Newsom Vetoes Hurtado’s Bill Banning Foreign Control of Farmland
Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill on Tuesday by state Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Bakersfield) that would have prevented foreign governments from buying or otherwise acquiring California farmland.
“If foreign actors were to gain control of our land and water, the results could be devastating — we could see food shortages, water profiteering, and even higher prices at the grocery store. It’s a risk we can’t afford.” — State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Bakersfield
Hurtado’s SB 1084 also would have required the state Department of Food and Agriculture to issue an annual report on foreign ownership of California farmland and water rights.
In his veto message, Newsom noted that federal law requires foreign governments to report investments in U.S. farmland. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture compiles the information into an annual report.
“The additional data reporting required by this bill is beyond CDFA’s purview and would create new and arduous responsibilities for the department,” Newsom said in his veto message.
Related Story: Hurtado Wants Feds to Probe Hedge Funds’ Acquisition of Water Rights
Hurtado: Bill Would Ensure Ag’s Survival
Hurtado said in a news release that her “Food and Security Act” bill was “fundamental” to the survival of California agriculture.
“My bill would have helped California maintain our strong agriculture industry and allow us to remain resilient, even during times of global unrest or international conflict,” Hurtado said. “If foreign actors were to gain control of our land and water, the results could be devastating — we could see food shortages, water profiteering, and even higher prices at the grocery store. It’s a risk we can’t afford.”
California has more than 40 million acres of privately held agricultural land, with 2.7% of that land held by international owners, according to Hurtado.