California Farm Bureau expresses concerns on state budget, mill tax

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday presented his revised state budget plan, including spending cuts to address California’s historic budget deficit. In his presentation, the governor also said California should live within its means and avoid raising taxes.

California Farm Bureau President Shannon Douglass commented on budget challenges affecting water priorities for agriculture. She noted that farmers and ranchers are also facing a significant tax increase from a spending proposal that remains in the governor’s budget.

The governor is currently proposing an increase in the mill tax levied on pesticides to address the budget deficit of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The plan to raise the mill tax from 21 mills to 28.6 mills over a three-year period, along with significant increases in registration and licensing fees, would amount to a $33 million tax increase statewide.

“We agree with Gov. Newsom that there should be no new tax increases,” Douglass said. “That is why we oppose any move by the Department of Pesticide Regulation to increase the mill tax. This tax increase directly impacts farmers and ranchers who purchase crop protection materials. Raising the mill tax would also increase costs of producing food for Californians and burden families with still higher food prices at the grocery store.”

The governor’s budget proposal includes discretionary spending cuts that stand to delay some funding sources for water-storage projects, including the planned Sites Reservoir north of Sacramento. Funding awarded to the project under the Proposition 1 ballot initiative, approved by voters in 2014, is not affected by the current budget crisis. But $500 million in discretionary funding to support the project would be cut under the governor’s spending plan.

“We are grateful that state funding awarded to Sites Reservoir under Proposition 1 remains in place,” Douglass said. “We urge the administration to restore the $500 million as soon as possible to ensure minimal delays on this generational investment in water resilience.”

The California Farm Bureau works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 26,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of 5.8 million Farm Bureau members.

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