Despite pushback from several farm groups, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee passed a few bills related to agriculture on Wednesday in its first post-pandemic hearing.

Of those, Assembly Bill 2954 proposes a pathway for including natural and working lands within the next Scoping Plan for California’s AB 32 climate goals. The California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) joined with The Nature Conservancy in supporting the bill.

Yet, several prominent agriculture groups came out in opposition, along with business interests. The California Chamber of Commerce said the bill focused heavily on an industry contributing just 9% of global emissions. The California Farm Bureau argued it left out thousands of current sequestration projects.

“For land stewards to do even more than they're already doing, they need financial incentives,” added Farm Bureau’ policy advocate Taylor Roschen.

She pointed out the state funding in this area has been inconsistent and its future budget is not looking any better. Roschen said the bill would also create winners and losers among farmers and lead to even more consolidation in the industry.

The measure passed, with Ag Chair Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, abstaining.

“I'm taking everything into context of the world that we're living in right now,” said Eggman.

The committee also passed AB 3256, a $7-billion climate, wildfire and water bond. The climate resilience bond would deliver $150 million to CDFA for filling out funding gaps in its climate-smart agriculture programs.

Another bill passed by the committee would disrupt the supply of organic byproducts used in cattle feed, according to the farm groups. 

“This is not an urgency. There is no COVID relationship," argued Dennis Albiani, legislative advocate for the California Grain and Feed Association, on that measure.

Top photo: Asm. Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, author of AB 2954. (2019 photo)