Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and local agriculture workers are urging Governor Gavin Newsom to sign a bill that will require state-owned institutions to target 60% of their food product purchases to be California grown or produced. The bill is called California Grown. Also, known as AB 778. Many officials at the press conference came from farm working families, and all shared their perspectives on what agriculture meant to the valley.
Celeste Alonzo's family's farm has been in the Coachella Valley since 2008. "As a young farmer, it's really depressing to go out to the east valley and see all the farmland for sale," says Alonzo. Alonzo and other agricultural workers are joining Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia to ask Governor Gavin Newsom to sign A-B 778 into law.
"A B 778 comes from our farmers, who said, hey, we want to make sure that California's institutions like our correctional facilities, our universities, or schools, and other large entities that buy food, are not bringing food from the outside, but yet are looking on the inside," says Assemblymember Garcia.
A report produced by California Farmlink & Sustainable Agriculture Education (sage) states that table grape production has declined significantly due in part to competion with international imports. "There was a point that I didn't even know if our family business is going to be able to continue because it was such a massive, drastic blow to our industry," says Alonzo. "But this bill would really, really help bring agriculture together and make it a priority in our economy and our state economy".
"We want to make sure that California, through its purchasing power, buy California produce first," says Garcia.
"I think is missing from this whole conversation narrative is that in the agricultural fields, the American dream still exists," says Tudor Ranch President and Owner, George Tudor.
Agriculture is vital to the Coachella Valley economy. Over the years, Assemblymember Garcia has worked with local farmers to expand legislative support for California agriculture products, address industry and workforce challenges, and ensure grant assistance programs for farmers and ranchers. The President of Growing Coachella Valley said in an interview, "In the Agricultural fields, The American Dream still exists," says George Tudor.
The bill took two years to create and was presented to the Governor on Sept 13; Governor Newsom had 13 days to decide. Assemblymember Garcia's office says we should hear a decision by the end of September or early October.