Buy American Food Act awaits California Governor’s signature

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Fresh fruits and vegetables at the Stanislaus County Fair in July 2019.

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California farmers and food processors grow and produce an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts using the highest food safety, environmental and labor standards in the world. As a result, the foods produced are of the highest quality for consumers and a source of great pride for California farmers large and small.

On January 25, 2021, President Biden issued a “buy American” executive order to ensure that products made in America by American workers are prioritized in the spending of federal funds.

In response, this year I wrote Senate Bill 490, legislation to strengthen the federal Buy American policy at the state level. SB 490 requires all state public institutions, including schools, that receive federal reimbursements for meals, to include in their offers and contracts that food purchased be produced in the United States so long as it does not cost more than 25% more than foreign-made products. .

Buy American policies are common sense measures that ensure our tax dollars are used to support our farmers and our national workforce. The Buy American policy reflects our values ​​and reinforces California’s position as a world leader in climate change, environmental protection and labor protection.

SB 490 ensures that our school children have access to nutritious foods grown in the United States and produced under the highest safety standards in the world. Foods grown and processed in California and the United States meet strict requirements for food safety, pesticide use, packaging and climate standards, as well as safeguards to ensure safe working conditions for employees. safe jobs and fair pay.

In 2018, Seneca Foods, a company that produces peach and fruit cocktails for schools and cafeterias, closed its Modesto plant, laying off 265 full-time workers and leaving nearly 1,000 seasonal workers out of work. The company cited “competition from overseas imports – China and Europe” as the reason for the plant closure.

People who rely on federally funded meal programs are often among the most vulnerable, including seniors, patients, children and families. They deserve and need access to healthy, high-quality meals, such as those grown, packaged and produced in California.

That’s why I advocated for the state budget to include an additional $612 million to increase the state meal reimbursement rate. This higher reimbursement rate will allow local educational agencies to continue to provide better quality and varied meals to our students and ensure that the Universal Meals Program continues uninterrupted.

Buying domestically grown produce for our children to enjoy at school lunches is a wise use of our tax dollars. Our children, our farmers and our workers are worth the investment.

State Senator Anna Caballero represents California’s 12th District, which encompasses parts of Modesto and Fresno, the cities of Madera and Merced, and the Salinas Valley.

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