Bill to Stop Schools from Sourcing Foods from Outside of the U.S. Signed into Law

October 16, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 730 to establish important steps for the California Department of Education (CDE) to comply with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

“Our farmers and ranchers meet some of the highest worker protection and environmental standards in the world and produce high-quality and healthful food,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and Senator representing the Sacramento region. “Our students deserve to benefit from the quality of American agriculture and California schools should support our farmers.”

The Buy American federal provision requires schools that participate in the school lunch and breakfast programs to purchase domestically grown and processed foods to the maximum extent practicable. The food must be produced and processed in the United States with the final processed product consisting of over 51 percent domestic agricultural commodities.

Unfortunately, there is limited enforcement of this provision, which has led to schools purchasing imported food products to serve to their students. Several recent incidents by some California public school districts have demonstrated that the Buy American requirements are not being followed on a consistent basis.

In July, 2017 a California State Audit revealed that California has not ensured that schools comply with the Buy American requirement for school food purchases.

California Canning Peach Association President & CEO Rich Hudgins said, “Since state agencies have the responsibility to provide oversight and ensure compliance, SB 730 creates mechanisms for CDE to provide guidance to school food authorities to ensure transparency in school food purchases and strengthen compliance with the provision.”

Senate Bill 730 was sponsored by the Agricultural Council of California.  It will require the CDE to monitor compliance, inform school districts of the Buy American provisions of the law and requires that information be made available online, including the Buy American requirements and best practices, which provides transparency to schools and parents.

Ag Council President Emily Rooney, said, “SB 730 helps ensure school children consume safe, high quality food, reinforces locally grown efforts, benefits our economy and supports California farmers who achieve the most ambitious environmental, labor and food safety standards in the nation.”

"California farmers achieve the most ambitious goals in the nation to ensure food safety, reduce environmental impacts, protect the health of the workers and provide the highest farm wages in the nation," said Tricia Geringer, VP of Government Affairs at Agricultural Council of California. “When we support our famers and producers that adhere to these regulations, we demonstrate that we truly believe in them.  Spending taxpayer dollars to source food products for our children that are grown and processed under very different standards does not comport with our priorities.”

 

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