In its first hearing of the session, the Senate Ag Committee passed two measures aimed at protecting California’s organic standards and supporting locally grown foods.

SB 982 would create a CDFA-certified organic apple program. Sen. John Laird of Santa Cruz argued that apples coming into the state—likely from Washington—have been labeled as organic but use a nonorganic preservative to extend their shelf life by months. Being able to test for the preservative would enable the state to “shine a spotlight on those bad actors,” according to a proponent of the bill.

“There is value to the word organic, and there is prestige to the word California,” said Chair Andreas Borgeas of Fresno. “We have to protect our farmers and the idea of what is organic.”

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The committee also approved SB 1308, which would require California schools and colleges to purchase U.S. food products, unless the foreign product is more than 25% cheaper.

“Purchases of these foreign products contributed to the loss of farms, canneries and jobs,” said Rich Hudgins, president of the California Canning Peach Association.

While one lawmaker worried the measure could ignite a trade dispute, the bill’s author assured him this would align the state with federal Buy American policies.

Both measures garnered broad support from farm groups.