Senator Melissa Hurtado of Bakersfield, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee in the Legislature, has raised eyebrows among farm groups for her proposal to bar foreign governments from purchasing farmland.
Last year CDFA opposed a similar measure from her. This year several farm groups have labeled her bill draconian and disruptive and called for more data to show this is an issue.
“California agriculture is a global economy,” said Louie Brown, an attorney with Kahn Soares & Conway representing several of those groups, during a recent policy committee hearing. “We partner with companies all over the world and are proud of that.”
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Brown said the bill would have a chilling effect on technology and partnerships and urged Hurtado to narrow it to countries “that are truly a threat.” The California Chamber of Commerce, along with seed and biotechnology companies, oppose the legislation as well.
Raising concerns over xenophobia and China-bashing, Sen. David Min of Irvine voted against the measure, along with Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat. Hurtado’s committee will take up the bill next.