Many farmers’ market customers statewide benefit from Market Match, California’s healthy food incentive program that matches federal nutrition assistance benefits like CalFresh.

Many farmers’ market customers statewide benefit from Market Match, California’s healthy food incentive program that matches federal nutrition assistance benefits like CalFresh.
Photo courtesy of the Ecology Center

In its annual report on food and farming legislation, the California Food Policy Council (CAFPC) says that 9 of its 22 priority bills were signed into law in 2014 by Governor Jerry Brown. The CAFPC is a statewide network of urban and rural advocates that encourages progressive food laws by tracking and publicizing legislators’ voting records. Now in its second year, the Council is made up of representatives from 19 community organizations, including the Berkeley, Oakland, Marin, and Richmond food policy councils.

Legislation that passed in 2014 includes AB 1789, a bill that protects bees; AB 1930, which streamlines aspects of the federal benefits program CalFresh; and AB 2413, establishing the California Office of Farm to Fork, which sets the stage for needed food system change.

Although these are positive steps, many other initiatives collapsed. “We need real leadership in Sacramento to overcome the vested interests that prevent us from a healthy, sustainable, and just diet for all,” said Martin Bourque, Ecology Center executive director and Berkeley Food Policy Council spokesperson. Bills that failed to advance include AB 1437, which focused on protecting the effectiveness of antibiotics; SB 935, which ensured a livable minimum wage, and SB 1381 and 1000, which required labeling for GMOs and sugar-sweetened beverages. In November’s election, a soda tax was voted down in San Francisco, but passed with 76{94d79dd6af1e87a94e700e4c297236468333f22e27ed5757b44711974a9a4b91} approval in Berkeley.