Nearly 40 industry groups representing various agricultural commodities are asking for a regulatory pause as California addresses issues related to COVID-19. In a letter addressed to Governor Gavin Newsom, the group highlights a concern that multiple state agencies are advancing the regulatory process without adequate input from stakeholders.
“Our member-informed input into proposed state agency actions is a vital element of sound public policy development and provides State regulators with much-needed perspectives and insight into the potential impacts of State actions,” the letter stated. “The disruption caused by this pandemic prohibits our ability to participate fully and provide meaningful input as our priorities have shifted toward the care and availability of our workforce, and the tightening logistics around getting food to kitchen tables throughout the United States.”
The group which includes American Pistachio Growers, California Citrus Mutual, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Strawberry Commission, Western Growers, and the Almond Alliance, notes that “agencies like the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Regional Water Boards, Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR), Cal/OSHA and others” should reevaluate priorities given the coronavirus situation. The group is asking for a regulatory pause in the form of an Executive Order from Governor Newsom that will suspend regulatory proceedings and comment periods that have yet to be approved by the California Office of Administrative Law.
One of the letter’s signatories, President and CEO of Western Agricultural Processors Association, Roger Isom said that teleconferencing is not an appropriate method for state agencies to receive public feedback and comments. Townhalls and community meetings, which have historically been a critical aspect of the regulatory process, have all been canceled with California under a shelter in place order.
“The agencies are acting like nothing’s happened and it’s unacceptable,” said Isom. “All these regulations that are coming at us, it’s difficult to argue effectively if you can’t be there or have adequate input.”