a surety bond to ensure grape growers receive timely payments from licensed wineries for products already delivered and processed.

These bills will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

CONTACT: Lizette Mata (916) 319-2012

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